Monthly Archives: September 2012

It’s more than just a wave

Last week I had the pleasure of taking part in a discussion on Tsunamis presented by the ocean student society guest speaker- Dr. Brian Bornhold.

The presentation was more than informative and interesting, it was downright fascinating. Not only did I leave the presentation feeling like I was now a Tsunami expert, I never once felt out of place or lost. I didn’t need to be a 4th year ocean sciences student -and I’m not- to understand the power and impact of tsunamis. Dr. Bornholds presentation was deeply engaging and was about more than just an oversized wave. Tsunamis can be used to tell us quite a bit about our ocean, our planet and even our history.  Dr. Bornhold explored a number of fascinating topics such as why tsunamis are so powerful, how we measure and predict them today, and how we can use tsunamis as a historical diagnostic tool. For instance, Dr. Bornhold was able to use the geology of a tsunami area to substantiate and date a local Frist Nations story. Further, he can use his data and research to better protect people today. Although I used to think of Tsunamis as being a symptom of an earthquake, I’ve learned that they offer a fantastic look at the ocean and our planet regardless if you’re a physicist, geologist, marine biologist, historian or just an ocean enthusiast.

Something for everyone

The other really inspiring thing about Dr. Bornholds presentation was his advice and knowledge about different careers and paths.  Dr. Bornhold gave us helpful advice and anecdotes on how to expand our own personal networks, reminding us that the path to the perfect career is not necessarily a straight one. Dr. Bornhold started his career as a geologist and teacher, not an oceanographer.   He advised us to allow our interests and disciplines and to expand into many different areas and to look beyond the standard careers of our disciplines.  Dr. Bornhold further encouraged us to explore our respective passions through the lens of oceanography, because, as he proves, it really does offer something for everyone.

Come on out

You know when you find a really great book or move and you just have to share? Well, Ocean Student society lectures are on my list of things I just have to share. Please come on out, you’ll be sorry if you miss the next one!

The next discussion will be on October 23rd, 2:30pm-3:30pm in the UVic Grad House with our invited speaker Romney McPhie, Shark Biologist who works at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo.

We were also thinking that we want to make sure that OSS’ers are getting the chance to really network with the speakers so we have added a couple of exciting aspects to the discussion series:

1) Everyone who emails by Monday Oct. 22nd to confirm their attendance will be given personal business cards, which, like the real world, allow you to network more effectively (we will be using them during the discussion).  

2) Bring 2 questions for our speaker so we can rack their brain during the hour we have with them.

-OSS Member


First Meeting of 2012

The first meeting of the 2012-2013 Ocean Students Society was on Wednesday. Excited members met down at Fisherman’s Wharf for a potlatch and more informal meet n’ greet for our first time around. It was great to see both old and new faces as well as a range of ocean conscious minds from Biology Major first years to History Major fifth years to a couple of students from the Camosun College tech program. It was also great to see and smell all of the food that everyone brought!

We started the meeting off by going around the circle introducing ourselves and declaring what we love about the ocean. I then introduced our sponsor, Ocean Networks Canada, to those who were unfamiliar.

If you are unfamiliar with ONC, here is a short briefing. Ocean Networks Canada is a not-for-profit organization who supports two underwater cabled observatories, NEPTUNE Canada and VENUS. ONC also has a very active Education team who works to support and provide educational marine programming to students and educators from K-12 all the way to the university and post-grad levels. As part of the post-secondary program, the Education team focuses on helping students gain new skills and new connections to each other and to professionals so that they will be able to stay in the field after they graduate. Therefore, facilitating the creation of the OSS and supporting it is a keen interest for ONC.

After a quick food break, the discussion naturally progressed towards the types of professional development opportunities that members thought the club could offer. It was the consensus of the group that professional development is important and offering courses or workshops in which members can gain skills to put on their resume and to diversify themselves in the field would be a great service that the club could provide. We were thinking that safety courses and marine certifications as well as communications workshops would be great for the club to be able to provide to its members.

What types of workshops or training would you like to see?

The discussion then turned to questions about becoming a certificated diver and questions about the mysterious process that gets you from the bachelors degree to the tenure track.

We wrapped up the meeting by discussing other events for the upcoming year, like the brand new Inspire Ocean Discussion Series and possible trip to Goldstream Park to see the salmon run.

After this meeting I am even more excited for this year of OSS activity!

