Monday, May 21, 2018

5/21 Chipmunk, BC pipe, BC fish farm, eelgrass, welcome salmon

Townsend's chipmunk [Slater Museum]
Chipmunks come close to being birdwatchers’ mammals. They are active during the day, with an emphasis on the “active,” they are brightly marked, they are territorial, they vocalize frequently, and they come readily to bird feeders. They vary from very shy to very inquisitive, even tame where they encounter people regularly. They are still basically brown, but their conspicuous stripes make them easily recognizable as chipmunks. Basically seed eaters, chipmunks will take anything that comes along, including fruits, fungi, and arthropods. They are accomplished nest robbers. taking bird eggs whenever they can find them. During the fall, they busily gather seeds in cheek pouches and cache them in their protected nests. They can then hole up for the winter and feast on these caches without leaving their protected shelter. Caches can contain tens of thousands of seeds. (Slater Museum)

B.C. eyeing oil shipments from Washington state if Alberta does turn off the taps
Should Alberta’s government use its new powers to throttle back oil shipments to British Columbia, the coastal province plans to be in court that same day to seek an immediate injunction, and is looking to source its oil needs from the State of Washington. B.C. Attorney General David Eby said Friday that Victoria’s primary response is to seek legal remedies to the law Alberta passed this week – which would allow politicians in Edmonton to control the flow of oil, natural gas and refined products out of province in response to B.C.’s opposition to the Trans Mountain expansion proposed by Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. British Columbia’s secondary plan is to backfill a shortage of fuels such as gasoline and diesel from the United States, and Eby said the provincial government is in discussions with Washington state in preparation. Geoffrey Morgan reports. (Vancouver Sun) See also: Ottawa confirms B.C.'s pipeline court case counts as a political delay that could cost taxpayers  Elise von Scheel reports. (CBC)

Kayakers take Kinder Morgan protest offshore in U.S.
More than 200 kilometres south of where the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is slated to end, environmental groups in the U.S. took to the water in Seattle on Sunday to add their voices to ongoing opposition to the project. While the roughly 1,200-kilometre pipeline won't cross into the U.S., protesters are concerned about an increase in oil tanker traffic, which would depart from the terminal in Burnaby, B.C., and navigate across the Salish Sea. Mosquito Fleet was among several environmental groups, including Greenpeace USA and the Sierra Club, that organized the rally on the water in Elliott Bay and in a city park along the coast. About 80 people launched kayaks from the rocky shore and paddled toward Kinder Morgan's marine terminal. With a police boat stationed nearby, they unfurled banners protesting the pipeline project. Briar Stewart reports. (CBC)

Two Indigenous protesters ordered to end occupation of B.C. fish farm
Fish farming company Marine Harvest says the B.C. Supreme Court has ordered two Indigenous protesters, who have occupied the company’s houses and dock at Swanson Island for months, to leave by Saturday evening pending an upcoming hearing. Marine Harvest says the court also ordered them not to board or interfere with any of Marine Harvest’s salmon farms operating in the area. It says the order is pending a June 25 hearing of an application by Marine Harvest for a broader injunction order. Court documents filed by Ernest Alfred and Karissa Glendale, who are named as defendants, say they and many others from the ‘Namgis First Nation and surrounding First Nations are opposed to open-net fish farms in ocean waters in their traditional territories. (Canadian Press)

Diving deeper to understand eelgrass wasting disease
As tides fall and mudflats are exposed in the Salish Sea, you can glimpse a puzzle that has left scientists and policy makers perplexed. In healthy environments, mats of green eelgrass will often stretch across the shallows, providing vital but fragile habitat for all manner of nearshore species, from Dungeness crabs to salmon. The aquatic plant is considered a fundamental link in the food chain, creating nursery habitat for young fish, stabilizing sediment, and filtering water. It can also inexplicably decline and rebound through space and time. Scientists are looking at a variety of factors for these changes as they work toward a state goal of expanding eelgrass populations by 20% in Puget Sound. Among their concerns is eelgrass (or seagrass) wasting disease, a disease that leaves eelgrass blades covered in lesions and has triggered historical, devastating die-offs along eastern US and European coasts. Robin McLachlan reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

Eat. Pray. Truck. How a Northwest tribe brings salmon home
The Puyallup Tribe welcomed the first salmon of the year back to the Puyallup River in Tacoma on Tuesday. Strangely, perhaps, that chinook's epic journey from mid-Pacific Ocean to a Puyallup fishing net begins with a sloshing tanker truck. Tribes from Alaska to California have held annual "first salmon" ceremonies for centuries to thank the wide-raging fishes for coming home after years at sea. But some years, the Puyallup River barely has enough chinook salmon to support a ceremony, let alone a tribe whose diet used to be mostly salmon. Threats to the biggest species of salmon's survival abound. Yet this year, the Puyallups have at least one reason to hope chinook could make a big comeback. Follow the Puyallup River upstream from Tacoma and it’ll take you to the slopes and glaciers of Mount Rainier. That is, if a dam doesn’t stop you. On a branch called the White River, two dams have been giving fish trouble for more than 70 years. The dams have also given birth to another longstanding tradition for the Puyallups: The tribe and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers trap fish heading upstream and take them for a 10-mile drive in a tanker truck. It’s the only way fish can get around the upper dam, a 400-foot-high flood-control structure called the Mud Mountain Dam. John Ryan reports. (KU)W)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  244 AM PDT Mon May 21 2018   
 W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 3 ft  at 10 seconds. 
 W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  4 ft at 9 seconds.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

