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July Newsletter 2022

Dear Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour,
Trusting you are enjoying the wonderful summer weather of late.
Also thanks so much to Paul MacKenzie for his generous donation to both the Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour and the Belle Island Caretakers’ Circle. If you are interested in supporting their environmental initiatives such as dealing with invasive species on Belle Island, an Indigenous burial site, please write a cheque to the Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour and mail it to
Mary Farrar, 83-1 Place d’Armes, Kingston, ON, K7K6S6.
As always, your support is very much appreciated.

1. Turtle Awareness Day – Sunday, July 10. ALL WELCOME!
2. Kingston City Council Votes Against Sanctioned Encampments
3. City Offers Trees at Reduced Prices for Kingston Property Owners
4. Message from Just Recovery Kingston Community Group re Upcoming Municipal Election
5. Opinion: This Canada Day, Settlers Should Think About Land Back
6. Third Crossing Styrofoam Clean-Up Update
7.Blood Sucking Sea Lampreys Threaten Great Lakes Ecosystem
8. Great Lakes Mayors Team Up to Support Ontario Marine Strategy
9. New Strategy Introduced to Reduce Plastic Waste Entering Great Lakes Waters
10. Muskies Becoming a Growing Concern in the Upper St. Lawrence River
11. Concern re Microplastics Entering Marine Food Webs
12. “Lake Protection Workbook: A Self-Assessment Tool for Shoreline Property Owners
13. 2021 Heat Dome had Wide-Ranging Impacts on Marine Life
14. Merlin’s Bird Sound Identification App

1. Turtle Awareness Day

What:  Come for a fun time at Doug Fluhrer Park including shoreline walks, crafts, live specimens of turtles and snakes you can touch, + interesting info about turtles and our efforts to save them
Who: Turtles Kingston in partnership with Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour and River First YGK
When: Sunday, July 10 from 10 am til 4 pm

