The trip to Bamfield this year was concluded with a walk through the surrounding forest under a beautiful blue sky. After surviving what would have been called the storm of the century had we been in any place other than Bamfield, the break in the weather offered a welcome change in sogginess level. We celebrated by being expertly directed through the various types of forest fungi with our science center guide on the first leg of our trek.
This meant that we ended up seeing many different types of mushroom species as well as a number of different types of bracket fungi, one of which actually bruises on the underside when you touch it making it possible to draw on. We also learned about the honey fungus which is the largest organism on the planet. One individual in Oregon is almost 10 square kilometers in size! You might be wondering why there were so many different species of fungi for us to see on this walk. Well first the crazy amount of water coming down in coastal temperate rainforests is perfect for fungal growth. However, there is also relatively little disturbance in these forests as well meaning that they get really old and allow fungus species to accumulate, hence higher diversity.
We kept moving along this fungus strewn trail until we reached the beach along a sheltered part of Grappler Inlet (honestly I wasn’t really paying attention to where these trails were taking me, Grappler Inlet was a shot in the dark). Here we were treated to an inspired oration by Chris on the subject of clams and a display of Andy’s often under-celebrated ability to catch amphibians. However, we were not able to dwell on this beach for long before a teaching ladder was initiated, strange bird calls filled the air, and the second leg of our journey began. We moved along this part of the trail in groups, taking turns to teach each other about different aspects of the forest as we went. This included talking about the importance of cavity-creating birds, how to tell how old step moss is (hint: it’s in the steps), and that you can use sphagnum moss to dress wounds because it is super absorbent and slightly antibacterial.
Eventually we made it back out to the road and to our dorms to pack up and head home. However, the forest walk let us experience a number of different animals that we would not be able to see in the intertidal zone. These included wood spiders, banana slugs, red-legged frogs, a mystery salamander, and lots of different wood warblers. Thinking about the different ways that these terrestrial animals survive provided a solid finishing balance to the marine focused weekend and sent us on our way.
For a super bizarre example of the way terrestrial invertebrates behave check out this video of leopard slugs mating, a species which occurs in BC. I am fully aware of how unappealing that sentence is to most people but trust me it will change your life (I’m looking at you Daniel).