Nicole Robinson and Archie Dundas spend three months a year living in a cabin on Rennison Island, where they monitor marine activity in Caamano Sound. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

VIDEO: Whale researchers find nearly three feet of plastics on remote beaches

Students and teachers in School District 52 learn from Gitga’at whale researchers in Caamano Sound

For three years, two Gitga’at whale researchers have collected data in Caamano Sound, where they have discovered the shocking amount of plastic on remote beaches.

“It’s all littered. It’s incredibly disgusting. Every beach must have hundreds and hundreds of plastic bottles and other plastic debris,” Nicole Robinson said.

Robinson and her husband Archie Dundas spend three months a year living in a cabin on Rennison Island, where they monitor marine activity in Caamano Sound. Last week, they presented their work to students at Charles Hays Secondary School and Prince Rupert Middle School, and then to teachers at Wap Sigatgyet, the Aboriginal education department for the school district.

“We record everything that moves but bugs,” Robinson said, next to Dundas who used to be a Guardian Watchman for the Gitga’at Nation. Originally, it was the watchmen who went out to monitor the area around Rennison Island, but in 2015, Robinson approached the band and requested that the two of them take over the duty.

“I put the proposal forward. This is our third year and we absolutely love it,” she said.

Their work isn’t limited to cetaceans. They observe boats, and as part of their program they approach vessels to inform them on the importance of keeping a distance from cetaceans and being more whale wise.

READ MORE: Researcher shares tips to reduce microplastics

They also collect data on crab traps, monitor abalone stocks and where spring salmon are coming from.

On Nov. 24, they spoke with teachers on how they collect data, how to ID humpback whales and killer whales, and what their day-to-day life is like on Rennison Island.

Robinson’s sister, Tina Demings, a program resource teacher for School District 52, suggested having the whale researchers come to Prince Rupert and speak with the students.

James Zlatanov, an Aboriginal helping teacher for the high school and middle school, was at the session. He said the two researchers will help make the units on the Great Bear Sea and First Nations science more real to students.

“Kids always ask ‘Why are we learning this?’ But this is happening right now. They’re doing the work,” Zlatanov said.

One message the researchers left with the students was to think more about recycling. The plastic they’re finding on the beaches isn’t just from the 2011 Japanese tsunami, it’s from all over the world. Many of the trash they find is plastic bottles, flip flops, styrofoam, toothbrushes and lighters.

“We’ve been monitoring one area specifically on Moore Islands, near petroglyphs, and we’ve been monitoring it for three years. When we first started it was about a foot deep and now it’s almost three feet deep of small what they call microplastics. Archie bottled some up this year,” Robinson said.

The man of few words held up a two-litre plastic bottle filled with small pieces of plastic to demonstrate what they’re finding on remote beaches on the North Coast.

“It looks like sand but it’s not sand, it’s all plastics,” Robinson said.

Video of microplastics contributed by Archie Dundas

 

shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com 

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Gitga’at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School district #54 works on school plan

School district officials and teachers are this week communicating plans to resume… Continue reading

Closures and cancellations in the Bulkley Valley due to COVID-19

Many places and businesses have closed or reduced their hours

UPDATE: Man drowns crossing Skeena River

59-year old Prince Rupert victim pronounced dead at Mills Memorial

Better COVID-19 testing results needed in the north

Former senior Northern Health official also wants work camps shut down

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Quarantined B.C. mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Surrey’s Christine Williams shares family’s challenges, strengths

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Two arrested after man lies about COVID-19 illness to stay in Victoria Airbnb for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Liberals delay release of 75% wage subsidy details, costs: Morneau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Most Read