2. Kingston City Council Votes Against Sanctioned Encampments
Received from the Kingstonist, June 30, 2022 – Dylan Chenier.
EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is an excellent summary. Definitely worth reading.
Members of Kingston City Council discuss a staff report regarding the concept of sanctioned encampments on public property..
During a special meeting on Wednesday, Jun. 29, 2022, members of Kingston City Council voted against a proposal to allow sanctioned encampments on public property, instead opting to reinstate its encampment protocol while directing additional funds to help the city’s unhoused population. 
At a meeting in May, Council opted to suspend the City’s encampment protocol while staff prepared a report based on additional research. This report would investigate a potential encampment pilot project, as well as other options to address the rise of encampments on public property in Kingston. On Thursday, Council was presented with the completed report, which outlined five different options to address the issue. The first four options in the staff report centered around approval of a sanctioned encampment at either the Integrated Care Hub (ICH), Belle Park, or another City-owned property, while the fifth option was a complete prohibition of any encampments on public property. 
Wednesday’s meeting, which took over six hours, began with a number of delegations from the public, as some people voiced their support for a proposed encampment, while others raised concerns about public safety and potential disruptions to businesses, parks, and other public spaces. 
Marijo Cuerrier, Executive Director of Downtown Kingston, addressed the issue of homelessness broadly and its impact on downtown businesses since the start of the pandemic. “In [2020], COVID-19 left downtown streets across North America abandoned for an extended period of time, allowing for unsafe and unwelcome behaviour to take over with little to no consequences. We’re on the cusp of the first summer at full capacity since 2019. Securing the streets of downtown Kingston is a priority, making it safe, clean, and welcoming for everyone. 
“Over the past year I’ve fielded numerous calls, emails, texts, and visits from property and business owners, locals, and visitors, varying from genuine concern to anger and frustration. I’m here tonight representing the downtown business and property owners that want to see improvements in the safety and security of downtown,” added Cuerrier. 
Krista LeClair, Executive Director of Kingston Accommodation Partners, spoke to the ways in which the increased presence of unhoused individuals in the downtown core has impacted her members, making it difficult for businesses to attract new employees. “The unsafe [situations] staff have found themselves in is worrisome, making the impact on businesses very challenging. Challenging to keep workers safe and challenging to attract and retain staff.” 
Bhavana Varma, President and CEO of United Way Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KFL&A), warned of some of the consequences if Council were to opt for one of the encampment options in their current proposed form. “Sanctioned encampments are temporary and costly interventions that need to be appropriately resourced and staffed if they are to be successful. The proposed recommendation for low-cost solutions could potentially result in under-resourced encampments… which may give rise to unhealthy and unsafe conditions.”
“I’d like Council to consider whether these funds could be better invested in additional safe and low-barrier shelter beds, using a harm reduction approach,” suggested Varma, who also noted the current employee shortage for support agencies in Kingston.
One of the proposals involved moving encampment residents from the ICH site to Belle Park, given the potential for contaminated soil at the current site. Kingston resident Matt Silburn, who identified as a member of Mutual Aid Katarokwi Kingston, raised concerns about this plan, noting that there are safety issues that supercede that of soil contamination. “The long-term potential risk of sleeping on top of toxic soil is nothing compared to the very acute risk of death from the toxic drug supply,” Silburn asserted. “Not only is the City not moving forward with the [de]criminalization and safe-supply programs, which could save lives, [but] moving people away from the ICH will actively endanger them.”
“We can’t let the threat of liability keep us from doing what everyone who’s familiar with the risk of the drug poisoning crisis is telling us: they need to stay where they are,” argued Silburn. 
Sophie Lachappelle, a PhD Student in Criminology at the University of Ottawa who has studied Kingston at length, spoke out against some of the by-laws included in the report. “As multiple studies have shown us, criminalizing poverty through the development of anti-loitering by-laws or public-nuisance by-laws will not increase public safety. We may create the appearance of a liveable city, but such a by-law will only contribute to the unliveable conditions unhoused people are currently experiencing.” 
Council also heard from one of the graduates of the City’s sleeping cabins project at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. “My concern tonight is the safety of the citizens of Kingston, the downtown core, and all this talk about the ‘dangers’ that homeless people are creating for everyone. I have never seen a homeless person attack somebody or give them a hard time… The real people that are in danger, out there in today’s society, are the people that are sleeping in tents freezing to death, starving to death, getting robbed,” expressed the delegate, who identified himself only as Corey, and spoke as part of a delegation from Chrystal Wilson, founder of the organization that runs the sleeping cabins, Our Livable Solutions.
“How many cases do you hear of homeless people attacking the citizens of Kingston?” he posed. 
After hearing from more than 19 different delegations, Council then received a presentation from CAO Lanie Hurdle, who spoke about the staff report and the difficulties in handling this file. “I’ve been with the City of Kingston since 2006 and I think this has to be probably the most challenging file; God knows I’ve had my share of controversial files,” remarked the CAO. “This is not something that we can solve alone… We do need support from other levels of government. We can make a small difference alone, but it’s not going to get to the root cause of some of the issues we are trying to address.” 
City of Kingston CAO Lanie Hurdle provides a presentation to Council on the various options in the staff report. According to Hurdle, the intent of the report was to address some of the issues of public safety associated with the current encampments. “We’ve heard a lot of community concerns in the last engagement… there are concerns with behaviour, there are concerns with what has been happening in the parks and, in some cases, very real situations that have recently taken place in one of our parks downtown involving a child,” she explained. Kingstonist has requested further information on the incident Hurdle referred to, but had not received response by time of publication.