5/18 Hummers, BC pipe, farm salmon, spartina, Kitsap bridges, warm waters, feeding whales

Hummingbird nesting [Laurie MacBride]
Hummingbird's Choice
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "Although both Anna’s and Rufous hummingbirds frequent our place, their nests have been elusive over the years. Two or three times we’ve found one on a Western redcedar bough, but otherwise, nothing. Seems these tiny birds are masters in the art of camouflage when it comes to nesting. Until now. To our surprise, a female Rufous has built her nest on one of the metal wind spinners hanging from the eaves along the north wall of our house, allowing us a clear, almost eye-level view (keeping a respectful distance, of course)...."

Backstop deal may be last hope for TransMountain pipeline, says former oil executive
The federal government's plan to financially backstop the TransMountain pipeline project may be the last, best option to salvage the proposal, says a former Alberta pipeline executive. Ottawa announced Wednesday it would secure Kinder Morgan against losses related to political opposition to the project — just weeks ahead of the company's self-imposed drop-dead date. The offer may be the only solution that can save the beleaguered project, said Dennis McConaghy, former executive vice-president of corporate development at TransCanada Corporation. (CBC)

State denies request to move juvenile Atlantic salmon to Bainbridge net pens
Washington state fish managers have denied a request by Cooke Aquaculture to move thousands of juvenile Atlantic salmon from its hatchery to marine net pens in Kitsap County. The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday it rejected the company's application because the move would increase the risk of fish disease transmission both within and outside the pens.... Tests taken from samples of fish that would have been transported showed they had a form of the fish virus PRV that has not been known to occur in Washington waters. WDFW fish health manager Ken Warheit called it an "exotic strain" that differs from the variety that had been present in the eastern Pacific Ocean, creating an "unknown risk that made it unacceptable." (Associated Press)

State honors Lummi Nation for its emergency response to escaped Atlantic salmon 
State officials awarded the Lummi Nation tribe this week for its emergency response to the escape of thousands of Atlantic salmon from a net pen at Cypress Island. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recognized the tribe with its Director’s Award. In August, the failure of Cooke Aquaculture’s net pen at Cypress Island sent more than 150,000 Atlantic salmon into the Salish Sea. The fish, at 10 pounds, infiltrated Puget Sound rivers. As both Cooke Aquaculture, the owner of the pen, and the WDFW struggled to manage the spill, the Lummi Nation launched an emergency response. Tribal fishermen dropped their work to launch a 24-hour fishery on the Atlantics, declaring a state of emergency to provide a rapid response. Tribal fishers captured 43,522 of the invasive species — 90 percent of all the fish recovered. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Spartina eradication starts June 1
The Washington State Department of Agriculture will begin this year’s treatment for Spartina on June 1 with the treatments continuing through November. Eradication efforts of the aggressive, noxious weed will take place in Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay, Hood Canal, Puget Sound, the north and west sides of the Olympic Peninsula and at the mouth of the Columbia River. Spartina, also known as cordgrass, can disrupt saltwater ecosystems, and if left unchecked outcompetes native vegetation and converts ecologically healthy mudflats into solid Spartina meadows. (KXRO)

New bridges provide improved habitat in two Kitsap County creeks
Contractors are putting the final touches on two new bridges in Kitsap County, both of which are expected to improve the local environment. One is a 150-foot bridge that crosses the Carpenter Creek Estuary on West Kingston Road near Kingston. The other is a 50-foot bridge that crosses Big Anderson Creek on Seabeck-Holly Road near Holly. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Warming Waters Push Fish To Cooler Climes, Out Of Some Fishermen's Reach
The oceans are getting warmer and fish are noticing. Many that live along U.S. coastlines are moving to cooler water. New research predicts that will continue, with potentially serious consequences for the fishing industry. Fish can be as picky about their water temperature as Goldilocks was about her porridge. Ecologist Malin Pinsky of Rutgers University says a warming climate is heating up their coastal habitats. “Here in North American waters,” he says, “that means fish and other marine animals, their habitat is shifting further north quite rapidly.” Pinsky studied 686 marine species ranging from bass and flounder to crab and lobster. He projected how much warmer oceans would get over the next 80 years, using various scenarios for emissions of greenhouse gases and the rate of global warming. Then he projected how fish species would probably react to that based on what they’ve been doing already. “And [with] about 450 of those,” he says, “we have high certainty in terms of how far they are going to shift in the future.” Christopher Joyce reports. (NPR)

Open house highlights efforts to restock salmon — and feed the whales
Anglers and whale watchers are hosting a Saturday event to highlight the upcoming release of 280,000 young salmon into the ocean — part of ongoing efforts to rebuild chinook runs and provide food for orcas. The public can take a look at the fish during a 1-3 p.m. open house at the Sooke Harbour Resort and Marina, where another 220,000 chinook smolt were released this past week.  Salmon are an important food source for the Salish Sea’s endangered southern resident orcas. The population has dropped from 96 in 1993 to 76. Dan Kukat of Spring Tide Whale Watching & Eco Tours said help for the orcas is necessary. (Times Colonist)

Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  237 AM PDT Fri May 18 2018   

TODAY  W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 10 to 20 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft in the  afternoon. W swell 3 ft at 9 seconds. 

