Wednesday, June 24, 2015

All Washed Up

Another washed up sailboat on Sunset Beach - photo by Junie Quiroga
A little stronger than usual northwester blew into town in the past few weeks keeping gale force winds going for quite a few days. The end result of course was a few more sail boats being washed up on shore and more headaches for owners and the coast guard to deal with. Sometimes the boats can be salvaged other times not.

Washed up Q52 buoy on wrong side of False Creek channel - photo by Junie Quiroga
Proof that it was a little nastier than expected was the washing up of starboard navigational buoy Q52 to the opposite side of where it's supposed to be at the entrance to False Creek These indispensable aids to mariners are specially designed and installed to never move so it was quite a surprise to see this happen, not to mention the fact the buoy itself was now creating a hazard to boaters not familiar with what side the hidden rocks are actually located.

Washed up English Bay slide - photo by Junie Quiroga
But strangest of all was to see the English Bay summer slide (that had just been put in place) washed up on the high water mark of the beach. Somehow it had torn free from all 4 of its moorings. Fortunately these things eventually all got fixed but you could definitely say the start of summer was all washed up.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Wishin' & Hopin'

Mother Goose & her goslings - photo by Junie Quiroga
Every spring Mother Nature brings us fresh evidence of her endless effort to ensure survival, regardless of species, in both the plant and animal kingdoms. Baby seals appear in the ocean, flowers start to bloom, and recently hatched little ducklings wander about under the careful watch of their mothers.  Nothing is more adorable than a baby and nothing is more upsetting than a mother whose baby is being threatened.

Mother Duck and her ducklets - photo by Junie Quiroga
While some mothers in the Lagoon are happily enjoying their new offspring there's a mother swan left all alone to wonder yet again what has gone wrong in her world in spite of having done all the right things. Every year Mrs. Swan carefully builds a nest with her mate and lays a few eggs but every year they either don't hatch or else simply disappear. Everyone else in the neighbourhood has a spring baby why can't she?

Mute Swan alone on her empty nest - photo by Junie Quiroga
The culprit isn't any of the other creatures in the Park or surrounding waterways but the Parks Board staff themselves. They have taken it upon themselves to single out the swans for systematic extinction and they do this each year by either addling/shaking any eggs that are laid or simply removing them, causing incredible stress to the birds in the process. From the dozens of pairs of swans that used to exist in Lost Lagoon there are only 2 pairs now remaining.

Mute Swan - photo by Junie Quiroga
These beautiful birds (properly known as Mute swans) are the most photographed creatures in Lost Lagoon, but have been deemed an invasive pest by Environment Canada. Introduced to North America in the 19th century Mute swans have rapidly expanded their population to the point of displacing the native Trumpeter swans, which the Parks Board would rather see in the Lagoon. Both are roughly the same size with the main difference being the colour of their beaks; the Trumpeter's is black while the Mute's is orange.

Trumpeter Swan
Regardless of how the Mute swan got established, they are here to stay, just like the Red Eared Slider turtles, another so-called invasive species that have taken over in the Lagoon. I don't see the Parks Board doing anything to wipe out these professional sunbathers and, even more ironic, is the Parks Board's active participation in a breeding program for Beluga whales which are definitely not a native species to Vancouver.
Red Eared Slider Turtles sun-tanning in Lost Lagoon - photo by Junie Quiroga
Managing Mute swans is one thing and now that we are down to only 4 I think we could allow a few cygnets to see the light of day. People need to register a protest with the Parks Board. In the meantime it's another year of wishing and hoping on the part of the mother swan and another year of wishing and hoping the Parks Board comes to its senses.

Mute swan with baby cygnets