October 7, 2012

Story by Perry Mack, Photos Vancouver Island University

For the past 5,000 years people have lived in the Baynes Sound area, and for the past 5,000 years the shellfish have been supporting them. But it’s actually a story that’s 400 million years in the making.

Off the east coast of Vancouver Island where Denman Island lies peacefully on the horizon, lies a narrow offshoot of the Strait of Georgia. Beneath the deep blue waters, millions of mussels, clams and oysters tirelessly filter the water for food, keeping the ecosystem clean as they do so.

The Deep Bay Marine Field Station is Vancouver Island Universities' multi-million dollar facility for aquaculture research. But it also functions as a marine science museum with touch tanks, large aquariums, a jellyfish tank and a massive ten-metre skeleton of a Grey Whale. Sadly, this Grey Whale washed up on the shore of East Sooke Park after a windstorm but was preserved thanks to the cooperative efforts of the Scia’new First Nations, Vancouver Island University and Fisheries and Oceans Canada along with the tireless efforts of many volunteers. “The preparation of the skeleton will provide an incredible learning opportunity for students involved in the process,” said Brian Kingzett, Field Station Manager at VIU’s Centre for Shellfish Research. “Once on public display, this whale’s legacy will be to help educate and inspire about coastal species for decades to come.”

In addition to the indoor portion of the centre, the RV Chetlo is their working marine research vessel. ‘RV’ in the name… coincidence… I think not. From Monday to Friday 9am – 4 pm, groups of up to 12 people can book a custom tour, which encompasses sightseeing, wildlife photography and an expanded knowledge of the shellfish industry.

The building itself is worth the visit, especially for those of you with an architectural interest. Its clamshell appearance suits its purpose and the build won the 2011 National Green Buildings Award.  They anticipate a LEED® Platinum accreditation which is awarded to buildings and their use that achieve the highest standards of sustainability.  Aside for rooms for research and lectures the building can be rented out for tours, lunches and conferences.

The station is open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm. Take a self-guided tour through the facility or book a guided tour for your group, reach into the touch tanks, view ongoing research from the mezzanine and enjoy the views of Baynes Sound from their deck. It’s truly a unique, one-of-a-kind location that you should add to your Vancouver Island experience.

You can view a video of the buildings construction at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SKqwT9EwDw&feature=player_embedded#!

To get there, visit the web site, http://www.viu.ca/deepbay/ for driving directions or punch these driving coordinates into your GPS: 49°27'45.93"N, 124°43'36.03"W.

Deep Bay RV Park is located nearby at 5315 Deep Bay Drive in Bowser, BC and makes a great central location to explore Englishman River Falls and Little Qualicum Falls provincial parks, the Pacific Rim National Parks as well as Denman and Hornby Islands. To get more info on the park visit www.deepbayrvpark.com or call (250) 757-8424.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SKqwT9EwDw&feature=player_embedded#!

October 7, 2012

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