Autumn 2013 Photos

November is here again. Here are a few photos from the autumn so far. Days are getting shorter but when the sun peeks through the clouds for a short moment, the light can be incredible.

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by | November 17, 2013 · 2:56 pm

Birds and Nature – Europe Visit

We are visiting family in Europe for Christmas and New Year. Here are a few nature photos.

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Birds around the house

Popped out for a quick look around and found some beautiful birds.

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Birding at the Sarita

Dave and I took a short trip out to the Sarita River to have a look at who would be eating the last of the salmon carcasses. We were expecting eagles, but also got a wonderful surprise – a juvenile trumpeter swan! (It may be a tundra swan… can any birders out there confirm?)


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Building a cold frame

This morning skies were hazy, our day was moving slow, and we needed a project.

Step 1: Go to the hardware store and ask what is needed to build a raised bed with a cold frame. Builder Bob gave us some great ideas and then had to run to catch the supply boat. We went home and watched a few youtube videos on how it’s done. This one is my favourite. Materials needed: Four 8×2 boards (ours are spruce, which is inexpensive and was not pressure treated), a sack of 3″ nails (though some shorter ones would have been good too), 1″x1″ sticks, about 8 or 10′ (I don’t know the building term for these), 24′ of 1/2″ PVC piping, 6 pipe clamps, a hammer, a pencil, a tape measure and a saw. And some plastic (though we didn’t finish that part today).

Step 2: Get supplies, spread them out. We decided on a 4’x4′ box. Boards come in 8′ pieces and 4′ is a great size since you can reach across it fairly easily. So we got four 8′ boards. This picture only shows three because Dave is in the process of cutting the fourth one in half. We cut all of them in half, to prepare for the next part.




Step 3: Make the sides of the raised bed. We used some 1″x1″ as a cleat first to secure the two halves of a board together (this makes the raised bed two board widths deep). Later, we used this cleat to help hold the corners of the raised bed together.





We only did this for two sides of the bed. The other two sides we used the 1″x1″ to secure the boards together in one place: the centre. I didn’t take any pictures of this part.


Step 4: Attach the pipe clamps. We decided that the pipes would be fitted to the inside of the raised bed, even though we had seen others attach them to the outside. Dave nailed them in using some shorter 2″ nails we found in the basement.





We only did this on two sides. The PVC pipe will be anchored to them, and bent over to the other side to form the structure for the frame.



Step 5: Assemble the raised bed. We nailed the corners together to make the square bed. I also added some nails to anchor the sides without the cleats to the cleats.







Step 6: Final assembly! Dave cut the PVC pipe into 8′ lengths, and then we installed them into the clamps in the frame. Oh, but first: we put down cardboard to kill the grass and any weeds that might make their way into the soil.

Step 7: The final step. We attached a PVC pipe to the top of the hoops to just make them a bit more secure. We used some nylon string to just tie it on.

The sun did peak through while we were working and we had a great afternoon.
Tomorrow: fill with soil. We’ll use a mix of some “wild” soil from a recently dug up area on our property (not dug up by us, for the record) and some sea soil and peat moss. And maybe also put the plastic up. We bought a 10’x16′ feet piece,  because they come in 16′ lengths. We’ll probably have lots left over.

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How does an octopus reproduce?

In my job as a Marine Science Educator, I often get asked questions that I don’t know the answer to. In an effort to increase my own knowledge and better remember the answers to these questions, I thought I’d post the questions and answers here.

A few days ago, we saw a tiny juvenile octopus during a bottom dredge. A student asked me, “How many babies does an octopus have?”, which got me wondering about how octopuses reproduce.

It’s worth backing up a bit and reviewing some octopus biology. Here in Bamfield, we have two species of octopus that are fairly common: the giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) and the Pacific red octopus (Octopus rubescens). They can both be found in shallow waters, including the intertidal, though the giant Pacific octopus can go as deep as 1500 m. Octopuses are known for their intelligence so much so that in some countries, they are considered “honorary vertebrates”. Octopuses also have complex physiology and anatomy when compared to most other invertebrates, including well developed eyes. Giant Pacific octopuses have even been documented to be able to recognize individual humans (though the sample size for the study was small) (Anderson et al., 2010).

Reproduction in octopuses is surprising. Both males and females are relatively short lived, and die not long after reproduction. In the male, the third right arm is specialized for reproduction and is called a hectocotylus. He uses this arm to insert a spermatophore (sperm packet) into the female. Within a few weeks of copulation, the male dies.

The female octopus can store the sperm and fertilizes her eggs once her den is ready. She will seal herself inside her den using rocks, and once the eggs are fertilized, she will lay anywhere from 20 000 to 100 000 of them in strings on the upper side of the den. She then takes care of the developing eggs by blowing sea water over them to keep them oxygenated and removing any organisms (such as bacteria, algae or colonial animals) that may grow on them. After several months (the length of time varies depending on species), the eggs hatch. The female then leaves the den and since she has not fed during the entire incubation period, she soon dies. The larval octopuses then spend some time as plankton before settling on the bottom to develop into adults. The life span of the giant Pacific octopus is about three to five years.

I found it surprising that the life history of octopuses seems to fall somewhere between r-selection and K-selection, given the high investment the female puts into looking after the eggs. But then I read that r/K selection theory is actually considered out of date! I learned r/K theory during undergraduate work in the early 2000s  so I wonder if current undergrads are still  being taught it. Something for another time.


Anderson, RC, JA Mather, MQ Monette, and SRM Zimsen, 2010. Octopuses (Enteroctopus dofleini) recognize individual humans. JOURNAL OF APPLIED ANIMAL WELFARE SCIENCE. 13 (3), 261-272

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Quick updates

We still don’t have internet at home, so I’m posting fairly infrequent. That’s your first update. Secondly, I wanted to draw your attention to a blog that I’m really loving. It’s similar to our blog: recipes, ideas and thoughts on life’s experiences, but it’s all about city life in the UK instead of remote coastal living. Recently, Rutger posted an awesome and easy green tea ice cream recipe.

And finally, here’s some wildlife for you. In our new home, we’re absolutely surrounded by wildlife and I hope it continues to amaze us for years. I snapped this photo of a white tailed deer a few weeks ago.

The diversity of bird life also thrills us. I did manage to snap a few photos of the hummingbirds, but haven’t taken them off the camera yet. Yesterday we saw American Goldfinches, a Gray Catbird, a Red-Shouldered Blackbird, and several other species in a five minute span looking out of the kitchen window. And we’re not even putting out bird seed.  More photos to come.

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