When Súlhlima Morris was a girl, in the days when the Tl’ches archipelago was still inhabited, the tide pools were full of urchins. The Songhees Nation elder, who also goes by the English name Joan, learned from her own elders how to harvest the plentiful red and purple sea urchins that lived among the handful of small, rocky islands just off Victoria, capital of the Canadian province of British Columbia. On a visit nearly 70 years later, however, she noticed there were few to no urchins in the shallows where she used to explore and play. Her observation inspired a question: what else had changed on Tl’ches? Starting in 2017, the Songhees Nation began working with researchers from the University of Victoria to find an answer. Using a small underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV), they documented culturally important wildlife aroundTl’ches — including urchins and rockfish, octopus and oysters, seals and shellfish of all kinds. The survey established the first scientific catalog of the islands’ habitats and marine life. The team published its results in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science last August. Songhees Nation members Cheryl Bryce, left, and Darlene Joseph, center, head out to Tl’ches with University of Victoria collaborator Elena Buscher, right, driven by boat skipper Ian Cesarec. Image by Lindsay Henwood. The survey opens a door that could enable the Songhees Nation to reclaim sovereignty over the archipelago. It’s also emblematic of a larger shift in the scientific community, toward greater collaboration, and shared respect, between Indigenous…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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