City Solicitor Jenna Morley indicated that “formalized encampments have not yet really been seen in any jurisdiction in Canada” as she spoke to the no-camping provision of Option Five. “When read as a whole, the objective of the Parks and Recreation Facilities By-Law is to ensure that all residents in the City can make use of this common resource… It ensures that all residents can enjoy the park without having an adverse impact on surrounding properties.”
Morley also noted that “successful sanctioned encampments typically provide more than ‘low-cost’ services.” The sanctioned encampments proposed as part of the report would range from $75,200 for a site at Belle Park, to $209,800 for a sanctioned encampment at the ICH. 
Following the presentation from City staff, Councillor Jeff McLaren moved Option Fiveafter which a lengthy debate followed. While the initial option simply called for no sanctioned encampments, the motion was amended to direct the money the City would have spent on an official encampment  toward “other forms of housing to support the vulnerable population,” and that City staff work with Kingston Police to provide a “gradual relocation of unhoused individuals currently residing on public property,” said Mayor Bryan Paterson, the mover of the amendment. 
According to McLaren, the City does not have the necessary resources to adequately address the issue on its own. “We cannot solve all the problems ourselves,” he said. “We have needs that are greater than the property tax base can support. And so, if we were to be able to solve all of this, we would need a piece of the income tax pie, and we don’t have that.” 
Kingscourt-Rideau District Councillor, Mary Rita Holland, said, “That amount of money can do a lot, and we heard from partners that they’re ready to go to get started on those options.” 
Councillor Wayne Hill, the representative for Lakeside District, addressed some concerns as he spoke in favour of Option Five. “This is so complicated, and so difficult to resolve. It has been the most frustrating file by far that I’ve seen in my term here on Council. But what we’re doing is not working, and I think it was done with all good intentions, but it’s not working… We’re in a situation where we are being asked to endorse the other options, a situation that is not safe and not healthy.” “Mental health is a health issue and that’s a provincial issue… We have to force people at the next level of government to make the appropriate contribution to support us to do what needs to be done. A solution to that is not having people live in encampments,” added Hill, as he called on other levels of government to address the issue.
Pittsburgh District Councillor, Ryan Boehme, echoed Hill’s and McLaren’s comments. “We’re probably at the limit of what we can afford as a city… These are City problems because we face them every day, but these are beyond the responsibility and the capability of a City to manage them on their own.” “The problem seems to always rest with us because we are the closest level of government to the people, but these are problems that we’re not equipped and/or funded to actually deal with,” added Boehme. 
While many councillors spoke in favour of Option Five, Sydenham District’s Peter Stroud reiterated his support for a sanctioned encampment. “The idea of the related encampment was to try the situation [for] those that are already camping, knowing that they have chosen the camping lifestyle and, as we’ve heard, some have done so for years… It would give us a humanitarian option when we enact the encampment protocol.” 
Sydenham District Councillor Peter Stroud speaks against Option Five in the report, which would return the City to disallowing camping in public parks. Screen-captured photo.
“If we do choose Option Five, it’s very clear we are left with a residual, very troublesome reality, and that is the people who are currently camping in the City of Kingston. They will all, one by one, be subject to traumatic eviction… We need to maintain the compassion for those unfortunate individuals,” Stroud remarked. 
Council eventually voted 9-2 in favour of Option Five, with Stroud and Williamsville District Councillor, Jim Neill, as the two votes against. After opting out of a sanctioned encampment, Council then proceeded to approve a clause to resume its encampment protocol, which provides a framework for by-law officers to remove individual encampments from City property, “once alternative service options have been provided to individuals.” The protocol was paused last November alongside the rise of the COVID-19 Omicron variant wave in Kingston and its impact on the city’s homeless population. 
The report initially called for the protocol to be amended to shorten the hours of notice from 48 to two, however, Council approved an additional amendment, raising the approved hours of notice to six. This means that authorities must give campers six hours notice before they can carry out an eviction.
Councillor Holland spoke out against the amendment. “We’ve heard a lot from members of the public on this subject, and many thought there was no reason to change from 48 at all… To make a decision like this, when, really, what we need to do is understand what the reality is for people who are unhoused in the community, and start to develop a way of assisting them through this encampment protocol.”  
The encampment protocol amendments passed by a vote of 10-1, with Neill opposed. Members of Council then voted 7-3 in favour of a clause to resume the encampment protocol effective Friday, Jun. 30, 2022 — the next day — with Holland, Stroud, and Neill against. 
Council also voted to direct City staff to prepare a public anti-nuisance by-law, meant to address some of the problematic behaviours observed in the downtown core in recent years. “Staff did receive a number of complaints from members of the public who were concerned about safety due to behaviours exhibited by certain individuals in public spaces, including on public sidewalks. Staff and Kingston Police have also received numerous reports of unprovoked, aggressive, and threatening behaviour resulting from incidents in the downtown core and City parks,” noted Solicitor Morley. 
Finally, members of Council voted to have staff explore amendments to its by-law on the use of City streets, to better address the influx of shopping carts and other objects on downtown sidewalks. Following a proposed amendment from Councillor Holland, staff will “provide options to address shopping carts and other structures… and to present the proposed by-law to Council for consideration by November 10.”
The agenda for the meeting, along with the relevant reports, is available through the City website. Video of the full meeting can be viewed on the City’s YouTube channel.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As follow-up, I received the following e-mail from a concerned citizen who wished to remain anonymous for fear of personal attack. 
Hi Mary:
CAO Hurdle provided the $17 million in two years in her presentation to council at the 2hours and 21 minute mark in the video (see link below). A second reference was at 28 minutes which she added another million dollars expense  for a total of $18. million. 
Kingston, Ontario – City Council – June 29, 2022 – YouTube
There was another budget item which allowed $182, 000 for 8 individuals to be housed (motels?) for 5 months.  (KFL&A).  ???

