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.

Purple Martins nesting at Pearson College Docks in Pedder Bay


John Costello and James Kennerley-Aug 2013.

Four new purple martin boxes were installed on the pilings of the Pearspn College docks in Pedder Bay on August 6, 2013. The team was Fred Beinhauer, John Costello, the late Tom Gillespie, and James Kennerley , a student from Pearson College.

This is now the second year that they have inhabited the houses and raised offspring. Locally, the Rocky Point Bird Observatory has assumed responsibility for Purple Martin colonies on South Van Island. The RPBO coordinator is Wallis Moore Reid. Courtney Edwards agreed to be the PC colony steward. Her office is right on the wharf where the boxes are located.

The overall effort in BC is administered by the Purple Martin  Recovery Society. Bruce Cousens out of Nanaimo is the Biologist who is the driving force behind the project.

Some websites are: (the official website of Bruce Cousens mentioned above) and 

RESEARCH ARTICLE: Conserv Genet DOI 10.1007/s10592-007-9358-3
High genetic diversity in the blue-listed British Columbia population of the purple martin maintained by multiple sources of immigrants Allan J. Baker, Annette D. Greenslade, Laura M. Darling and  J. Cam Finlay

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Progne
Species: P. subis
Progne subis
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Fat Gaper: Tresus capax on Taylor Beach

We often come across these empty shells of  Tresus capax the Fat Gaper on the shores of Taylor Beach. They live buried in the sand in the shallow water offshore. Around the opening of the siphon, Tresus capax  has small palps around each opening which distinguishes it from other bivalves.

Pacific Geoduck, Panopea abrupta

Fat Gaper : ( Tresus capax)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Order: Veneroida
Family: Mactridae
Genus: Tresus
Species: Tresus capax (Gould, 1850)

fat gaper

The Fat Gaper, Tresus capax . Note the size in comparison to a glove.

Useful References: E-fauna BC page on bivalve Molluscs:


Pododesmus (Monia) macroschisma

The false pacific jingle shell, or rock oyster, often comes ashore on Taylor Beach attached to the holdfasts of kelp.


Various species of kelp have attached their holdfasts to this rock oyster shell, leading to it being detached and carried ashore on Taylor Beach.


One of the valves of Pododesmus sp.


Pododesmus (Monia) macroschisma (Deshayes, 1839)


Reference: Peter’s seashells


River Otter: Lontra canadensis on the Metchosin Coastline

raisanov410ottereat copy

When she was an ecoguardian at Race Rocks in 2010, Raisa Mirza took this excellent photo of a river otter, just out of the water, eating a female kelp greenling .

River otters are fairly common along our shores.  Thus an entry for our species posts. In four stretches of shoreline in particular, we can expect to find them, where they have dens and produce offspring yearly.

1.  At Race Rocks
2. In Pedder Bay
3  At the entrance to Gooch Creek
4.  Along the Taylor Beach blufffs.


The Pearson College Marine Science reference has several references and images available on river otters.   riverotters atpc
Domain:  Eukarya
Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum:  Chordata
Class:  Mammalia
Order:  Carnivora
Family:  Mustelidae
Subfamily:  Lutrinae
Genus:  Lontra
Species:  canadensis pacifica (Schreber, 1977)
Common Name: River Otter

One should be cautioned when walking dogs on Taylor Beach to restrain them if otters are in the area. Otters have been known to attack even large dogs that have pursued them into the ocean.

Red-breasted merganser : Mergus serrator


Red-breasted merganser female (Mergus serrator)


Female red-breasted merganser popping up to the surface after a dive . G. Fletcher photos


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Merginae
Genus: Mergus
Species: M. serrator
Common name : Red-breasted Merganser

Mergansers nest in the fresh-water lakes of the north and then migrate to the Pacific Coastal waters where they feed on small forage fish in the winter. In the past  few weeks a large flock of female red-breasted and possibly mixed common mergansers has been working the waters off Taylor Beach.

They may be joined by males in the spring.

Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) on Taylor Beach


The remains of an Octopus on Taylor Beach

Not a great picture but the remains of evidence that offshore of Taylor Beach, the giant pacific octopus goes through its life cycle, which is very short.. just a few years.

rmoctopus3See the entry on the Race Rocks website for the octopus

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Cephalopoda
Order: Octopoda
Suborder: Incirrata
Family: Octopodidae
Genus: Enteroctopus
Species: dofleini (Hochberg, 1998)
Common Name Giant Pacific Octopus

Liparidae ( snail fish) today on Taylor Beach

My dog led me to this very unusual fish washed up on the shore today, Nov. 12 -2014.  There was a brisk cold wind blowing from the North east, with a two-foot chop.

I am posting it here to try to get it identified.
Possibilities here on Fishbase


Note sucker on ventral side


very small eyes indicating it may be an abyssal species.


lateral view of unidentified fish species G. Fletcher photos


Length 24 cm.


Family Liparidae



Liparidae ventral view

A good suggestion has been made by Rick Harbo that it is a snail fish (Liparidae)
From Fishbase:

Deep fin  Classification :Osteichthyes | Actinopterygii | Actinopteri | Neopterygii | Teleostei | Osteoglossocephalai | Clupeocephala | Euteleosteomorpha | Neoteleostei | Eurypterygia | Ctenosquamata | Acanthomorphata | Euacanthomorphacea | Percomorphaceae | Percomorpharia | Perciformes | Cottoidei | Liparidae

Also From Fishbase:
“Liparidae – (Snailfishes)
Distribution: Arctic to Antarctic, Atlantic, and Pacific. Body elongate, scaleless (small prickles in some) and skin jellylike; dorsal fin (28-82 soft rays) and anal fin (24-76 soft rays) long, confluent, or nearly so with caudal fin; pelvic fin (disc) absent in species of Paraliparis and in the monotypic Nectoliparis; nostrils single or paired (usually in Liparis); vertebrae 38-86. Maximum length about 50 cm. Occur from tidepools to depths of over 7,000 m.”

Below: I took this image in late November of a red-breasted merganser female eating what may be one of these fish. I am not sure if she actually got it down whole!


The Hooded nudibranch: Melibe leonina

Laura Verhegge has posted this note about Melibe leonina, seen today in Pedder Bay  on the Pearson College Marine Science website

A multitude of Melibe drift to the Pearson College dock


Melibe the hooded nudibranch photo by Laura Verhegge


Melibe leonina photos on Race Rocks Taxonomy by Ryan Murphy


(see other images and a video of the movement on her website)





Ryan Murphy got these images for the  Race Rocks Taxonomy.






Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Subclass: Opisthobranchia
Order: Nudibranchia
Superfamily: Tritoniodea
Family: Tethydidae
Genus: Melibe
Species: leonina Gould, 1852
Common Name: Hooded Nudibranch

Common Loons ( Gavia immer) off shore today

Nov 5: Yesterday  there were several loons offshore from Taylor Beach. They normally stay over 100 m off shore, so photography without a telephoto is challenging. I think the following images are of two Common Loons (Gavia immer) in various stages of maturity.

commonloon male

Common Loon off the bluff at the North end of taylor Beach

Nov 8 : Definitely Common Loons–a pair of them are feeding every day off Taylor beach (north end) this week.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Aequornithes
Order: Gaviiformes
Family: Gaviidae Coues, 1903
Genus: Gavia Forster, 1788
Species: G. immer
Gavia immer Morten Thrane Brunnich, 1764)