Intertidal Resource Assessment Study
We are undertaking a physical assessment of the resource values of our intertidal areas, such as the forage fish habitat, so we have a better understanding of the areas they occupy and their value and importance to our ecosystems and island environment. We have been actively involved in sampling beach sand and gravels for the “forage” fish eggs as well as collecting and identifying the physical features of sampling sites. Pacific sand lance and surf smelts are species that spawn on marine shorelines and provide a valuable food source for larger marine fish to “forage”.
Forage fish are small fish (such as herring, sardines, hake, pollock, surf smelt) that play a vital role in the food-chain. The forage fish constitute the prey for hundreds of species and are key to the survival of most of the species that inhabit our oceans and their shorelines. Three species of forage fish live in Hornby Island waters: surf smelt, sand lance, and herring. Protecting their habitats is one of our on-going projects
The year-round abundance of forage fish determines the survival of larger predators. For species of rockfish and salmon, estimates of their reliance on pacific sand lance alone is 10 to 50 per cent of their diet.
In November-December 2013 the most promising of the potential forage spawning beaches were sampled for eggs by screening beach sand/gravel through 3 screen sizes. Part of the sampling program included a workshop and volunteer training program by Ramona deGraaf.