The Illusion about our efforts to clean up oil spills

Andrew Nikiforuk has written an article in the Hakai magazine which supports one of our arguments in the work we did as intervenors in the National Energy Board Hearings on the Kinder Morgan/Trans Mountain Extension Pipeline project. This article profiles how we are being duped by oil companies and governments into believing that oil spills can be cleaned up and that oiled birds and mammals can be rehabilitated.

“And that’s where the state of marine oil spill response sits today: it creates little more than an illusion of a cleanup. Scientists — outside the oil industry — call it “prime-time theatre” or “response theatre.””

HakaiinstWhy Do We Pretend to Clean Up Ocean Oil Spills?




dilbitAlso see:

Oil Sands Dilbit Causes Developmental Problems in Fish


Triglochin maritima


Triglochin maritima in British Columbia

2015-04-26triglochinsTriglochin maritima grows in the marsh of Gooch Creek

Each year I harvest last years stems of Phragmites in my estuary/marsh for mason bee tubes. It is important that this is done in the early spring only before new shoots start to emerge.  I have a theory that this native Phragmites exists in this particular marsh only because the marsh was fenced in the early years to prevent grazing by cattle and sheep. It has been eliminated from most of the other marshes in BC by grazing (personal communication with Robert Prescott-Allen). The reason this marsh was fenced probably was that the plant Triglochin maritima  (Sea arrow grass) grows in the marsh and it is toxic to grazers. ( see below)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Juncaginaceae
Genus: Triglochin
Species: T. maritima
Binomial name
Triglochin maritima L.

The following is a quote from the Canadian Biodiversity Information facility:

General poisoning notes:

Seaside arrow-grass (Triglochin maritima) is a native plant found sporadically across Canada in saline, brackish, or fresh marshes and shores. This plant contains cyanogenic glycosides, which can release HCN during mastication by animals. Poisoning occurs primarily with ruminants, including cattle and sheep. The concentration of toxic chemicals increases during times of moisture depletion (Majak et al. 1980, Cooper and Johnson 1984, Poulton 1989).


  • Beath, O. A., Draize, J. H., Eppson, H. F. 1933. Arrow grass – chemical and physiological considerations. Univ. Wyo. Agric. Exp. Stn. Bull., 193. 36 pp.
  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.


Scientific Name:
Triglochin maritima
Vernacular name(s):
seaside arrow-grass
Scientific family name:
Vernacular family name:

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Triglochin maritima

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • taxiphillin
  • triglochinin


  • Majak, W., McDiarmid, R. E., Hall, J. W., Van Ryswyk, A. L. 1980. Seasonal variation in the cyanide potential of arrowgrass (Triglochin maritima). Can. J. Plant Sci., 60: 1235-1241.
  • Poulton, J. E. 1983. Cyanogenic compounds in plants and their toxic effects. Pages 117-157 in Keeler, R. F., Tu, A. T., eds. Handbook of natural toxins. Vol. 1. Plant and Fungal toxins. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., USA. 934 pp.

Animals/Human Poisoning:


General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Cyanide poisoning from seaside arrow-grass is similar to symptoms discussed under sheep.


  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.


General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Cyanide poisoning of sheep by seaside arrow-grass includes the following symptoms: nervousness, trembling, erratic breathing, convulsions, recumbency, and death. Postmortem findings reveal bright red blood and the smell of bitter almonds in the stomach. Treatment, if started early enough, can be successful. Intravenous injections of an aqueous solution of sodium thiosulfate have proved to be effective (Cooper and Johnson 1984).


  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Multiscale impacts of armoring on Salish Sea shorelines: Evidence for cumulative and threshold effects

This article is of particular importance to Metchosin since we have ongoing efforts in creating seawalls with the intent of protecting property.

Multiscale impacts of armoring on Salish Sea shorelines: Evidence for cumulative and threshold effects Megan N. Dethier a, * Jeffery R. Cordell c

a Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, USA
b Skagit River System Cooperative, LaConner, WA 98257, USA c School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA d School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA e Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA 98504, USA, Wendel W. Raymond a, Andrea S. Ogston d, Aundrea N. McBride b, Sarah M. Heerhartz c


Shoreline armoring is widespread in many parts of the protected inland waters of the Pacific Northwest,U.S.A, but impacts on physical and biological features of local nearshore ecosystems have only recently begun to be documented. Armoring marine shorelines can alter natural processes at multiple spatial and temporal scales; some, such as starving the beach of sediments by blocking input from upland bluffs may take decades to become visible, while others such as placement loss of armoring construction are im-
mediate. We quantified a range of geomorphic and biological parameters at paired, nearby armored and unarmored beaches throughout the inland waters of Washington State to test what conditions and parameters are associated with armoring. We gathered identical datasets at a total of 65 pairs of beaches: 6 in South Puget Sound, 23 in Central Puget Sound, and 36 pairs North of Puget Sound proper. At this broad scale, demonstrating differences attributable to armoring is challenging given the high natural variability in measured parameters among beaches and regions. However, we found that armoring was
consistently associated with reductions in beach width, riparian vegetation, numbers of accumulated logs, and amounts and types of beach wrack and associated invertebrates. Armoring-related patterns at lower beach elevations (further vertically from armoring) were progressively harder to detect. For some parameters, such as accumulated logs, there was a distinct threshold in armoring elevation that was associated with increased impacts. This large dataset for the first time allowed us to identify cumulative impacts that appear when increasing proportions of shorelines are armored. At large spatial and temporal scales, armoring much of a sediment drift cell may result in reduction of the finer grain-size
fractions on beaches, including those used by spawning forage fish. Overall we have shown that local impacts of shoreline armoring can scale-up to have cumulative and threshold effects – these should be considered when managing impacts to public resources along the coast. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Rethinking Shoreline Armoring

Given the many occurances of slumping of coastal bluffs in Metchoisn over the past winter, this series provides an excellent analysis reflecting on the effects of human interference in natural shoreline processes and the mitigation efforts being made in Puget Sound.

