Though British Columbia was the first Canadian province to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) into law in 2019, it has yet to be endorsed at a national level. This story of sea otter conservation is part of a legacy of colonial-style conservation, says Anne Salomon, a socio-ecological systems researcher at Simon Fraser University, and originator of a broader Coastal Voices multimedia project, working with Burt and multiple First Nations. That food squeeze lowers the survival of pups, driving pioneering males to seek food elsewhere. Department and Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) sea otter biologist Linda Nichol explains that while a river otter “can scoot around on the land quite well”, the hind paws of sea otters have “elongated to create flippers so they are quite awkward on land”. The only sea otters near Vancouver are the four living at the Vancouver Aquarium. Less than 2000 were left worldwide, only 30 of those off Californian waters, and they were extirpated from the Canadian coast. “Each time we want to have one of the things we did pre-history… we have to go to court, and it’s dragged on for decades,” says Wilson. Subscribe. Canada has enacted blanket laws like the Fisheries Act and Indian Act that generically undermines rights of indigenous peoples to resource sovereignty on traditional territories. Witness Biggs Killer Whales, Humpback Whales, Dolphins, Bears, Wolves, Bald Eagles and so much more!Established in 2003, Ocean EcoVentures has been creating "Life Experiences" ever since! Otters are voracious shellfish eaters.  Nowhere in Canada can one view larger populations of Sea Otters foraging in enormous kelp forests. “It was the best clam beach that ever was,” she said at a research workshop in 2018. The 77 animals that survived the translocation were clearly happy in their new habitat, and 30 years later, had fully reoccupied a large stretch of northwestern Vancouver Island. Success! She was a young child when sea otters were reintroduced to Checleset Bay. Sea otters have some special traits that have made a comeback possible. Otter return has seen abalone numbers crash too, at some sites declining 16-fold, with similar trends for sea cucumbers in Alaska. Hike and Explore the secluded beaches of Nootka Island, a beachcomber's and photographer's heaven. Acknowledging the reintroduction era as one of disconnection with indigenous people, at that time, “a full grasp of the ecosystem shift that results from sea otters was also not yet well recognised”, she says. And if this is not enough, Nuchatlitz is home to the greatest concentration of sea otters on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Biggs Killer Whales are found hunting for marine mammals along the rocky windswept shores. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife, and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday. The otter pup’s tiny front paws, downy fur, baleful squeaks and generally heart-bursting cuteness are … From a purely species-driven ecological perspective, the sea otter boom along the British Columbian coast might seem like a simple success story. 5-Day Sea Otter Kayak Tour - Base Camp Recharge while sharing waters with sea otters and other marine life. Otters were locally extinct. Whales feed on the richness of the sea. “I feel like sea otters have more rights than I do,” says Skil Hiilans Allan Davidson, Hereditary Chief of the Haida Nation, one of Burt and Salomon’s coauthors. Towards more harmonious sea otter-First Nations coexistence, Wilson sees collaborations between scientists and indigenous communities as “the kind of outside the box [solutions] that we have to do”. Photograph Wildlife, Waterfalls, Seascapes, Landscapes and Sunsets. Births happen in the water all year with most around Vancouver Island giving birth from January to March. Otters … “That’s how they would distinguish the chiefs,” Mack says. Chemical analysis revealed consistent diets over 5,000-plus years. Arriving in the massive room to present their research idea for review by assembled First Nation leaders, Salomon remembers feeling intimidated by the responsibility of forging positive relationships across cultures, the success of the project hanging in the balance. Join us! Located in beautiful Port Alice, B.C. In pre-colonial times, McKechnie’s work suggests, otters in coastal British Columbia never reached such high densities that competition drove them to look for new things to eat, like fish. Checleset Bay otter numbers didn’t immediately take off. It contributes, she says, to “a huge shift in food security and health”. Sea otters inhabit the Goose Islands, off the central coast of BC, and the isolated areas of the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, mainly the area of the Brooks Peninsula (Brooks Peninsula / Muquin Provincial Park) and adjacent Checleset Bay Ecological Reserve, an extensive area (34,650 hectares) of marine shoreline, reefs and islets providing habitat for BC’s recovering Sea Otter population. It's estimated that 300,000 sea otters populated the West Coast of North America when Captain James Cook acquired pelts at Nootka Sound, on Vancouver Island, in 1778. Experience the welcoming wonder of this remote part of Vancouver Island and the local Indigenous culture. A group or raft of sea otters off the west coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island. This 4 day, 3 night eco tour explores the coastlines of Nootka Island and beyond. More 5-Day Sea Otter Kayak Tour - Base Camp Recharge while sharing waters with sea otters and other marine life. A consistent diet over time, says McKechnie, suggests that people coexisting with otters “were actively hunting and managing their landscapes”. 