Beachquest: life on Gabriola’s shore

Carroll Hodge

Gabriola Museum and Historical Society

Tuesday, August 5 2014

Underwater forests (bull kelp), mini aquariums (tide-pools) and “cling-ons” (mussels) are just a few of the plants and animals on Gabriola’s remarkable shoreline. Surrounded by the Salish Sea (Georgia Strait) and its 3,000 species of marine life, this island has a range of beaches, each with its own identity. Brickyard Beach has rich oyster and clam beds, and Drumbeg Park overlooks tidal currents and whirlpools, while Descanso Bay and Taylor Bay have valuable eelgrass beds that provide nurseries for hundreds of marine animals. 

The Gabriola Museum has published BeachQuest, a guide to five of our island beaches with illustrations of the twenty plants and animals most easily found on each of them. BeachQuest is also a new exhibit at the museum with displays of the marine life that live in each of the intertidal zones of a beach, and of the animals that live only underwater. This exhibit and guide are part of a new initiative at the museum- reaching out to families and schools, and encouraging an island-wide sense of stewardship for our marine environment. 

BeachQuest received essential funding from the Gabriola Recreation Society and the Small Islands Studies Conference. It was a creative collaboration between the museum’s Carroll Hodge and April Vannini; volunteers Edith Krauss, marine biologist/educator; Devon Featherstone, artist/illustrator; and Nancy Boyes, graphic designer. Marine biologist/photographer Ken Cripps donated underwater photographs to the exhibit, and Jeffrey James created the guide’s cover photographs. 

BeachQuest guides are available at the Museum, Descanso Bay Campground and The Gym @ Twin Beaches. Copies will also be available soon at the Gabriola Library.