Since 1972, Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre (BMSC) has been weaving together an extraordinary scientific community of students, researchers, staff, and alumni. We invite you to discover how we are navigating challenges and opportunities!
Looking back on the challenges of 2020, and as we look forward to the promise of 2021, it is difficult to fathom that almost 10 months ago we began creating plans to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic in Bamfield. As we worked together to keep everyone safe, we shared anxieties about the potential impact this disease could have on our remote community. We also gripped with the reality of no visiting students.
We are incredibly grateful to the efforts of our BMSC team who continue to work tirelessly to keep our branch campus operational during this time and for their passion and ingenuity as we pivoted to offer new, safe ways to support research and our educational programs. Our Education team delivered remote #BMSCLive shows and interactive Promoscience activities for hundreds of students, including new productions with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. We offered five field courses online with a BMSC twist that saw students interacting with their instructor and collecting data “live” in the Bamfield environment. One student exclaimed that the course she took “was the best course I’ve taken in university… ever”! We are grateful to our Research Team who supported critical research activities and salvaged countless experiments and graduate research projects. We are grateful for the guidance and mentorship of our WCUMSS President, Jon Driver, and the rest of our Management Council as we continue to navigate this unprecedented and tumultuous time. Indeed, although vaccines are in sight we continue to exercise the utmost caution and remain closed to the public at this time.
We also celebrate a number of achievements that will be transformational for BMSC and the community. Our advocacy to support the Huu-ay-aht First Nations proposal and their leadership to fix the Bamfield Road culminated with a commitment from the BC Government for a major safety upgrade. In November 2020, a historic deal with the HFN was reached to construct a modern wastewater treatment plant at the BMSC. We continue to stand in solidarity against all incidents of racism and committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion through respectful and inclusive collaboration. Staff are completing anti-racism courses and we recently participated in an impactful teaching and sharing circle with Kairos Canada on the impact of residential schools in Canada.
Finally, we are incredibly grateful for your support and the engagement of our amazing alumni. Your letters, donations and enthusiasm for stewardship continue to inspire us to keep working to enable others to experience BMSC’s life-changing exploration and discovery in this beautiful environment.
On behalf of all of us, best wishes for a safe holiday season and a very Happy New Year!
- Sean Rogers, Director
BMSC and Huu-ay-aht First Nations form historic partnership to clean local waters and improve wastewater management
We are pleased to celebrate the recent groundbreaking ceremony marking the construction of a modern wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations (Huu-ay-aht) at the BMSC. In 2018, the Huu-ay-aht and the BMSC signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to work together on the construction of the WWTP. The total project budget for the WWTP is $8 million, with Indigenous Services Canada committing $3.6 million and the Huu-ay-aht investing the final $4.4 million needed to complete the plant.
The BMSC is providing the land and the existing outfall to the project. In addition, the BMSC’s member universities (University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, University ofAlberta and University of Calgary) committed $1 million towards the construction of the lift station; controls and related appurtenances, inlet/outlet piping, as well as the design of the force main that will convey the BMSC’s wastewater to the future WWTP.
BMSC is celebrating 25 years of the Fall Program, an intense, immersive, marine sciences experience at the fourth-year, senior undergraduate level. Each year, BMSC has hosted up to 24 undergraduate students for this impactful program. Long-time researcher Dr. Rich Palmer (University of Alberta) was instrumental in developing the Fall semester program in marine sciences 1996 and has since instructed the Structure & Function in Marine Animals course annually.
To celebrate this milestone, we connected with as many Fall Alumni as we could find, and hosted a Happy Hour Zoom event on December 10th. Almost 80 Fall Program Alumni attended to congratulate Rich, share memories and reconnect with their peers. It is clear many BMSC Alumni lives were shaped by their experiences with Dr. Rich Palmer and deeply impacted by the BMSC Fall Program. #BMSCAlumniRock
During the Summer and Fall of 2020, we provided university students with opportunities to experience the life-changing environment of Barkley Sound online. As is typical of BMSC undergraduate courses, students gained valuable field skills and knowledge, albeit remotely. The courses included a combination of real-time and asynchronous interactions with instructors and tutorial assistants, broadcast from the lab and field at BMSC.
Stay tuned for announcements about Summer and Fall 2021 credit courses in late January.
Dr. Patrick Martone (UBC)
Video brings seaweeds to life for online Fall Seaweeds students
In the Ecological Adaptations of Seaweeds course taught by Dr. Patrick Martone (UBC), students explored the evolution, ecology and biodiversity of seaweeds and discussed ecological adaptations that have allowed them to thrive and diversify over time.
Teaching a field course online is not without its challenges, however with the assistance of the BMSC University Programs Team, Heather & Luke, Patrick was able to capture on video the magic of seaweeds for the online 2020 Fall Students.
Check out Patrick's 'Seaweed Sorter' App that the students used as a learning tool!
"This was really full coverage! I thoroughly enjoyed videos of algae identification on the beach, observing specimens under the microscope, and paper discussions. Lots of really immersive, engaging material!"
"I feel so inspired to learn more about algae and the research that is being done thanks to this course! It's really contributed to my overall sense of local ecosystems. I'm so glad this was such an engaging, enriching course.. particularly given the circumstances. Thanks to Patrick and Alana for their enthusiasm and guidance."
- 2020 Fall Students
Dr. Stephanie Green (UAlberta)
The BMSC Team photograph transects for online Fall Ecology student labs
In the Marine Population Ecology & Dynamics course taught by Dr. Stephanie Green (university of Alberta), students explored key theories about the structure and dynamics of populations, communities, and ecosystems in coastal marine environments. Through examining case studies of changing ocean biodiversity on Canada’s west coast, students had the opportunity to learn and apply skills from the ecologist’s tool box to determine how and why events like biological invasion, harvesting, and climate change affect marine species.
