Students at the Coast Mountain College campus in Prince Rupert, B.C., will be all hands on deck this September, after their Applied Coastal Ecology program was outfitted with a 27-foot boat which will serve as a mobile marine classroom.
The new boat comes complete with the latest technology for field studies off the coast and can accommodate 12 passengers at a time — a big upgrade from its current vessel which could only fit three.
“A whole pile of things make this boat unique,” Ken Shaw, co-ordinator of the applied coastal ecology program, told Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.
“It’s big enough to get a decent sized group of students out … It’s equipped with a boom, there’s an ROV [Remote Operated Vehicle].”
Shaw says it’s a big step forward to get more students out on the water and have them operate marine technology in all kinds of different weather and water conditions.
“We want our students to be familiar with the environment of Prince Rupert and then have the opportunity to actually be involved in monitoring it,” he said. “Deploying equipment, using technology, doing what you would actually do in a job.”
The college in the port city on B.C.’s North Coast collaborated with Indigenous elders to name the vessel Na Malgsa Aks, which means “the story the water tells” in the La̱xyuubm Ts’msyen language.
The college’s campus is located on the unceded territory of the Ts’msyen people.
North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, who is parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness and a graduate of the Applied Coastal Ecology program, said the new classroom will give students the chance to practice natural resources management, ecosystem restoration and environmental monitoring with the same tools they’ll use in their future careers.
“It’s fantastic to see how the program has evolved over time to keep up with the latest technology used in the natural resource sector,” said Rice, adding that the new equipment will help train “the future stewards of the North Coast region.”
The B.C. government chipped in $250,000 to buy the aluminum-hulled boat for the college and that money was also used to outfit it with a long list of equipment, including:
a crane and winch for lowering and towing gear
a side-scan sonar
a single-beam echo sounder
a laptop for remotely operated vehicle control
a lifeline, first-aid kit, safety vests, inflatable boat, line puller and handheld radio
an underwater Wi-Fi extension line
plankton trawl nets
By combining classroom and field-work experience on the boat, Coast Mountain College say it wants to prepare students for careers in sustainability, ecology, and fish and wildlife conservation.