Forage Fish Spawning Habitat Monitoring Program – Gabriola Island

Brian Timmer and Chrissy Schellenberg help teach how to sample for forage fish eggs.
Author: Chrissy Schellenberg

On May 26, Brian, Haley, Graham, and I travelled to Gabriola Island to collect beach sediment samples for our Forage Fish Spawning Habitat Monitoring Project. Samples were taken from beaches that followed our predictive mapping, which indicates suitable habitat for successful forage fish spawning. We scoped out some other beaches as well, and collected from any other sites that we thought provided optimal conditions.

The following day, we led a citizen science community engagement presentation and seminar that outlined our Forage Fish Spawning Habitat Monitoring Program project to a handful of locals residing on Gabriola Island. Our presentation provided a background about the MABRRI organization and our partnership with WWF Canada for this project, as well as a background on forage fish, which explained what they are, their ecological significance, why they are important to monitor, and details about our species of interest. 

Once we delivered the presentation, we explained our sampling methods and showed some Pacific Sand Lance and Surf Smelt eggs under a microscope to show them exactly what we are looking for. Proceeding this, we brought these keen individuals to the beach to show them how to take beach samples and how to process them using the vortex method.   

The purpose of these citizen science training sessions are to educate and engage the public on our project so that we can expand the amount of sampling that is occurring, which will contribute to data collection. The training session that occurred on Gabriola Island was very successful and we are hoping to move forward and receive samples from our newly recruited citizen science group.