ASLO 2018 Summer Meeting

Water Connects! The Logo and Theme

Reprinted from the February 2018 Issue of the L&O Bulletin (

When the scientific steering committee discussed the theme for the 2018 summer meeting to be held in Victoria, BC, we all agreed we wanted this meeting to be inclusive, engaging, boundary-crossing, and above all, fun! We are all drawn to and are passionate about water, be it salty or fresh. We aim to understand what is transformed and living in it as well as what is moving through it. Waters connects all spheres and can be explored at all scales. Humanity has been shaped by it and all living creatures are dependent on it. It is the gossamer of life!

What we do as aquatic researchers is both a privilege and a great responsibility. With this privilege comes the opportunity to constantly engage our curiosity while exploring new and exciting scientific questions around water! Sometimes when we are bogged down in the day to day, we must remind ourselves of the joy in discovery and the good fortune afforded us in visiting so many beautiful aquatic places! Yet our work also comes with great responsibility. Water and water resources are under increasing anthropogenic pressure, but it is imperative that the essential ecosystem services that water provides be conserved sustainably now and into the future. This meeting is a celebration of our passion for water and an occasion to share among us both this privilege and responsibility. We wanted to capture these sentiments through our theme. For this reason, it is only reasonable that the logo for the “WATER CONNECTS!” meeting is designed on a traditional Coast Salish spindle whorl. If water is the gossamer of life, gossamer defined as a very fine, delicate sheer web (spun by spiders). The spindle whorl is a traditional tool used by the Coast Salish for spinning wool, which was then woven to make beautiful blankets and garments. The whorl was placed on the end of a wooden spindle to add the weight needed to maintain the spinning motion and to prevent the wool from falling off the rod as it was being spun. Salish spindle whorls are typically decorated with very sophisticated and powerful designs carved into them. These designs are meant to blur together as the whorl is turned, mesmerizing the spinner into a trance. This trance state gives the spinner the ability to create the wool for textiles steeped with special powers.

The 2018 ASLO summer meeting logo was designed by Doug Lafortune, a well-known Coast Salish artist of Salish ancestry, currently living on Vancouver Island. Born in Bellingham, Washing- ton, USA, he was raised in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. Doug became an artisan in 1973 and is among the first of a new generation of artists to revive Salish art. He has been commissioned to carve numerous totem poles that have been sent around the world including the welcome piece presented to the Queen at the opening ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games in 1994.

The logo is intended to integrate the land-water-air interface through the images as well as the connectivity of different organisms across scales. The center of the logo, where the hole of the whorl is located, represents the sun and symbolizes growth, energy, and life. In Coast Salish culture, power and spirituality belong to the unseen. So, it was a pleasure to share images of aquatic microscopic life with Doug and have him design these features into our logo, including a diatom, rotifer and copepod, likely their first depictions in Salish tradition.

Other images are classically found in Salish art. The salmon, which connects rivers to the sea and back again, symbolizes prosperity, the power of instinct and intuition. They are the providers and givers of life. Images of salmon in pairs are a sign of good luck. The orca is the lord of the ocean; it carries the history of the world. It symbolizes communication, intuition, harmony and goodness. The eagle, connecting air, water and land, is the divine spirit closest to the Great Spirit. It has the highest perception and symbolizes great vision, strength, the ability to go further, with the capacity to bridge worlds. The eagle is a leader, providing clarity and truth.

The human emerging from the clam is a symbol that all life originally comes from water. The human figure with head and arms rising out of the ocean waves is meant to invite you to the meeting and the uplifted arms and hands are the traditional Coast Salish welcome gesture. All of the images you will see in West Coast First Nation art have powerful meanings, with deep connections to place in the natural and spiritual worlds.

The photo used to highlight our logo was also carefully selected. It is to remind us to maintain our child-like curiosity as we pursue our quest to understand water. To remind us of the privilege and how much fun it is to play in water with our friends! It is also a reminder of the need to protect water and aquatic resources now and for future generations.

On behalf of the scientific organizing committee, we welcome you to Victoria, BC, to connect! The Victoria Region encompasses the traditional territories of nine Coast Salish First Nations bands (Esquimalt, Songhees, Pauquachin, Tseycum, Tsawout, Tsartlip, Scia’new, T’souke and Malahat), and one Nuu-chah-Nulth First Nations band (Pacheedaht). All of these First Nation peoples have been heavily reliant for centuries on the vast aquatic resources provided by the rivers of coastal British Columbia and Salish Sea. People, land, and water are all incredibly interconnected on Vancouver Island. You will be truly enchanted by this beautiful place and mesmerized by the wonderful art!

Roxane Maranger, Meeting Co-chair, Département des Sciences Biologiques, Université de Montréal,
Groupe de Recherche Interuniversitaire en Lim nologie et environnement aquatique (GRIL)

Jennifer Cherrier, Meeting Co-chair, Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences Brooklyn,
College of the City University of New York