About BC Ferries

BC Ferries SeaForward


Oceans Network Canada and BC Ferries

BC Ferries provides funding in-kind to Ocean Networks Canada, an initiative of the University of Victoria that monitors meteorological and sea-surface properties in the Strait of Georgia. Instruments placed on BC Ferries vessels transiting the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver form an important part of local efforts to monitor the health of the Strait. The data collected by these instruments is used by marine scientists as part of regular monitoring of physical, chemical and biological conditions in the Strait, and to support research into how the Strait functions. Measurements have been made every 10 seconds on each of eight to 10 trips per day for several years, which means that scientists can monitor changes occurring throughout the Strait within any given day, and also over seasons and years. This type of high quality, high resolution monitoring is uncommon and can be used to better understand the dynamics of this estuarine environment. It is a way to identify conditions that demand rapid responses, such as storm surges, and also improves our understanding of what constitutes good and bad years for young of the Fraser-run salmon. For more information, visit: Ocean Networks Canada - Partners.

Coastal Naturalist Program

In 2015, BC Ferries celebrated 10 years of the Coastal Naturalist Program, a joint initiative with Parks Canada. In summer 2016, the 11th year of the program was executed. BC Ferries and Parks Canada work together to present this successful program to inform, educate, and inspire BC Ferries’ customers to the diverse wonders of the BC coast while travelling on board BC Ferries’ vessels. The program offers BC Ferries’ customers the opportunity to connect with the coastal BC region, covering topics about the ocean, BC’s unique wildlife and marine life, coastal, nautical and cultural history, and hear stories that connect Canadians and visitors to Parks Canada’s incredible places.

   Coastal Naturalists Logo

Purple Martin nest boxesPurple Martin Nest Boxes - Species at Risk in BC

After being approached by the BC Purple Martin Stewardship and Recovery Program in 2003, BC Ferries installed 10 nest boxes on old ramp pilings at the Buckley Bay terminal on Vancouver Island. The Purple Martin is Canada’s largest swallow and is listed as a threatened species in BC due to urban development in their original breeding range around the Georgia Basin.

Purple Martins began nesting at Buckley Bay in 2006 when one pair successfully nested at the site. As the Purple Martin population increased, the number nesting at Buckley Bay also increased to a high of 10 pairs in 2011. In the fall-winter of 2011, after the Purple Martins had headed south for the winter, BC Ferries, while upgrading the Denman Island-Hornby Island terminals, removed some boxes and the pilings temporarily so materials could be barged to the island terminals. Once completed, BC Ferries replaced the pilings in December 2011 and re-installed the boxes in the early spring of 2012. Several employees act as stewards to this colony and report their observations, such as when the Purple Martins first arrive, how many boxes are occupied, when the birds start claiming boxes and bringing in nest material, and when young are being fed. The nest boxes that the Purple Martins don’t use are often occupied by other birds, such as the Violet Green Swallow.

Little River was the most recent terminal to be selected as suitable habitat, and nest boxes were installed in May 2015. In July, terminal staff at Little River noticed the nest boxes were inhabited. Photos were taken by terminal staff and identification was done by the Purple Martin Stewardship Society confirming that 2-3 of the nest boxes were inhabited by nesting pairs of Martins. Little River has proven to be very desirable “real estate” from the Purple Martin’s point of view!

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