Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Precision, Salvation, and Mucking Around

The JCP crew has been hard at work lately, continuing construction on the wood
en tank stands for the new aquarium. This has required a great deal of precision, with sub-millimeter measurements and careful clamping being the name of the game. We had the opportunity to rent a 16-inch beam saw for some of the most recent cuts, which made for pretty fun work! The finished product will be tank stands with lap-joints, a very strong and stable structural choice.

An action shot of Seamus with the 16-inch beam saw

The elaborate clamping setup

Another objective for
the crew has been to collect substrate for use in the new aquarium, such as sand, rocks, and shells. This involved trips down to Big Beach, where there is an abundance of ideal substrate. We even lucked out with some gorgeous sunny days, which made hauling around heavy bins infinitely more pleasant!

Jeff, Seamus, and Diana collecting substrate on Big Beach

The mini-aquarium has entered into hibernation mode, now that the big release day has come and gone. We have been hard at work emptying and scrubbing the old tanks. When siphoning out the used water, it is always a fun challenge trying to avoid a mouthful of murky waste water – a distasteful experience as I’m sure you can imagine! Probably the most joy came from discovering little crabs, clams, fishes, and other creatures that were still hiding at the bottoms of the tanks (all of whom were released, of course). The old aquarium materials and merchandise are being packed up, ready for re-use at their deluxe accommodations in the new aquarium building!

However, a few tenants still remain in the mini-aquarium. Our little red octopus female continues to care for her many eggs, which are scheduled to hatch any day now. Also, three fascinating and unidentified fishing anemones are being kept in their tanks in the hopes that with expert consultation, we may be able to identify these mystery specimens. We will keep you updated as much as possible on the births and potential discoveries of these remaining animals!

Diana is the newest member on the JCP team. She has been living in the area for 3 years, working as a naturalist on whale watching boats. Diana is excited to help contribute to the creation of what is sure to be a world-class aquarium facility.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

High School Wood Working

Jeff and Seamus using the planer.

Back to High School, well kind of... John Millar the shop teacher from Ucluelet Secondary School very kindly donated his after school hours to help out the Aquarium Society.
Here is Mr. Miller jointing a piece for us.

We worked together to joint and plane our lumber for the future tank supports. We think they turned out beautifully!
Thanks John! We couldn't have done it without you. Hahahaha. Here is a real picture of the results!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The forest comes to us....

Our construction crew has spent the last couple weeks installing beams on the developing structure of our new building. Walking past the site these past few days conjures images of old forest.

The Garbage derby wrapped up last weekend with Jamie's Whaling station taking home the trophy for most garbage collected by a business. Jesse Vedova, one of Jamie's' drivers, towed in a freezer and filled it with collected garbage, fishing floats and other oceanic debris. Matt Harbidge and Kane Edwards collected together to bring home the individual prize. These two drove out to a remote beach in the sound where dogwalkers, runners and beach combers can't add their efforts to keeping it clean. Thank you so much for your efforts!

Thanks also to Zoe Jewell, and Jordan Odney for your help, and to Garth Grimes, Seamus Little, Jason Hasz and Keanna Hasz for your efforts!!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

JCP crew goes to Vancouver Aquarium

We had three days of fun and useful information, half of the time for travel and the other half for inspiration at the Vancouver Aquarium. We started off our morning at Vanaqua with an orientation and behind the scenes look of the facility led by Danny Kent, Curator of B.C. Waters. We were all amazed by the complexities of the plumbing systems. None of us are plumbers by trade so looking at the plumbing of a large aquarium was a lot to take in.

We asked to meet with the carpentry department to see if they had any suggestions that may be useful in building and finishing our supports properly. Danny directed us down to the depths of the basement where the wood shop is located. . We were greeted by Ken Sulivan (Ken on the right) head of the carpentry department. He gave us some great suggestions on what type of leveling feet they have found work well on the bases of the tanks.

Ken showing us some hardware that they have used for leveling feet

The afternoon was spent walking around the galleries of the aquarium. The Vancouver Aquarium is a very amazing place. Here are some of the rad specimens we got to check out!

Bonus points to who can tell us the name of this tropical sea creature!

Daisy the Porpoise

Day two at Van Aqua was spent with Bryan Kent. He showed us on the computer the steps taken to go through to make fake rock that looks real. Basically Bryan started with a scaled down box and made the rock formation he was looking for out of plasticine. He then takes that plan to a company that specializes in artificial rock work to build it for him. Here are the before and after shots.
Before with Plastisine model

After in finished concrete display immediately after rock work was complete

Bryan also took us around for some more behind the scenes look at displays.

Bryan, Jeff and Jonnie checking out the display tank

We had the opportunity to meet with the painter of the Vancouver Aquarium to pick his brain on finishing products that work well in wet environments.

