Below is a description of some of our Field Trips. Most of these focus on the biological and/or chemical and physical sciences. If you would like to request other interests please let us know, and we can customize your trip accordingly. Other topics that we integrate include journal writing, videography, fine art, geography, archaeology, mathematics, chemistry and physics.
All activities are adaptable and teachers are encouraged to advise us of specific goals and topics for their group in advance. Co-teaching with our staff is also encouraged.
Oceanography and Biodiversity in Grappler Inlet (2 hours)
Travel for two hours up Grappler Inlet in one of our research vessels and take on the role of oceanographer! This unique suburb of Bamfield provides the backdrop for an examination of the biotic and abiotic characteristics of the ocean. Measurements and collections are taken at two locations, the head and mouth of the inlet. At each location students take temperature, salinity, and turbidity measurements. Data collected is discussed, comparing the differences between the head and mouth of the inlet, and added to an ongoing multiyear study. Plankton is collected using a plankton tow and while some plankton can be seen with the naked eye, the Plankton Lab provides a more comprehensive examination of the sample collected.
Research Vessel MV Alta (>1.5 hours)
This field trip to the Deer Group Islands entails observing marine mammals and birds and sampling from the subtidal environment. The sample is collected using a dredge net and yields different organisms, including sea stars, urchins, octopuses, crabs, fish, sea cucumbers, and many others that are not found in the intertidal zone. While exploring the open ocean many different birds and mammals can be observed. Depending on the season and migration pattern, many whales, harbour seals, sea lions, and a large variety of marine birds can be seen. (There is an additional cost for these trips, please see pricing guide.) 12 people max, per trip
Research Vessel Barkley Star
This is BMSC’s newest research vessel. The Barkley Star is primarily used by research divers, but is available for Public Education trips. The Barkley Star is equipped with a remotely operated vehicle. This vessel is also used for trips such as marine mammal and bird surveys. (There is an additional cost for these trips, please see pricing guide (max 12 people per trip)
Brady’s Beach (3-4 hours)
One of the most beautiful beaches around Bamfield, Brady’s Beach is characterized by its picturesque sea stacks, sandy and rocky shores, and is a wonderful place to explore the intertidal zone. Many of the organisms in the lab can be found here and exploring this beach is an opportunity to see the organisms in their natural environment. A tide pool study can be conducted which involves choosing a tide pool, mapping it, estimating volume, and describing any interactions that are occurring. An additional activity to compliment the tide pool study (and express some latent creativity) is beach theatre. Students may come up with skits, songs, poems, or interpretive dances about their particular tide pool. Instructors are well versed on arrange of topics and can deliver activities and lectures on intertidal ecology including zonation processes, tides, coastal geomorphology, kelp forest ecology, marine terrestrial interactions, etc… Brady’s Beach is also an ideal site to conduct quantitative and qualitative studies.
Eagle Bay (2 hours min.)
Eagle Bay is a semi-exposed rocky shore, great to observe intertidal organisms in their natural habitat. Students are encouraged to explore under rocks, gently handle animals and ask lots of questions. This beach has a large diversity of algae and many examples of reds, greens, and browns can be found. A trip to Eagle Bay includes a walk around a rocky point which provides a beautiful view of the open ocean. More wave-exposed organisms, such as gooseneck barnacles, can be found on this point. This bay is also a beautiful place to have reflection time as the sound of crashing waves on the shore is punctuated by the whistle buoy.
Aguilar Point (1.5 hours min.)
Aguilar Point is an incredible rocky beach providing many refuges for intertidal organisms. There is an abundance of invertebrates to discover by exploring under rocks. It is a semi-wave exposed beach with a large diversity of algae to examine as well. The intertidal zone here has a shallow slope so it is ideal to demonstrate the physical conditions intertidal organisms must cope with as the tides rise and fall.
Bioluminescence (0.5-1 hour)
This short fieldtrip is conducted at night either off the dock or in the boats at the mouth of Grappler Inlet. It is a chance to see the water glow! When phytoplankton are disturbed, a chemical reaction occurs. One of the products of this chemical reaction is a bright green light, but even knowing the science behind it does not steal the magic away from seeing bioluminescence first hand. Bioluminescence is best observed on calm days during the Spring, Summer and Fall.
Temperate Rainforest Ecology (1-3 hours)
Go for a guided walk through the coastal temperate rainforest. Our forest path meanders through old growth before entering into second growth, an interesting chance to compare the differences between the two. Quantitative studies using biodiversity indices can be done here. The biology of many plants, including fungi, mosses, ferns, shrubs, and trees, is discussed and a large emphasis is put on the human uses of plants (ethnobotany). There are culturally modified trees (CMTs) along the path to illustrate how first nations people harvested from the trees. A specific focus on non-vascular plants can be led to complement BC biology curriculum. Temperate rainforest ecology can also be done in tandem with trips to Brady’s Beach or Pachena Bay.
Pachena Bay (3-4 hours)
Pachena Bay is at the trailhead for the West Coast Trail (WCT). Surrounded by rainforest and facing open ocean, this large sandy beach has spectacular scenery. It is a wonderful example of a sandy shore habitat and the wrack at the top of the tideline often has many interesting algae, crab molts, and sea stars. Ospreys and eagles can often be seen feeding in the shallows and in the spring and summer gray whales come into the bay to feed as well. Exploring Pachena Beach is nicely complimented by a short rainforest walk down the WCT. (limited availability)
West Coast Trail, Pachena Point (6 hours)
A hike out to Pachena Point light house is a great opportunity to hike a world-class trail through a coastal temperate rainforest. People from all over the world come to hike the West Coast Trail and see a touch of history. The WCT was originally a telegraph line trail. The trail was modified to assist ship-wreck survivors after the ship Valencia was wrecked off of Pachena Point in 1906, near the present site of Pachena Point Lighthouse. Many lives were lost in this wreck, which made apparent the lack of resources available to help ships in danger. The lighthouse, a 12 km hike from the trail head at Pachena beach, was built in 1907; the same year construction of the Lifesaving Trail began. Trees with cable scars and old lifesaving cabins can still be seen along the trail. If 24 km is too far to hike in one day, Maben’s beach is 6.5 km away and magnificent. The rocks at low tide reveal urchin barrens, sculpted stone, lots of crevices, tidepools and seagrass beds to explore. (limited availability)