Wow – did you see folks pointing to that sea lion or orca the other day? Walk along Bowen’s shores and you’ll encounter everything from rocky headlands to cobble shores to sand and gravel beaches and if you are lucky, see those iconic animals.
However, we have cause for concern that the habitat that supports them may be in trouble.
No matter what type of Bowen shore, increasingly, we see removal of shoreline native plants and trees as well as the addition of seawalls, riprap and docks (shoreline “structures”) altering our natural shorelines and their function.
Ecological understanding of these alterations to the shoreline has changed. Long viewed that these changes to shorelines are relatively benign, current science shows that structures can change wave dynamics and prevent the beach nourishment by changing natural sediment flow. Together with removal of native trees, shrubs and vegetation just above the high tide line result in habitat loss for clams and other shellfish, as well as insects, worms, and amphipods that feed forage fish and young salmon. These forage fish and salmon ultimately feed those animals at top of the food chain. From insects to orcas – what we do on our shores does impact the orcas and other animals in the marine food chain.
So, what can we do to keep our shorelines healthy?
Keep our shorelines natural: prune for better views but don’t clear-cut. Keeping native vegetation will allow roots, shrubs, and trees to act like rebar holding together soils preventing erosion and protecting habitat. If shoreline protection is needed, use a “nature-based” solution rather than hard armour like riprap or a seawall. Studies show that this approach can be as effective as hard armour.
Appreciate Bowen’s shoreline as an amazing greenway that we all can enjoy whether by spending time at one of Bowen’s beaches, by kayaking along our shores or when you approach Bowen by ferry.
If you’d like to learn more about Bowen’s shores, check out the Bowen Nature Club’s Discovering Life on Bowen Island’s Beaches- Self-Guided Activities guide. This activity guide is designed to help you and your friends and family discover the many intriguing life forms that make Bowen’s beaches their home with information and hands on activity descriptions (does anyone want to visit the “Cobblestone Hotel” perhaps?).
Go to the Bowen Nature Club’s website bowennatureclub.blogspot.com or Facebook page facebook.com/bowennatureclub to find out more.