Rethinking shoreline armoring

Before and after view of shoreline restoration project at Penrose Point State Park in Pierce County, WA.

Salish Sea Currents presents an in-depth series focusing on shoreline armoring in the Puget Sound region. Close to a third of Puget Sound’s shoreline is classified as armored with bulkheads and other structures meant to hold back storm surge and erosion. But new studies reveal the often significant toll this is taking on the environment. To be notified of new Salish Sea Currents stories, subscribe to the Puget Sound Institute eNews.

The Shores of Metchosin Slideshow

This video/slideshow was put together in 2015 when I was doing a presentation in the Metchosin community on the risks to our shorelines from Increased oil tanker traffic from the proposed Kinder Morgan/ Trans Mountain Expansion Project proposal. All pictures were taken on the shores of Metchosin  either by Garry Fletcher, the ecoguardians at Race Rocks, and the aerial shots are from Coastal Ocean Resources.   It might take some time to load initially.

Taylor Beach Land Slides in February 2016

This past week we have had a few days of extra heavy rainfall in Metchosin and  consequently the hazard land slopes of the Development Permit Area along the Taylor Beach bluff have certainly met the designation.  On the South end of the bluffs alone, at least ten new slides have left large gaps on the cliff and have deposited piles of vegetation on the beach. Residents on the top of the bluff are continuously at risk of losing property so development of any new structures or vegetation removal is inadvisable.

The following pictures were taken starting from the south end of the cliff toward the first corner heading North.




Surf’s Up !

Since the 25th of November, we have had 5 inches of precipitation and in the last two weeks an unusual number of South-Easterly storms providing great action at Taylor beach in front of the farm, especially at high tide. The view starts by looking towards William Head prison and ends with a view of Victoria in the distance



Riparian well defined

In determining the importance of the watershed that connects with our shoreline, the word Riparian often surfaces. In the National Energy Board KM/TMX hearings, the pdf enclosed was one of the reports presented. It gives a well-researched description of the definition of Riparian along with the implications for development which impinges upon such areas.

This was originally filed at :

QUOTE” “Role of Riparian Habitat in Streams Why is the Riparian Area Important? Riparian areas and the vegetation and structure associated with this component of aquatic environments in streams and lakes comprise critical habitats for many species, including commercial, recreational and aboriginal (CRA) fishery fishes. A riparian zone, or riparian area, is the water/land interface between the terrestrial upland area and a river or stream (Figure 1). Plant communities along the edge of streams or lakes are usually referred to as the riparian vegetation (Figure 2). The plant community within a riparian area often is dominated by hydrophilic species, but not always (Figure 2). In British Columbia watercourses that support CRA fisheries rely profoundly on intact and functional riparian areas (viz., Forest and Range Practices Act Table 1; Riparian Areas Regulation Table 2). To reiterate, the scientific literature is very clear that riparian areas comprise critical habitats for both fishes and other species (Wenger 1999, Broadmeadow and Nisbet 2004). The role of riparian habitats is elegantly described by excerpts in the following quotes: Riparian buffers are important for good water quality [in streams]. Riparian zones help to prevent [deleterious] sediment[s], nitrogen, phosphorus, pesticides and other pollutants from C301 – Salmon River Enhancement Society 3 reaching a stream. Riparian buffers are most effective at improving water quality when they include a native grass or herbaceous filter strip along with deep rooted trees and shrubs along the stream. Riparian vegetation is a major source of energy and nutrients for stream communities. They are especially important in small, headwater streams where up to 99% of the energy input may be from woody debris and leaf litter. [Invertebrates associated with this and instream vegetation contribute as fish food.] Overhanging riparian vegetation keeps streams cool, [and] this is especially important for…mountain trout [i.e., salmonid] populations. Riparian buffers provide valuable habitat for wildlife. In addition to providing food and cover they are an important corridor or travel [path]way[s] for a variety of wildlife. Forested streamsides benefit game species [e.g., deer and bear]…and nongame species like migratory songbirds. Riparian vegetation slows floodwaters, thereby helping to maintain stable streambanks and protect downstream property. By slowing down floodwaters and rainwater runoff, the riparian vegetation allows water to soak into the ground and recharge groundwater. Slowing floodwaters allows the riparian zone to function as a site of sediment deposition, trapping sediments that build stream banks and would otherwise degrade our streams and rivers. [ Accessed 6 July 2015.] The critical nature of riparian areas to a properly functioning stream cannot be overstated. As Tschaplinski and Pike (2009), in their analysis of the function of riparian areas to British Columbia streams, point out “No other landscape features within forests provide linkages that are as extensive and complex as those provided by riparian ecotones.” Tschaplinski and Pike (2009) go further to indicate that riparian areas contain and support many of the highest-value resources in natural forests and quote Hartman and Scrivener (1990) as evidence. In another citation, Gregory et al. (1991) indicate that the plant and animal communities in riparian areas frequently have the highest species richness found in forests. The issues relating to riparian areas are particularly relevant to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) as many of the streams crossed by the pipeline construction are typical of the watercourses that Tschaplinski and Pike (2009) and others refer to in respect to the importance of the role of riparian vegetation and the zone as fish habitat. And riparian areas are key habitats that TMEP will destroy as a function of crossing the streams where trenching will take place.See the full PDF:Ripariandefinition-_IR_From_Salmon_River_Enhancement_Society_to_Pipeup_-_A4Q7W6_SRES_RESPONSE_compressed_-_A4R4F2