Experimenting

Things here in Bella Bella have continued full speed ahead, despite having to say farewell to Anne, Margot and Mark. We recently launched two experiments that will continue to be monitored and sampled over the next couple of weeks. One is a predator exclusion experiment, where 60 pieces of roe on kelp have been assigned to four cage treatments (no cage, large mesh cage, small mesh cage, fine mesh cage) and sunk to 3 depths across a bay in Spiller Channel. All of the samples were initially weighed and assessed for percent egg cover and egg layer thickness. Since setting the lines we have returned to the site twice, both times to find gigantic trees set on experimental sabotage! (Anne has kindly noted that these are referred to as ‘demonic intrusions’…I clearly need an exorcist!). After untangling the lines, we were able to once again sample the units of roe on kelp hoping to capture a visible predator effect. Sure enough, roe on kelp is a tasty treat!! Several of the pieces were left with obvious marks, as if something had taken a big bite of roe on kelp sandwich! Hopefully with Mark’s underwater camera footage we can better guess as to what species is responsible for the munching.

The second experiment, deemed BROKELE (Britt’s Roe on Kelp Egg Layer Experiment), has also been deployed off one of the docks here in Bella Bella. Pieces of roe on kelp with varying egg layer thicknesses have been placed in a brilliantly crafted, milk crate blocked, Tupperware cage systems (Martha Stewart would be proud). Here we are monitoring the development of herring roe into larvae, hoping to measure whether egg layer thickness has an effect on larval development and hatching success.

In other news, we spotted our first wolf last week! We were lucky enough to see this one on the beach out by one of our sites, likely lured by the recently spawned roe. Such a beautiful creature. We’re hoping to stretch our luck and catch sight of a couple more before we leave!

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