by Sarah Holleran
As we are into August already, it is safe to say that it has been a successful season for the Touch Tank Hut thus far. With many new eager volunteers, visitors and amazing animals, the Touch Tank Hut has been running smoothly! With only a handful of weeks left to the summer, make sure you take time to come visit and see some of the special creatures that lurk in Nova Scotia's waters.
Two visitors holding Horse Mussels at the Touch Tank Hut
Goodwill Bot Wrap Up
It was a night filled with laughter, games, prizes and a few sea friends at this year's Goodwill Bot event hosted at Good Robot. A huge thank you to all the amazing volunteers and to the people who generously donated prizes to make this night possible for us. We are so thankful for the opportunity to spread awareness about our society, and to raise money in order to keep our Touch Tank Hut running all season.
A special thank you to Good Robot for hosting the event and to all those that participated! The Back to the Sea Society is beyond grateful for the opportunity to have raised $550 at this event.
From left: Touch Tank Hut Coordinator Sarah Holleran and Program Coordinator Aki Nisbet at the Goodwill Bot event.
From left: Aki Nisbet showing off a Sea Star to visitors at Goodwill Bot
Any camps or day cares that would be interested in attending a private program at the Touch Tank Hut, please email our Program Coordinator Aki Nisbet and fill out the booking form on our website for any inquiries.
We offer a 1 hour program on Wednesdays and we have separate programs for ages 5 and under, as well as 6 and above. There are only a handful of weeks left in the summer so book your groups ASAP to experience this unique and educational opportunity at the Touch Tank Hut!
Founder and Executive Director Magali leads a program group
A fun and healthy way of supporting the Back to the Sea Society is by purchasing from Stoke Food Supply. This company is dedicated to creating yummy protein bars with grass fed whey protein and no additives or preservatives.
Support Back to the Sea Society by purchasing a dozen bars from Stoke Food Supply. They will forgo the plastic by wrapping the bars in compostable parchment paper and the total packaging saved amount will be donated to Back to the Sea. To check out all their delicious flavours, visit their website.
Delightful Raspberry White Chocolate bars made by Stoke Food Supply
Sea Suds Soap
Are you interested in wonderful all-natural handcrafted soaps? If the answer is yes, you should stop by the Touch Tank Hut and check out our selection of amazing soaps from Sea Suds Soap. This company is a mother and daughter duo who create all natural hand-made soaps and are committed to reducing plastic pollution through the use and promotion of natural bar soap.
Sea Suds Soap has generously donated some of their wonderful soaps to us which are on sale at the Touch Tank Hut. When purchasing the soaps through us, all proceeds go directly into supporting our society.
We invite you to come visit the Touch Tank Hut this summer before our season ends. You will be amazed by the many animals that can be found in our own backyard. Best fishes to all!
Sarah Holleran is our Touch Tank Hut Coordinator and Executive Assistant. Read her bio here
by Sarah Holleran
It was a successful and sunny opening day on June 8th (World’s Oceans Day) at our miniature marine interpretive centre - the Touch Tank Hut! We were happy and proud to once again be a part of Oceans Weak HFX, which ran from June 1st to 9th. We were thrilled to welcome returning friendly faces, as well as meet new individuals who were experiencing the Touch Tank Hut for the first time. It was a day full of education, engagement, crafts and smiles. With a total of 300 visitors, it was a special day to kick off our season.
Two claw-some volunteers manning our crafting and face painting station!
Touch Tank Hut Grand Opening
We are pleased and excited to offer another season at the Touch Tank Hut, educating people of all ages and audiences from locations within and outside our province of Nova Scotia. With a brand-new species this year, the toad crab, we cannot wait to educate our visitors about the animals we showcase.
We were also pleased to have special guests MLA Claudia Chender, MP Darren Fisher and Councillor Sam Austin come by throughout the day.
From left: Executive Director Magali Grégoire, Touch Tank Hut Coordinator Sarah Holleran and Member of Parliament for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour Darren Fisher on opening day.
