The simulation — created by a team from the City of Vancouver and environmental organizations, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Georgia Straight Alliance — drops biodegradable yellow plywood cards in the waters of the Fraser River and tracks their drift on a map, in order to show the potential reach of a pipeline oil spill.
According to Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the results from the study will help in understanding the circulation of water in the Salish Sea, and areas particularly vulnerable if an oil spill occurs.
"At the same time," Andy Rosenberger, a biologist at the RCF says, "those finding a drift card on their favourite beach or stretch of coastline experience a tangible and visceral connection to the fact that, as the cards state, this could be oil."
Members of the public who find the cards can report the location via the project's online mapping tool. The map already contains results from previous drops in 2013