3. City Offers Trees at Reduced Prices for Kingston Property Owners

4. Message from Just Recovery Kingston Community Group re Upcoming Municipal Election

On October 24th, 2022, people in Kingston will vote for city council and for mayor – or, at least some people will. The fact is local elections have the lowest participation of any elections in Canada. This is unfortunate, because residents have far more power to make change happen than at provincial or federal levels, especially when those elections are often heavily influenced by corporate media and well-funded lobbyists.
At the local level, it takes fewer people to make a big difference. We can put our vision for the city
we need forward, we can talk to other people to build support for our ideas, and we can win. 
Just Recovery Kingston began in 2020, in the first summer of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are a
group of local people committed to making Kingston a place where we take care of the land, air, water, and each other. Over the last two years, we have worked on expanding funding and support for
community gardens, improving local public transit, encouraging a more diverse group of candidates
in city council, and increasing input from local people in the city budget.

This year, we have created a toolkit for you, the local person who might be wondering how a local
election could matter. We’ve done the research, talked to others doing similar work, and created a
list of some of the policies that would make living in Kingston better. We want you to read them,
talk to people about them, share them — and ask anyone who wants your vote what they think
about them.  

Don’t know what district you live in
Contact the people running in your district — ask them about their position on climate change, housing, transit and food security:
Most importantly — register to vote: 
    Before September 1st:
    After September 1st:

For further information on major issues at the municipal level such as:
Climate Policies, Housing Policies, Transit Policies, and Food Security Policies, contact to download their useful toolkit.
They are also looking for more local people to help spread the word if you would like to be involved.
To see more of what this group has been up to visit:

5. This Canada Day, Settlers Should Think About Land Back
Received from the Kingstonist, June 30, 2022 – Opinion – Katie Jourdeuil, QueensU
Last Canada Day, Parliament Hill teemed with orange as thousands marched in response to the unmarked graves of Indigenous children being found at former residential school sites. #CancelCanadaDay trended on social media while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to reflect on the country’s failures.
As in-person festivities return to Ottawa for the first time since 2019, it appears to be business as usual. But should it be?
A demonstration on the train tracks at John Counter Boulevard in Kingston during the demonstrations in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en that took place across Canada in February 2020. Photo by Cris Vilela.
For most settler Canadians — myself included — July 1 is a day to celebrate the rights, freedoms and privileges that come with being Canadian. Privileges, however, come with responsibilities. A crucial one for settler Canadians is to build meaningful relationships with Indigenous people and nations.
Many Canadians dislike being labelled “settlers.” The term refers to non-Indigenous people who, or whose ancestors, settled on Indigenous land, although recent debates question the inclusion of descendants of slaves and non-white immigrants.
As a white scholar studying territorial rights, I see my status as a settler as part of being Canadian. It is not an accusation, but a reality of living on unceded Indigenous lands. It is a recognition that the benefits Canadians enjoy are built on the denial of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to self-determination of their land according to their laws.
Settler Canadians have a responsibility to build respectful, reciprocal relationships with Indigenous nations on our shared geographic space. This relationship starts with land restitution.
What is land restitution?
For many settler Canadians, “land back” discussions generate anxiety and discomfort. Contrary to people’s perceptions, however, land back does not mean the removal of all non-Indigenous people from North America. Instead, as many Indigenous leaders have argued, it is about restitution: the return of jurisdictional control to Indigenous nations.
In legal and political philosophy, jurisdiction is the right to make and enforce laws over a geographic area. It also often includes control over the extraction and development of natural resources.
When we talk about restitution in Canada, we are talking about Crown land — land owned by federal and provincial governments. Eighty-nine per cent of Canada’s land is Crown land, while the other 11 per cent is privately owned.
The Indigenous territories that make up Canada. Image via Native Land Digital.Indigenous land rights in Canada are protected under Section 35 of the Constitution as Aboriginal title. These are special rights that flow from Indigenous nations’ political sovereignty.
Aboriginal title, however, is not the same as restitution. This is because Canada has ultimate legal authority — or “Crown sovereignty” — over all land within its borders.

