Don't disturb natural habitats when you hit the beach this weekend, B.C. naturalist urges

·2 min read
Rare species, both plants and creatures, seek protection under logs. (Ann Nightingale - image credit)
Rare species, both plants and creatures, seek protection under logs. (Ann Nightingale - image credit)

As British Columbians flock to local beaches and parks this spring, a Vancouver Island naturalist is reminding people not to disturb nature, no matter how cluttered it may appear.

Ann Nightingale, a member of the Friends of Island View Beach Society, worries someone at Island View Beach on the east side of the Saanich Peninsula is moving driftwood, in an attempt to tidy up the beach, but in fact, they're doing more harm than good.

"Doing so is removing valuable habitat," she told On the Island host Gregor Craigie.

"Sometimes nature is messy, and it's meant to be that way."

Her primary concern is the habitat for black widow spiders and other rare species on the beach, which is a designated conservation area, that rely on driftwood for protection from predators.

"Most people don't think about protecting spiders and moths when we're talking about protecting nature but they're all a big part of it," she said, adding while black widows have a reputation for being dangerous, they're still an important part of the local ecosystem.

The Friends of Island View Beach Society on Vancouver Island is concerned that black widow spiders are losing habitat when people rearrange or remove driftwood on a beach.
The Friends of Island View Beach Society on Vancouver Island is concerned that black widow spiders are losing habitat when people rearrange or remove driftwood on a beach.(Sean McCann)

"They like to hide under logs on the sand. That's quite important to them to have the logs in contact with the sand."

She likened the situation to when a bird gets displaced from its nest, exposing the nest to predators and weather.

Ann Nightingale said she's noticed purposeful piling of driftwood on her local beach, which may seem helpful, but is harming the ecosystem.
Ann Nightingale said she's noticed purposeful piling of driftwood on her local beach, which may seem helpful, but is harming the ecosystem. (Ann Nightingale)

Nightingale thinks that if the driftwood was replaced and people stopped moving it, the spiders would move back under them quickly.

"They need that protection," she said.

"When you open it up, the sun can get to them,the birds can get to them and other predators."

"It's one of those things that's really better left alone."

Driftwood scattered about the beach is natural, and should be left as is, says naturalist Ann Nightingale.
Driftwood scattered about the beach is natural, and should be left as is, says naturalist Ann Nightingale. (Ann Nightingale)

Nightingale doesn't dissuade people from visiting the beach, in fact, she encourages it, but advises people to simply enjoy their time there and leave things as they are.

"They say leave only footsteps, take only pictures," she said.