MLA for Dartmouth South Claudia Chender, pictured here with one of her daughters, has been very supportive of the Touch Tank Hut over the last two years!
This summer season, we will be open Wednesdays 3pm-7pm, Saturdays 9am-5pm and Sundays 10am-6pm. While we have introduced new admission prices to ensure we can continue to run all summer long, every last Wednesday of the month will be by donation/pay-what-you-can. We look forward to continuing on our journey of sparking curiosity for local marine life, and working towards our goal of a permeant community aquarium in the HRM.
Oceans Week HFX
Oceans Week HFX is a growing community that is dedicated to creating awareness and engagement about the importance of the ocean in our lives, and the lives of future generations. This community strives to recognize how crucial it is to protect the ocean, as it is a valuable yet vulnerable resource we as humans have access to.
Thanks to local volunteers and an array of organizations, Oceans Week HFX includes a wide range of both recreational and educational activities that attracts a vast audience. Activities included beach clean-ups, trivia nights, guest speakers, outdoor recreational activities and also our grand opening. We were so thankful to be a part of this amazing week for the third year in a row!
As part of Oceans Week HFX, Vandal Doughnuts dedicated a charity doughnut to the cause, with a portion of the sales being donated all week long. The team of Oceans Week HFX selected the Terranaut Club and Back to the Sea Society to be recipients of this donation! I hope some of you got to enjoy this yummy donut decorated with marine organisms. Our sincere thanks to Oceans Week HFX and Vandal Doughnuts for this support.
Our first volunteer training of the season held on June 6th!
The Back to the Sea Society would not be able to function the way to does without the help of our amazing and dedicated volunteers. If you have a passion for the ocean and would love to express that passion to others, consider volunteering with us. We are always looking for new volunteer interpreters for the TTH. We are having our second volunteer training and orientation of the year on Tuesday June 25th from 6pm-8pm in Downtown Dartmouth. If you want to educate others on local marine life, consider filling out a volunteer form here
We invite you all to come and see what the Touch Tank Hut is all about this summer - it will be a fin-tastic time!
by Alisha Postma
When you live and breath scuba diving, sooner or later you’re going to get the opportunity to dive into some pretty neat spots all over the world. Iceland, Greece, Egypt, Florida…
My exotic scuba diving list is pretty extensive, but truth be told, as beautiful and picturesque as these dive destinations may be, as a Canadian diver, there is no place like home.
For the past 6 years, I have lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Located on Canada’s east coast, Nova Scotia is the second smallest of ten provinces. It’s also a peninsula that is pretty much surrounded by Atlantic ocean. For cold water divers it’s paradise, and guess what? I’m proud to say it’s my paradise too!
When you first look out into the North Atlantic it can be a bit unsettling. Cold, darkness, less than ideal visibility are a few things that immediately come to mind. But it only took me a few dives to figure out why when looking into our own backyards we can’t see the bottom - it’s because it’s so full of life.
Ready to have your mind blown by the Canadian North Atlantic?
It’s common to spot sculpin and sea ravens in the waters of Nova Scotia. This ruby red sea raven was photographed at the Paddy’s Head dive site, a favorite among the locals.
With their dainty colors and itty-bitty bodies, nudibranchs are always a fun subject for macro shooters. While you can find nudi’s to shoot in Nova Scotia if you look really hard, they are much easier to find on Deer Island, New Brunswick.
When photographing in Nova Scotia, I like to look for small critters like this funky little spiny lumpsucker. It gives the dive site some personality.
Keep your eyes peeled because you never know what you will spy in the plant life. This rock crab decided to peek out for me on the green dead man’s fingers (scientifically known as Codium fragile).
Striking red and pink colours are a sight for sore eyes in the cold productive waters of the Bay of Fundy. Here you will find brightly coloured anemones of all different shapes and sizes, with tentacles out trying to catch some food from the water column!
Nothing spells Nova Scotia better than a close-up view of a lobster. You can find these arthropods all over the east coast scavenging the bottom on the hunt for their next meal. I love grabbing macro shots of these guys with a focal point on their beady little eyestalks.
