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A magical day on Scout Island in Williams Lake

It was a magical Sunday at Scout Island for Marsh Magic on June 9, 2024.

It was a great day at the Scout Island marsh on June 9 for Marsh Magic events, despite being slightly overcast.

Overcast skies are better for bird-watching and spotting animal activity at midday, so the weather was on the side of the swamp creatures for the Sunday event.

Scout Island Nature Centre hosted the event aimed at highlighting Williams Lake and the marsh, which provide a vibrant natural habitat for so many species of wildlife.

A large number of community organizations took part, hosting booths, activities and information for participants of all ages.

The event gave the Scout Island Nature Centre and Williams Lake Field Naturalists a chance to also feature some of the latest upgrades and ongoing projects as well as highlight some special residents like the western painted turtle, a Williams Lake resident listed as threatened federally and blue-listed provincially.

According to the Government of British Columbia website information, the Western Painted Turtle is mostly threatened by alteration or destruction of its limited habitat.

This was just one of the lake creatures and features celebrated at Marsh Magic. Visitors to the park could take part in all kinds of activities, and a passport and entry form offered a chance to win an amazing gift basket for doing so.

Information sessions by local experts included a turtle tales talk, a botany walk, marsh wonders, and a fascinating peak into the way insects see and  bioluminescence (the light emitted by organisms like plants, plankton and deep-sea creatures). Dr. Christian Lass, PhD. of Thompson Rivers University led a tour through the dark depths of the nature centre to show the hidden messages plants send insects and birds, and how reptiles and birds can also see things humans can't.

He demonstrated biolumniescent plankton and explained how the light worked as a "burlgar alarm", because a disturbance in the water around the plankton, which might be caused by shrimp eating the plankton, can highlight  -quite literally- an opportunity for a predatory species like larger fishtocome eat the shrimp and therefore save some plankton.

Birds and reptiles also see light differently than us, and their eggs give off different coloured light which can be picked up by birds so they can see their eggs more clearly. Another bonus is how scorpions shine brightly under a UV light, something Lass advised could come in handy if you're staying in scorpion habitat.

It was an illuminating tour in more ways than one.

Lass is the science instructor at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake and did his doctorate in pharmaceutical biology.

The younger patrons of the park seemed more attracted to his live displays than the tour through the different types of light, but the corn snake and leopard gecko were pretty tough competition to beat.

Another table which offered a sweet break, was the one with home made baked cookies by donation to help raise funds towards a new bridge to Otter Point. While a new boardwalk was constructed around Otter Point itself, the bridge to access it has been assessed and will need replacing soon as well. The venture will be an expensive fix, so volunteers are beginning the process.

Marsh Magic had information and activities hosted by: Invasive Species Council of BC, Thompson Rivers University, city of Williams Lake, Cariboo Chilcotin Orienteering Club, UBC Research Forest Wild and Immersive, Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society, Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy, Streets for All Williams Lake and of course, many by the Williams Lake Field Naturalists and Scout Island Nature Centre.

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

I moved back to my hometown of Williams Lake after living away and joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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