"Committed to the restoration of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver
Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement"
"Committed to the restoration of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver
Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement"


Getting to Know You


Last month a monkey sent out a survey to MVIHES members.

No wait, that's not right.





 MVIHES sent a quesurveymonkeystionaire via  SurveyMonkey to find out what makes our members tick. The survey results are in and here's what they tell us.





Of the members who responded to the survey, about 70%  volunteer between one day to more than a week each year, with 27% volunteering more than a week. That must be why we get so much done!




The remaining 30% are too busy to volunteer (we've all experienced that in our lives) but are members because they want to stay informed about the health of the watershed. That's awesome!

 In fact, when asked why they like being a member, 57% said it was to stay informed about health of the watershed. Since more than one reason for being a member was allowed,  68% of the responses included participating in projects that interest them, and 71% were for "just being outdoors".




The top three activities were salmon fry salvage, smolt counting, and doing surveys on fish habitat and forage fish. The least favourite activity was fundraising. 



 Training courses that members would like to take, in order of preference are: BIOENGINEERING, RAINGARDENS (how to design), BEAVERS AND THE ROLE THEY PLAY, BASIC STREAM and BEACH ECOLOGY, and one that is particularly relevant in our community, a course on  WHAT SENIORS CAN DO to help MVIHES achieve its goals.


When asked how satisfied/dissatisfied they were with being a member, 50% were very satisfied and 50% were satisfied. We must be doing something right. 

 No question about it, we have great members!


Life's a Beach

The month of May was all about beaches for our volunteers. Check out our "Sharing Shorelines" brochure about conserving shorelines, not only for sustaining marine life (and beaches), but protecting real estate as well. Many thanks to Islands Trust who produced the original brochure and allowed us to modify it for Parksville. And MVIHES vounteer Ross Peterson who did the modifying and got it published. 

ForageFish6On May 29, Haley Tomlin from Vancouver Island University gave an excellent training session on surveying the spawning habitat of forage fish (Sand Lance and Surf Smelt) to the Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers. Of course, MVIHES just had to crash the party. You may remember, we were trained in forage fish surveys last year by Ramona de Graf using the State of Washington methodology. Haley, who is conducting these surveys on behalf of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute, has created a "Citizen Science" program that simplifies the State of Washington method. The data collected from this program will be stored  on the Pacific Salmon Foundation website which should make it possible to identify beaches that are important for forage fish spawning when an area is being considered for development.


vortexuse 2

Haley is also lending us a fancy piece of equipment called a vortex (shown in photo) that is powered by a 12 volt car battery. The vortex separates fish eggs and embryos from our sand samples and replaces the manual "panning for eggs" method we have been using. Very cool. MVIHES will continue surveying local beaches for forage fish spawning habitat. If you haven't already been involved in our surveying and you would like to participate, just drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.





On May 30, Dave Clough, our consulting Biologist for many years, lead us on another beach seining session at the Englishman River estuary. We were accompanied by Emily Vance, a reporter for PQB news. Emily wrote a great article that explains all about why we beach seine.


Photo by Emily Vance as seen in news article 


See you on the beach!

Welcome to the Shelly Creek Delicatessen


You may remember Braden Judson, a biology student from Vancouver Island University (VIU), who did his undergraduate research project last year on the eating habits of the resident Cutthroat Trout population in Shelly Creek.  This project was the brainchild of Ross Peterson and Pete Law of MVIHES who approached VIU for a student to conduct the research. The MidIsland Castaways Fly Fishing Club provided a donation to fund Braden's travel expenses between Parksville and Nanaimo. The results of the study are in and are really interesting, if not surprising.






poleseiningWith the help of volunteers, a total of 83 Cutthroat Trout were captured with a net called a pole seine on three sampling occasions in August, September and October.  Each fish was weighed, measured and its adipose fin (tiny fin made of fat at base of tail) was clipped so we can distinguish these Cutthroat Trout from those that enter Shelly Creek via the Englishman River when we operate our smolt counting fence downstream each spring.



troutstomachpumpFollowing these procedures, Braden perfomed a gastric lavage on each fish. I know, it sounds like a menu item for French cuisine. It's actually a scientific term for stomach pumping. It takes quite a bit of skill to extract the stomach contents of a tiny fish without harming it. The stomach contents of each fish were collected, preserved and identified in a lab at VIU. Nice work, Braden! And yes, the fish were released back into the creek, perhaps a little perturbed at having lost their lunch.



mayflylarvaeBraden found that half of the items the trout had eaten were the ususal inhabitants of creeks: mayfly nymphs, stonefly nymphs, caddisfly larvae, fly larvae and water striders.




antintroutThe other half were critters that live on land: pill bugs (or wood bugs) ants, wasps, springtails, beetles and spiders. Wow, half the diet of these trout comes from land! This emphasizes the importance of vegetation along streambanks and tree canopy that hangs over creeks. These insects (and spiders) most likely fell off some foliage overhanging the water.  Good to know that the ferns and shrubs volunteers planted alongside Shelly Creek in March should help keep the trout fed.


Braden's research paper is available in our digital library and can also be accessed here. We wish Braden well with his studies and thank him for his diligence. Many thanks to VIU, the MidIsland Castaways, and our MVIHES volunteers for their support. And thanks to the City of Parksville Parks Dept for letting us conduct this work in Shelly Park.

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