Beautiful Short Film on Conservation in the Great Bear Rainforest

Check out this beautiful new film from UBC studios documenting the collaborative work being done by First Nations communities and the University of Victoria on the Central Coast of British Columbia. Some excellent scientists and human beings featured in the film include Dr. Chris Darimont and his all-star team of graduate and undergraduate students, and Jess Housty, Qqs’ Communications Director. The film also includes some beautiful footage of both Heiltsuk and Kitasoo/Xai’Xais territory.

Great Bear from Marchfelder on Vimeo.


Hakai Research Exchange 2014

Last Friday, my supervisor Jon Moore, former SFU PhD student and fellow biologist Dr. Brendan Connors and I headed over to Vancouver Island for the 2014 Hakai Research exchange hosted by the University of Victoria. The event was the 3rd of its kind, bringing together the many diverse researcher and collaborators involved with the Hakai program. In total there were probably 200 people at the event, spanning a range of discplines from archeology and gemorphology to oceanography, ecology, conservation, and even environmental law.  In the age of declining government investment in reseach, Hakai is helping to breathe life into the research community and the many local and First Nations communities they partner with. Bringing resources and capacity to areas which not long ago were severely understudied, Hakai has created a huge amount of momentum in just a few short years.

I was honored to give a talk in the Research for Communities and Society theme. Among the other presenters in my session were Heather Bryan, postdoc in Chris Darimont’s lab at UVic, Alejandro Frid research coordinator for the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA), and three students from the UVic Environmental Law Centre who are doing amazing work to advance the legal interests of communities and ecosystems threatened by Canada’s overzealous resource extraction agenda.

All in all it was an extremely inspiring day, and it was great to see the work of so many colleagues and community partners. The conversations and connections that came out of the day will almost certainly yield worthwhile collaborations and interactions in the coming years.

We even got a little publicity out of the deal, piquing the interest of a reporter who was covering the event for desmog

You can see the proceedings from the meeting here

and you can even watch the talks here

Late-Summer Update

Summer has absolutely flown by, and predictably, updates to the website have been infrequent. All told it was another successful year at Koeye. Despite unusually high water and tides in July we managed to tag more fish that in 2013 at the weir, and sockeye returns around the region are looking to have rebounded, at least modestly following the relatively poor runs of 2013. Chinook returns to local rivers seem to have been adversely impacted by 2010 flooding which likely resulted in high mortality in incubating eggs and rearing juveniles. Coho were also later showing up this year, and it will be interesting to see how many are around when I return to Bella Bella.

I also had a couple of visitors to the Central Coast this year. One from my good friend Ryan Nathe in late June for a fishing trip to the legendary Dean River, and the other was my fiance Iva making her first trip to the Central Coast since I began working there in 2012. Both visits were wonderful, providing much needed breaks from the rigors of a four month field season and the opportunity to visit some magical places.

Iva and I spent a wonderful night hanging out with Marlene Wagner and her crew from SFU in Shearwater and were delighted by some of the most vivid bioluminescence either of us has ever seen. As we motored home slowly in the pitch black central coast night, schools of glowing fish erupted in all directions giving the ocean a haunting and magical green glow as they streaked away from the oncoming boat. The next day we headed to Koeye and spent the afternoon surfing at the mouth of the river, before spending two nights at Hakai, catching up with friends there and enjoying their legendary hospitality. If only the weather had cooperated it would have been the perfect visit.


Only a few more weeks before I head back north for the fall count, so I am enjoying some relaxation in the sun, wrapping things up on a manuscript which has needed attention since before the field season, and getting started on grant writing for the upcoming 2015 field season. It always amazes me how time passes, but I’m looking forward to wrapping up another successful season of work at Koeye and around Bella Bella.

A few pics from the summer:


Ryan’s Dean Steelhead



Iva surfs at Koeye




On West Beach at Hakai


Weir in the Water: Step by step

The weir is officially up and running for the 2014 season. With the water low in the Koeye we had an easy time getting everything in place and assembled.  Now we are just waiting for a splash of rain and the coming round of higher tides to get the fish on the move. So far we have tagged and passed 5 chrome bright wild sockeye above the fence. I thought it might be worth posting a handful of photos to show folks what the process of building the weir actually looks like. Turns out it’s actually quite simple, and miraculously all the panels and tripods from last year are still in good condition.


The crew taking a short break from moving tripods into the water


Getting rocks and sandbags to weigh down each tripod


Halfway done putting the panels on the weir


and we’re fishing

Weir Progress and a Visitor


On Wednesday, in the midst of getting the weir built and installed we had a visitor to the weir site. Taking it’s time crossing the river and moseying downriver the bear gave us lots of opportunity for a few photos.

The weir is up and running and we are expecting the first few sockeye on this evenings high tide. More pictures and a proper update when I am back in town after this weekend.