Monitoring and protecting our marine environment.
Our marine stewardship program helps to build our community’s connection to the marine environment, inform how we can live in harmony with it and protect it from harm.
This long-term environmental monitoring program began with a pilot project in 1995, which identified sites in Cortes Island’s rocky foreshore for monitoring and tested the quadrat methodology designed for rocky shores. In 1996, nine permanent transect lines were established and an additional three added in 1997.
These 12 sites were monitored annually for 10 years accumulating an excellent baseline of data for future reference. In 2006, the monitoring work was handed over to the community. In this citizen science Adopt-A-Transect program, community volunteers adopt a site and collect the data.
This project is a great community citizen science initiative, featuring volunteers, field sites and exciting finds! If you would like to get involved please contact us at the FOCI office.
Sensitive Marine Habitat Monitoring
The Three Reefs Project
The spectacular rocky reef systems off the southern tips of Hernando, Cortes and Marina Islands have been monitored over several seasons. These three reefs are exceptionally rich and biodiverse, and field data is being compiled to prove that they are unique in BC. We hope this data will contribute to gaining Marine Protected Area status for these reefs. In 2014, FOCI produced the Three Reefs Atlas – a beautifully illustrated guide to the ecology of these ecosystems. The Atlas is available for purchase from the FOCI office.
Watch our Video and explore the Three Reefs.
BC Coastal Eelgrass Network
Some of our most productive local habitats are the eelgrass meadows that grace Cortes Island shorelines wherever the substrate is dominated by soft sediments. Eelgrass plays critical roles in global climate and ocean cycles, provides vital nursery areas for many species, filters some coastal pollutants, slows shoreline erosion and feeds both directly and indirectly innumerable local species. FOCI is partnered with the Seagrass Conservation Working Group, which has a membership of 19 coastal BC communities.
Subtidal Biodiversity Program
Since 2014 our Marine Stewardship work has focused on investigating subtidal habitats on and around Cortes Island. This work takes place during the winter months, and involves twelve sites being surveyed and monitored by a team of two professional divers.
Highlights from the dives include:
• a distinctly notable diversity of lithode crabs with one species,Acantholithodes hispidus specific to one site
• winter spawning of the pteropod/ winged snail, Clione limacina
• 2 distinct species of the swimming anemone, Stomphia
• a very distinct, but unidentified nipple sponge that needs to be photographed
• juvenile rockfish observations in unexpected places
• marbled murrelet observed 30’ underwater feeding on mysid swarms
• exceptional asteroid starfish diversity; 12 species at a single site
Community Marine Outreach Program
As an island community, Cortesians are especially receptive to learning about and stewarding their local marine environment. For 20 years, the FOCI marine stewardship program has offered Islanders opportunities to “get their feet wet” and explore the diversity of marine habitats that make up their “front yard”. Dock Talks, Beach Walks & Tidal Talks and youth marine science camps bring people together with their marine environment.
Please contact us at the FOCI office if you would like to volunteer or get involved with our Marine Stewardship Program.
Join Friends of Cortes Island
Become a member and support the work we are doing in the community to help look after our beautiful island
Friends of Cortes Island Society (FOCI) is a charitable organization that has been active for over 25 years. Our organization exists to monitor and preserve the health of local ecosystems, and to provide educational programs that foster a greater understanding of the natural environment. Through all of our projects, we work to promote environmental integrity through community responsibility.