After spending time at the Vancouver Aquarium we are better equipped to create durable wooden structures, and really excited to contribute to the construction of another great aquarium!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2011 JCP Tinkerers

* * * NEWS FLASH * * *
The brainy research squad have been working hard designing the tank stands for the new Aquarium. This handsome crew have been performing diligent calculations to figure out the complex design criteria for the containment systems. The new tank stands will be a timber- frame structure, materials chosen for the tank supports is fir. Fir is a strong and beautiful species and should last for years to come.
The construction will be a lap joint with hardwood doweling to add strength and rigidity. The choice of hardwood doweling is there to keep the stands free of materials that will deteriorate or rust.

As you can see the crew is still working hard to solve the engineering details of our finalized designs.

Having calculated the precise dimensions, volumes and densities of the tanks, substrate and fish the crew was able to accurately estimate the design weights for each display tank.

* * * Stay tuned for more NEWS to come! * * *

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hello out there!
So the JCP crew were out collecting some substrate the other day and spotted a peculiar object on the horizon. We decided to go check it out. As we came closer we were struck by a bizarre species that none of us recognized. Luckily Jeff brought his pocket guide book of the Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest. Under the 'newly discovered species' section we were able to identify it as 'The Great Pacific Stolked-On-The-Construction-Of-The-New-Aquarium Fish'. We considered using the specimen as crab bait but soon discovered it was still alive! We rushed it to our shop on 1980 Harbor Crescent, hosed it off, threw it a hammer and the creature starting working! It was then that we knew we had our fourth member.
We are happy to have Roger Harvey complete our crew for the JCP!
Now that we have a full crew we thought it would be fun to do a little Bio on each of us.

Jeff Geddes' Bio

Before I say a little about myself I would like to thank Ucluelet and the Far West Coast for providing me with everything I need; Great people, good surf, a solid employer and I'm sure much more to come! I am happy to be out here exploring, surfing and contributing to the very awesome new Ucluelet Aquarium
project. I look forward to learning a lot about the ecosystem and local marine life from the other people involved with the aquarium and the knowledgeable locals! I am quite new and quite friendly, so say 'hi' if you see me.

Roger Hervey's Bio

From west Ucluelet born and raised, on the shoreline is where i spent most of my days. Chillin out, maxin, relaxin all cool, playin road hockey outside of the school, until a couple of guys who were up to some good started building an aquarium in my neighborhood. I made a couple of calls and said that i cared, they said I'll be working with the dry team to build it up square. I whistled for a boat and when it came near the registration said fresh and it had dice in the mirror. If anything I'd say that this project is rare, but I know i won't regret it, no question I'm there. I pulled up to the dock about 7 or 8 and I yelled to the skipper "Ahoy smell ya later!" Looked at the work site I was finally there to aid in the construction of a new marine lair.

Johnny Harkins' Bio

I am thrilled to be a part of the dry team for the Ucluelet Aquarium.
The Ukee Aquarium is a great project and the town will benefit for years to come.
Having worked for almost twenty years in the film industry, and being a carpenter too..
I hope my skills will help the best team I have ever worked with accomplish something great.

Seamus Littles' Bio

As some of you may know I worked on the 'Harbor Clean Up Crew' from last winters Job Creation Program (JCP). It was an extremely successful project and happened to be one of the funnest projects I have ever worked on.
Because of my involvement in the last JCP I was recruited to run the up and coming JCP which is where we are at now. This project predominantly entails building stands out of wood for all of the acrylic tanks that will be in the new aquarium. I am so stolked to have such a positive crew to work with!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2011 tank stand builders and dry team.

Hi folks! Being involved with the construction of the new Ucluelet Aquarium is very exciting and unique. From now until the end of January 2012 Seamus Little (middle of photo), John Harkin (left of photo), Jeffrey Geddes (right of photo) and Bailey the dog will be working as 'the dry team'. These types of jobs include building tank supports out of wood, collecting a variety of local shells, bone, rocks and substrate from the surrounding waters, designing the interior layout of tanks and displays, helping with the tank plumbing, lighting etc. and helping out around the aquarium job site. We are working as part of a Job Creation Partnership grant from the Ministry of Housing and Social Services.

Here are some of the exciting projects we have been getting up to so far:

Collecting whale bones for future display in the new aquarium. Special thanks to Jane Hunt from Westerly Winds Farm for donating 4 whale vertebrae. The vertebrae came from the same whale as this awesome skull that Johnny is standing beside.

Built a mock up floor and tank stand to the same dimensions as the future aquarium. We did this to help figure out our feed and return lines from the floor to the tanks.

Cut, sanded and primed sea creature shapes out of thin plywood with Elgin Ambrose from Art Access. These cool sea creatures were then painted by local kids and adults and put up on the construction fence to bring some life to the future aquarium worksite.

Here Seamus is seen cutting and wiring the cutouts.