TONIGHT  NW wind 10 to 20 kt becoming W 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 3 ft at 8 seconds. A  slight chance of evening showers. 

SAT  W wind to 10 kt rising to 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft in the afternoon. W  swell 4 ft at 11 seconds. A slight chance of showers. 

SAT NIGHT  W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  4 ft at 10 seconds. 

SUN  W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming NW 10 to 20 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 4 ft at 11 seconds.
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

5/17 Pipefish, BC pipe, microplastics, 'blob,' wood debris, summer fires, wetland damage, humpback gash, Pruitt's EPA, straw ban

Bay pipefish [Seattle Aquarium]
Bay Pipefish Syngnathus leptorhynchus
The bay pipefish, in common with the sea horse and other tropical pipefish, has a tiny toothless mouth located at the end of a tube-like snout. They feed on small amphipods, copepods and crab larvae by sucking them into their mouth. Ranging from S.E. Alaska to Baja, the bay pipefish is the only member of the pipefish family that occurs in our area. This group of fish bear the young alive rather than laying eggs on hard surfaces or dispersing them in the water. After mating in early summer, the female will immediately transfer her eggs to the male's brood pouch where they grow to about 3/4 of an inch in size after several weeks. The young are not only protected while in the brood pouch, but also nourished by the male's blood system . The young will remain in the area after they are expelled usually hiding among blades of eelgrass. (Puget Sound Sea Life)

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Readers Rick Haley, Don Norman, Lorna Smith and Robert McFetridge kindly noted that yesterday's photo was that of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and not a Golden-crowned Kinglet. Golden-crowned Kinglets have white wing bars, a black stripe through the eyes and a yellow crown surrounded by black. The adult male has an orange patch in the middle of the yellow crown. Ruby-crowned Kinglets have olive-green plumage with two white wing bars and a white eye-ring. Males have a red crown patch, which is usually concealed. (Wikipedia)

Morneau says government willing to compensate Kinder Morgan against political delays
Canada is willing to write Kinder Morgan — or anyone else who steps up to the plate — a cheque to ensure the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion gets built, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Wednesday. Morneau said the federal government is willing to compensate the pipeline's backers for any financial loss due to British Columbia's attempts to obstruct the company's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. "The indemnification would allow Kinder Morgan to finish what they started, what they received federal and B.C. approval to do," he said Wednesday morning during a news conference that laid out in broad terms what his government is willing to do to move the project ahead. Catharine Tunney reports. (CBC) See also: 'Rhetoric and hyperbole': Horgan fires back at finance minister over feds' Trans Mountain backing  Megan Thomas reports. (CBC) And also: Protesters stage "die-in" at Kinder Morgan plant in Burnaby to illustrate risks  (Postmedia News)

Puget Sound microplastic pollution 'everywhere we've surveyed for it,' study shows
Walk any Puget Sound beach and you're bound to find plastic garbage —  a soda bottle, a chunk of foam, maybe a dog's lost chew toy. But that's just the plastic pollution you can see. The results of a recent volunteer-powered research project suggest there are tiny particles of plastic suspended in nearly every jarful of water along the shoreline. Non-profit Puget Soundkeeper Alliance teamed up with the University of Puget Sound to analyze water samples gathered last fall by volunteers around the Sound. They found an average of 2.8 pieces of microplastic (plastic bits smaller than 5 millimeters) per 150 milliliter water sample (roughly 1 gulp, to use an unscientific term). A sample taken in Bremerton produced four pieces of microplastic.  The first year of the monitoring program didn't produce enough data to support a published paper, but UPS conservation biologist Peter Hodum said even the anecdotal results highlight how pervasive microplastics have become. Tad Sooter reports. (Kitsap Sun)