Plant, animal or lifeless rock?
Chitons, also known as sea cradles, are a species of mollusk found exclusively in marine environments. On top of having the incredible power of surface adhesion, chitons have 8 separate shell plates that overlap and protect their otherwise soft body.
by Maggie Sutherland
I’m not the type of person that has a lot of idols. However, when I first heard about Sylvia Earle during a Geography course in undergrad, she fascinated me.
When I joined the Board of the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium, a lot of my motivation and inspiration to remain involved in marine conservation was thanks to her messages, quotes, and her organization Mission Blue. These provided a glimpse of hope into what always seems like such a dire state of affairs for our oceans. Most of what you hear is about fish populations plummeting, species extinctions, coral bleaching and devastating impacts of human activities. Sylvia Earle provided a voice a hope among all of that. That yes, you as an individual can indeed have an impact or be part of something that helps to change how people treat our oceans.
Maggie at the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium in Newfoundland where she first became involved with community aquariums.
Far and away, the greatest threat to the ocean, and thus to ourselves, is ignorance. But we can do something about that.
One of the most fascinating parts of Sylvia’s messages is that she helps connect you to the ocean. For many people the ocean is a mystery - it is a cold, deep blue blanket that is out there far away. It's not something you ever get close to, or touch, or dive beneath- especially not everyone as lucky as us on the East Coast. Sylvia Earle has helped connect us to that blue blanket, to convince us that the ocean is a part of us, and our existence is intimately connected to it.
If you think the ocean isn't important, imagine Earth without it. No ocean, no life.
When I saw Sylvia Earle was coming to Halifax this fall for the G7 Ocean Summit - I literally started shaking with excitement! This was a person I thought I would NEVER have the change to meet. I told Magali (our Executive Director) and we squealed with excitement about meeting one of the most inspiring women in ocean education and exploration.
Maggie, Sylvia and Magali at the G7 Meetings in Halifax in fall 2018.
On the day of the event, a lucky window opened where Sylvia was not surrounded by people and I knew I had to take this chance to tell her how much of an inspiration she has been to me, motivating me to care about our oceans and help inspire others to care too. I was so nervous I don’t even remember what I said but I hope it was somewhat coherent! That encounter was just the boost I needed to remind myself why I am now involved with a charity that aims to open a collect-hold-and-release aquarium in the Halifax-area. People need to meet the creatures that live beneath our oceans to understand that they are a vital part of our ecosystem. The health of our ocean, which covers over 70% of our planet, starts with each person believing they can take action in their own lives for marine conservation.
Knowing is the key to caring, and with caring there is hope that people will be motivated to take positive actions. They might not care even if they know, but they can’t care if they are unaware.
All quotes by Sylvia Earle.
New to the blog? Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series!
In this third and final post on our Plog for the Sea Challenge, we wanted to highlight how a little goes a long way!
By dedicating just 10 minutes a day for 10 days throughout the month of October, our 10 participants plogged for a total of 33.6 hours and picked up close to 77 bags of litter!
Along with the various Nova Scotian spots shown below, plogging also happened in Cape Breton, PEI, Ottawa and Vancouver. It's really impressive what a small group of dedicated people can accomplish.
Spring is still a little ways away, but as soon as that snow melts it will uncover an unsightly array of trash along our roads and on our coasts. Instead of getting discouraged, let's all get out there and plog! For some final inspiration, here is the last set of responses from our ambassadors. They were asked what surprised them the most from their experience and what advice they would have for anyone considering plogging.
Meghan returning from one of her plogging trips.
The surprise - I wish I could say that I was surprised by the amount of litter I encountered during the plogging challenge, but I was not. Unfortunately, the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality is still quite prevalent in society today. What I was surprised by was how great of an activity plogging is to do with friends! It allows you to catch up with a friend while making a positive impact on the environment.
