Lions in the Dunes at Goose Spit

The sand dunes at Goose Spit are a small and remarkable place to visit in the Comox Valley. It is easy to miss this unique dune ecosystem located about mid-way from the last parking area at the gates of HMCS Quadra and the end of the spit.

Yellow Sand-verbena
Yellow Sand-verbena (Abronia latifolia) can be found in the dunes at Goose Spit.

The dunes are narrow and follow the line of the shore, bordered on one side by the line of drift logs at the top of the beach and on the other by a gravel road. A derelict sailboat in the drift log zone marks the approximate beginning of the dunes.

Black Knotweed
Black Knotweed (Polygonum paronychia) grows in association with yellow sand-verbena.

The plant community here is typical of coastal dune ecosystems. Yellow Sand-verbena (Abronia latifolia) is common as is Black Knotweed (Polygonum paronychia). Both of these plants are sensitive and care should be taken if walking in the dunes to minimize impact.

Antlions (Brachynemurus sp.) took short flights before sheltering on the stems of dune plants.

The dunes at Goose Spit are also the home of the rare, red-listed Sand-verbena Moth (Copablepharon fuscum). I was looking for signs of moths in the dunes, but didn’t find any—instead there were a large number of adult antlions (Brachynemurus sp) flying. They weren’t very skilled fliers so I was able to track them fairly easily and photograph them once they landed.

The dunes offer a number of excellent photographic opportunities and sunset is a perfect time to visit. The walk out to the dunes is best done during a cooler part of the day and combining both botanical (and insect) photography with landscape photography makes it a worthwhile destination.