How the Blob Killed Thousands of Tiny Seabirds
For Cassin’s auklets, robin-sized seabirds of the northeast Pacific, the winter of 2014 was a disaster. Over the course of a few months, more than 9,000 washed up on beaches from British Columbia to California. Almost immediately, scientists hypothesized that the deaths were somehow related to a massive marine heatwave, known as the Blob, that went on to ravage the coastal ecosystem from 2013 to 2015. But it was only recently that a group of researchers confirmed the Blob as the culprit. In a new study, University of Washington ecologist Timothy Jones and his colleagues chronicle how these birds went from feast to famine. Dustin Patar reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Lower Fraser River, Strait of Georgia hazardous to navigate due to wood debris
A relentless torrent of wood debris being swept downstream by the fast-flowing Fraser River is creating severe navigational hazards for recreational boaters, including in the Strait of Georgia. Bob Pearson has lived and worked on the Fraser River for 50 years, and owns two commercial marine businesses on Canoe Pass downstream of Ladner. “It’s unbelievable, just solid,” he said Wednesday. “One of my boats had to go over to Active Pass and he said all the way across the Gulf he had to drive half speed to avoid the debris.” Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Federal natural resources researchers forecast long, hot wildfire season
Federal researchers say Canada may be heading into a long, hot summer in the forests. Richard Carr of Natural Resources Canada says wildfire numbers are already ahead of the 10-year average. He says weather is expected to be hotter and drier than normal in most parts of the country in the coming months. There have already been evacuations in the three prairie provinces because of wildfires. (Canadian Press)

County sues to halt ‘egregious’ damage to wetland and stream
Snohomish County is suing a Lynnwood-area couple over unpermitted clearing and grading that obliterated a wetland and diverted a stream. An emergency injunction and lawsuit was filed Friday. County code enforcement officials said stop work orders were ignored at an undeveloped lot near the intersection of Center and Beverly Park roads, just south of Paine Field. State and federal agencies have gotten involved, too. The work with heavy equipment depleted the wetland that until recently carpeted the entire 1.4-acre lot. Mounds of dirt remain, as well as standing water. “This is one of the most egregious and environmentally significant violations in our county’s history,” said Josh Dugan, a planning department manager. Lizz Giordano and Noah Haglund report. (Everett Herald)

Birch Bay and Blaine no longer the only beaches you need to avoid gathering shellfish
The Washington State Department of Heath has closed all Whatcom County beaches from Sandy Point north to the Canadian Border, including Point Roberts, for shellfish gathering. This is an expansion of last week's closure that included Birch Bay and beaches to the north. The move was made after unsafe levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning biotoxin were detected in molluscan shellfish on beaches from Birch Bay to Drayton Harbor, according to a Whatcom County Health Department release Wednesday. David Rasbach reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Severe gash to back of humpback whale in Howe Sound prompts warning to boaters
A severe gash on the back of a humpback in Howe Sound is prompting a warning to boaters to take extra caution when travelling in the presence of whales. Photos taken this week of the gash at the whale’s dorsal fin suggest it was hit by a boat, Jackie Hildering, education director with the Marine Education and Research Society, said Wednesday. The whale was first sighted uninjured feeding in the waters of Howe Sound on April 6. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

EPA's Scott Pruitt, Subject Of Many Ethics Probes, Plays Defense Before Senate
If Scott Pruitt arrived on Capitol Hill expecting to be grilled Wednesday, he did not have to wait long to see that expectation fulfilled. The Environmental Protection Agency administrator, who is facing a series of federal ethics investigations some 15 months into his tenure, fielded reproaches from both sides of the aisle during testimony before a Senate appropriations subcommittee.... The day before his Senate testimony, the list of those questions became just a little bit longer: Politico reported that emails revealed an attempt by the EPA and the Trump administration to delay a federal study on a suspected carcinogen, fearing what one White House aide reportedly described as a “potential public relations nightmare.” Colin Dwyer reports. (NPR)

Vancouver votes to ban plastic straws, foam cups and containers by June 2019
Vancouver has voted to ban the distribution of plastic straws as well as foam take-out containers and cups as part of its zero-waste strategy. The ban will be introduced on June 1, 2019.  The move is part of the city's Zero Waste 2040 strategy, which was approved by councillors in a vote on Wednesday. Council also approved a new, flexible bylaw to reduce the amount of disposable cups, as well as plastic and paper shopping bags handed out across the city. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  229 AM PDT Thu May 17 2018   

TODAY  W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 10 to 20 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft in the  afternoon. W swell 4 ft at 9 seconds. 

TONIGHT  W wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 4 ft at 8 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

5/16 Kinglet, Dungeness oyster farm, BC pipe, Tacoma LNG, Seattle waterfront, green crabs

Golden-crowned Kinglet [All About Birds]
Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa
One of our tiniest birds, the Golden-crowned Kinglet is remarkable in its ability to survive in cold climates. Nesting in northern forest, wintering throughout much of the continent, it is usually in dense conifers which undoubtedly help provide shelter from the cold. This choice of habitat also makes the Golden-crown hard to see, but it may be detected by its high thin callnotes, and then glimpsed as it flits about high in the spruce trees. Feeds on a wide variety of tiny insects, including small beetles, gnats, caterpillars, scale insects, aphids, and many others. Also eats spiders. Diet includes many eggs of insects and spiders. Will feed on oozing sap; rarely feeds on fruit. (Audubon Field Guide)