The advice - There are so many stressors facing the ocean today. The news is populated by stories of doom and gloom of the ocean. Often times, it can be quite overwhelming to the point where the you can be left wondering if the actions of a single person can really make a difference. Plogging is proof that actions of a single person can have a huge impact! It is among the easiest things that you can do to help the ocean. That is all to say that if you are considering becoming a plogger, do it!!!!
Jocelyn with two bags of "loot" after a plogging trip.
The surprise - I was surprised by two things during my plogging. First I was surprised about the amount of garbage I found in some spots and that it wasn't being cleaned up by our city or some of the community. It was sometimes hard to stay positive about my small impact on these large amounts of garbage on road sides and in parks. But secondly I was surprised by the overwhelming support! My donors ranged from close friends to people I haven't spoken to in years and everyone I met while I was plogging had big smiles, encouraging words and even fist bumps and high fives for me. That really helped me keep up my plogivation!
The advice - Get a great pair of gloves and some tongs! They came in handy during wet weather or hard to reach places. If you can, recruit plogging pals - group plogging makes the time go faster and keeps spirits high. And treat yourself to a walk on a well maintained trail every few plogs, just to get back into the beauty of nature and remind yourself of why you're out there.
Our appreciation event at The Watch That Ends the Night.
We finished our challenge off with an appreciation event to thank all our plogging ambassadors. The Watch That Ends the Night provided delicious appetizers to our group that were happily scarfed down! We were able to offer prizes to those who logged the most plogging hours and to our top fundraisers thanks to the generous donations of Aerobics First and Patagonia Halifax. Thank you to these sponsors!
A huge thank you to all 117 people who donated to our plogger's efforts and helped raise $3,605 for ocean education!
And finally, one more thank you to our ploggers: Abbie, Alexandra, Jennifer, Jocelyn, Kaitlin, Lyn, Maddie, Meghan, Melanie, Raymond and Ruby.
If you don't know what plogging is yet and haven't read Part 1, see below or click here.
When we created the Plog for the Sea challenge, we wanted to ensure that we weren't creating more waste with our efforts. We put our sustainability thinking caps on and thought of a couples ways this could be done.
First, we provided our local ambassadors with reusable bags that they could use to pick up the waste they found. These were provided to us by the Alexander Keith's Brewery located in Halifax. Their master brewer, Stefan, is always looking for ways to make sure their used malt bags don't go to waste. He cut the bags for us, slit some handles, blew out the grain residues and delivered some perfect plogging bags to us! Thank you Stefan!
Stefan showing off the reusable malt bags! Photo curtesy of The Tare Shop who caught Stefan in action bringing some bags to the Historic Brewery Market for all shoppers to use.
If you want one, or many, of these bags - contact us!
The second thing we did to reduce our own footprint with this challenge was provide our ambassadors with gardening gloves. For safety reasons, gloves are an important aspect of plogging. Many clean-up efforts provide participants with latex gloves, and while we applaud all efforts to tidy up our environment, those latex gloves ultimately end up in the trash. Considering becoming a plogger? Go purchase a pair of cheap gloves that will last you all plogging season and beyond!
Want some other tips to begin plogging?
Here's the second set of responses from our ploggers after we asked them what surprised them the most from their experience and what advice they would have for anyone considering plogging.
Abbie's dog, Count, along for a plogging run!
The surprise - I was surprised by the amount of support I received from strangers and people I barely knew. Without trying to sound negative, I thought it would be pretty hard to reach the $200 goal. But people quickly jumped on the bandwagon and kept up with my progress which was amazing. People were so excited to financially support a local organization and even help plogging.
The advice - If you're considering becoming a plogger, don't be disheartened by the amount of litter out there! Just know that you're doing your best and you are making a difference, no matter how small it feels. And if you're not hauling in huge bags of litter... that's ok, too! Picking up cigarette butts is very time consuming for little reward... but I remember reading somewhere that one cigarette butt can immediately contaminate 7 L of water and continue releasing toxins for 10 years!
Melanie, our second West Coast ambassador, plogging in Vancouver.
