World Oceans Day gave students from Roosevelt Elementary School the chance to learn more about the work being done to keep the oceans safe on the North Coast.
The government of Canada introduced the concept at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 as a way to bring focus on how people can protect and conserve the oceans. By 2008, the internationally celebrated day was officially recognized by the United Nations.
On June 8, Roosevelt Grade 3-4 teacher, Mike McDowall, brought his students to the waterfront at the Cow Bay Marina. They met with representatives from the Port of Prince Rupert, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Marine Search and Rescue.
The students explored three different stations on their outing. One station was about port and the work that they do up at the interpretive centre.
“Another group is doing water testing, learning about salinity, temperature and oxygen levels. The other groups are getting on the service vessels learning a little bit more about some of the services they do to help people locally,” McDowall said.
Edward Stacey, a fishery officer with DFO, was offering tours on the boat and explaining that the work he does is akin to what the RCMP do. His job is to ensure laws and management plans are in place to ensure the protection of future fisheries.
He told the students about the thermal imaging used on the boat to find people who are illegally harvesting shellfish to sell. Learning about this was a highlight for Grade 4 student, Dyani Humperville-Clifton.
Another education initiative in Prince Rupert comes from Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), an organization based out of the University of Victoria and funded by the federal and provincial governments.
ONC started a Youth Science Ambassador program and they’re searching for a recent Aboriginal high school or college graduate in Prince Rupert who can be a local representative for the organization’s educational outreach.
“We are hoping to hire indigenous people so we can have more connection between local and place based science,” Hoeberechts said.
In March, ONC installed ocean observatories on Ridley Island and on Digby Island. The former location is the only one up and running.
“We have a weather station and a shore camera and those are reporting data. People can go to the website and see that data already,” said the associate director of user services, Maia Hoeberechts.
There was an issue with the transformer on the Digby Island location and Hoeberechts estimates that the underwater data won’t be available to the public until mid-July.