Nature Vancouver is leading the charge in a shoreline survey of oysters in False Creek

Just back from a glorious walk on the seawall edge around sections of False Creek to help newbies like me learn about spotting oyster colonies in False Creek. It was amazing! We saw so much, including heaps of oysters (of the non-native Pacific kind). The walk was a kickoff of the project coordinated by Nature Vancouver member Janet Snell to do a shoreline survey for oyster colonies in False Creek. Many of Nature Vancouver’s marine biology members expertly guided the walk and I was lucky enough to be along for the ride. I learned so much! 

In under 2 hours, I now know that there are a ton of oysters living, and perhaps even thriving, in False Creek. Their shells are colourful, they are less sensitive to temperature and appear to be in abundance in some places more than others around the sea well. This is likely to be expected but it’s also hard to know exactly why. Within meters of each other there are large colonies and then sparsely populated areas where only 1 or 2 oysters reside. And in other spots along the seawall, there are literally none! Is the water better, less acidic, less full of sediment and more protected in some areas rather than others? All questions that might need to be answered along the way.

A group of Nature Vancouver members became interested in surveying False Creek for oysters after the 2022 False Creek BioBlitz co-lead by the Hakai Institute and the False Creek Friends Society. Oysters and mussels are well-known for their water filtering capacity and have been deliberately colonized in other cities and countries around the world (e.g. New York City, Japan, and Washington State) as a means of getting nature to help clean up our mess!  It appears to be working elsewhere so why not here?

Today a group of close to 20 volunteers got together to start looking more closely at our local oyster populations. We travelled both by boat and by land, to look closely at the False Creek shoreline and were amazed with what we saw in this short tour. More systematic Citizen Science surveying of the shoreline is in the works at Nature Vancouver to really map out where these bivalves are already thriving and to see if more could be done to encourage their growth.

In the meantime, False Creek Friends is so excited to be supporting their efforts. Look at just a few of the pictures I took today! If there remains any doubt about whether False Creek is alive or not……well see for yourself! Thank you, Janet, Nature Vancouver and all your supporters, for a lovely afternoon tromping around in my own backyard. I had no idea that I was steps away from a living aquarium!

Kira Leeb, False Creek Friends Society

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