The surprise - I was surprised by the number of other folks who got involved! I am so glad people joined the team to clean up for the sea and support Back to the Sea’s fundraising goal!
The advice - My advice, carry gloves with you everywhere. It’s always the times you are not Plogging when you see a huge garbage can turned over or a seagull that has just tore up a McDonalds bag. Those are the times when ploggers need to be at the ready! Now that my eyes are open to the amount of garbage on our streets and seawalls, I can’t not see it.
Jenn doing a beach plog.
The surprise - I was disheartened to see so much litter that was found litterally everywhere, but what surprised me was how much we can accomplish in such a short period of time. In ten minutes of plogging we can fill an entire bag and make for a happier and healthier environment. I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of support, encouragement, donations and messages that trickled in on the daily from people online and in person. This challenge made me realize that there is a wonderful network of caring, like-minded, passionate people that are fully on board to connect & continue to work together in helping our environment in any way we can.
The advice - I recommend investing in a durable pair of gardening gloves that will sustain all elements and that you will be able to reuse for each plogging adventure. I used one pair of gloves the entire month and they worked perfectly other than I do wish they could have been a bit more water-resistant, as some of the messes I got myself into left my hands sopping wet with who-knows-what. Speaking of which, hand sanitizer is good to have close by. Last but not least, a couple of reusable bags (email Back to the Sea to get some of Keith's used malt bags!).
My advice to future ploggers would be 1) Have the items I’ve listed above on-hand for emergency plogs, as I had many of those. 2) Talk about it- whether you make a post, record your experience, or talk to friends and family about your experiences-it will bring more awareness and recruit more ploggers! 3) Don’t be shy. If you do not have the means to dispose of the garbage you’ve collected, reach out to local businesses that have secure and covered bins. 4) Have fun with it! Get friends together, laugh off some of the outrageous finds. It can get ugly out there, and you can start to feel pretty discouraged BUT, know that you’re doing your part, and others are too!
🌎 💙 🌊
This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Read part 1 below. Stay tuned to find out more about the success of our challenge and to hear more anecdotes and advice!
First things first - what is plogging? Picking up litter while jogging!
And why is it important? Because 80% of the garbage found in our ocean is land-based. Ouf! That's quite the statistic.
But what's the happy news? Keep reading!
On October 1st, eleven ambassadors joined our Plog for the Sea challenge. Their mission was to plog for minimum 10 days for 10 minutes each time during the month of October. That's 100 minutes dedicated to helping keep the ocean trash-free. Each participant also committed to fundraising $200 for our Society.
Kick-off group plog along the Dartmouth waterfront near the Touch Tank Hut!
We were blown away by the dedication of all our ambassadors. Not only did most of them go well above 100 minutes of plogging, but our team fundraising goal of $2000 was smashed and over $3,600 was raised!
We asked our ambassadors what surprised them the most of their experience and what advice they would give to anyone considering plogging. Read their responses for some guaranteed inspiration!
Kaitlin plogging on Bluff Trail.
The surprise - When starting off the plogging challenge I expected it to be rewarding, impactful, and easy to incorporate into my daily routine. What I did not expect was how much plogging brought people together. Whether I was walking with friends, reading kind messages, or being encouraged by the community it never felt as if I was plogging alone.
The advice - Many of us strive to make a positive impact in our community but all too often we are deterred by the “am I really making a difference” thought. With plogging, this thought never crosses your mind as you can physically see the difference your efforts make pre- and post-plog. This practice, although small, will ensure that you leave a positive impact everywhere you go.
Magali, our ED, and a group of friends plogging on McNabs Island.
The surprise - How fast 10 minutes goes by when you're busy plogging!! I was shocked at how much garbage you can pick up in 10 minutes, since I don't often time myself.
The advice - Plogging is better together! I had a lot of fun plogging with my friends, and we made it into a fun game of scavenger hunt (for who could find the biggest, weirdest, most unusual piece of trash) and before long, we had our bags full and big smiles on!
Ruby plogging in Vancouver. Yes! We had some participants on the West coast!
