Science & Research

Skeena Estuary Research Centre at Cassiar Cannery

Located in the estuary of the Skeena River, Cassiar Cannery is proud to announce the creation of the Skeena Estuary Research Centre at Cassiar Cannery.

When we arrived at the Cassiar Cannery in 2006, we quickly realized how important the Skeena River is to the thousands of people throughout the watershed in addition to providing critical habitat for resident and migrating birds, mammals and salmon.  One of the most fascinating characteristics of the Cassiar Cannery is its rich and varied ecosystem coupled with the humbling aspects of the importance of this place, this river and its diverse human history that depends on the health and bounty provided by the Skeena River and the Pacific Ocean.

In 2009, Ali Howard and the Skeena Swim Team swam 610km from the headwaters of the Skeena River to the ocean.  She ended up here.  For us, this cemented the link between the entire Skeena Watershed, from the headwaters to the ocean, and the responsibility that comes with being a part of this remarkable place.

There is a large gap in scientific data on the West Coast between the research station in Nanaimo and the next one in Alaska.  We are proud to begin the first phase of the Skeena Estuary Research Centre at Cassiar Cannery with a detailed assessment of the biodiversity of the Skeena Estuary along Cassiar Cannery’s foreshore area with the University of Northern British Columbia.

As of the summer of 2012, the Skeena Estuary Research Centre at Cassiar Cannery has participated in three studies:

BOTANY: Rapid Biodiversity Assessment of the Skeena Estuary

Led by Dr. Darwyn Coxson, Biology Professor at the University of Northern British Columbia – Prince George Campus, permanent markers have been established at the Cassiar Cannery to record, catalog and monitor the incredible diversity of species that make up the salt water tidal flats in this unique estuarine ecosystem.  The salt marshes are now part of the curriculum at UNBC as part of a bi-annual course offering for third year science students.

Check the press release issued by UNBC and Dr. Coxson highlighting the environmental importance of the carbon stores of BC’s estuaries in additional to providing critical habitat for salmon, birds and mammals.

MARINE BIOLOGY: Rapid Assessment of Forage Fish within the Skeena Estuary

Forage Fish are a diverse and critical part of the marine food web providing food for birds, fish and mammals. Smithers biologist John Kelson collected, sorted and identified a large number of samples collected within the Skeena Estuary.

BIRD STUDY: Marbled Murrelets within the Skeena Estuary

The Marbled Murrelet is a red-listed species at risk. A small shorebird with very unique characteristics, it has suffered from human activities in many areas along the West Coast. Executed by local Smithers Biologist, John Kelson, a route tracked by GPS was established throughout the Skeena Estuary. Marbled Murrelets were identified along the route, counted and the data entered into a computer.

We hope this is just the beginning of hosting many facets of science and research here.  Future plans include building a proper facility to house as many fields of science and research that come forward to participate.