Photo: Ghosts of the Pacific

Photo Credit: Sunny Tate

I have had the extreme good fortune to have been born in one of the most beautiful places on earth, right here in British Columbia. From my earliest thoughts the ocean was part of my being, the smell of salt and sea. I can remember distinctly my first footsteps on the beach, not long after I learned to walk.

Among my most enduring images was digging clams on Salt Spring Island with my now deceased grandfather, trips on the ferry and watching the pods of orcas spyhop and breach as we traveled through the islands. Our family lived on boats throughout my early childhood, the earliest tragedy I recall at the age of 4 was the loss of my beloved carton of lemonade, that sunk with our boat off Cortes Island. Be it gathering and shucking oysters during our thrilling winter storms, or running to evade wasps on Long Beach during a summer salmon barbecue, every memory I have is somehow married with the ocean and the creatures within it.

I have almost died in it, but more importantly, I have lived in it, a life many in the world can only imagine.

Now I see that life draining from our shores, although I still travel through the islands I rarely ever see the orcas that were so common in my youth, they had almost seemed mundane. My own child has never seen a pod close enough to really know that they are whales. The rivers that boiled with fish now have so few the bears go hungry. Bacterial and algal outbreaks are now so common that we are unable to dig for shellfish more often than we are able. I read stories of starving orca's and sea lions, of tumors and infections, of empty rivers and reduced quotas. All so unimaginable in the plenty I once knew.

Our Pacific is in trouble, anyone who has lived here for long enough, and has eyes to see will know. I can't imagine how an ecosystem, that all coastal life is so dependent on, will survive should we add a petroleum spill to the already ongoing tragedy.

I had the fortune to meet Luna a few times before he died. He is the story of our coast. So many people appreciated and admired him, so many came to visit just for a glimpse of this beautiful creature. Yet as much as we all claimed to value him and wished to preserve him, no one was willing to stop the human behaviour that was such a threat, even in one tiny inlet of our pacific, the threat that ultimately killed him. We cannot sit back and allow the destruction of what we have left. The gains that a pipeline and tankers promise for BC are so far outweighed by the costs to everything we value, everything that is a part of us.

Just as every tree in the Great Bear Rainforest has evidence of salmon nutrients so it is with all coastal life including us. What will we tell our children if....... when it is gone. What will the future look like? That is up to us, now. We are the deciders of the future. Are we destroyers or are we preservers? A question that has haunted me through adulthood along with all the ghosts of the Pacific.

Message to Canadians: This is truly a world heritage location. All of us on this planet reap the benefits of our pacific. We cannot allow it to be taken from us by the quest for profit & energy

By Sunny Tate

Gold River, B.C.

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1 Comment

Sep 17, 2012
5:51 PM

Thank you , I feel the same. I will work towards helping others come to know the wonder of this place. I have traveled extensively and know that there are few areas in the World that are still pristine and wild. I have also had the sadness of knowing the islands along the inside passage and returning the following year to find small Islands shaved. All the trees cut! Shocking! How could anyone do such things. I have small paintings of mt sailing and will post them.

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