Kwakshua Watersheds Program

The Hakai Institute’s Calvert Island Research Station is located on the Kwakshua Channel, which separates Calvert Island (on the south) and Hecate Island (on the north). Calvert and Hecate Islands each have multiple watersheds (approximately 7000 hectares of land!) that drain into the Kwakshua Channel. These watershed differ significantly in topography, distribution of lakes and wetlands, terrestrial cover, and ecological function. Kwakshua channel is subject to a range of dynamic ecological and oceanographic studies, and near real-time weather and water data is available through an extensive telemetry network operated and maintained by Hakai Energy Solutions.

Within the Kwakshua Watersheds Program, our primary focus is to incorporate innovative technologies for hydrologic observation. We focus on 7 focal watersheds (4 on Calvert, 3 on Hecate) to quantify weather inputs and stream discharge. Read about the Hydrology and Climate research element of the Kwakshua Program on Hakai’s site. To remotely measure stream discharge at a variety of stream depths, automated system technologies have been installed. The automated systems employ salt dilution, a method widely used to measure discharge of steep and turbulent streams that are difficult to measure by more conventional methods. Read more about our auto-salt systems on the Auto Salt Dilution Page.

In part, the hydrologic research conducted in and around Kwakshua Channel adds to a larger study of organic carbon flux from the land to the sea. The landscapes of Hecate and Calvert Islands are dominated by bogs and bog-forests, which are rich in organic matter. This terrestrial organic matter is carried from the land to the marine environment via surface runoff. Because this region experiences a lot of precipitation and the landscape holds a great deal of organic carbon, surface water carries a considerable amount of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) into the ocean. In fact, the amount of terrestrial carbon flowing to the ocean in this area represents some of the highest DOC yields in the world! This suggests that the coastal margin around the Hakai protected area (and maybe the central coast in general) plays an important role in global carbon cycling, and linking the terrestrial and marine carbon systems.

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Long-term Ecological Observation


[PDF] Oliver, A.A., I. Giesbrecht, M. Korver, W. Floyd, P. Sanborn, C. Bulmar, K.Lertzman, and S.E. Tank. Controls and composition of globally-significant DOC yields from small watersheds in the Pacific Coastal Temperate Rainforest. Submitted Biogeosciences