Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Posts Tagged ‘biofilm

Sandpipers’ feeding habits could spell trouble for port expansion

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Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper photo by Mike Baird


We are located on the Pacific flyway. The coast is the path of migration for large numbers of shore birds. The littoral is the place where the birds feed.

An international team has discovered why half the world’s western sandpipers touch down on a specific tidal flat just south of Vancouver every spring. The secret is in the mud, more specifically in the snot-like “biofilm” coating the mud.

The tiny shorebirds, weighing about 30 grams each, suck a remarkable 20 tonnes of the sticky slime off the mud every day as huge flocks swoop down to refuel during the spring migration, the scientists estimate.

And apparently they did not know that. This is a discovery that should stop development at Roberts Bank. There is just one problem that I see – it is already underway

port expansion Roberts Bank BC 2008_0412

This is a picture I took at Roberts Bank on Saturday. One to two million sandpipers arrive here in April and May and snort up the biofilm that is on top of the mud bank. Here.

Ports are a federal jurisdiction. I trust we will see a stop work order issued immediately. Anything less would be a crime, in my opinion.

Actually, this would be good news for all of us – not just the sandpipers. It would restore my faith in the Canadian Environmental Assessment process which so far does not seem to have served us well

Written by Stephen Rees

April 14, 2008 at 5:32 am