Researcher for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation says there are hopeful signs for wildlife; danger as well
Cara Mckenna, The Star, Published: Friday, November 01, 2013
“There’s humpback whale poop in the freezer,” Brian Falconer chuckles as he enters the kitchen area of Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s research vessel, Achiever.
Upon questioning, he casually adds that the freezer also contains blubber and bits of harbour seal. “When there’s a kill, we take samples of stuff that floats up,” he explains. “Bits and pieces of predator’s meals – both processed and unprocessed.”
Falconer, a Protection Island resident, lives on Achiever for up to seven months per year while he is on research trips to the Great Bear Rainforest – a trip he has taken annually for over 20 years.
The journey takes about five days to and from Protection Island with Falconer navigating the vessel.
While Falconer jokes that he and his colleagues at Raincoast are “the pooper scoopers of the West Coast” – humpback whales aren’t the only creatures they collect scat samples from – the small non-profit has influenced government organizations like the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and is an official intervener for the National Energy Board in the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion process. Falconer even helped coin the name “Great Bear Rainforest” in the 1990s, which now commonly refers to the remote temperate rainforest region between Vancouver Island and Southeast Alaska. “The communities are very remote, difficult to access, and there’s not a lot of infrastructure there,” he said.
“That’s why getting and building this boat has been such a great thing for us.”
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