Hakai Institute

Hakai Institute

Weather conditions on Quadra and Clavert Island

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About Us - Hakai Institute

About Us

The Hakai Institute is based within the diverse coastal habitats of British Columbia, Canada. The Hakai Institute represents what happens when the elements of funding, infrastructure, science programs, skilled staff, and partners are integrated into one organization.

The Hakai Institute—part of the Tula Foundation—has offices in Quadra Island/Campbell River, Victoria, and Vancouver. We also partner with universities, NGOs, First Nations, government agencies, businesses, and local communities.

The Early Years

Founded in the early 2000s, The Hakai Institute has grown to include new labs, equipment and land.

The roots of the organization extend back to the early 2000s when the Tula Foundation helped conserve key coastal habitats in partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

From land securement, the organization’s focus shifted to supporting science on the BC coastal landscape to guide stewardship. One major hindrance was a lack of infrastructure to carry out the science. To fill that gap, the Hakai Institute ramped up its operations in 2009 with the purchase of the former Hakai Beach Resort fishing lodge on Calvert Island.

The first official gathering in the spring of 2010 was the Coastal Guardian Watchmen conference bringing First Nations from across the BC coast to Calvert Island—an event we’ve hosted each spring since that time. Research began mostly in the immediate vicinity of Calvert Island.

Calvert Island and Beyond

In 2014, the Hakai Institute expanded and we opened a second ecological observatory on Quadra Island. In 2015 and 2016, we extended our interests farther across the BC coast and to Washington and Alaska through strategic partnerships.

The Next Phase

While our geographical scope has widened, we remain faithful to our roots in place-based research.

In 2017 opened the Hakai Node at the University of British Columbia Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, as well as new offices on Langley Street to complement existing offices in the Old Victoria Custom House. In 2018, we built the state-of-the-art Marna Lab on Quadra Island for shellfish, ocean acidification, and genomics research.

Increasingly, we’ve added expertise in technology, including sensor networks, geospatial mapping, information technology, and computer modeling.

A javascript enabled timeline of Hakai events

  • Land securement and stewardship program for BC coast
  • Began sponsoring scientific research on the BC Central Coast
  • Commissioned Rivers Inlet Ecosystem Study with BC universities and Wuikinuxv First Nation
  • Converted Calvert Island fishing lodge to an ecological observatory
  • Began a five-year archaeological program based on Calvert Island, elucidating the early migration and settlement of the BC coast
  • Sea Otters return en masse to Hakai Calvert and stay for a few years before moving on. Kelp forests expand dramatically in the otter years.
  • Transformed Quadra Island facility into a second ecological observatory
  • A week-long conference was held in June at Hakai Calvert, led by Pew Charities, SFU, and First Nations, to discuss the impacts of returning sea otters.
  • Established networks for ocean acidification and watershed research with Alaska and Washington partners
  • Ongoing hearings related to the Northern Gateway bitumen pipeline project. Tula sponsors UVic Environmental Law Centre and lawyers Chris Tollefson and Anthony Ho in opposing the project.
  • Seastar wasting disease spreads to the Central Coast. Hakai launches ongoing initiatives to track the spread of the disease, identify refugia, and search for the cause.
  • Joined Smithsonian Institution’s Marine Global Ecological Observatory network
  • Expanded research in the Koeye watershed in partnership with Heiltsuk First Nation
  • Highlights of the archaeology program included the discovery on Calvert Island of the oldest-known human footprints in North America, over 13,000 years old, as well as a village site on nearby Triquet Island that is at least 14,000 years old
  • Opened Hakai Node at the University of British Columbia Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries
  • Opened Langley Street office in Victoria to complement existing offices in the Old Victoria Custom House specializing in information technology, geospatial mapping, and bioinformatics
  • Installed instruments on an Alaskan ferry to monitor ocean acidification along its 3,000-kilometer round-trip route between Bellingham, WA and Skagway, AK in partnership with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, the Alaska Ocean Observing System, and the University of Alaska Southeast
  • A veteran sea otter weighing 90 pounds dies (evidently from an infected canine tooth) on one of Hakai Calvert's beaches. Many months later, its skeleton and pelt return and become permanent attractions in the dining hall.
  • Three-week BioBlitz at Hakai Calvert in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution. Attendees from across our coast and around the globe.
  • The Oyster Genome Project, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, commences, with Tula supporting the laboratory challenge studies. Partners come from UBC, DFO, and elsewhere. Project continues for five years and stimulates the construction of our Quadra laboratory complex.
  • Quadra Wet/Mesocosm laboratory is established then revised in several stages, leading to the world-leading facility we have today.
  • Quadra Genome lab built and is continuously improved.
  • Built Marna Lab on Quadra Island for experimentation on shellfish, ocean acidification, and genomics research
  • Opened Hakai Cryosphere Node at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George
  • Two BioBlitzes at Hakai Calvert: one with a terrestrial focus, the other centered on seagrass ecosystems.
  • Quadra Centre for Coastal Dialogue formally established.
  • Began working with Ocean Networks Canada to build the Pacific node of the new Canadian Integrated Ocean Observing System (CIOOS), which is funded by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and MEOPAR
  • The Calvert Island Ecological Observatory becomes a base for autonomous ocean gliders to explore the coastal shelf—our role in the multi-year C-PROOF program in collaboration with DFO, UBC, and UVic
  • Hakai is resilient through the COVID-19 pandemic and continues essential operations at all field stations. Stringent policies prevent disease outbreaks.
  • Gardens and local food production expanded at Hakai Calvert during the pandemic.
  • Biodiversity lab built at Hakai Quadra during the pandemic. Specializes in microscopy and genomics, with particular emphasis on microbes, invertebrates, and seagrass and other macrophytes.
  • Palaeoecology and archaeology studies on the northwest corner of Vancouver Island extend the tradition established by Hakai on the Central Coast. Early results show that the land was ice-free 18,500 years ago.
  • Industrial-scale greenhouses at Hakai Calvert extend our capacity for local food production.
  • Sentinels and ICO projects expand footprint of Hakai science via community engagement.
  • Ancient DNA Laboratory established at Hakai Quadra, combining our interest in palaeoecology and genomics.
  • Three-week BioBlitz held at Hakai Quadra.