I was surprised how much “garbage” I picked up was actually recyclable.
I was surprised how quickly the time would pass when I was in my groove plogging.
I was pleasantly surprised by how many people would smile and say thanks for cleaning up.
I was surprised how quickly litter would accumulate in just one day.
The advice - Wear gloves! I found it faster and easier to separate recyclables from landfill items right away into separate bags instead of having to sort it after the fact. Use your plogging time as your cool down so you can still get in a good work out if you want to.
♻️ 🌊 🌎
This is part 1 of a 3 part series. Stay tuned to find out more about the success of our challenge and to hear more anecdotes and advice!
By Natasha Tucker
There are plenty of fish in the sea. This saying is often used when we provide encouragement to those looking for love; but have you ever really thought about our oceans when hearing that phrase? Let’s do that now, and start to think about how many animals actually live in our oceans. If you were to look on Google for an answer, you would come across an exorbitantly large number but – be careful – these results can be deceiving. For example, in 2010, the Census of Marine Life reported that there are approximately 215,000 species swimming in our oceans (and that isn’t just fish)! This certainly gives credit to our beloved saying. Unfortunately, those hundreds of thousands of marine creatures are going extinct at an unprecedented rate.
But we must remain positive. With increased public knowledge, we can take action to help keep our aquatic friends and their populations thriving. Case in point, the Grey whale. In the 1900s, this species was a target for whalers, who sought their blubber and body parts for various industrial purposes. This increasing hunting pressure almost sealed their fate and left their numbers at only 2,000. Luckily, outrage from the public put an increasing awareness of these animals, made concrete change to laws, and ensured that Grey whales and their breeding grounds were protected. Today, the Grey Whale’s population is estimated to be at 26,000 individuals.
“Smiling” Grey whale in Baja, California - Photo credit
Recently, there was a story published about the imminent extinction of the North Atlantic right whale. This past year, there were no mother-calf pairings sighted and 18 recorded deaths. For a worldwide population of only roughly 500, these losses are a significant toll on the species. The most dangerous culprit of their declining numbers, you might ask? Entanglement. Right Whales are becoming entangled in fishing nets and/or suffering from blunt force trauma from boats.
What is unfortunate (but perhaps also fortunate for their future survival), is that these deaths are entirely preventable. We don’t like to think about how our everyday actions hurt the natural world, but in being more accountable for our actions and understanding the impact of them, we can make small changes to help keep these incredible animals safe. It might seem insurmountable, but don’t throw in the towel yet! We can all work together to help conserve this – and many other – species. But we must work together. Doing so is not a novel idea, nor without its successes. Don’t believe me?
North Atlantic right whale - Photo credit
Here in Canada, we have many some huge changes that are definitely worth celebrating. The 2018 budget now reads:
“To better protect, preserve and recover endangered whale species in Canada, the Government proposes to make available $167.4 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada. This includes funding for research to help us better understand the factors affecting the health of these whales, as well as actions that we can take now to help address threats arising from human activities.”
High fin to that!
People from across the country are working together to lobby the government to make the protection of whales a priority. Apart from providing monetary support to organizations who share this vision, there are other ways to help our fishy friends and the environments in which they live bounce back from the human pressures we have placed on them. All it takes are a few small, but impactful, changes to your day-to-day life. How? Repeat after me: little changes, big impact!
The best part about this? It’s already working! According to this article, quick implementations of fishing regulations in 2018 have prevented any North Atlantic right whales from being disentangled. This is a huge success, considering that the same time last year, there were several reports of disentanglements and 6 deaths. This is all possible because we worked together towards a common goal. And it’s paying off big time.
Here are a few ideas that you can try incorporating into your daily life to continue to push these successes and others forward.
Try to implement one of these ideas into your life this month. You’ll quickly realise how easy it is to do, and that will hopefully open the door to more possibilities for ocean conservation.