Jamestown oyster farm in wildlife refuge now on hold
Permitting for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed oyster farm at Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is on hold until at least a mid-November hearing after concerns were expressed by the public, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and wildlife refuge officials over the impacts of the 50-acre, inner-tidal project. The Clallam County Department of Community Development withdrew its environmental determination of nonsignificance last Thursday, a day after the county hearing examiner granted the tribe’s request for the six-month permitting-process delay to accommodate a change in permitting by the Army Corp of Engineers. Comments will be accepted on the project until at least mid-November, Greg Ballard, Clallam County senior planner, said Tuesday. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Bill Morneau outlines Ottawa's options on Kinder Morgan pipeline talks Wednesday
Finance Minister Bill Morneau will give an update on the state of negotiations with Kinder Morgan over the Trans Mountain pipeline project Wednesday, setting out in broad strokes what Ottawa is willing to do to help the project go ahead, CBC News has learned. A government official, who spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity, said Morneau will present a suite of options to help eliminate some of the risk the project is facing after Kinder Morgan suspended spending on it in the face of opposition from the B.C. government. Morneau will explain how the proposed steps will help ease Kinder Morgan's concerns, while also ensuring that Canadians aren't exposed to excessive financial risk, the official said. David Cochrane and Vassy Kapelos report. (CBC)

Tribe Loses LNG Permit Challenge In Wash. Appeals Court
A Washington appeals court on Monday backed a development permit issued for a Puget Sound Energy liquefied natural gas project in Tacoma, Washington, rejecting arguments from the Puyallup Tribe that state shoreline regulators wrongly affirmed the permit issued by the city. The Puyallup Tribe had challenged the findings and conclusions of law by the Shorelines Hearings Board, part of the state's environmental and land use hearings office, that affirmed the shoreline substantial development permit for PSE's project on industrial land owned by the Port of Tacoma near inlets of the Puget Sound's Commencement Bay. The tribe, which owns property along the inlets and has treaty rights to fishing in the inlets, claimed the SHB wrongly backed the city of Tacoma's determination that proposed mitigation efforts wouldn't harm the overall ecology of the waterways, which had previously been classified as Superfund sites, and could ultimately improve water quality. But a Washington Court of Appeals panel said Monday that the SHB's reasoning was sound. Keith Goldberg reports. (Law360)

Seattle's new waterfront design will play to your instincts
The Overlook Walk could very well be the biggest thing in post-viaduct Seattle, a new piece of infrastructure that changes the city. Even though city planners have strived to be process-perfect, few are aware of it. It’s the elephant of the waterfront, with so many pieces it’s hard to envision it as a whole. What is it, exactly? It’s complicated. The Overlook Walk would be a kind of land bridge over the cliff — a deck and pathway of varying widths and slopes, including one bridge span, all laid atop three large new buildings. Taking off from MarketFront, the year-old addition to Pike Place Market, it would land with branching stairways on a plaza in front of Pier 59 (the Seattle Aquarium) and Pier 62. While the new street system takes cars past the waterfront, the Overlook Walk points over streets to the water, the mountains, the Seattle Aquarium and the historic piers. Clair Enlow reports. (Crosscut)

Where did the Puget Sound green crabs come from? We’re still not sure
It is hard to look away from the European green crab invasion in the Salish Sea. When these infamous invaders were first observed in the Sooke Basin, British Columbia in 2012, scientists worried that it was only a matter of time before they entered Puget Sound. Crabs were found off of San Juan Island and in Padilla Bay in 2016, and in Dungeness Spit, Sequim and Whidbey Island the following year. The outer coast was not spared either — the crabs were found in Makah Bay in 2017. Genetic testing shows that invasive European green crabs in Puget Sound likely did not come from the Sooke Basin in British Columbia as previously thought. New findings on the crab's origins were presented at the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle. Scientists are looking at a variety of potential sources. Yaamini Venkataraman reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  207 AM PDT Wed May 16 2018   
 W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 4 ft  at 9 seconds. 
 W wind 10 to 20 kt easing to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less after midnight. SW  swell 3 ft at 16 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

5/15 Ripple Rock, Tacoma LNG, Ship Point, gray whales, wolf researcher, debris art, snail memory, Site C

Ripple Rock [Bill Roozeboom]
Ripple Rock
Ripple Rock is an underwater mountain that had two peaks (9 feet and 21 feet below the surface) in the Seymour Narrows of the Discovery Passage in British Columbia, near the town of Campbell River.... It was a marine hazard in what the explorer George Vancouver described as "one of the vilest stretches of water in the world."... Its top was removed by a planned explosion on 5 April 1958. (Wikipedia)

Tacoma LNG plant has 'potentially significant' permitting issues. Opening could be delayed
Puget Sound Energy's plan to open its Tacoma liquefied natural gas plant in 2019 could be in jeopardy. An additional environmental review of the plant ordered in January by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has led TOTE Maritime, which would be the plant's main customer, to delay the conversion of its ships' engines to run on LNG fuel. Permitting delays and the extra review also have caused a state commission to cast some doubt on the project. Port of Tacoma commissioner Dick Marzano said this week the additional reviews probably have the parties holding their breath. Candace Ruud reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

