On July 20th, Ramona de Graaf came to Keats Island to teach us more about forage fish and the importance of our foreshores to a healthy marine life. Ramona is a marine biologist based in Tofino who has dedicated her professional career (and much of her personal time) to raising awareness of the importance of forage fish and foreshores.
Ramona proceeded to entertain and educate 35 kids and adults about the fish and eggs that were literally likely right under our feet on West Beach. (Ramona didn’t know if West Beach was an egg bearing beach, but it sure looked to her like it should be). We learned about the life cycle, the breeding habits and how to look for eggs. There was then a demonstration about what kinds of fish are in the first 5 feet of the water’s edge.
Forage fish are those tiny little creatures that feed all the other sea life up the food chain. Salmon, ling cod, crabs, dolphins, killer whales, birds of all kinds all depend on forage fish either because they eat them directly or they eat what eats the forage fish. That is why the name. They breed in abundance and are crucial to all those other more noticeable creatures. Herring, sand lance, anchovy, eulachon, surf smelt… all of these are forage fish. And here’s the thing .. they breed either on the beaches and foreshore or just off the beaches in the eel grass.
Ramona would gladly oversee a group to be beach stewards on Keats … to sample the beach and determine if forage fish are breeding. She is willing to come back as soon as 4 or 5 people volunteer to give a one day training session. (for more about Ramona and forage fish see https://www.facebook.com/foragefish)