Throughout my life it has been my privilege to meet and be associated with people who are bitten by or infected by severe cases of the conservation virus. They come from many walks of life such as parents, grandparents, teachers, loggers, conservation officers, gardeners, ranchers, farmers, fisher folk of all types, trappers, miners, ministers, hunters, guides as in hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, nature walkers, and bird watchers, plus seniors citizens of all races to name a few.
One of their identifying qualities is a respect for life in all of its myriad forms, summed up by an accompanying curiosity for nature, as in natural life forces be they plant, animal or aquatic. These people will play an increasing roll as society faces the challenges of climate change.
We have just come off a weekend when huge numbers of people were watching an American football event. Over the next few weekends it may be hockey, soccer, golf, baseball, tennis or some other spectator event that keeps us indoors. While these mind-numbing events are entertaining us indoors, there are some world-class animal, bird and fish events happening in and on our local marine waters.
The pacific herring spawning run that will occur on our local beaches from Parksville to above the Oyster River estuary is one of the great animal migrations on the planet, involving billions of individual herring and a myriad of fish, animals and birds that benefit from this huge concentration of life.
The migration of black brant which are the focus of the festival in Parkville are timed with the herring run. Huge numbers of sea lions, seals and other aquatic animals are attracted to our shores because of the herring run. These can be spectator events that are viewed on the television screen of nature that stretches across the horizon and meets the stars on clear nights. It can be wet, cool, windy, warm and adventurous but always intellectually stimulating.
When this column comes out there are a series of late night tides that will expose beaches. Starting on Feb. 15 and running through to Feb. 23 there is a series of moderate tides that take place in the early evening. On March 1 running through to March 9 there is an excellent series of tides that expose the foreshore during the afternoon and early evening. These tides can serve as wonderful teaching tools for children exposing them to simple aquatic life cycles and possibly witnessing a spawning event of herring.
Another great teaching event, if we get the right weather, is to visit a beach such as Kitty Coleman and let the children see the stars in the sky away from glaring city lights. It may be an event that creates lifelong memories and raises many intellectually challenging questions in the mind of the child. These events go a long way in restoring a child’s nature deficits and can be called ‘conservation education.”
As a side issue you can gather some clams or oysters if you are on an appropriate beach. If you decide to include gathering shellfish, make certain you have the appropriate licenses.
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The Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association (CDFGPA) is holding its annual fundraiser at the Florence Filberg Centre on Saturday, Feb. 23. The doors open at 5 p.m. for viewing and visiting with fellow participants in this conservation-oriented event. The $40 ticket includes a wild game banquet, all the traditional events of the fundraiser, plus dancing.
The CDFGPA is a large group of conservation foot soldiers on the ground floor of many conservation battles. The club is a leader in programs for children, helping to restore declining contacts with nature. The club has many activities at their annual outdoor show, plus family fishing events at the fishing pond, plus an active summer program for children. Added to the beginning of life programs are the promotions of Fishing Forever programs for the elderly and handicapped. They also support a wide variety of community based conservation activities.
Tickets may be purchased from Elsie at 250-338-4420, Dave at 250-338-9122, Gone Fishin' or Tyee Marine. Put a table together to help cure our growing nature deficit disorder.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.