City unveils new plans for Ship Point as waterfront park, festival site
Ship Point could become the people’s park. In the coming years, the parking lot with some of the best views in the city could be transformed into a beautiful, well-designed public waterfront park and festival site. Last week, the City of Victoria unveiled a detailed design concept of its master plan for Ship Point. On Tuesday, the public is invited to an information session from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the City Hall antechamber. A draft plan is expected to be brought before council in June. Louise Dickson reports. (Times Colonist)

Gray whale deaths could be above normal this year
There may be more gray whale deaths and more whales in poor condition this year than normal, according to an Olympia-based research group. Cascadia Research Collective came to that conclusion based on above normal reports of gray whale strandings, entanglements, and sightings of whales in poor body condition. At least five gray whales have been stranded this year, most of which showed signs of nutritional stress. That number is not unusual for an entire year, but it is high for a five-month period, according to Cascadia Research Collective. Peak stranding season runs from April through June. Allison Sundell reports. (KING)

Wolf researcher who accused WSU of silencing him gets $300K to settle lawsuit and go away
A leading wolf researcher has agreed to leave Washington State University at the end of the spring term in return for $300,000 to settle a suit he brought over infringement of his academic freedom. Robert Wielgus, director of the Carnivore Conservation Lab at Washington State University, pioneered research of wolf behavior in cattle country as the predators began their return to Washington. Wielgus tracked the behavior of wolves and cattle and learned that the state’s policy of killing wolves that had preyed on cattle was likely to lead to more cattle predation, not less, because it destabilized the structure of wolf packs. The research was unpopular with ranchers, who complained to lawmakers in the Washington State Legislature, who, in turn, cut Wielgus’ funding and removed him as principal investigator on his ongoing work, passing the funds through another researcher. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Students reflect on impact of marine debris in annual art contest
Chris Dunagan in Watching Our Water Ways writes: "NOAA’s annual Marine Debris Art Contest continues to attract creative students able to spread the message about how loose trash can escape into the ocean and harm sea creatures.... More than 450 entries were submitted to the national contest this year. The 13 winning entries will become part of a 2019 Marine Debris Calendar, with artwork adorning the cover and representing each month. The calendar will be available for download later this year."

'Memory transplant' achieved in snails
Memory transfer has been at the heart of science fiction for decades, but it's becoming more like science fact. A team successfully transplanted memories by transferring a form of genetic information called RNA from one snail into another. The snails were trained to develop a defensive reaction. When the RNA was inserted into snails that had not undergone this process, they behaved just as if they had been sensitised. The research, published in the journal eNeuro, could provide new clues in the search for the physical basis of memory. Shivani Dave reports. (BBC)

Ottawa won't oppose halt to Site C work pending treaty rights challenge
The federal government is not going to argue against halting construction of the controversial Site C hydroelectric dam in British Columbia while a B.C. court decides if the project violates constitutionally protected treaty rights. However a spokeswoman for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Monday the government will continue to defend the federal approval given for the project in December 2014, even though that approval was given using an environmental review process McKenna herself has said is fundamentally flawed. The Site C project is an 1,100-megawatt dam and generating station on the Peace River in northern B.C. that will flood parts of the traditional territory of the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations. Mia Rabson reports. (Canadian Press)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  225 AM PDT Tue May 15 2018    
TODAY  W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 4 ft at 11 seconds. Patchy fog in  the morning.  
TONIGHT  NW wind 15 to 25 kt becoming W to 10 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less after  midnight. W swell 4 ft at 10 seconds.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

5/14 Merganser, coal port, oxycodone, crab season, green crab, kelp, Patagonia, gophers, no-poop zone

Hooded Merganser [Ryan Schain]
Hooded Merganser
Hooded Mergansers are small ducks with a thin bill and a fan-shaped, collapsible crest that makes the head look oversized and oblong. In flight, the wings are thin and the tail is relatively long and rounded. Hooded Mergansers dive to catch aquatic insects, crayfish, and small fish. Males court females by expanding their white, sail-like crests and making very low, gravelly, groaning calls. Look for Hooded Mergansers on small bodies of freshwater. In summer, these small ducks nest in holes in trees, often near freshwater ponds or rivers. For winter, they move to larger bodies of freshwater, marshes, and protected saltwater bays. (All About Birds)

Washington state rejected a coal-export terminal on the Columbia River. Now 6 states are lining up for battle.
Six Western states and national industry groups have lined up against Washington state in a legal battle over its decision to reject permits for a massive proposed coal-export terminal on the Columbia River. Wyoming, Montana, Kansas, Utah, South Dakota and Nebraska filed a joint amicus brief, arguing for project backers and saying the case has broad implications for the export of commodities that are important to many states. Utah-based Lighthouse Resources, which operates coal mines in Montana and Wyoming, sued Washington state in federal court in January, alleging officials violated federal laws in denying approvals for its $680 million Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview project. The company accuses the governor and state regulators of being anti-coal and discriminating against it by blocking the movement of coal mined in other states from being exported. The Washington Department of Ecology denied the project a water-quality permit last fall, saying there were too many major harmful effects including air pollution, rail safety and vehicle traffic. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Bay mussels in Puget Sound show traces of oxycodone
The opioid epidemic has now hit the waters of Puget Sound. State agencies tracking pollution levels in Puget Sound have discovered traces of oxycodone in the tissues of native bay mussels (Mytilus trossulus) from Seattle and Bremerton area harbors. The mussels were part of the state’s Puget Sound Mussel Monitoring Program. Every two years, scientists at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) transplant uncontaminated mussels from an aquaculture source on Whidbey Island to various locations in Puget Sound to study pollution levels. Mussels, which are filter feeders, concentrate contaminants from the local marine environment into their tissues. After two to three months at the transplant site, scientists analyze the contaminants in the collected mussel tissues. Jeff Rice reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

