Hints of Spring in Nanaimo

Mar 11, 2016

As with migrating birds and warmer weather, there are more signs of spring in Nanaimo. Blooms can be seen all around the city like cherry blossoms, crocuses, daffodils and Fawn lilies. Another sign of spring can be found in Nanaimo's wetlands. 


Fawn lilies in Pipers Lagoon Park

Have you ever noticed an oily sheen on the water in a wetland, such as Buttertubs Marsh? This is a common, but very interesting, wetland phenomenon that signals productivity is ramping up in the wetland. The oily sheen is caused by anaerobic bacteria (anaerobic means living without air) releasing methane and a small percentage of the released methane (that didn't evaporate) being converted into a larger hydrocarbon. There isn't much difference between these naturally produced compounds and other hydrocarbons like gasoline which is why the oily sheen on the water surface looks like spilled gas or oil.

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Oily sheen on water surface in Buttertubs Marsh Park

Other causes of the oil sheen on the water in a marsh could be from a plant releasing oil, or oil released from decaying matter.

Wetlands are very productive ecosystems and because of that, there is a constant cycle of life occurring in them.


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