OSS meetings happen every month, check the Calendar on our website or see the email updates for future dates and times. Hope to see you at the next one! 

Also, keep up with OSS news and events by joining our Facebook group

If you have any questions for the OSS or would like to become a contributing author to this blog please email


Welcome to Colombia

Hi OSSers!

I was part of the OSS last year, and just graduated in April. I got a lucky placement almost right away on a CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) funded internship through Dalhousie University. The placement is for 6 months and based in Cartagena De Indiaas in Colombia. I have been here since the start of July, but work has been quite slow until just recently.

Casa del Marques de Valdehoyos, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

My new office

I wanted to stay in touch and contribute to the club somehow, so I am helping Ellyn get the blog going. I will also try to post regularly for the remainder of my time here.

So I suppose no time like the present!

The first couple weeks of my placement my boss was on holidays and then at a conference. Furthermore he isn’t actually based in the same city as me. So getting direction and things to do from him were a little tricky to start. However he has just brought in a new contact for me who will be more hands on and give me things to do. My new task is going to be finding data sources for meteorology and temperature stations from locations all around the Caribbean sea.

(Note, the Global Ocean Observing System – it is more about providing data and large scale organisation of data and data collection than actually going out into the field and collecting it ourselves – I personally, would like to be out in the field but you have to start somewhere…)

This past week was the most exciting, and busy work week I’ve had yet. Another group in the office I’m in is working the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem (CLME)’s, Information and Management System (IMS) and Regional Ecosystem Monitoring Program (REMP). Their project closes at the end of the year, and this week they held a small brainstorming workshop to come up with measurable ecosystem indicators. My boss also plays a large role in that project, and I was invited to participate/observe.


A sloth hanging out in a tree outside the conference centre. (It’s kind of hard to see, but it is the greyish blob right in the middle of the frame)

The workshop was 3 days, and included about 20 participants from around the Caribbean. There was live translation as about half the participants spoke either only Spanish or only English (myself included – though I am learning Spanish while I’m here). A large part was breaking into smaller groups to discuss specific points – such as ecosystem valuation, benefits of data integration, and small scale fisheries.

It was very interesting to be a part of, but no immediate results were obtained. The project organisers are currently putting together a draft report which will be sent to all the participants for review.

If you would like further information on anything I have mentioned don’t hesitate to contact me and ask (I may be a little delayed in replying, but usually have time for this kind of thing on weekends). Or try these links:
The Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem website –
The event page for the conference (hosted on the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission’s website) –

I hope this has been an at least somewhat interesting start to the OSS’s new blog. I will try to post regularly, however it is hard to know if I will actually have much of interest to add most weeks.

New Contributor! Meet Luba Reshitnyk

Stop! Look! Ocean!

Cheese. It’s delicious and the Salt Spring Island variety has to be my all around favourite (the white truffle kind, try it when you get the chance).  But now that summer is over and school has started I’ll have less time to spend eating said cheese at Willow’s Beach or by any of my several favourite seaside, cheese-eating locations.  It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the summer passes by but even with field work and grad school occupying most of my summer hours these past few months.  I have,  nevertheless, managed to get the most out my summer with eating cheese, chasing tadpoles and having many other west coast adventures.

At this point you may have stumbled across this blog entry and maybe only read the first paragraph and weren’t convinced that you want to read anything by a girl who loves cheese that much. Fair enough.  But given that I’m still writing and you may still be reading I’ll continue.

This semester I, Luba Reshitnyk, an avid ocean-lover, researcher and overall curious person, will be your Ocean Student Society (OSS) blogger. I’ll be writing to you about many things ocean-related. News topics in the media, the amazing biology behind mantis shrimp eyes, life as a grad student and regular ocean-themed musical recommendations. Oh yes, and many of the awesome things that your fellow OSSers are up to and have planned over the next year. Hailing from the Marine Protected Areas Research Group (MPARG) in the Department of Geography I’ll do my darndest to provide interesting and thought-provoking commentary on anything and everything ocean-related and will be open to suggestions, feedback and offers to play Frisbee in the main quad. You can find me there most sunny lunchtimes anyways.

This week’s entry is a short one but tune in next week to hear about how you shouldn’t get stuck in the mud on a beach with a bear (you know you’ll want to read this).

Until next time – go and enjoy the ocean!