Discovering in-seine diversity

by Melissa Frey, Royal BC Museum

The ocean is renowned for its spectacular diversity: endless shapes, brilliant colours, extraordinary species, and some of the most magnificent habitats on the planet – indeed, the ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems. While much of this richness lies beneath the surface of the sea, sometimes (on rare and special occasions) we get to experience these hidden treasures first-hand.

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This past month, the Royal BC Museum and the Victoria Natural History Society co-hosted a public beach seine. More than 100 people, including several members of the CaNOE, turned out on a dark November night to participate in the “in-seine” event.

The plan was to seine over a nearby eelgrass bed, catching as many species of squishy (invertebrates) and fishy (fishes) as possible. Unfortunately for our beach seiners, a large amount of sea lettuce was present near shore, resulting in a very large invertebrate-fish salad.

Not to be deterred by a bit of green, we carefully sifted through the leafy seaweed, discovering a variety of fascinating animals, from tiny amphipods and shrimps to large dungeness crabs, gunnels, and starry flounders. We explored, we learned, we connected. It was in-seine-ly fun!

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But beyond the hidden treasures, beyond the fun, it is important to highlight the ultimate objective of the event. The goal of CaNOE is to advance Ocean Literacy (OL) throughout Canada. As CaNOE pulls ahead, it is vital that our members continue to deliver OL programs that engage our communities, delight our sense of discovery, and improve our understanding of why the ocean matters.