Film focussed on mussels

An Okanagan native is picking up a camera and joining the fight against a looming invader.

An Okanagan native is picking up a camera and joining the fight against a looming invader.

Brynne Morrice, who grew up in Vernon and  is an actor in New York City, is filming the documentary, The Threat of Zebra Mussels in B.C.

“This is really a story that needs to be told,” he said during an interview from New York.

It was during a visit to the Okanagan two years ago that he became aware of the possibility of zebra and quagga mussels, which originated in Europe, taking hold in the valley and changing the ecosystem.

“I was curious and looked it up. I became concerned. If it gets into our lakes and rivers, it will be devastating,” he said.

“I came back home this summer and nothing has been done at the government level. I wondered how I could help because I grew up going to Kalamalka and Okanagan lakes. These are special places to me.”

It was then that Morrice decided to tap into his skills as an actor and a producer and launch a documentary along with his sister Eilidh Morrice-Ashdown and filmmaker Crystal Arnette.

However, the first challenge was a lack of funding for the production. But that was resolved by seeking donors on the Kickstarter website.

“We had no idea if anyone would donate so we shot low (at $2,000). But within three days, we shot past $2,000,” said Morrice.

“We are now at $3,000 and if we can raise an extra $2,000, we can do a couple of other things like travelling to Arizona and Texas.”

For Morrice, it’s important to show the damage quagga and zebra mussels have already caused across North America.

“Once zebra and quagga mussels arrive in a lake or river, they spread and colonize rapidly, with a single female spawning over one million eggs per year. Colonies of mussels very quickly cover every hard surface in the lake,” states the donation appeal on Kickstarter.

“Razor-sharp and foul-smelling mussel shells pile up on beaches. Native fish populations all but disappear as the filter-feeding mussels decimate the lake plankton, which form the foundation of the food chain (in the Great Lakes, where the mussels first took hold in North America, the lake trout population has declined by 95 per cent).”

Most of the B.C. filming for the documentary is completed and interviews were done with a number of individuals and the Okanagan Basin Water Board, which wants government to install inspection stations at B.C. borders to stop mussel-infested boats from entering.

It’s anticipated the documentary will be completed in January and then it will be posted on the Internet.

“I hope the power of social media will work and I will promote it among news media,” said Morrice, adding that he wants the film to be a call to action.

“The assertive goal is to get people to watch it and then call their MLA, MP and mayor and say they are concerned and they want inspection stations.”

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