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Ocean debris believed to be from Japan is posed for a photograph on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C., April, 18, 2012. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Ocean debris believed to be from Japan is posed for a photograph on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C., April, 18, 2012. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

2012 in review

The year that was in British Columbia Add to ...

The Emergency Info B.C.’s tweets, which linked to a post-zombie attack survival blog (with a small disclaimer noting that the zombies haven’t really attacked yet) reached tens of thousands of B.C. residents, who may have some better ideas now about how to prepare for any emergency, including an earthquake.

Burnaby’s Attack of the Snakehead

It wasn’t quite on par with Jaws, but a Burnaby lagoon had its fair share of drama this past May thanks to a nasty, toothy creature.

A snakehead fish, a species native to Asia and Africa, was spotted in the Central Park lagoon by a member of the public. Just how it got there was something of a mystery, though officials grew to believe it was released by someone who no longer wanted the snakehead as a pet.

The fish can reproduce quickly, and there were concerns it would threaten Fraser River salmon stocks. So began the efforts to catch it, the predator now becoming the prey.

But the snakehead, at least for a time, proved elusive. Electrofishing, in which an electric pulse is zapped into the water, didn’t work. What did? Eventually it would be an old-fashioned net. The snakehead, about two-thirds of a metre in length, was caught and killed.

B.C. had been the only jurisdiction in North America to allow the import of northern snakehead, but the province has since amended the controlled alien species regulation. Releasing a live snakehead into local water could now lead to a fine of up to $250,000.

The Fugitive: Paul Watson

Last fall, Paul Watson, an environmental activist known for his extreme actions in protecting the world’s oceans, skipped bail in Germany and escaped to sea, generating global headlines.

He is still out there, somewhere, brewing for a confrontation with the Japanese whaling fleet, probably in the waters off Antarctica.

Although there is an Interpol notice out, notifying police in 190 countries that Mr. Watson is wanted in Germany for failing to show up at an extradition hearing, the leader of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has vowed to follow through on his anti-whaling campaign this winter.

“Sea Shepherd remains committed to upholding the integrity of the southern ocean whale sanctuary and ensuring the whalers go home with zero whales killed,” Mr. Watson said in a recent statement.

And he said the anti-whaling campaign will not be hindered by a ruling, issued Dec. 17 by the U.S. Court of Appeals, that restricts Sea Shepherd members from approaching within 50 yards of any vessels of the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research.

Mr. Watson said the Sea Shepherd society’s fleet of four ships is in position, waiting to harass the Japanese fleet, which annually hunts whales in the waters off Antarctica.

“They will find when they arrive that we will still be there,” Mr. Watson promised. “We will defend these whales as we have for the last eight years – non-violently and legally.”

He is expected to return to land some time in the New Year, to face the various court challenges that await him.

Bob the Barber

It was a joyous day in Enderby last June when Bob the Barber re-opened for business. Bob Egely’s old-style community barbershop had been closed for two years, ever since Mr. Egely lost both his legs as a result of a series of medical calamities.

Yet Mr. Egely never lost the urge to shear, and his quest for help was answered by CanAssist, an innovative program at the University of Victoria that helps the disabled. Engineers designed, built and presented to Bob the Barber an amazing, one-of-a-kind, $65,000 chair that could lift him off the floor, with the ability to circle his customers as he cut their hair.

It worked like a charm. The regulars were soon back, along with a big smile on Mr. Egely’s face – thrilled at being able, once again, to do what he loved best.

But the heartwarming tale has a sad ending. A bad fall at home on Halloween night severely fractured Mr. Egely’s arm. Complications ensued after surgery, and he passed away in November at 67.

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