Photo courtesy Brendan Kergin Canadian University Press

Blake Deal
The Navigator

VIU’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station is inviting the public to learn about fossils of Vancouver Island, owls of BC, and penguins of the Antarctic.

These are just a few of the topics covered during a new spring film and speaker series at VIU’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station. 

The series is being held in conjunction with the Brant Wildlife Festival, which takes place from March 1-April 22, and will also continue throughout the spring.

The series starts on March 6 with a presentation on Vancouver Island fossils by biologist Graham Beard, who has been collecting fossils for more than 40 years.

Beard is a former high school teacher, the author of a book on paleontology, and is the president of the Vancouver Island Paleontology Museum Society. Part of his collection of 20,000 artifacts is on display in the museum in Qualicum Beach.

Beard’s presentation, “Fossils: Keys to the Past,” is a slide and lecture presentation with a question and discussion period to follow. Many fossils from the Vancouver Island area and other parts of the world will be on display at the Field Station during his presentation.

On March 14, the second event in the series features a presentation by Russell Cannings on the owls of British Columbia.

According to Cannings, out of Canada’s 16 breeding species of owls, 14 occur annually in BC. They range from the insectivorous Flammulated Owl to the dog-nabbing Great Horned Owl.

The lecture aims to highlight some of the distinctive features of each species, including habitat concerns, and even a few sound-effects.

Cannings is currently enrolled at VIU where he hopes to obtain a high school teaching degree. He is also a regular birding-guide for “Avocet Tours,” and runs the BC Bird Alert—a province-wide blog on the latest rare bird sightings.

All presentations in VIU’s spring film and speaker series take place from 7-9 pm at the Deep Bay Marine Field Station in Bowser: 370 Crome Point Road. Doors open at 6pm and snacks prepared by VIU’s Culinary Arts students will be available for purchase.

Additional speakers in the series include Bill Merilees on penguins of the Arctic (March 20), Dick Beamish on the Strait of Georgia and its fishes (March 27), Paula Wild on cougars (April 3), Wiley Evans on ocean acidification (April 10) and Tessa Danelesko on wild whales (April 24).

Tickets are $10 each or $50 for the entire seven-part series and may be purchased at the Salish Sea Market in Bowser, Courtyard Café in Qualicum Beach, the Welcome Centre at VIU’s Nanaimo campus, or by calling 250-740-6611.

For more details and driving directions, visit For a complete schedule of events during the Brant Wildlife Festival, visit  or call toll free 1-866-288-7878.

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