Why does restitution matter?
Indigenous nations’ jurisdictional rights are recognized in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They are also recognized in treaties.
Canada has ignored many of its treaty obligations, but treaties are integral to land restitution. They recognize Indigenous nations as “separate but equal” with their own constitutional orders and governance structures who share land with the Canadian state.
Land restitution also has larger, positive implications. A 2019 United Nations Report on biodiversity found that Indigenous jurisdictions can mitigate biodiversity loss. This is because Indigenous practices emphasize land restoration and sustainability. Land restitution, then, is also crucial in stopping the climate crisis.
It is important to note that Indigenous nations do not need settler consent to exercise their jurisdiction over land, and many do so, despite violent resistance from the Canadian state. Ending this violence requires settlers to recognize their responsibility to support restitution.

How are settlers responsible?
Colonialism is perceived as a “sad chapter” in Canada’s history, for which settlers must make amends. But colonialism is not in the past: it continues in the present through government policies and institutions and the denial of Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
A peaceful protest in Montreal, held in July 2021, to honour the 751 Indigenous children whose unmarked graves were located at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Cowessess First Nation, Saskatchewan. The sign centre frame reads ‘The Indigenous community matters!’ Photo by Francois Le Nguyen.
We often think of responsibility in terms of liability — someone is responsible when they cause or fail to prevent harm. Responsibility, however, can also be political: people can be responsible because they benefit from unjust institutions. They can also be responsible by virtue of their membership in a political collective, like the Canadian state.
So settler Canadians have a collective responsibility as Canadians to support land restitution — regardless of our individual actions. This is because land restitution is required for building just relations with Indigenous people and nations.
The first step is to critically engage with the meaning of being settler Canadian. One way to do this is to learn about whose land you live on and the history of that land. If you live on treaty land, what are your responsibilities? Another is to hold your elected representatives accountable: How are they advancing justice for Indigenous Peoples? Are they working to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action or the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls?
Canada Day can be a day to celebrate the privileges we enjoy as Canadians. However, we must also acknowledge that we enjoy these privileges as settlers. This Canada Day, settler Canadians should take time to reflect on our responsibilities to build a better future: one that all sovereign nations on this land can celebrate.
This article is written by Kaitie Jourdeuil, a PhD Candidate in Political Theory at Queen’s University, who has devoted much of her research to territorial rights.

6. Third Crossing Styrofoam Clean-Up Update
Received from Third Crossing team, June 27, 2022
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following was sent to a number of us interested in, and following, the Third Crossing team’s efforts to clean up the devastating amount of Styrofoam still in evidence along both west and east sides of the Cataraqui River.

