Diane Bernard will lead the curious on seaweed tours to raise funds for the environmental group

Tour will benefit environment

Local seaweed expert will lead tour to raise funds for environmental group

Local skincare line, Seaflora, will be kicking off its 10 year anniversary celebration with a wild seaweed tour on Earth Day (April 22).

Diane Bernard, owner of Seaflora, will be hosting a wild seaweed tour on the Continental shelf just off of Whiffin Spit.

The tour site is one small portion of Bernard’s massive harvesting area, which is the largest on the North American west coast.

“I don’t harvest here for food or for products,” she said. “This is a beautiful classroom and I believe it should come under marine protection.”

The tour will take place during low tide, so participants will be able to explore at least half a kilometre off the shoreline to where the landscape drops off.

“It gives us a really nice opportunity to kind of take a look at what an ocean garden or bottom of the ocean can look like,” she said.

The first impression the public has of seaweed is typically a decaying mess left on the beach after the ocean plants are pushed to the shore by waves. Bernard has duly named this the “compost pile.”

“We would never judge a vegetable or flower garden by the look, smell and texture of a compost pile,” she said, “And we won’t do that with my garden — the ocean garden.”

During the tour, Bernard will guide participants beyond the “compost pile,” toward a bed of sea grass, where an examination of hundreds of varieties of living seaweed will take place.

In addition to a visual and physical exploration of seaweed, participants will learn about the plant’s anatomy, lifecycle, reproduction, and nutritional value. Information about how to harvest for individual use and the importance of value-adding natural resources will also be shared.

Bernard said the B.C. coastline is one of the most expansive, with over 700 different species of seaweed.

“We knock the socks off the world,” she said, adding the B.C. coast reigns over coastlines along France, Ireland and Chile.

Seaflora is the only seaweed company in the world that has a USDA organic certification, which it has retained six years in a row.

“Our seaweeds are clean to a very high level of inspection,” she said. The company currently sells its seaweed- based skin products to high end spas and specialty shops locally and internationally.

In the past, Bernard has held tours for enthusiasts from around the world.

The tour costs $10 and all proceeds will be donated to the Ancient Forest Alliance — an environmental group aimed at protecting endangered old-growth forests in B.C., while sustaining forestry jobs.

Any interested parties are to meet Bernard at Whiffin Spit at 9 a.m., and are advised to bring along rubber boots. Walking sticks will be provided.