I read Lana Burns’ letter in the March 6 edition. While I agree with most of what Ms. Burns says, and I too believe the existing dog rules should not change, I need to offer my observations on the wildlife situation.
I’m no expert, but I’m on the beach every day of the year, two or three trips, to walk my clients’ dogs as well as my own. I’ve been going to the beach for 30 years.
There is a commercial crab fishery in Cadboro Bay, granted it’s way out in the bay, but it’s there and you can see the boats picking their traps. Along the length of the beach there is all sorts of crab litter, bits and pieces of crab the seagulls leave behind, especially at the Oak Bay end of the beach. When the tide’s out the seagulls pick the crabs out of the shallow water and eat them on the beach. I’ve seen them do it many times. Many individuals set crab traps and eat the crabs.
Every dog walker knows that from about May to mid-August or so, there are thousands of tiny fish in the shallows. Some dogs become obsessed with following them about. I think these may be sand lancer and surf smelt fry but again, I’m no expert. All I know is there’s lots of them. I watch them get bigger and bigger over the summer, until they are gone, off to deeper water I think.
In the winter the loons swim about with their heads in the water until they see something, and then dive on it. Widgeons and mallards are around in large numbers all winter, but I think they eat mostly things they find in the grass. There are diving ducks as well; they eat fish. In the summer I’ve seen osprey and kingfisher diving onto fish they see from the air. Everyone at the beach has seen the seals race around in the shallows catching fish.
Last August I saw a salmon, maybe 18 inches long, jump 50 feet off the beach in August. That same month there were orcas in the bay, although nowhere near the beach.
One year I found and buried a small dead porpoise, or more accurately, half a dead porpoise. Maybe a transient orca got it. Another year we had a moulting elephant seal on the beach right in front of the pirate ship. He/she was there for about a week. Another year there was a sea otter. Google “sea otter Cadboro Bay.”
All of the above said, I’m not sure I’d eat anything from the immediate beach area because of (a) The storm drain water that runs all the time, and (b) The sewage overflow discharge that occurs a few times a year. Some storm water could be diverted to rain gardens (I think). The attenuation tank in Haro Woods will help with the overflow discharge, but the ultimate solution is for Oak Bay to separate the sewer and storm water drains in Uplands.