We had cleaning crews focused south of the project last week, conducting clean-up activities along the shorelines. There is some additional work planned for the north shorelines, as well as a final staff assessment and confirmation survey that will be conducted this week to determine any remaining areas in need of targeting. The work will then shift towards general mitigation and ad-hoc clean-up activities. We anticipate by next week that these weekly email updates will no longer be required based on observations thus far, and the limited amount of Styrofoam observed/remaining.
Here are the specific activities undertaken last week, inclusive of curtain management and wildlife protection:

Jun 20: Curtain inspection, staff shoreline assessment (south). Belle Island shoreline clean-up.
Jun 21: Belle Island shoreline clean-up completed; east shoreline commenced.
Jun 22: Company safety stand down (no work occurring). General housekeeping and toe of slope in the afternoon.
Jun 23: West shoreline clean-up (on-site), bulk recon and collection.
Jun 24: Staff inspection of causeway toe of slope and interior curtains.

7. Blood-sucking sea lampreys threaten Great Lakes ecosystem, CTV News, June 20, 2022.  The bi-national Great Lakes Fishery Commission is spreading awareness of a blood-sucking fish that has been wreaking havoc to ecosystems for decades.  The sea lamprey, a snake-like fish that has more than 100 teeth and a suction-cup mouth it uses to latch onto and penetrate the scales of other fish.  

8. Great Lakes Mayors Team Up to Support Ontario Marine Strategy, 101.1 More FM, June 23, 2022.  A group of Great Lakes mayors say Ontario should prioritize the maritime transport sector.  St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik, who is also the Chair of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, met with marine industry representatives today, as well as Port Colborne Mayor Bill Steele and Mayor George Cornell of the Township of Tiny.  The group, which represents more than 150 Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River mayors, says the Ontario government needs to create an effective Marine Strategy.

9. New strategy released to reduce plastic waste entering Great Lakes waters, The Kingston Whig Standard, July 4, 2022.  A new, five-year strategy and action plan has been created to reduce plastics from polluting the Great Lakes.  In a joint Canada-U.S. effort, the Council of the Great Lakes Region has laid out a strategy to reduce plastic packaging waste and throw-away litter from entering critical waters in the basin including Lake Ontario and Bay of Quinte.

10. Muskies Becoming a Growing Concern in the Upper St. Lawrence River
Received from Blue Fish Canada, June 26m 2022
Muskies are becoming a growing concern in the Upper St. Lawrence / InformNNY
According to the Gananoque 1000 Islands Chapter of Muskies Canada, there has been a recent surge of dead Muskellunge fish floating on the St. Lawrence River. Although the group said that dead fish are often found on local water bodies in the spring months, the recent reportings are a cause for concern. The group said in a press release “there is a fine line between normal and diseased mortality.” To document any abnormalities, all anglers are required to report and subsequently recover all dead muskies so an autopsy can be conducted. Anglers should email the Gananoque 1000 Islands Chapter of Muskies Canada at and provide their name, phone number and the exact location for recovery.

11. Concern re Microplastics Entering Marine Food Webs
Received from The Conversation, June 26, 2022

12 “Lake Protection Workbook: A Self-Assessment Tool for Shoreline Property Owners
The “Lake Protection Workbook: A Self-Assessment Tool for Shoreline Property Owners” is an educational tool that helps property owners make improvements to their shorelines,and provides information about lake protection. It includes a series of questions that will help you assess how well you are protecting your property and your lakefront through everyday actions. The Workbook also provides practical information, recommendations, and space for recording improvements to assist you in your lake protection efforts.  
This Workbook was produced by the Lake Links Planning Committee with collaboration and review from many organizations including: Cataraqui Conservation, Friends of the Tay Watershed Association, Lake Networking Group, Lanark County Stewardship Council, Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and Watersheds Canada.
While you can always download an online copy for free, you can also now order a physical copy for $2.00+shipping by emailing Monica at Payment can be sent by e-transfer or by cheque, and will be arranged by email. Copies are now ready to ship! If you have any questions, please email Monica at
Already using your Lake Protection Workbook? Make a positive change in your community and be entered in a draw for a $100 gift card to your local native plant nursery! Take a photo of you using the Lake Protection Workbook and taking local action and post it on social media using #LakeBookChallenge. You can also email a photo and caption to This contest ends September 30, 2022 and is open to Canadian residents. 
Best wishes,
Cataraqui Conservation, Friends of the Tay Watershed Association, Lake Networking Group, Lanark County Stewardship Council, Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and Watersheds Canada
The 2022 Lake Links Planning Committee

13. 2021 Heat Dome had Wide-Ranging Impacts on Marine Life
A new study in the journal Ecology suggests that last year’s heat dome over the west coast of B.C. and Washington state may have “far-reaching” effects on the ecology of beaches, bluffs, inlets and river deltas, in addition to the impact on fisheries and cultural connections that the land, sea and sea life provide.
The heat that descended on the West Coast last June not only killed 619 people, but also roughly a billion sea creatures, which baked to death as temperatures soared.