Crab season has been canceled for South Sound waters this summer
Two South Sound crabbing areas will not open to fishermen this summer, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Thursday. Marine areas 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island) and 13 (south Puget Sound) will stay closed to allow Dungeness crab populations to rebuild. Tribal commercial crab fisheries will also remain closed in those areas. Crabbing seasons for the rest of Puget Sound are being developed by state and tribal co-managers. Those will be announced later in May. Craig Sailor reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Hunt for invasive green crab catches 22 in Dungeness in first month
Local resource managers are back on the hunt for European green crab. Last year, the invasive species, considered one of the world’s worst, researchers say, was discovered on Graveyard Spit along the Dungeness Spit north of Sequim.... By season’s end, they had caught 96 green crabs on the Dungeness Spit and one in Sequim Bay.... This year, Sollmann said the team tested the waters early in mid-March for three days and caught one green crab. On April 1, volunteers and staff began trapping for the season by placing 41 traps in the Graveyard Spit channel and four in the spit’s base lagoon near the mainland. So far, they’ve caught 22 green crabs in the channel as of Thursday with nine of them females ranging from 39-70 millimeters. Matthew Nash reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Getting little respect, kelp could be the key to survival for some fish
Chris Dunagan in Watching Our Water Ways writes: "It is all too easy for us to forget about Puget Sound’s productive kelp forests, which have been slowly vanishing from numerous places where masses of vegetation once proliferated. I never fully appreciated the value of kelp until I began writing about the complexity of the Puget Sound ecosystem...." And, if you like to watch: The Importance of Kelp - Jane Watson  (Hakai Institute)

Patagonia's deep-rooted activist streak fuels suit against Trump 
For more than 45 years, the company has mixed business and politics to a degree unusual in corporate America. While companies are expected to weigh in on everything from gun control to transgender rights these days, Patagonia has been unapologetically political since the ’70s. David Gelles reports. (NY Times)

Thurston County adjusts gopher review process
Thurston County and federal officials are putting together a pair of plans designed to provide a long-term fix to permitting headaches caused by the protection of the endangered Mazama pocket gopher. Meanwhile, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing private biologists to take on some site reviews as the agency abandons that role to focus on writing a recovery plan for the gopher. The permitting and planning responsibilities have been a thorny issue in Thurston County since the Mazama pocket gopher was identified as a threatened endangered species in 2014. Since then, residents applying for building permits within mapped gopher soils — about 10 percent of all applications — have been required to have their properties reviewed before moving forward. Alex Brown reports. (Centralia Chronicle)

No more No. 2: Annapolis, Anne Arundel push for no-discharge zone in rivers and creeks
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley is wearing blue pants, a white shirt and thin black tie. It isn’t quite boat attire but that doesn’t seem to bother him as he fastens his lifevest aboard a city harbormaster vessel. Buckley is taking a short trip to follow a pump out boat — which removes sewage from boats on the water — and talks about plans for a county-wide no-discharge zone. “The whole Chesapeake Bay should be a no-discharge zone,” Buckley said. “The bay is sacred. How can that be possible?” Annapolis, Anne Arundel County and environmentalists have assembled to make the county a no-discharge zone in almost all rivers and creeks. Chase Cook reports. (Baltimore Sun)

The tragic reason Seattle Center never got a SeaWorld
Fifty years ago, Seattle was trying to decide what do with its center attraction in the wake of the World’s Fair. One man came forward with the idea of privately-funded plan marine park. Think SeaWorld at the heart of Seattle – complete with a captive orca to perform shows. The man, Ted Griffin, already had his star: Namu, captured in 1965, was the third orca ever captured and placed in captivity. Griffin, the creator of Seattle’s first aquarium, displayed this lone orca in a floating pen off Pier 56, where Elliott’s Oyster House is now. Griffin proposed to move Namu to Seattle Center, housing the 7,500-pound male in a 100-by-160-foot pool with water pumped in from Elliott Bay. Kara McDermott reports. (KUOW)

