Over the long weekend the HLC participated in TWO educational events on Carters Beach to promote coastal conservation and mindful beach use! These events were not advertised as it was not our intention to attract more people to the already crowded beach, but rather to reach the folks who already know of and visit Carters Beach. The first event was held on Saturday August 3rd and was planned in collaboration with the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Coalition, OceansCanada Partnership, Friends of Port Mouton Bay, Parks Canada (Keji Seaside), and the Ecology Action Centre. Together we set up activities and demonstrations to teach beach-users about coastal ecology and vulnerabilities. While the focus of the day was an eel grass mapping project undertaken by Lydia Ross in collaboration with Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Coalition, OceansCanada Partnership and Friends of Port Mouton Bay, all organizations involved has a chance to showcase their coastal conservation work!
The HLC table featured an overview of the various projects Robinson, our Carters Beach Public Outreach Intern, has undertaken on the beach since May. For example, she set up an interactive sand dune erosion activity and a marine/coastal debris decomposition rate display. She also conducted an experiment to illustrate how beach activities can disturb the nests of endangered Piping Plovers. She painted rocks bright colours and left them in various areas on Carters Beach where Plovers might nest. At the end of the day, she collected the rocks and noted how many had been moved, covered, or destroyed/taken. The results? Almost all the rocks had been disturbed or removed over the course of the day. As mentioned above, Piping Plovers are an endangered species, and nest in the late spring/early summer. This was a great way to show people how important it is to be mindful beach users (e.g. keeping dogs on leash)! It was an amazing event, and so great to bring all these organizations together to support and promote coastal conservation!
On Sunday August 4th, as part of our Wild Weekend programming, we conducted a Citizen Science project to collect baseline data on the juvenile sand dollar population at Carters Beach. The idea for this project was conceived in 2018, when our previous Field Station Manager, Jessica Bradford, and former Carters Beach Outreach intern, Kaitlyn Harris, successfully secured funding through Awesome Foundation South Shore (shouts-out to them!). However, due to time constraints the project was postponed until the 2019 field season. So, Robinson, along with our current Field Station Manager, Shauna, continued the project by designing methods based on those used by Sanibel Sea School in Sanibel, Florida. To be brief, participants snorkeled up to 5m from shore, and used a quadrat to measure the density and size of any sand dollars found. This initial data collection will lay the ground work for subsequent Sand Dollar dives and research opportunities , so we would like to thank our brave participants who waded through the chilly Atlantic waters, and all the beach goers for taking interest in the Carters Beach Sand Dollar Research Project! We would also like to thank Coastal Action for sending us three amazing volunteers: Clare Kellock, Alexa Goodman, and Kaitlyn Harris! Finally we owe a huge thanks to Torpedo Ray Scuba Adventures for donating two masks and snorkels which made our research methods possible!
We are also pleased to Welcome Mathew Betts and his Archeology team from the Canadian Museum of History, who will be staying with us for the month of August! They will be researching the effects of coastal erosion in the South Shore on ancient Mi’kmaq archeological sites. This will be done in collaboration with local Mi’kmaq communities, which will be an essential focus of the study as “it is their history washing away with every storm.” We are excited to be hosting this group and are eager to hear about their experiences in the field!
If you are interested in the study and want to know more about Mi’kmaq sites in our area, be sure to join us on Sunday, September 1st when Matt will be taking us on a hike around Thomas Raddall Park as part of our Wild Weekend Series! He will be teaching us about Mi’kmaq Shell Middens, a deposit of shells that indicate human settlements. It’ll be a fascinating hike full of local and physical history!
We are happy to report yet another milestone with our growing chicks (more like teenagers! Last you folks heard, the babies were big enough to be put into an indoor coop where they have quickly grown! This week they were finally big enough to start exploring the great outdoors! Attached to their indoor coop is a small enclosure, where they can freely walk and peck around. Their baby fuzz has been lost to feathers, and soon we will know how many roosters and hens we have on our hands. Our resident mother hens were a bit surprised to see them running around in the enclosure and have been curiously hanging around to keep an eye on them. We are overjoyed how healthy the chicks are and how far they have come!
And lastly, a fitting photo of some Monarch caterpillars, who have settled in our butterfly garden! If this isn’t a good sign for tomorrows Wild Weekend Workshop “Butterfly and Pollinator Gardens” in collaboration with MTRI I don’t know what is! Make sure to come and check it out, it begins at 11am here are the HLC!
Written by: Mackenzie Blanchard
Edited by: Shauna Doll