[Standard Parks Canada intro with music]
[Beach scene with title: Emily’s Letter: What’s Hiding Beneath the Sand in PEI National Park]
[A little girl, Emily, is on the beach playing in the sand]
I just got back from our family vacation in Prince Edward Island National Park.
I had a lot of fun.
We spent a lot of time at the beach since I really like that,
but this year was a little bit special.
[Emily runs to meet a Parks Canada employee]
The people in the park taught me all kinds of things about the beach.
[A Parks Canada employee shows a shell to Emily]
Now I know that the beach has both living and non living parts.
[Emily shows items that she finds on the beach]
This is called an ecosystem.
[Emily runs on the beach and in the water]
The beach in Prince Edward Island National Park is part of the coastal ecosystem.
It seems pretty complicated,
but I learned that an ecosystem contains all sorts of things that depend on each other.
[Emily plays in the water]
For example, in salt water there are little things like micro-organisms;
[Close up on Emily][Emily showing seaweed]
…bigger ones like fish and even plants like algae.
[Emily walks on the beach looking for shells]
We often want to take a souvenir home
but if we take things like algae or shells
then other visitors don’t get to enjoy them.
And, it would be bad for the animals
[A piping plover plays in the water]
…like the piping plovers that use shells to help camouflage their nests.
The Piping Plover is a small bird that is endangered.
[Piping plover hatches its nest]
In the spring, the male looks for a well camouflaged place on the beach
to make his nest.
[Piping plover nest]
The female can lay 4 eggs in 8 days!
After 28 days the eggs hatch and the chicks are up
and walking around on their own when they are only hours old!
[Piping plover chicks race on the beach]
The chicks need to increase their weight by 10 times
so they can make the long journey south.
[Parks Canada employee looks for Piping Plover with binocular, she shows them to Emily]
Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer Piping Plover that are able to survive.
This is why we have to pay special attention to them
and when we’re at the beach we need to remember that we’re sharing their home.
[Parks Canada employee walks on the beach, looking for Piping Plover nest] [«Access prohibited, Piping Plover breeding» area sign]
At the national park there are plover monitors who check on the nests
and help protect them.
[Parks Canada employee gives information to Emily] [Close-up on Emily’s positive reaction]
They also explained that it is partly to protect the eggs,
nests and chicks that we can’t take our dog,
Molly, to the beach with us!
[Emily runs in slow motion on the beach]
When people leave garbage on the beach,
predators like crows and foxes are attracted to the area.
[Pictures of foxes] [Fox walks around a car on the road]
When foxes eat garbage or are fed by people
this changes their natural diet
and they don’t learn how to hunt for themselves.
[Emily pretends to look in binoculars with her fingers]
Sometimes, foxes will build their dens in the sand dunes.
[Scene of big sand dune] [Wind and fog on the beach]
Dunes are large sand hills that protect the island from wind and storms.
While they don’t look it, they are very fragile.
[Fade-out on big dune and fade-in on a red sandstone cliff with music]
The sand in the dunes comes from red sandstone.
[Strong waves] [Pan on cliff]
When waves hit the cliffs, parts of the cliff break off.
This is called erosion.
[Close-up on the water]
Once in the ocean, the pieces of rock are slowly worn down
and are broken down into grains of sand.
[Close-up on Emily] [Emily runs out of the water] [Sand is moved by the wind on the beach]
The sand grains are washed ashore where they dry in the sun.
Then the sand is constantly being moved.
The grains of sand will whirl around
until they are stopped by an obstacle…
[Close-up on the sand moving faster and faster] [Dune restoration area]
…and then sand will begin to accumulate and a dune will form.
[Pan on a marram grass plant]
Then, a plant that we call marram grass grows on the dune.
[Pan on marram grass roots]
In latin, marram grass is called “sand-loving,”
and that is why the long roots and root hairs
of the plant keep the sand in place inside the dune
and protects it from the wind.
There is a whole food chain in the dunes.
[Fox, wild rose and marram grass pictures]
All these species depend on the dune to survive,
[Time lapse of Greenwich Dune in sunset]
so it’s very important that we keep the dunes in good health.
[Emily in front of a dune]
When we first arrived, I really wanted to climb the dunes.
When I was told I wasn’t allowed I was very disappointed,
[Emily listens for explanation] [Emily walks at the same place on the sand] [Dune in restoration]
but when they explained that 10 steps could destroy the marram grass
[Dune crossing boardwalks picture] [Emily very happy in front of a dune]
I think we should all use the dune crossing boardwalks
because Park staff work hard to protect the dunes
and because the dunes are a special treasure in the park.
[Emily plays in the water and on the sand]
Finally, when we go to the beach, we’re in a very fragile ecosystem.
We have to pay attention and try not to leave any signs of our visit
so that the ecosystem can stay healthy.
[Emily and a Parks Canada employee sit on the beach, looking in binoculars]
I’d really like to go back to PEI National Park next year
so that I can continue to help Parks Canada
protect all the natural treasures in the park.
[Emily stands on the beach during the sunset]
I can’t wait to see you Grandma!
Hugs and kisses, Emily
Parks Canada logo.
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Parks Canada, 2012.
Return to video