SeaChange Marine Conservation Society
Our Impact Why We Exist
SeaChange Marine Conservation Society, a BC charitable non-profit since 1998, educates young people and the public about marine and watershed ecology through hands-on engaging, joyful and interactive outdoor programs. We have created and delivered award winning marine ecological programs to over 20,000 youth within the Capital Regional District over the last 15 years. With Saanich First Nations, we offer ethnobotanical tours, native plant restoration and education programs within Gowlland Tod Provincial Park, also known as Place of the Blue Grouse (SṈIDȻEȽ) by the Saanich (W̱SÁNEĆ) people. Since 2001, we have worked with 35 coastal communities to conserve and restore critical eelgrass marine wildlife habitat in BC.
Our Story What We Do
Since its inception in 1998, SeaChange has brought young people to beautiful beaches to interact with marine life on the shores and with animals in habitat aquaria on the beach. We paddle or row on calm estuaries to peek into the wonders of the marine underworld. As one EcoRowing student expressed: "Now I know about wildlife, I feel more welcomed". We design our programs with the belief that those who come to love nature will want to protect it. We also teach real science. One student exclaimed after a peek into a microscope to view phytoplankton: "If this is what marine biology is all about, I want to be a marine biologist!"
In 2000 SeaChange, with local community support, restored underwater marine habitat in Tod Inlet by transplanting 1800 eelgrass shoots. The lessons learned from this restoration sparked a coast-wide eelgrass mapping, monitoring and restoration network - the Seagrass Conservation Working Group. Since then, we have completed 19 other successful eelgrass restoration projects within estuaries in the Salish Sea.
We believe communities are the heart of conservation of this world, whether they be located in Kitimat mapping eelgrass or in Tod Inlet planting native plants during a salmon feast.
- In 2004 SeaChange was recognized by the CRD with an EcoStar Award for Environmental Education for its EcoRowing program.
- We have taught 20,000 young people within the Capital Regional District through our environmental programs, primarily through our now ten years of EcoRowing.
- SeaChange has employed many young people during its 16 year history, helping them gain experience and knowledge to advance their marine careers.
- Eelgrass, critical marine life habitat, has been restored in otherwise very degraded former log booming areas in the Cowichan, Campbell River and Squamish estuaries and Saanich and Sechelt Inlets.
- We have made very positive relationships with local First Nations communities, environmental groups and all levels of government over time. These ties help strengthen the social fabric without which all restoration and conservation of nature is impossible.
Our Programs How We Do It
The Place of the Blue Grouse: Connecting Cultures to Place
In the local sea/landscape, SeaChange is successfully making a difference in Tod Inlet (pronounced sngeet kwith - Place of the Blue Grouse - in the SENCOTEN language of the Coast Salish). SṈIDȻEȽ is located within the Gowlland Tod Provincial Park in Brentwood Bay. SṈIDȻEȽ is a place of great historical and cultural value for W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) peoples, as well as a prominent feature in an extremely popular provincial park. A network of forest, meadow, wetland, riparian and marine ecosystems, the site provides a rich opportunity to educate the public about traditional WSANEC uses for a great diversity of plants. It also creates opportunities for ecological restoration. SeaChange currently offers educational programs and restoration volunteer days that include ethnobotanical tours and WSANEC storytelling about SṈIDȻEȽ and W̱SÁNEĆ territory.
EcoRowing is moving into its tenth year. Middle school students paddle a First Nations canoe and younger students explore Tod Inlet in small boats. Ethnobotanical tours and explorations of the marine life off the dock make for a full exciting and adventurous day. We offer EcoRowing in the fall and spring months in SṈIDȻEȽ to all schools within the CRD.
Restoring, mapping and monitoring eelgrass, underwater meadows of seagrass, is also a high point of our annual activities. We work closely with other coastal communities to make our work to conserve this grassy saltwater plant relevant in planning decisions related to both on the water and on land.
What You Can Do
With sufficient financial support SeaChange would be able to fully engage communities in the restoration and well being of the Place of the Blue Grouse and over time increase the capacity of the W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations to be at home in this very special place.
Financial support for the restoration and education programs in SṈIDȻEȽ would enable SeaChange to:
- Offer more ethnobotanical tours and talks
- Employ landscapers throughout the year to continue restoration of sites without funding interruptions
- Purchase more native plants and nursery supplies for the greenhouse in the Tsartlip community to restore SṈIDȻEȽ
- Purchase more supplies for volunteers to do the work (good gloves are always in demand!)
- Enable us to employ young people for the Tod Inlet Nature Float for longer periods of time (not just summer months)
- Employ a heavy equipment operator to use machinery to remove large tracts of invasive plants so we can restore areas quicker and more efficiently
- Replace Tod Inlet Nature Float as it is aging
- Increase area for plant propagation either at the Tsartip greenhouse or another facility to lower costs of purchasing plants
- Create a large interpretive map of the site that includes First Nations and early settlement history for a permanent display
- Maintain the Tod Inlet dock and gangway regularly
- Remove invasive plant material from restored sites on a regular schedule
- Undertake shoreline restoration