The Raincoast Speaker Series is a long-running social and educational phenomenon! This winter season, we invite you to join experts from around the world for in-depth discussions about locally, regionally, and globally relevant issues. All from the comfort of your home!
November 18th: Dr. Marianne Nyegaard, Mola mola
December 9th: Jessica Schaub, Jellyfish
January 13th: Dr. Scott Wallace, Basking Sharks
February 17th: Éadin N. O’Mahony, Rorquals: The Largest Whales on Earth
March 10th: Dr. Danna Staaf, Giant Squid
This Series will be via Zoom. Receive your zoom link via the ‘RSVP Please’ buttons below.
Thursday, March 10, 7:00 pm
What is a giant squid? Many different species have been referred to by this name, from the “calamar gigante” that Danna studied in Mexico and California to other species alternately known as warty squid, clubhook squid, and colossal squid. Danna will give a tour of the unique features and record-holders of each species, with plenty of attention to the one most strongly associated with the name “giant”: Architeuthis dux. She’ll also present her research on Humboldt squid, a smaller but still formidable cousin, and discuss the crucial roles all of these “monsters” play at the center of oceanic food webs.
Danna Staaf is a marine biologist and author with special expertise in cephalopods. After falling in love with octopuses at age ten, she kept two of these amazing animals in a home aquarium, learned to scuba dive, and eventually earned a PhD in Humboldt squid reproduction and development (or “squid sex and babies”) from Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. Now a freelance science communicator, she wrote Monarchs of the Sea: The Extraordinary 500-Million-Year History of Cephalopods (previously titled Squid Empire, and named one of the best science books of 2017 by NPR). Her next book, The Lady and the Octopus: How Jeanne Villepreux-Power Invented Aquariums and Revolutionized Marine Biology, is coming out in October. She also created the science outreach program Squids4Kids, and visits schools at every grade level, as well as venues from museums and libraries to tech companies.
Thursday, February 17, 8:00 pm
via Zoom. (note the time change due to the speakers time zone!)
what a beautiful word, it rolls around your mouth
before unfurling on your tongue.
what beautiful creatures, the ethereal giants of the deep.
Including the two largest animal species on planet Earth, rorquals are a group of baleen whale species which are characterised by deep ventral grooves that extend from the chin, down the throat to the belly and expand like a bellows to allow the whale to gulp-feed. Most of the rorqual species were hunted during the commercial hunting era, pushing their population numbers to the brink of extinction and leaving many still in dire need of conservation efforts. British Columbia is an important habitat for some of these rorquals, including an unusual occurrence of the predominantly oceanic fin whale in coastal BC. In this presentation, Éadin will focus on the rorquals of BC – taking you through some key aspects of their biology, culture, anthropogenic threats and finally touching on the ongoing research carried out by herself and the rest of the team at BC Whales.
Éadin, pronounced ‘Aid-een’, is an Irish-German marine biologist, coastguard rescue officer and novice potter. When she was a small child, her family moved from the urban jungle of Berlin to the wild Atlantic coast of southern Ireland, where her love of the sea was nurtured. During her undergraduate degree in conservation biology, Éadin had the opportunity to work with the North Coast Cetacean Society, or “BC Whales” – this becoming her very first visit to British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. It didn’t take long for her to get hooked, recognising the integral part whales play in ecosystem health and human conservation efforts. Éadin continued to work with BC Whales for her Masters (by Research), collecting whale blow with drones as a source of DNA for population genetics research. She has just embarked on her PhD journey, together with BC Whales and the University of St Andrews’ Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU). Her PhD aims to bring together new and non-invasive genetic sampling techniques, aiming to develop a coastwide biomonitoring network that investigates biodiversity levels in relation to Marine Protected Areas. She is passionate about bringing people and nature together, and dreams of this project bringing together knowledge, biomonitoring tools, data and a care for the sea, to help local communities lead on the protection of their seascapes. Her winters are spent in Scotland, her summers in BC, and she is at her best when out in the elements, in, on or under the sea.
