2019 Raincoast Speaker Series


Whether your interests lie in landing a tyee, or orca ID (or maybe just plankton taxonomy), as a westcoaster, chances are you are involved and engaged when it comes to marine matters, and here is a chance to get informed too!

The Raincoast Education Society is proud to present the 2019 edition of our Raincoast Speaker Series – this year’s theme is “Predator and Prey”. From copepods to killer whales and everything in between, come out and join some of BC’s leading scientists to learn more about the key players in the marine food web, how they interact amongst each other, and what it all means for us. Whether you are keen on learning more about the biology and ecology of the species whose home we share, or looking to get some perspective on the politics of stock assessment (or maybe just brushing up on your plankton taxonomy), this series is guaranteed to please, and we can’t wait to sea you there!

New this year is the Raincoast Speaker Series punchcard – attend all five talks to be entered in a draw for an amazing prize!

Thank you to Pacific Sands Beach Resort and Pina for their support of this year’s series!

Zooplankton: foundation of the food web

With DFO zooplankton taxonomist Moira Galbraith

Thursday, January 10th, 7:00 pm
Ecolodge Classroom @ Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Hwy)

Our opening talk sets the stage for the whole series: plankton – consisting of both photosynthetic phytoplankton and their primary consumers, zooplankton – are the foundation of the entire marine ecosystem. Although plankton often goes under the radar, our first speaker puts it under the microscope. Moira Galbraith works for DFO running the zooplankton taxonomy group at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, BC, where she analyses plankton samples from all over the west coast. Come and learn about how plankton communities respond to changes in ocean conditions, and how their seasonal cycles of abundance affect the distribution of everything from birds to whales.

Forage fish: the ocean’s snack food

With ECCC research scientist Dr. Mark Hipfner

Thursday, January 24th, 7:00 pm
Ecolodge Classroom @ Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Hwy)

$5 at the door

Forage fish – small schooling fish like sand lance, herring, anchovies and pilchard play a critical role in the marine ecosystem, providing a concentrated source of protein and fat for anything and everything in the ocean that can catch them. Dr. Mark Hipfner of Environment Canada’s Wildlife Research Division has devoted much of his career to better understanding how forage fish can be used as indicators of the health and productivity of primary marine predators such as seabirds and salmon. His ongoing collaborations with Moira Galbraith (Lecture 1) have revealed the subtle but profound relationships between plankton, seabirds and salmon, reinforcing the notion that forage fish themselves are merely one link of an intricate system.

Conservation of wild salmon: cosewic and the species at risk act

With SFU professor and COSEWIC chair Dr. John Reynolds

Thursday, February 7th, 7:00 pm
Darwin’s Café @ Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Hwy)

$5 at the door

Salmon are often referred to as the lifeblood of the coast, and few animals are as recognized and revered as the five species of salmon spawning in BC. Dr. John Reynolds and his lab at SFU have been studying the ecological role of salmon in BC for years, and in his current role as Chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, he oversees the assessment, listing and monitoring of threatened and endangered stocks and runs throughout the province. How do fluctuations in natural populations affect the rest of the ecosystem? How do we assess these trends? What can we infer from declines, and how can we work to reverse them? Join us for a fascinating talk from one of the leading experts in the field.

Ecological implications of pinniped population trends in B.C.

With DFO research biologist Sheena Majewski

Thursday, February 21st, 7:00 pm
Ecolodge Classroom @ Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Hwy)

$5 at the door

Seals and sealions are some of the most familiar marine mammals in our waters, yet they are also some of the most misunderstood. Join Sheena Majewski, Research Biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, for an in-depth look at the biology, ecology, and population trends of pinnipeds in BC. What can we learn about the health of our oceans from these incredible creatures? Why are some populations increasing while others are decreasing? Where do pinnipeds fit into the big picture as predators and prey? Come and find out!

Orcas at risk? Culture and conservation of west coast killer whales

With cetacean expert Dr. John Ford

Thursday, March 14th, 7:00 pm
Ecolodge Classroom @ Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Hwy)

$5 at the door

The plight of Southern Resident Killer Whales has received international attention in recent years.  Too much noise, disturbance and contaminants, and­ –– perhaps most importantly –– insufficient food, have all played a role in putting this population at serious risk.  But while Southern Residents are struggling, other killer whale populations along the west coast are thriving.  In this lecture, cetacean research biologist Dr. John Ford describes the importance of cultural traditions in the lives of orcas and how these dictate where they go, who they associate with, what they eat, and, ultimately, how well they can cope with a changing marine environment.