By Nicole Webster
Credit: N Webster
If you are tired of looking at the ocean, and that salt water that eats everything, or you just yearning for some freshwater ecology, head to Sarita Falls.
It’s about a 30min drive down the logging road, the turn off is just after the 54km sign. Don’t turn right where the sign points to Sarita, stay on the road to Port Alberni. Just after the sign you will see a large tree with the trunk sticking into the road a bit, turn left onto the side road just across from the tree. It’s a lumpy bumpy road, no worse than the logging road, but a few ditches in the road make it a bad idea for low riding cars (Note: I was there in August, the road might be messier at a wetter time of the year). You’ll come to a rocky cliff, if you aren’t sure of your car, park there and walk. Otherwise drive to the end. Where the road ends there’s a path off into the woods. Take it!
The trail is not really groomed, but there is flagging tape to mostly mark the trail. As you get to the cliff, you will find a distinct stump:
The distinctive cross-roads stump. Credit N Webster
If you turn left, you’ll find a nice path down to the water below the first water fall, a nice place to snorkle:
The waterfall itself Credit N Webster
A freshwater sculpin under a rock, probably Cottus sp. Credit: N Webster
A Freshwater mussel (likely Western Floater – Anodonta kennerlyi) Credit: N Webster
These two species are apparently often found together as the sculpin acts as a dispersal agent for the mussel. Freshwater mussels have a neat, parasitic larval form called a glochidium, which hooks onto a fish (the sculpin in this case) to spread the mussels.
A Fish! Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) Credit: N Webster
This is what most people (the Leys lab) come here for! A sponge – Spongilla lacustris. Look at all those happy oscula sticking up like stalagmites! Credit: N Webster
So to end this part of Sarita falls, another mystery. While snorkeling, we found these green roundish blobs. They have the thick, jelly consistency like a jellyfish, but no tentacles, and no motion, never mind there’s only one freshwater jellyfish. They were all sitting on the bottom, but weren’t attached. They had a greenish tinge, with no disinguishing anatomy. My best guess in Algae. Yours?
A mystery! What are those green blobs? Credit: N Webster
- The transparency and internals Credit: N Webster, Hand model: L Webster
- A close up green blob – Algae? Credit: N Webster
And Part II – The waterfalls