False Creek Oyster Survey

False Creek Oyster Survey

Nature Vancouver has begun an exciting new project and we are looking for volunteers to help us out. We will be surveying and map existing oyster populations in False Creek, Vancouver.

The water quality in False Creek has been severely degraded through industrial pollution and present-day sewage discharge during stormwater run-off events.  Oysters and other bivalves (clams, mussels) are filter-feeders and improve water quality as they feed. They filter large volumes of water for food, and as a result remove contaminants. 

Understanding the location and condition of existing oyster sites will be of assistance for future habitat enhancement and possible cultivation of oysters. As well, oyster beds/reefs provide cover for many species of fish, crustaceans, algaes and other marine life forms. We expect to find primarily the Pacific oyster but may also find examples of the Olympia oyster, a native oyster species, 

Pacific Oyster. Photo (Left) © Janet Snell (Right) © John Martin

Project Timeline:

Between now and late autumn, Nature Vancouver will organize a survey of the oyster population in False Creek, prepare a report, and share our findings.

  1. Using iNaturalist, a citizen science reporting portal, volunteers will record observations where oyster beds exist near the low-tide water level in False Creek. Volunteers can make an important contribution to this by helping to identify oyster beds for more detailed surveying. We will work in small teams to walk the perimeter of False Creek and report observations.
  2. Detailed surveying and mapping: We will train volunteer teams to conduct more detailed surveys of selected oyster beds.  We will take detailed measurements using quadrat surveying techniques, species identification, and site/substrate description.
  3. Reporting on the data.  We will prepare a final report on our findings and share it with local authorities, BC Nature/BC Naturalists Foundation and our project collaborator, False Creek Friends Society.

Reports of the surveys and cleanup work will be available from the following link:

Volunteering: If you are interested in participating in any (or all) of the three steps outlined above, please let us know so that we can be sure to include you in the fun.  Each of these three steps involve a number of activities and volunteer skill sets.  Contact us to find out more about the specific activities and to discuss how (and to what extent) you would like to be involved. 

Contact Volunteer Coordinator Greg Leach at:  greg@naturevancouver.ca

Project Collaborator

False Creek Friends Society  https://www.falsecreekfriends.org – We are working on this project in association with FCFS. For more information on their work, please visit their website. They helped to organize the False Creek Bioblitz last summer where many interesting and unexpected discoveries were made. 

This is an excerpt from their mission statement:

“We work to restore the False Creek marine environment in alignment with First Nations stewardship values and marine science, with recognition and respect for the presence and rights of all people to enjoy and use False Creek in sound and healthy environmental ways.” 

For a view of an existing oyster reef under the water close to the Edgewater Reef in False Creek see the video below. This was recorded during the False Creek Bioblitz last summer.

See the Hakai Institute presentation to Nature Vancouver on April 13th is on YouTube video below:

Project Supporters

The BC Naturalists Foundation through BC Nature has very kindly provided Nature Vancouver with a generous grant to support this phase of our project. 

Nature Vancouver