Natasha is a volunteer on the Communications Committee for Back to the Sea Society. She is a proud native of Nova Scotia living in Vancouver and is passionate about the ocean, road trips, and her pet dog and cat. Natasha is an avid advocate for clean oceans and aims to inspire others to get involved too through education, direct action and life hacks to limit use of single use plastics.
by Leah Robertson
On both land, and in the ocean we are thankful for great dads! However, when we think of fish in the ocean, fish parental care may not immediately come to mind. But dads play a huge role in taking care of their offspring in the ocean!
So in honour of father’s day, we have chosen two special fish-dads to highlight! Meet the rock gunnel:
Photo: Leah Robertson
This lil guy is often mistaken for an eel, but they are much smaller than that - only growing to 30cm! In this photo, father rock gunnel is guarding a cluster of eggs which are in the back of this very clever home - a bottle!
Our second dad is the 3-spined stickleback, who will teach us all about the ways fish act as fathers.
Photo: Leah Robertson
This little fish can be found in our local fresh, coastal and brackish waters. They can be characterized by three tiny spikes on the top and the persistence of being a great father!
The males of this fish work hard to build their nest to attract females, when their off springs are just a twinkle in their eye! They work to build these nests by digging a small pit, and then filling it with cozy ocean objects like algae to make it just right. After building their nest, they will do a zigzag dance to attract the female (seriously true!). If the fit is right, the soon to be momma will swim into the nest and lay her eggs. From there on out dad takes over in protecting the eggs, from fanning them often to creating little holes to ensure they are well ventilated soon to be tiny fish. Once the sticklebacks do hatch, dad will try to keep them around for a few days and if any try to wander away he will suck them up with his mouth and spit them back out near the nest. Talk about committed!
We are whaley thankful for dads both on land and in the ocean!
P.S. Special Father’s Day shout out to my own dad!
by Kaitlin Bureck
Becoming a mother automatically enters a person into a sisterhood unimaginable to the rest of us that have not kissed a booboo better, slipped a toonie under a pillow in exchange for a tooth, been covered in another human’s poop, or had the experience of being called Mom. From discussions with my own mother, the force that draws people into this international sisterhood is the knowledge that another person feels the same levels of inexplainable joy and endless love. The cementing force however, is realizing that other mothers have gone through the same hardships, overwhelming responsibility, and exhaustion that comes with raising a child.
This truth and cementing bond transverses the animal kingdom and reaches a selflessness epicentre with a small, deep-sea, and lonely female octopus. Perhaps lonely isn’t completely accurate, she is surrounded by hundreds of lives but they just happen to be of the cemented, milky, and of the not-hatched variety. She spends her days and nights guarding these precious egg capsules from predators by splaying her body over them while also keeping them clean of debris and oxygenated. With so many lives dependant on her, the female octopus rarely has opportunities to move away from her egg capsules and feed – another transcending truth.
Photo by MBARI, 2007
This routine of constant vigilance has been documented to have occurred in one species of deep-sea octopus, Graneledone boreopacifica, for four and half years after the egg capsules were laid. Read that again. If you prefer, that equates approximately to 54 months or 1647 days or 39, 528 hours of guarding, fanning, and starving for this 9-cm long miraculous mother. Why would any organism do this? Well, I wish I could paint a picture of an unparalleled love magnified by the fact that octopuses have three hearts but, in actuality, it has to do with setting up their offspring for success. The longer that a young octopus stays within its egg capsule, the more time they have time to develop so that by the time they hatch they are capable of surviving and hunting on their own. The exceedingly long brooding period that the G. boreopacifica endures is thought to be a product of the cold surrounding waters that cause octopus egg capsules to develop slower than they would in shallow, warmer habitats. The finish line for this marathon of maternal care is marked by the egg capsules hatching followed by the death of the mother octopus. A truly selfless mother.
Whether your mother has 2 arms or 8 arms, their dedication to your being is truly a miracle and one that deserves celebration. Mother’s Day provides us with the perfect opportunity to dedicate some time to thank them for the support they have provided and the love they have given. I for one am going to tell my mom about the little deep-sea octopus and let her know how much the egg capsule appreciated it.