15 Bigg’s Killer Whales, Vancouver Island Whale Watching, Cowichan Bay Whale Watching – Shaw TV Duncan, Ocean Ecoventures Vancouver Island Whale Watching, Sea Otters, Whales, Wolves & Bears Expedition – Nootka Sound Vancouver Island, Ocean Ecoventures has a Trip Advisor rating of. “Prior to colonialism being put upon us through the Fisheries Act and the Indian Act, our Hereditary Leaders had control over specific territories,” says Wilson. That, suggests McKechnie, means otters were well fed and eating the things they liked to eat for centuries, until the fur trade upset the balance. Nootka Sound’s solitude and serenity takes you back in time to the birthplace of British Columbia. In March 1778, Captain James Cook became the first European to set foot on British Columbian soil when he visited Friendly Cove on Nootka Island. Sea otter biologists hoped these otters would start a new colony in the forest-fringed waters of Checleset Bay, British Columbia. That, this new research argues, needs to change, with First Nations rights to non-wasteful sea otter hunting part of new path forward. Clam gardens – watery raised beds along the coast that created sheltered waters for shellfish cultivation – also had stone walls perhaps just high enough to impede otters climbing in for a feast. We will search for Coastal Sea Wolves that frequent the outer shores of Nootka Island.  If the weather outside Nootka Sound is favourable it gives us the ability to reach the continental shelf and search for less frequently seen marine mammals. It teems with wildlife. ABOUT. Sea otters were hunted up … Enjoy a packed lunch and explore the islands of Nuchatlitz Provincial Marine Park. As otter populations have grown – first slowly, now apace – other species they feed upon have been driven to scarcity, including the crabs, clams, abalone and shellfish that coastal First Nations communities formerly relied on. The restricted range is a result of the single introduction back onto Vancouver Island. Plenty is known about sea otter ecology. Prized for their luxurious warm pelts, sea otters along vast stretches of the north Pacific Rim were decimated by the European fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries. To launch their more recent examination of otter-human interactions in British Columbia, Salomon and Wilson, her early partner on the project, wanted to gain the blessing of Hereditary Chief Councils of the Nuu-chah-nulth, Haida and Heiltsuk First Nations. ... Vancouver Aquarium pausing public programming to focus on transformation. The tenacity of the sea otter over centuries is thought to be down to its diversity of prey and ability to learn (Credit: Jenn Burt). Head out to explore and experience the Sea Otters and Whales of Nootka Sound until dinner. Nichol grew up around the Strait of Georgia, the protected narrow stretch of Pacific between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Before the otters returned, clams of many sizes and species were abundant on local beaches, recalls Saqᵂistl Hilda Hanson, an Elder of the Kyuquot/Checkleset Nation. Canadian and US biologists had a plan – one they didn’t discuss with First Nations. Enjoy a small tour group size with a maximum of only 8 guests onboard. For the Haida, another Pacific coastal First Nation, head chiefs wore and lined beds with otter fur too, says Haida matriarch and scholar Kii’iljuus Barb Wilson. The Hereditary Chiefs did give their blessing for the research to proceed. Such traditional knowledge is supported by scientific data. First Nations of British Columbia's coast have a long history that is intertwined with that of sea otters in the area (Credit: Ilja Herb). The restricted range is due to the single introduction to Vancouver Island. Local: 1 (250) 748-3800 Toll-Free: 1 (866) 748-5333, You are here: Home / Sea Otters, Whales, Wolves & Bears Expedition – Nootka Sound Vancouver Island, Daily 3.5 – 4 Hour Whale Watching Tours. Now, the original Alaskan otters released into British Columbia waters have grown from a population of 89 to more than 7,000. Rebounding otters are now so abundant that on some sections of British Columbian coast they are exhausting their own food supplies. Sea otter, heron treated as team battles active oil slick off Vancouver Island Animals found covered in oil, response team looking at rehabilitation options Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Dec. 16, 2020 2:30 p.m. To a sea urchin, crab or clam, a sea otter is a fearsome predator. Nootka Sound’s solitude and serenity takes you back in time to the birthplace of British Columbia. In March 1778, Captain James Cook became the first European to set foot on British Columbian soil when he visited Friendly Cove on Nootka Island. The sea otter rescue plan that worked too well, sea otters numbered 