Research


MHSS is engaged in a number of research and monitoring projects within ʕaḥuusʔatḥ haḥuułii. If you or your organization is interested in conducting research in ʕaḥuusʔatḥ haḥuułii, please contact ayumi@mhssahousaht.ca

Kelp Farm Monitoring

Kelp & Eelgrass Habitat Modeling - Baum lab

Ongoing monitoring of Rhinoceros auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) diet

Assessing, Monitoring & Enhancing Estuary Resilience

Kelp Farm Monitoring

We are working with Cascadia Seaweed Corp. to run a kelp aquaculture project, located at a previous salmon aquaculture site. With some wild salmon stocks in decline, we have established a kelp farm with Cascadia, which will provide cultivated salmon habitat. We are monitoring this farm and a nearby control site with Cascadia, using underwater drone (ROV) fish surveys, zooplankton surveys, underwater cameras, and dive surveys. These monitoring efforts will help to evaluate how salmon and their prey are using this cultivated habitat. The farm currently has one species of kelp growing, sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima). We are eager to share the findings of this monitoring initiative with the ʕaḥuusʔatḥ musčim.

Kelp & Eelgrass Habitat Modeling - Baum lab

Kelp and seagrass species provide habitat and refuge to a variety of species, facilitate interactions between species across marine food webs, and sequester carbon in the ocean (i.e. blue carbon). Additionally, kelp and seagrass distributions are constrained by temperature. There is an important need to understand their distributions, so that we can ensure the stewardship of these ecosystems for years to come, and so that we can understand how these ecosystems within ʕaḥuusʔatḥ haḥuułii play a role in carbon sequestration.

In August 2022, we worked alongside kelp and seagrass researchers from the University of Victoria, who are creating fine scale species distribution models (SDMs) of kelp and eelgrass habitats in ʕaḥuusʔatḥ haḥuułii and elsewhere on Vancouver Island. They are using underwater drones (ROVs) and drop cameras to create these SDMs. We are eager to share the maps, SDMs, and underwater footage from these researchers with the ʕaḥuusʔatḥ musčim.

Ongoing monitoring of Rhinoceros auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) diet

Since 2017, Raincoast Education Society (RES) has been working on Kwatmik (Cleland) Island to monitor the Rhinoceros auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) diet. Through this long-term monitoring program, RES has been collecting data on how changes in ocean conditions affect predator/prey communities. RES collects diet samples from the breeding auklets as they bring them back to their chicks (although this is a missed meal for the chicks, the sampling coincides with a time when both parents are frequently bringing food back, so the chicks won’t go hungry). This research also provides insight into how the reproductive success of higher marine trophic level predators is affected by phytoplankton abundance.

If you would like to help the RES team sample, please reach out to gemma@mhssahousaht.ca. The samples are collected in early August of each year.

Assessing, Monitoring & Enhancing Estuary Resilience

Estuaries are among some of BC’s most important habitats, as they support a wide variety of fish and wildlife species. Estuaries are also expected to be considerably impacted by climate change, through changes to sediment loads, freshwater input, salinity, temperature, and sea level rise.

In 2021, the Nature Trust of BC began working in the Muuyaḥi river estuary, as well as 14 other estuaries along BC’s coast, to assess and evaluate the resilience of these estuaries to sea-level rise. Data has been collected across five metrics of resistance (sediment supply, tidal range, rate of sea-level rise, distribution of marsh elevation, and change in elevation), each of which is given a score indicating its level of resilience to sea-level rise. The metrics are then considered together, in order to give an overall score of the estuary’s resilience to sea-level rise.
These scores will help inform MHSS and ʕaḥuusʔatḥ on conservation, enhancement, and management decisions of the Muuyaḥi and other estuaries within ʕaḥuusʔatḥ haḥuułii. The second phase of this project will involve estuary restoration activities.

For more information on this project, please contact gemma@mhssahousaht.ca.

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