Organized by researchers at the University of Washington, the study said the heat dome “would have been virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.” The authors hope it will serve as a “bellwether for future extreme temperature events, which are predicted to become more frequent and more severe in a warmer climate.”

In the days that followed the extreme temperatures, a network of local scientists from First Nations, universities, federal and U.S. state agencies fanned out to 108 sites spanning the inner and outer coasts to observe the impact on marine life, according to the study.

One of them was UBC marine ecologist Christopher Harley, who co-authored the study. During a recent research trip to Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver, Harley used a quadrat — a small plastic, grid-like frame — to count the number of sea creatures clinging to boulders exposed by the low tide.

“There’s barnacles and mussels and snails and seaweeds and crabs hiding in the cracks,” Harley said.

The site, which Harley has been visiting regularly for the last year, is a reminder of how badly the heat devastated sea life. Remembering his first trip to the beach after the heat dome hit, he said, “I could smell the beach before I got to it and that is never a good sign. It’s rotting seafood.” 

Over the next weeks and months, Harley travelled up and down the coast, studying the extent of what he called “the scene of the crime.”

“There were some places where it was just staggering how many dead mussels there were, and over the course of the summer, those shells were just washing in on the beaches and they looked just like snowdrifts. It was something I had never seen before.”

The observations in the study showed that some species fared better than others because they burrowed into the sand or were closer to the water at low tide. For example, the study said “species found higher in the intertidal, such as acorn barnacles, were generally found in worse condition than species found lower in the intertidal, such as clams and oysters.”

Some areas, such as the outer coast (which is exposed to the Pacific Ocean, like the west coast of Vancouver Island), managed better because the tide was out earlier in the day, when it wasn’t as hot, and then came in when the air temperature rose, so the cooler water was able to protect the sealife.

“It’s as if you were trying to … cook frozen peas versus fresh peas. It takes longer to cook the frozen peas,” said Harley. “So there were a few advantages that the outer coast had over places closer to Vancouver.”

There are other examples closer to home of how even small differences in exposure to the sun made a difference. Harley pointed to one boulder on Kitsilano Beach and explained that the part facing west experienced more damage than the part facing east, which sat in the shade.

This year, the West Coast had an unusually cool spring, which Harley hopes will aid in the recovery of the populations that were damaged during the heat dome. But he worries about the impact of another heat wave and the unforeseen impact on the delicate ecology of the near shore.

“If you get the next catastrophe before recovery happens, that’s like getting a sunburn on skin that’s already damaged from a sunburn last week,” Harley said. 

The challenge, he said, is trying to figure out just how much heat marine life can endure. “As water has become more acidic, the ability for animals to tolerate high temperature is changing — but we don’t know by how much.”

– Laura Lynch 


14. Merlin’s Bird Sound Identification App
Thanks Fred Pentney for this.
Birds aren’t just wonderful to watch, they’re lovely to listen to. And learning their calls makes birdwatching instantly more exciting and more enjoyable.  
Use the Merlin Bird ID to unlock your new superpower—birding by ear:
 It’s easy—take out your phone, press record, and watch as Merlin identifies who’s singing in real time. Here’s how to use Sound ID.
Focus on rhythm, pitch, and tone. Once Merlin has suggested a name, how do you make it stick in your brain? Key in on these 3 qualities of any bird song
Here’s to a day full of warbles, tweets, and trills. Happy birdwatching (listening!), 
Drew Weber 
Merlin Project Coordinator

That;s it for now.
Hope to see you in Doug Fluhrer Park this Sunday for the turtle event.