The BMSC Team assisted in collecting data for for students to analyze... our best effort was given to provide students with as 'real' an experience as possible!
"Efforts to make these courses more immersive given the online format are very appreciated. (eg. Videos and virtual field trips)"
"I really enjoyed the two courses I have taken so far. They are very engaging and enjoyable. The small class size and engagement from the profs have been really helpful, and I enjoy the effort put into each course. Well done. I would prefer to be at BMSC, but this is a great alternative."
- 2020 Fall Students
Dr. Rich Palmer (UAlberta)
"In the end, teaching the Animal Structure and Function course on-line this year was not nearly as horrible as I feared. I was hoping that my 25th and final year of teaching this course would be something special, and it was . . . just not as expected."
"When faced with the awful prospects of teaching a 'field course' on-line, I decided early on that I wanted to keep as much of the "look and feel" of a live classroom experience as possible, both for me and for the students. By lecturing like I normally did (whiteboard and colored pens, supplemented by handouts), and asking students to keep their video on so I could see them all on a big-screen TV, the lectures felt more real, and we did manage a decent level of interaction.
The labs also worked out better than expected. Although Zoom labs were no substitute for in-person ones, we were nonetheless able to provide some valuable experiences, for example, observations of lab morphology, fluid dynamics, particle feeding and locomotion, along with live commentary and discussion.
Having said all of this, teaching an on-line immersion course was grueling: Four hours per day, four days per week, trying to keep students engaged, in addition to all of the normal course prep etc. . . . whew! I couldn't have pulled it off without the incredible help of my tireless TA and social-media wizard, Rachel Munger."
- Dr. Rich Palmer
How to create a hands-on learning experience for our online students?
One answer was to send the coastal environment directly to the students!
We sent 2020 Fall Program students instructional packages with everything from Foldscope pocket microscopes, sea-glass from Brady’s Beach, pressed seaweed samples, edible seaweeds from Canadian Kelp (with recipes), transect tapes, beakers, pipettes, skittles and nail polish (for backyard mark-recapture exercises). We also included fixed shore crabs, barnacles and mussels, and corn syrup for the famous Fluids Lab (Fall Alumni will fondly remember the 'no slip condition'!) to provide the hands-on tools for the Animals labs.
We hope that the little part of the ocean that the 2020 Fall Students received in their packages, stays in their hearts until they have a chance to visit us in-person, in the near future.
This fall, the Team had a lot of fun delivering 18 “virtual field trips” to over 550 students. We taught coastal and marine sciences to students from grade 4 all the way to 3rd year university, with topics including marine invertebrate and seaweed diversity, the wonderful world of plankton, kelp forest ecology, marine reproductive strategies, and sea life under the docks!
“Seeing actual real-life examples of what we've been talking about in class makes the whole thing seem a lot less theoretical and more real/important.”
"The students (and adults) LOVED today’s Under the Docks show! Their comments were that you were so professional, seamless, full of information! I could tell from the stream of chat activity how engaged the audience was. Fantastic job to you, Kelly and Owen and team! THANK YOU!" -Heritage Christian Online School, K-9 Support Teacher
You can view a selection of our educational videos and interviews on our YouTube channel! Click on the images below to link to a selection of our favourite shows!
BMSC Swag is now available online!
Did you miss out on our famous BMSC T-shirts, hoodies, or a touque last time you were here, or wish to replace that one that is totally worn out because you love it so much?
George attended his first BMSC course in 2016 towards his BSc degree at the University of Alberta and has completed his last semester for his degree in Design while out at BMSC. His design degree included a practicum researching more efficient and sustainable uses of the current spaces in our main building. George is also a current Eco-Canada intern working on informatics to bridge design and communication of BMSC data systems. George enjoys that BMSC is a natural hub to bridge his interests in both science and design – we are very happy to have him as part of our team.
Stanford, B.C.M., Danielle J. Clake, D.J., Matthew R.J. Morris, M.R.J., and Rogers, S.M. Evolutionary Applications, 13 :1 166–1182. November 2019.
BMSC Team News
We welcome Chuck Spooner as BMSC Operations Manager
As Operations Manager, Chuck will support the BMSC’s long-term goals and strategic plans and be committed to supporting innovative and evolving programs and services, overseeing and managing Foreshore Operations, Facilities and Maintenance, Housing Services, Food Services, & Diving and Safety.
Chuck approaches staff through thoughtful delegation, coaching, and mentoring, and his 30+ years of experience with the Canadian Armed Forces that included leaderships roles in remote environments will help BMSC become safer, efficient, and sustainable while improving the quality of our workplace.
Welcome to the BMSC Team Chuck!
Animal Care at BMSC
Jim Powell, Chair of the BMSC Animal Care Committee retires
In 2005, Dr. Jim Powell joined as the second member of BMSC’s first animal care committee and became Chair in 2012. Jim’s commitment and humour, along with his expertise in fishes and his desire to see BMSC succeed, helped lead the BMSC ACC to maintain Good Animal Practice certification under the Canadian Council for Animal Care.
We have all learned a great deal from Jim over the years and he will be greatly missed on our ACC. An extremely heartfelt thank you, Jim, for 15 years of service and memories!
Dr. Bill Milsom (UBC Professor Emeritus) has been appointed to this position, bringing extensive experience in animal care to the role. Welcome, Bill!