Working at the aquarium job site stripping concrete forms, stacking wood, moving rocks and working with geotextile.

We are all learning lots having a blast with this project so far! Looking forward to Ukee Days this weekend and checking out the Aquarium Octopus float that will be in the parade. Come and have some fun at Ukee Days!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Some new specie, and new building construction...

Welcome summer 2011!
After a long winter, we are finally getting some sunny days.
Construction of our new building is coming along. We are now almost out of the intertidal zone!
A new little red octopus is in our midst, along with some deep sea Tanner crabs and Fragile Pink urchins. The Tanner crabs and Fragile Pink Urchins are truly deep sea species, and can live as far down as 2km. While a deep sea fish might react badly to pressure changes, the crabs can release gasses (which expand as you head towards shallower waters) through its flexible joints.
Unlike our very large Giant Pacific Octopus, the little red will reach a maximum weight of around 3lbs (GPOs often reach 150lbs). It resides now in the back of the aquarium, where it has a small den in the centre of its new home, and hunts the tasty shore crabs scurrying around its tank.

Ukee Days approaches! come out for the Saturday parade! We have a new (and very large) float to surprise everyone with...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Garbage, Construction and Box Crabs

Happy Spring from the Ucluelet Aquarium! We've had some exciting changes take place so far this year. Our new building is finally underway. After 4 years of fundraising, we now have a soundtrack of machinery and construction playing
throughout the aquarium. The little aquarium will still run for this season, closing again in october. When we re-open next year in our new building (projected opening date is set for May Long-Weekend of 2012) we will run year-round.
Our winter JCP crew wrapped up with a display of all the garbage they collected. Weighing 6710KG, plus about 25% which was previously recycled,and stretching out over 100 cubic yards, the massive haul of garbage was too large to be photographed from the ground. Many thanks to our volunteers for all the help, and to the Ministry of Social Development, which made the whole project possible.

We have a brand new box crab which we're very excited about. (Thank you to the crew of the North Islander). There are so many amazing species that we have on the coast, but the Brown Box Crab is truly remarkable. The holes on either side of its claws provide it with fresh water while closed up for protection. It moves with the grace of a tank but is more dextrous than it appears and has avery strong (and painful)grip.
May provided us with some of the lowest tides of the year. Perfect weather and ideal times (early morning right before work) meant many of us ran frolicking down to the intertidal zone to peer at all the creatures not normally accessible to us during low tides.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Greetings from the Ucluelet Aquarium,
We hope you are having a great February and looking forward to our March 19th re-opening. Recently, we have completed the Harbour clean-up and are now turning our attention towards removing invasive plant species from selected areas of the harbour. The top priority is the removal of Scotch Broom. An invasive plant on Vancouver Island since 1850. This perennial has been used in the past as a bank stabilizer by the highway department because of its deep root structure and rapid growth. However, it has flourished and become a nusance to many native plants on the Island as it hinders the available light, mositure and nutrients. It is also fast growing and considered a 'prolific seed producer' with up to 18,000 seeds per plant. It is also difficult to ward off and stop its invasive reproduction.
If you are planning on removing broom the general rule of thumb is if the stock is smaller than your pinky finger it can be pulled out of the ground. Otherwise, cut the stock of the plant as low to the ground as possible.
Our efforts have been focused in the Millstream area where we have removed approximately 20,000 of these invasive plants. After the broom has been pulled or chopped we burn the broom as to not spread the broom seeds any further.
We will be monitoring the areas that we have removed the broom from to see how the land rehabilitates.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy New Year Aquarium lovers!

We are excited to get back to our JCP (Job Creation Program) Harbour Clean up project for 2011!

Despite the colder temperatures in the early mornings we have continued up the frozen harbour. To date we have removed garbage from 2/3 of the intertidal zone and shore line (25 fish totes worth) and we will be continuing our way north into the Millstream area. We can already see our positive affects on the harbour as we occasionally pass over areas that we have already cleaned on our way to new spots.

Of the items we have found, commercial batteries are the most concerning. We have found batteries on all the abandon boats in the Ukee harbour. So far we have found 13 large commercial batteries and many household batteries. These batteries leach cadmium, lead , mercury, copper, zinc, magnese, lithium and potassium which are all hazardous to the environment and human health. Many of these toxins do not break down in the environment and can accumulate in all animals particularly in fish and shell fish. Removing these toxic batteries will improve the health and future generations of the marine life in the Ucluelet harbour.

Most service stations will take and recycle your batteries free of charge! Petro-Canada and Noel Enterprises in Ucluelet will accept all batteries as well as Method Marine in Tofino. We hope that our days of throwing batteries in the ocean are behind us.

We would like to thank The Westerly newspaper for publishing a two page spread on the work we have been doing in the Harbour.(December 16th 2010 newspaper)The Harbour clean up also got a thumbs up in the Times Colonist(Victoria newspaper) for our good work.