Lights, Camera, Conservation! Filming in the beautiful Southern Strait of Georgia


This week I was tremendously fortunate to spend three days in the beautiful Southern Strait of Georgia with filmmaker D’Arcy Hamilton. Our mission was to capture the incredible wildlife and natural beauty of the region for a short film about the proposed Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area.

The Southern Strait of Georgia is the stretch of emerald water between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.  It is one of Canada’s richest and most productive marine ecosystems.

And it is beautiful.

I mean REALLY beautiful.

It is hard not to fall in love with the Southern Strait of Georgia, even with the shortest of visits.

I could happily while away the hours exploring the rocky shorelines around Georgina Point; covered in limpets and barnacles, and spotted with rock pools which are full to the brim with colorful alien life forms.

Or combing the white shell beaches of Montague Park on the east shore of Galiano, fringed with grasses that have turned golden in the late August sun.

 
Or soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of the small craggy, seal and seagull covered islets that dot the waters around the islands.

Or cruising the waters of Trincomali Channel and Active Pass by boat, with the wind in our hair and the sun at our backs, surrounded by the cedar and arbutus lined shores of the Gulf Islands.

But we had a job to do! We had three intense days of filming on Pender, Saturna, Galiano and Mayne, by boat and by land. It was a blur of activity punctuated with breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. We were up every morning well-before dawn and stumbled into bed exhausted, well after dark. We spent the daytime hauling camera gear across slippery rocks and on-and-off boats and with endless patience, D'Arcy would set-up, film and re-take each shot to make sure it was perfect.

One of the trip highlights for me was a couple of quiet hours in Miners Bay, Mayne Island on our last morning. It is an extraordinary little cove on the north shore of Mayne that is fed by the incredibly rich waters of Active Pass. While enjoying the warm morning sun and watching a heron fishing in the shallows we looked up to see an osprey plunge down and pluck a fish from the shallow waters of the bay just a few metres from our cabins, then fly off towards to the trees to feast on his catch. He then did it again just to make sure that we caught it on film. I later learned that this was one of a breeding pair that lives on Mayne.

(Interesting fact for the day: Because fish are quite heavy and their wide bodies create drag in the air, ospreys will actually rotate the fish mid-air, and carry it head first to make it as ‘aerodynamic’ as possible, so that it doesn’t slow the osprey down – watch here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqGKX7Eofy4)

Ospreys are one of the many species, along with our iconic killer whales, that will benefit most from a National Marine Conservation Area. By protecting their habitats and ocean hunting grounds from disturbance, we can ensure that they and their and young will thrive for many years to come.

A beautiful photo of a killer whale by Susanne Davies because my osprey photos were terrible!

Not only does protecting the Southern Strait of Georgia benefit these species, it will also benefit people by preserving the natural beauty and diversity of the area for visitors and locals to enjoy for many years to come, and maintaining healthy island economies. 

One of the lasting impressions of anyone visiting the Southern Strait of Georgia Gulf Islands is the warmth and hospitality of the islanders. Their deep connection and love for the waters that surround their home is reflected in their willingness to share their stories and favourite places with all who visit. And this is the purpose of our film.

The film will showcase some of the amazing places and species that call the Southern Strait of Georgia home, through the eyes of the people who live there. We hope that the film will build public support for protecting the Southern Strait of Georgia throughout the region and across Canada. 

We will be going back to the Gulf Islands to do some more filming and interviews over the fall (lucky us) and the film is expected to be released in the winter... so stay tuned.

To find out more about the proposed Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area and pledge your support go to  www.cpawsbc.org/campaigns/southern-strait-of-georgia 

The film is being produced with funding from Mountain Equipment Cooperative. We would like to thank the following organizations and people for their support: Galiano Conservancy Association, Mayne Island Conservancy Society, Salt Spring Island Conservancy, Outdoor Visions Zodiac Tours, John Gill and Mark Hoebel.