tofino's strawberry isle research society

Tofino Research: Strawberry Island — December'02

by Rod Palm, Tofino


What a year we've had here on the waters of the West Coast. A lot of whales, porpoises, sea lions, seals, otters and birds without a lot of bad sea conditions. During a radio call to the "Leviathan 2", I told Pat that it must be like a swimming pool out there. His response was, "Heavens no, a swimming pool is much rougher."

This was Tofino's biggest year ever for Humpback Whales. Since these dramatic animals started showing up in 1995, our record year had been 1999 with 50 days of visitation. This year, they have already been around for 76 days and we expect to keep getting reports right into December.

Sea Otters have become a very common treat for Tofino's adventure tourism visitors. Several of these cuddly looking little 'fur balls' have become quite accustomed to boats full of brightly colored, square faced, one eyed aliens that go 'click, click.' Again, these critters have been reported to us on far more days than they have for any other year.

This summer, we did a couple of whale entanglement workshops to play with our fancy new custom-made cutting tools.

Considering that the most common entanglement in this area is crab trap gear, the drill was to suspend a crap trap under the bow of one boat that would cruise along pretending to be a tangled Gray Whale. A second boat played the roll of the response boat by attempting to maneuver itself into the right position for a responder to thrust an extension pole fixed with a sharp tool down and under the first boat/whale. With practice we were able to expeditiously snag and cut the offending crap trap line.

I didn't think of it until later but we must have presented an interesting spectacle for harbour front sightseers.

The first boat/whale is minding his own business cruising along at about 4 knots when the second bigger boat charges up and collides with the bow of the first boat/whale. At this same moment a brawny berserker in the response boat violently stabs down at the first boat/whale with what appears to be a harpoon.

In retrospect, it's amazing that we didn't get a visit from the RCMP boat. Tofino's locals, on the other hand, are by now quite jaded and would likely have little more comment than, "Oh, it's just the Strawberry Isle Research boat."

Our contact with the Island Wildlife Rehab Station on Saltspring Island was renewed this year when Marcel Martin brought us an abandoned seal pup that had been spending the day playing with the kids at Opitsaht. Thing is, he wouldn't leave the beach and they were worried about the dogs.

On arrival, the seal is found to be somewhat undernourished, lethargic, shivering and dirty from rolling in his own feces so my girls Naeco and Nixie wash him in the tub, dry him off, wrap him in blankets then cuddle and talk to him until he goes to sleep. They name him Lucky because he has them to look after him. The next morning he is no longer cold but still lazy and his eyes are not watering (dehydration). We won't be able to release him, he is going to need some help.

A call to Saltspring and arrangements are made for a chopper to pickup Lucky at Port Alberni. Mike Woods came over to do the tubal hydration and by coincidence is on his way to Victoria so he can take him to Port. Last we heard, Lucky is well on his way to recovery as seal number 60 for the station this summer.

 Thank You…

This year, Parks Canada offered us 8 Young Canada Works students.

These high school age kids were given the job of renovating and refurbishing the prop that we use in our Build a Whale education program.

Under the direction of 'Pipot', they painted, sawed, filed, bolted, and hammered our whale back into shape and a fine new promo poster was produced. The finale of this work was their giving several presentations on Tofino's Village Green throughout the day on August 11.

Our thanks go out to these fine students and we wish them all well.

The Strawberry Isle Research Society in Tofino conducts primary research and monitoring of various marine ecosystems in Clayoquot Sound. The Society promotes public interest and awareness of the marine environment and supports other researchers in their related studies.

To become a member of the society and to support its efforts, please contact Rod Palm at (250) 725-2211, email or visit their website at

tofino | tofino time | activities | accommodation | events | directory
maps | travel | food | art & artists | photos | horoscope | tides
search | magazine | issues | articles | advertising | contact us

hosted in tofino by & studio tofino
© 2002-2014 copyright Tofino Time Magazine in Tofino Canada
© 2002-2011 Tofino Time Magazine & ThinkTank Design Inc.

tofino time december 2002

quick links:
tofino accomodations
tofino calendar

tofino surf report
tofino horoscope
september horoscope
tofino map
tofino fishing report
tofino tides
tofino weddings

tofino events:
tofino concerts
tofino events
tofino movies
tofino festivals
tofino yoga classes

tofino time magazine:
tofino time september 2012
captain vincente tofino
readers choice: the best of tofino
floating gardens at freedom cove
tofino event listings for september 2012
tofino concerts in september 2012
tofino movies in september 2012
tofino tide table for september 2012
tofino surf reports for september 2012
cox bay | wickaninnish beach
chesterman beach
tonquin beach
tofino brewing co.
horoscope for april 2013
tofino wedding guide

tofino accommodation:
tofino cabin
tofino camping
bed & breakfasts in Tofino
tofino hostels
tofino motels
tofino hotels
tofino vacation rentals
petfriendly accommodation

tofino bike rentals
tofino bear watching
tofino bird watching
tofino boat charters & cruises
tofino fishing
hot springs cove
sea kayaking in tofino
tofino storm watching
tofino surfing
tofino whale watching
tofino yoga

tofino art galleries
tofino books
tofino boutiques & gift shops
food stores in tofino
tofino outfitters

tofino yoga, spa & wellness
tofino restaurants
tofino internet cafes
tofino travel & transportation
tofino real estate
tofino vacation rentals
tofino weddings

tofino events
tofino concerts
tofino movies
tofino calendar
tofino cabins
tofino maps
tofino jobs
tofino media