Adopt a drift card to help protect our coast

In October 2013, two months before Kinder Morgan’s application for their Transmountain tar sands pipeline and oil tanker project was submitted to the National Energy Board, Raincoast with partners Georgia Strait Alliance and Friends of the San Juans, launched our drift card study.

Over the following six months, over 2,500 cards (4″x6″; pieces of plywood painted yellow and labelled) were released at locations along the shipping route from Vancouver to the Juan de Fuca Strait. With more than 1,000 reported recoveries to date ranging from Vancouver, Johnstone Strait, the Gulf and San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, Washington state, Haida Gwaii and BC’s north coast, the cards are telling an incredible story.

Our drift card study is a perfect example of research that creatively meshes science with public awareness.  The results from the study are improving our understanding of ocean circulation in the Salish Sea, helping to identify places especially vulnerable to spills, and will be used by scientists at UBC and elsewhere. At the same time, those finding a drift card on their favorite beach or stretch of coastline experience a tangible and visceral connection to the fact that, as the cards state, this could be oil.

An important component of this study involves looking at seasonal comparisons. We need drops in August to look at summer circulation patterns, and have a number of committed partners lined up to do so near Vancouver. Now we need your help to drop cards at locations like Turn Pt., and near Victoria. Producing a drift card entails priming and painting plywood, stamping and numbering it, and finally sealing it. It also requires a team of volunteers and staff, as well as boats and captains for the actual drops.

Now you can contribute to the effort by participating in our Adopt-a-Card program. Twenty dollars adopts one card, and we need at least 200 cards for each drop location. For every card adopted, you will receive notification of their card number, so you can track them on our study website – When (and if) your cards are recovered, you will receive another email telling you where it was found. You can even help by spreading the word and keeping a look out for them on local beaches throughout the Salish Sea.

Please help us protect our coast on BC Day by adopting cards or supporting the drift card project through a donation.

For the coast,
Andy Rosenberger, Biologist

Image of recovered drift card BA-95This could be your card!
Recovered in May 2014 on Triangle Island at the far northwestern end of Vancouver Island, card Q-12 illustrates the far-ranging potential for oil spills from southern BC.


Click here to donate and adopt cards now!

By adopting a card, you will receive notifications of your card numbers and where they are recovered. Please adopt-a-card now, and help to protect our coast.


You can find more information on our drift card study at

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