The Chained Islands are a relatively small set of islands just northwest of Kanish Bay on the north end of Quadra Island. One island with a narrow and wind-protected beach has a great flat area for local camping or day use but it’s been marred for a number of years by a heavy amount of garbage and debris.
In fact, a SFU archaeology student named it “garbage beach” on a visit to the island. At some time in the history of the island someone ran a boat into the beach and it slowly broke up. Remnants included boards, a water tank and possibly VHS videotapes (more plastic!), which were littered from low to hide tide, stuck in the rocks.
Local historian, Jeanette Taylor doesn’t believe there has been a cabin built on the island. In the past there have been floating camps anchored to the beach and it’s quite possible some of the debris is a result of this. Carpets, glass, linoleum and even long johns were found. Possibly someone started or had a temporary residence here.
The cleanup crew consisting of eight people and led by our BCMTNA director, Roxanne, had fun with dozens of Styrofoam tree-planter blocks located on the beach and nearby point. They floated a string of blocks across the small bay and even took the luxury of a short rest on the train of debris. However, the fun ended there. Styrofoam, a petroleum-based plastic, is a cleanup nightmare. Once it begins to break up into pieces it’s almost impossible to pick up and eventually works its way into the ocean food chain. It simply does not break down in the marine environment, floats forever, and now is the main ingredient in ocean debris. According to Swedish researchers, young fish eat plastic like teenagers eat fast food. The fish become smaller, slower and susceptible to being caught by larger ones.
The crew arrived by kayak on a Wednesday night, set up tent, and started early the next morning. For many of the crew this was their first cleanup. Roxanne was a great coordinator and helped bring the crew together, reaching a consensus on how to tackle the job. According to Rita (see her photos) they managed to do the job quite quickly, placing a lot of debris into large tote bags and nets.
This coming week part of the same crew plus some Quadra Island residents will move the collected debris onto a skiff which will be pulled, I believe, out to a barge. We have two or three hours to load the barge and it will travel on the flood tide to Menzies Bay north of Campbell River. The owner of the Marine Links terminal has graciously given us free access. Another crew will unload the sorted debris into a truck and deliver it to the local landfill.
There currently is no evidence of a clam garden wall at low tide. The beach has a steep gradient and not does seem the natural location for a clam garden. A midden was recorded by Mitchell (1967). It is possible we might be able to find the midden now with tonnes of garbage removed. The BC Marine Trails has shown great respect toward this local campsite by cleaning it up!
The highlight of the trip according to Rita was the way the group came together on a common goal: cleaning up a very littered island. They ended their trip with an exploration of nearby Ashlar Creek campsite and Small Inlet. Special thanks from the BC Marine Trails for their masterful effort!!
About Project Creator:
Paul Grey, a director of the BC Marine Trails, has worked as a volunteer for the association for the past six years. A former elementary school teacher, Paul has also authored three kayaking books includingKayaking Vancouver Island, Great Trips from Port Hardy to Victoria. Paul’s volunteer work for the BC Marine Trails includes site assessments (often by kayak), project management and organizing meetings. He loves to kayak and hike in the wilderness and travel in his spare time. He lives on a small acreage north of Ladysmith, BC, Canada. http://www.harbourpublishing.com/title/KayakingVancouverIsland
Link to the Project: