Tofino Botanical Gardens Natural History Tour

On Thursday afternoon, following the meeting with Tim Rundle and a brief lunch, we walked over to the Tofino Botanical Gardens for our meeting with Josie Osborne. Josie is a biologist who has lived in this region for 13 years. She operates the Gardens with her husband George Patterson.  In recent years she has worked as a liaison for the provincial government and local First Nations to develop a plan for fish farming. That is a topic to be discussed at a later meeting with Josie. This time, she provided an introduction to local natural history. 


Creative Salmon

The controversy over wild vs. farmed salmon is familiar to anyone who has spent time in western Canada. For decades, environmental groups have waged a campaign against farmed fish. Due to these efforts the general public has become highly suspicious of farmed fish. It is generally believed that fish farms are responsible for the release of antibiotics into the ecosystem, the spread of disease to wild stocks, the genetic contamination of local (pacific) salmon, the killing of marine mammals, the destruction of the sea floor, and a variety of other environmental harms.  It has reached the point where anyone serving salmon at a dinner party is expected to answer (and justify) whether the fish on the table is wild or farmed.


Cathedral Grove

Driving west towards Tofino there is a small section of highway that winds through a patch of old growth forest. The park is aptly named Cathedral Grove. Trees shoot up hundreds of feet from the roadside. They resemble the vaulting arches of a cathedral. Walking through this area one gets a sense of how the Island once looked. The ground is littered with overlapping logs undergoing various stages of decay.  Most are covered in moss and ferns. Some older logs, more decayed, are the nutrient systems for younger trees. 


Things to Bring

I am leaving for Vancouver in the morning (in a few hours, actually) and I am just going over the packing. A rain jacket and fleece (or a warm sweatshirt or two) are important because we'll be on the ocean for hours at a time and it can be rainy and windy. In fact I might bring a toque. I have a light pair of pants that dry quickly and some jeans. I'm packing hiking boots and shoes and sandals (possibly overkill). Many socks & underwear. Sunglasses. Shorts. Beach towel. A few T shirts. A decent shirt to wear out. Swimming stuff. If I had a light wetsuit to surf in I would bring it, but I'll rent one there. I'm packing a small stove, pot (for cooking), knife, tent and sleeping mat because I plan to camp on this trip. Everyone will need a sleeping bag. I like to use a pillow and sheet as well. I have a small first aid kit and the pills I take for a bee sting. Toiletry bag with basic stuff.  Head lamp. A set of bedtime clothes. That is about it for the main bag.

My carry on is a day pack that will come in handy on site. I am packing a few of the small notebooks that I like to write in, a sketchbook, a computer, my ipod. I would bring binoculars but I left them on my boat - damn, too late now. Camera. One novel. Since I have bad luck with airlines losing my luggage a change of clothes will get stuffed into this bag.

On my person I have my wallet with ID (drivers license), credit card, and about $300 in cash. I have a printout of my itinerary. I know exactly where I am going when I land, but if I didn't I would print out a map and possibly bus and ferry schedules. I like to have that stuff in print so that I can read it on the plane.

Okay that about covers it. For the next week I will be visiting some friends and camping on the Island. Then meeting with the field course participants at Whalers Guest House on August 24th. I will be in contact with the  group regarding assignments (or anything else -just email or call) over the next few days, so expect to hear from me. I am really looking forward to this! Can't wait.