Meet the UBC Sustainable Scholar: #2

Hello False Creek Friends, my name is Maggy Spence, and I am the summer student employed through UBC Sustainable Scholars Program to support the False Creek Friends Society. My position involves researching and piloting several engagement strategies to increase public awareness and involvement in marine conservation efforts in unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations commonly referred to today as False Creek.

In the first few weeks of this exciting position have been so fortunate to meet an astounding and inspirational collective of volunteers and advisors who have led the False Creek Friends Society to instigate marine stewardship initiatives within the False Creek Area. The current Sentinels of Change Light Trap Project, organized and overseen by the Hakai Institute, has inspired a sense of youth-like excitement and intrigue each time a volunteer pulls up the trap in hopes of finding megalopa. A Megalopa is the last larva stage of the lifecycle when the crab can still swim and is not yet bound to crawling on the seafloor. Documenting and recording the number of megalopae in the light traps will help estimate the health and abundance of future full-grown Dungeness crabs, and it displays one indicator of marine health in the False Creek Area (Hakai Institute, 2022).

Illustration by Mercedes Minck

With the end of the Sentinels of Change Light Trap Project in site, the False Creek Friends Society is eager to start our next set of marine conservation projects that look toward the interconnections between marine stewardship and community involvement through the False Creek BioBlitz Project.

What is the False Creek BioBlitz Project?

The False Creek BioBlitz is a newly launched project collaborating with the Scientists at the Hakai Institute and supported by the City of Vancouver and the Greenest City Project working towards a scientific Bioblitz in Early September. The Scientific Bioblitz will work to document the extent of the species within the False Creek Area and establish an initial baseline of marine health and species biodiversity in the harbour.

Banner from False Creek Bioblitz Event

The False Creek BioBlitz Project is a crucial step in working toward our long-term goal of establishing a National Marine Protected Area within the False Creek Harbour, following in the footsteps of Pymound Sound, the first-ever National Marine Park in the world.

Leading up to the scientific BioBlitz in September, in collaboration with the Hakai Institute, the False Creek Friends Society will actively engage with the citizen-led False Creek BioBlitz Project. The citizen let dataset will support the scientific observation to help create the baseline of species within the False Creek Area. 

Over the last few hundred years, there has been a divide between scientific research and citizen engagement, limiting the involvement of the broader community in marine conservation activities. The central focus of my research and advocacy attempts to bridge this gap between researchers and citizens and create opportunities for vast amounts of marine conservation work to happen here in False Creek.

Youth Involvement

Finally, we have noticed a strong interest in marine stewardship from our youngest volunteers, who often support their families within the Sentinels of Change Light Trap Project. However, we have not yet had youth-focused volunteer opportunities within the False Creek Friends Society. Therefore this June, we will be launching a youth-focused volunteer group.

This program will promote the longevity of the False Creek Friends Society by allowing youth the opportunity to become environmental stewards of their communities.

The primary objective of this program is to lean on our existing network of family connections within the False Creek Friends Society and create an intergenerational community of marine stewards and friends. Personally, I am very passionate about fostering these intergenerational connections and believe that they are one of the key drivers of a successful non-profit organization. 

Today, I will leave you with a few ideas of other places globally that have integrated scientific research, government, citizen science, and the blue-green economy to foster marine conservation efforts and stewardship. The results are overwhelming! CLICK HERE to learn more.