Speaker Series

We are pleased to announce the Summer 2017 Thursday Expert Speaker Series Schedule. Admission to these presentations is $5.00 per person. Youth 16 and under attend for free. The July 20th, 27th & August 17th presentations begin at 2:00 pm in the Community School Library (entrance through the Natural History Exhibit door). The August 10th birding expedition goes from 9:00 am11:00 am, Helliwell Park.

Thursday, July 20th – Sandy McLachlan, “Hornby Island: 75 Million Years in the Making”

From an early age, Sandy McLachlan has been captivated by the majesty of Hornby Island and the hidden world locked in stone beneath the waves of her shimmering shores. Over 120 years of beach combing has seen Hornby surrender an astounding array of fossils with some of the greatest preservation in the North Pacific. This presentation will touch on recent advances in our understanding of the island’s ancient ecosystem and the importance of our local fossil heritage.

Sandy is a paleontologist completing his MSc through the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria. A research associate with the Royal BC Museum, Sandy is actively investigating invertebrate and microfossil insights into the West Coast Cretaceous fossil record.

Thursday, July 27th – John Nemy, “A preview of the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017”

solarglassesJohn Nemy, public astronomer from Island Stars Observatory on Hornby island, BC, will present a show about eclipses and the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse. Learn how to safely observe your star, Sol the sun and what you might expect to see from Hornby Island or from the “Path of Totality”!  There will be music, images and live narration about the lives of stars and how living next to a star shapes our lives on planet Earth.



Thursday, August 10th – Art Martell, “Bird Walk – Hearing, seeing and enjoying our local birds”.

Meet at Helliwell Provincial Park at 9:00 am.  The walk will be about 3 km. and take about 2 hours.  Bring binoculars if you have them. No dogs please.

Art Martell is retired in the Comox Valley and has had a cabin on Hornby Island for over 25 years. He is the Volunteer Caretaker for the K’omoks Important Bird Area and is active in the Comox Valley Birders Group, BC Field Ornithologists, and Bird Studies Canada. Art was also a Regional Coordinator for the BC Breeding Bird Atlas. Before retirement, Art worked as a wildlife research scientist and manager with Canadian Wildlife Service and was the first Canadian National Coordinator for the North American Bird Conservation Initiative.  Art is a keen birder who enjoys birding locally, nationally and internationally.

Thursday, August 17th – Jane Watson, “Sea otters – A very natural history”.

Photo by Erin Rechsteiner

Sea otters, prized for their thick fur, were hunted to extinction in British Columbia in a commercial fur trade that started in the late 1700s and lasted until sea otters were protected in 1911. Otters were reintroduced to BC from 1969 to 1972 when 89 Alaskan sea otters were released off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island in a series of three translocations. Since their “repatriation”, the Canadian sea otter population has grown and spread; today there are over 5000 sea otters along the outer coast of BC and north end of Vancouver Island. The return of sea otters, which has resulted in dramatic changes to coastal ecosystems, has not been without controversy. Sea otters depend on a thick fur and a prodigious appetite to stay warm in their chilly ocean environment and it is these two features – their luxurious fur coats and enormous appetites – that have made sea otters both loved and hated. In this talk, we will explore the biology and ecology of this important and charismatic species– in what is truly a very natural history.

Jane Watson grew up on the BC coast, and knew from a very early age that she wanted to be marine biologist. She completed her B.Sc. at the University of British Columbia in 1981 and her Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1993. She recently retired from teaching biology at Vancouver Island University but remains active in research. She has spent more than 30 summers studying sea otters and kelp on the west coast of Vancouver Island.