Tim Willis, Director of Exhibitions and Visitor Experience
We've been tracking aliens. Thousands of them. They're arriving in great numbers and we'll need your help in repelling them.
For the past few months, we've been working on a web project that will accompany our travelling exhibition, Aliens Among Us when it tours British Columbia next year. It will have information on alien or exotic species in BC and an interactive map for visitors to post alien sightings.
A preview of the site now under development
The map is the really exciting tool. It will be based on Google Maps and there will be about 45 alien species to track. Tracking a sighting could include posting the location, adding a description or even uploading a photo. You also get a chance to connect to our experts to pose alien-related questions.
So, you are relaxing in your back yard when you hear a deep throated groan. You glance down and there before you is the largest frog you’ve ever seen in your life. Trust me, I speak from experience. You believe it is the much-feared American Bullfrog. Once our new site is launched, you can read about the bullfrog, find out about its impact on our biodiversity and see images to make sure you have the right species. Then, you can post your location on the map, add a description of the beast and post a photo if you were quick enough to snap one.
American Bullfrog languishing in a pond
Once the site launches, we’ll have a good idea where invasions are happening in BC – as they happen.
The site will include common invasive species like the Scotch Broom and Eastern Grey Squirrel and more uncommon creatures like the Woodlouse Spider and vegetation like Didymo (otherwise known as Rock Snot!). We’ve also added brand new alien species – the Western Fence Lizard which has just jumped the border into BC as well as the Weatherloach, new to Fraser Valley rivers.
Working on this project has been fascinating. Did you know that American Bullfrogs are all around Victoria because a failed farm that was breeding them for the restaurant business let them loose? The European Starling came to North American because a New Yorker wanted to introduce all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s work! And the infamous Scotch Broom is all around us – all due to a homesick Scot.
So get ready, once this site launches in spring 2011, we’ll be looking at you to help us find some aliens. And just to get you truly worried… there are about 4,000 alien or exotic species now calling BC their home.
Big thank you to David Alexander for his expertise and commitment in managing this project.