150,000-300,000 in the early 1700s, The ingenious ‘solar canals’ of India, from surveys on the west coast of Vancouver Island, using rocks like hammers and chisels underwater and on their bellies, human-centred look at solutions for smoothing the waters, clues from stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen, otters in coastal British Columbia never reached such high densities that competition drove them to look for new things to eat, It was the job of one family to dissuade hungry otters, Find out more about how we calculated this figure here. As Burt’s collaborative study notes, First Nations were never consulted prior to British Columbia’s Checleset Bay sea otter reintroductions. CONTACT. The research team led by the University of British Columbia analyzed the rebound in sea otters off the coast of Vancouver Island. And for at least 10,000 years, long before colonisation, British Columbia’s coastal First Nations harvested shellfish and managed otter populations too. This tour is for those who truly want to experience the wilds of westcoast Vancouver Island while with all the comforts of a remote wilderness lodge after a day of exploring areas of Vancouver Island few have been lucky enough to explore. It needs to be,” she says. To do that, they first had to understand the long history of otters on the British Columbian coast, and these mercurial animals’ relationship with humans. With local reliance on shellfish, there is strong motivation to seek sea otter management solutions before more arrive along with their voracious appetites. Controlling the area came with the responsibility for looking after everything in the territory. Wildlife abounds and the scenery is breathtaking. The Cyr family has owned and operated Nootka Island Lodge for over 33 years. We will search for Coastal Sea Wolves that frequent the outer shores of Nootka Island.  If the weather outside Nootka Sound is favourable it gives us the ability to reach the continental shelf and search for less frequently seen m. Nootka Island Lodge on Nootka Sound is truly “Natural British Columbia”. That affirmation led to the group’s 2014 workshop bringing together archaeologists, scientists, leaders and representatives from 19 First Nations across British Columbia and Alaska to discuss otter, shellfish, kelp and humans interactions and brainstorm coexistence solutions. Enjoy a packed picnic lunch while exploring Friendly Cove. While sea otters can reduce shellfish harvest through predation, a … Though a return to their once widespread global distribution is still not secured, in its ability to come back, the sea otter is a remarkable story of resilience, says Angela Doroff, scientist with the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s sea otter specialist group. The Sugpiaq people already hunt limited numbers of sea otters under a waiver to the US Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972) permitting hunting for processing and fashioning into handicrafts. Encounter and photograph the wildlife and scenery of Nootka Sound from the safety of a coast guard approved rescue vessel that has been developed for comfortable wildlife viewing and photography. Biggs Killer Whales are found hunting for marine mammals along the rocky windswept shores. In British Columbia, they are found along the windswept west coast of Vancouver Island and the central coast, near Bella Bella. It is a great location to watch some humpback whales, eagles and sometimes even killer whales. University of Victoria archaeologist Iain McKechnie and his collaborators have gleaned evidence supporting this linked history from ancient coastal settlement sites. Vancouver Island. Arrive in Gold River at 4 pm, unload the boat, and say good-bye to your new friends! But though sea otters have been the darlings of many a scientific study, there’s something most sea otter research has neglected: their coexistence with the humans that, pre-fur-trade, shared their habitat for thousands of years. Sea otters are polygynous with mating happening for a few days in the water. Vancouver Island Range The sea otter is distributed exclusively on the west coast of the island, ranging from Cape Scott in the north, to Barkley Sound in the south (though southward expansion is likely occurring). Beginning in 1969, sea otters from Amchitka and Prince William Sound in Alaska were packed onto planes and flown on a long journey south. Geochemical information from the otter bones, with clues from stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen, revealed the otters’ diets of the distant past. Protecting nature from people by treating humans and nature as separate rather than integrated, she elaborates, prioritises the well-being of an endangered species at the cost of impoverishing indigenous people who coexisted successfully with otters for millennia before Europeans arrived, historically managing numbers so that they, like the otters, could benefit from the shellfish bounty of the shores. She was a young … First Nations developed multiple ways of managing sea otters, their co-competitors for shellfish. Yet in regaining the recognition of resource rights and sovereignty, “each nation has to go separately”, says Wilson. 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