Plankton sampling in Pedder Bay

October 7, 2020 by

On 5 and 6 October 2020, first year Marine Science students (those who are currently on campus) set out to collect plankton. We went out in a boat called ‘Second Nature’ and dragged both plankton nets (50 and 500 micron mesh size) through the water.

Pulling in the plankton net…

We collected some amazing drifting organisms…

A phytoplankton bonanza – centric diatoms like liquid gold!
And lots of zooplankton too!

“Plankton soup, plankton soup
Aye! You really ought to try some
The ocean is alive with plankton soup”

The 10th cohort of marine scientists write their IB exam

May 3, 2019 by

I just realized that once this group of 40 students have completed Paper 2 of their IB exam (one hour from now!), there will be 10 year groups of marine scientists educated at Pearson College! All part of my master plan to spread the word far and wide about the importance of understanding and protecting the ocean. Congratulations year 44 Marine Science students and remember that what you have learned will always be in your hearts!


Year 44 marine scientists


Pre-exam yoga (the sea lion pose!)


Lara, Elisabeth, Theo


Lining up to write Paper 1

Pedder Bay sunrise – 3 December 2018

December 3, 2018 by

In memory of little Laura…46111991372_1286723201_o


Four trips to Race Rocks in three days

October 13, 2018 by

All three first year Marine Science classes made it out to Race Rocks on Wednesday 10 October. We saw many, many, many California and Northern sea lions.

And most students were also fortunate enough to see humpback whales feeding off the south and west sides of Great Race Rock. (Terrible photos of humpbacks below followed by a decent photo of whale watching students!)

Watching for whales

The newly minted Coastal Biodiversity CAS also had the opportunity to visit Race Rocks with Garry Fletcher on Friday afternoon.


During that visit we saw a necklaced sea lion and we came across a dead Northern sea lion.

We also had a reunion of two Year 38 students, Laas, the current Ecoguardian at Race Rocks, and Helen, who is back at Pearson College for a two week visit. Incidentally these were the two artists who painted my VW van!!


Wonderfully impressive experience overall!!

Mudflat Monday for Marine Science students

September 24, 2018 by


Heading into the mudflats

Today was one of the days that I look forward to every year – Mudflat Monday! Two of the three classes braved the challenging ecosystem that is the mudflats today (the third class went last Thursday, so actually they were the first class!).


Slogging through the mudflats

We found clams, worms and crabs…

We really got our gumboots and hands dirty today! This truly is science you can sink your boots into!


Juan Daniel’s boots


Lara’s interpretive dance?

IB exam 2018 and a plankton swarm

April 27, 2018 by


Second year Marine Science students wrote the second of two papers this morning to complete their IB exam. It has been a wonderful two years – thank you!

At the same time the students were writing their exam, there was a swarm of plankton around the Pearson College dock:



I think that the zooplankton were here to wish the students well!


Many Dungeness crab megalopae have been hanging out around the dock for the past few days (helping the students revise?!).

To the Year 43 Marine Science students: I wish you all the best as you drift on out of Pedder Bay and I hope that the winds and currents are favourable so that you can drift back again some time!

Newly settled barnacles at East Sooke Park

April 11, 2018 by

I know it has been a long time since my last post, but Theo has inspired me to fire up the blog engine again! And the biggest thing that has happened lately that I need to report is something I have never seen before. While on block week field trips to East Sooke Park with first year marine scientists, we found so-newly settled barnacles that they still looked like cyprids!

We also found a few rare species and a few not-so-rare but really cool species!

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And here are the three classes:

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Northern elephant seals at Race Rocks

May 15, 2017 by

During the first year field exam at Race Rocks on Friday 12 May (post to follow…), there were 11 northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) that provided both entertainment and answers to the students writing the exam.

One of the questions on the field exam involved observing elephant seals and the seals seemed happy to oblige.

Over the course of the morning, many of the elephant seals made their way to the water.

Once in the water, one elephant seal was frolicking in the bull kelp and blowing bubbles.

In the water

Some students even tried behaving like elephant seals:

Elephant seals

Spectacular Swordfish Island

May 3, 2017 by

D block marine scientists were very fortunate to get to Swordfish Island yesterday to do a tidepool study. In addition to measuring the dimensions of two tidepools, they compared temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen of high and low tidepools. Students also made species lists for both of the tidepools they were examining.

We did expand our exploration beyond tidepools because this is such a stunning place. Here are a few of the spectacular marine species:

And two terrestrial species:

So beautiful!

Biodiversity by snorkel

May 2, 2017 by

Every year I issue a challenge to marine scientists to compare the biodiversity of two habitats. I suggest high & low in the intertidal, horizontal & vertical in the rocky intertidal, plankton tows in two locations or two areas on the dock. I always offer the option of snorkelling and a few students, like 3 or 4, usually take me up on it.

This year there were more takers for the snorkelling option than ever – 7 students in the first class and 6 in the second class.


A few students even snorkelled across Pedder Bay to compare the two different sides of the bay (see photo above).

And not all students snorkelled, below are Tomma in the intertidal and Karel sampling plankton at the green buoy. While Karel and I were in Hyaku, we watched a submarine make its way to the navy dock.

For more photos see Flickr album Biodiversity 2017.

And for a reminder of last year’s sampling see Biodiversity in Pedder Bay.