Thursday, January 13, 7:00 pm
Not that long ago, Basking Sharks, the second largest fish in the world were a common occurrence along the west coast of Vancouver Island. The last time this species was regularly observed on the BC coast was in Clayoquot Sound in the early 1990s. In this presentation Scott will explain the biology, shameful history, current research, and future recovery of the basking shark in Canada’s Pacific waters.
Scott is a lifelong biologist, most happy when wearing gumboots and being with people in the outdoors. He has recently become a partner and owner-operator of a new lodge in Bamfield, Outer Shores Lodge. Before pivoting to Outer Shores Lodge, Scott worked as a marine ecologist at the David Suzuki Foundation for 15 years in the capacity of Senior Research Scientist. He is an educator, author, activist, naturalist, and fisheries researcher whose career has focused on marine conservation. Scott holds a PhD from the University of British Columbia and has taught several university and college level courses on the marine and coastal ecology of British Columbia. Scott currently teaches courses with North Island College’s Adventure Guiding program , UBC’s Haida Gwaii Institute, and is a fisheries advisor to the Council of the Haida Nation. In 2006 Scott wrote a book about basking sharks in Canada’s Pacific waters.
Thursday, December 9th, 7:00 pm
“Jellyfish: Friend or foe?“
Jellyfish have been in the oceans for 600 million years – they are one of the oldest animal lineages that are still around today. Unfortunately, jellyfish are often seen as pests because of the negative interactions that they have with people. In fact, jellyfish are integral for healthy ecosystems, but they don’t get much credit for it. This session will explore some of the key roles that jellyfish play in the ocean and balance the narrative that is typically associated with these stinging beauties.
About Jessica Schaub:Despite growing up in rural, northern Alberta, Jessica has been drawn to ocean sciences from a young age. In her final months of high school before moving to Vancouver to pursue her degree, Jessica watched a documentary that reported a jellyfish crisis that was unfolding among Japanese fishers. This documentary illuminated the huge knowledge gaps that surrounded jellyfish and pointed to a clear social impact that could be resolved by filling these knowledge gaps. Her interests quickly narrowed, and her entire post-secondary education has been a pursuit of the elusive and enigmatic world of jellyfish ecology. Jessica has been fortunate to conduct research along the BC coast from Calvert Island to Vancouver. Her research has included aerial mapping of jellyfish blooms with drones, figuring out their diets, investigating their microbiomes, and husbandry in aquaria. Jessica is looking forward to her PhD, where she intends to evaluate claims that jellyfish can be considered keystone species.
Thursday, November 18th, 7:00 pm
“My giant buddies: ocean sunfish and the joy of studying them.”
They idle about at the ocean surface like lazy orbs, occasionally waving at the world without haste. They look like strange dinosaur fish from the deep, yet they are ultra-modern by evolutionary design. It is of course the strangely shaped ocean sunfish, Mola mola, an iconic member of the West Coast marine megafauna. But did you know a second sunfish species occurs here, too? A brand new species, Mola tecta, only discovered in 2017? This talk explores some of the latest findings in sunfish research before taking you on a journey to New Zealand to retrace the steps that led to the discovery of Mola tecta, and how citizen science is now providing important insights into its occurrence in the NE Pacific.
About Marianne Nyegaard: After diving with sunfish on a holiday in Indonesia, Marianne become so captivated with these strange fish that she quit her job and embarked on a PhD to study them. What was meant to be a tropical diving project, however, soon became an exercise in detangling the complicated taxonomy of Mola – an adventure that took her back in time over 5 centuries through early European ichthyology, and all the way into modern day genetics. With the help of many, this journey culminated in the discovery of a previously undescribed sunfish species from New Zealand waters – Mola tecta – that continues to fascinate as it pops up in unexpected places, most recently off British Columbia and Alaska. Marianne recently co-founded the New Zealand Ocean Sunfish Research Trust, using citizen science sunfish projects to promote ocean awareness and conservation.