The Hakai Institute and their Calvert Island Field Station
For millennia, the Heiltsuk First Nation has thrived along British Columbia’s Central Coast, including the wild and remote Calvert Island. In recent years, the Heiltsuk Nation has welcomed new neighbours to this location, the Hakai Institute, whose establishment of a research facility is bringing exciting science and stewardship to the region.
The Hakai Institute is a coastal science research organization run by the non-profit Tula Foundation. According to Hakai’s Science Communications Coordinator Josh Silberg, the Hakai Institute takes a multidisciplinary approach to all things coastal.
“We have archaeologists, biologists, and geologists working with us,” Josh says. “Basically, we combine technology and science, trying to answer big questions about the ocean, the near-shore environments, and the watersheds of the BC coast.”
The Hakai Institute operates two field stations, one on Quadra Island in the Strait of Georgia and another larger one at the north end of Calvert Island, surrounded by the Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy, one of the largest protected areas on the BC coast.
The Calvert Island field station was once a fishing resort, but it has become a bustling research facility capable of housing up to 100 people at a time. Guests on Outer Shores’ Spring in the Great Bear Rainforest expeditions may have a chance to see for themselves some of the work happening here, including long-term monitoring of local kelp forests and studies on migratory bird populations.
According to Josh, Hakai researchers believe this area may have been part of a coastal migratory route taken by the first North Americans 15,000 years ago. In fact, the oldest footprints in North America – about 13,000 years old – were discovered right around the Calvert Island field station.
And if you do get a chance to visit Calvert Island, Josh highly recommends the hike out to 7th Beach for some spectacular coastal views. Or visit Calvert Island’s West Beach, ranked by Islands Magazine as one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world.