Hakai Institute

Hakai Institute

Weather conditions on Quadra and Clavert Island

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Our docks, facilities, and access trails on Calvert Island are closed to visitors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This closure extends to the shorelines of Pruth Bay, West Beach, and North Beach.

Science Home Test 09/2020

Our Science Strategy

Hakai’s science is defined by
the opportunities and
imperatives of our
landscape/seascape—the BC
Coastal Margin.

Hakai’s science is enabled by
our advanced capabilities in
technology, infrastructure
and logistics.

We seek maximum impact
from the science we do. We
select our programs on that
basis rather than from any a
priori interests we may have.

Our best opportunities for
scientific impact lie at the
intersection between our
landscape and our
technological capabilities.

Biodiversity & Biogeography

Conducting inventories of biodiversity and how it maps across our landscape is at the very
core of what we do at Hakai.

Landscape Focus:

We have an intensive and specific focus on nearshore marine ecosystems.

We are also interested more wide ranging surveys of biodiversity, covering marine and
terrestrial domains, using tools like iNaturalist.

Key Technologies:

Intensive, repetitive surveys of selected reference landscape/seascape units.

Genomics including DNA barcoding and environmental DNA (eDNA).

Geospatial mapping of habitats using all tools from drones to satellites.

Big data in the context of contributing to global biodiversity repositories such as the
Barcode of Life Database (BOLD), the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS), the
Smithsonian Marine Global Earth Observatory (MarineGEO) & iNaturalist.


The influence of the Pacific Ocean on our coastal ecosystems is pervasive. Storms, marine heat waves, upwelling from
the deep ocean, harmful algal blooms, are factors that we need to track even if we do not study their root causes. We
also study the interaction of the ocean with freshwater runoff from coastal watersheds.

Landscape Focus:

We specifically focus on the coastal ocean, never venturing beyond edge of the continental shelf. Our partners,
notably DFO and NOAA, who work in the deep ocean, provide context for our work on the coastal margin.

Key Technologies:

Regular cruises and surveys using our research vessels.

Sensors, sensor networks and moorings.

Geospatial mapping from drones to satellites.

Ocean gliders traversing to the edge of the continental shelf.

Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs), moored and mobile, to analyze ocean currents.

Big data, particularly via our participation in the Canadian Integrated Ocean Observing System (CIOOS).

Our oceanography program overlaps most of our other programs.

Nearshore Ecosystem Dynamics

We study intensively the dynamics of nearshore ecosystems on the Central Coast near our Calvert observatory, and
expand those studies via partnerships to include regional and international scope. Concepts like resilience,
disturbance, foundation species, keystone species are addressed.

Key Technologies:

Genomics including DNA barcoding and eDNA

Geospatial mapping from drones to satellites

Intensive surveys of selected nearshore domains

Focus on foundation species: macroalgae (e.g. kelps), seagrass, coralline algae, etc.

Mesocosm experiments to look at mechanisms in detail

Big data, including biological/ecological components of ocean observing systems (MarineGEO, CIOOS & GOOS).

Marine Microbiology & Food Webs

Biodiversity, focusing on the food web underpinning the survival of juvenile salmon at the north end of the Salish Sea.

Key Technologies:

Genomics including DNA barcoding and eDNA


Microscopy, microbes and meiofauna

Mesocosms to investigate mechanisms

Big data in the context of biodiversity databases

Biogeochemisty & Carbon Dynamics

We have a specific focus on carbonate chemistry, ocean acidification, and the biological effects on sensitive
organisms and ecosystems.

Key Technologies:

Sensors and sensor networks

Mesocosms to look at mechanisms & simulate ocean effects

Genomics looking at epigenetic modification

Interaction with carbon flux from coastal watersheds

Salmon & Shellfish

Our Quadra Island observatory lies on one of the main migration paths for juvenile salmon. It is also in the midst of
BC center of shellfish aquaculture. These proximities give us the opportunity and responsibility to study these topics.

Key Technologies:

Genomics including eDNA

Mesocosms to look at mechanisms & simulate ocean effects

Sensors and sensor networks

Archaeology & Historical Ecology

Our previous work has shown that BC’s coastal margin was one of the earliest regions of ecological recovery and
human settlement after the end of the last Ice Age. We are continuing that work with a specific focus on the north
end of Vancouver Island.

Key Technologies:

Geospatial mapping, particularly LiDAR

Genomics, eDNA including “ancient DNA”

All the other technologies used by contemporary archaeologists

Regional Modeling

We strive to pursue science locally, regionally, nationally and globally. As we move to larger spatially scales we
increasingly depend on regional partnerships and modeling.

Key Technologies:

Sensors and sensor networks

Geospatial mapping

Spatial modeling of various types

Big data: we participate in regional and global data initiatives and modeling exercises