A 14th human foot — this one in a hiking boot — washes ashore in Canada
Like nearly all of the 13 human feet that had mysteriously washed up on Canadian shores before it, the 14th foot appeared, unexpectedly, on the banks of the Salish Sea in British Columbia. This time, a man walking the beach on Gabriola Island discovered the appendage last Sunday afternoon, trapped in a mass of logs, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The law enforcement agency described the foot as “disarticulated” — that is to say, disconnected from the human body to which it had belonged. It did not specify if it was a left foot or a right foot. Curiously, Foot No. 14 was clad in a hiking boot; all but one of the others had been wearing athletic sneakers. So continues the mystery of the human feet floating ashore in the Pacific Northwest, a phenomenon that has captivated residents, scientists and area law enforcement since 2007. In August of that year, not one but two disembodied human feet, both right ones, were found on islands in the Salish Sea, a network of coastal waterways between Vancouver Island and Canada’s westernmost province. Amy Wang reports. (Washington Post)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  237 AM PDT Mon May 14 2018   

TODAY  W wind to 10 kt rising to 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft in the afternoon. W  swell 5 ft at 11 seconds. 

TONIGHT  W wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 4 ft at 11 seconds.
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

5/11 Tatoosh Is, fish farms, suing oil, kokanee, BC pipe, Kitsap shores, marble butterfly, big fish baby fish

Tatoosh Island [Wikipedia]
Tatoosh Isand
An island and group of islands off the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula. While ta-toosh is a Chinook jargon word meaning "breast," derived from the eastern Chippeway, a similar word to-tooch, meaning "thunder bird" exists in the Wakashan language spoken by the Nootka Indians on Vancouver Island, of which the Makah are the southern branch. Though from the air the cape area is vaguely breast-shaped in outline, it is more logical that the Makah took the name from their own language rather than from trade jargon. (Washington State Place Names)

Pacific Salmon Foundation calls for contained fish farms, saying wild salmon need protection
The foundation created to conserve and rebuild Pacific salmon stocks is calling for a switch from open net-pen aquaculture to closed containment systems in order to protect wild salmon returning to B.C. waterways. The Pacific Salmon Foundation says in a news release that open-net salmon farming poses biological risks to the abundance and diversity of already depleted wild Pacific salmon. In rejecting open-net systems, the foundation says the federal and provincial governments should put wild Pacific salmon first and manage any risk of disease transfer from farmed salmon. The foundation says its conclusions stem from recent scientific reports, critically low returns of Fraser River sockeye and struggling populations of chinook, coho and steelhead. A full transition to land-based aquaculture will take time, so the foundation recommends that the first priority should be removal of open-net farms from the migratory routes of wild salmon, especially Fraser River sockeye. (CBC)

King County sues big oil companies for downplaying global warming
Five major oil companies for years deliberatively sought to downplay and discredit scientific warnings about the risks of global warming, alleges a lawsuit filed Wednesday by King County. The Superior Court lawsuit names BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell as defendants, and seeks financial compensation to help pay for the costs of coping with sea-level rise, extreme weather and other effects of climate change. The lawsuit faults the oil companies for intentionally producing and marketing massive quantities of fossil fuels that they know will exacerbate global warming, and alleges that this conduct amounts to “a continuing trespass onto county property.” Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Extinction could be a hot summer away for the little red fish of Lake Sammamish
The lake's populations of kokanee, a variety of sockeye salmon that never leaves fresh water, often fluctuate. But they have plummeted drastically in the past four years. Just 19 of them headed upstream from Lake Sammamish to spawn last fall. Five years ago, that number exceeded 18,000.... City, county, tribal and nonprofit leaders announced a package of projects to restore kokanee habitat and revive the little red fishes' populations. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

Judge in pipeline-protest case rejects 'defence of necessity' application
The judge hearing the case of protesters arrested at Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project on Thursday rejected the argument of a protester who claimed he was compelled to disobey a court injunction to prevent a greater crime. Tom Sandborn, who was arrested at the Burnaby work site March 19 and is accused of criminal contempt of court, applied to be able to use the so-called “defence of necessity” during his trial scheduled for June. He told the judge that committing a “smaller” crime by violating the injunction was necessary to prevent the “bigger” crime that the pipeline represented. Sandborn, a professional writer, argued that the pipeline expansion represented a crime to First Nations land claims, a crime against the environment and a crime against the local residents who are threatened by fire-safety risks associated with the work. But in a ruling released Thursday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck rejected Sandborn’s arguments. Keith Fraser reports. (Vancouver Sun) See also: Al Gore condemns Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion on Twitter  (Canadian Press)

Sorry, Kitsap, we don't have the country's longest coastline 
Several counties, including Kitsap, claim to have the most shoreline in the country. Only one can be right. All of them are wrong.  For years, county boosters and others have peddled the misnomer that Kitsap County, which has roughly 250 miles of shoreline, possesses the longest coastline in the United States. But an analysis by the Kitsap Sun shows it's not even the longest in the state, let alone the entire country. The inaccuracy has been used to woo job applicants, in tourism campaigns and to make the case for a Kitsap Transit-operated fast ferry. Josh Farley and Tad Sooter report. (Kitsap Sun)

How Luck, Curiosity And Teamwork Led To The Rediscovery Of Washington’s Rare Island Marble Butterfly
It would be a bit of a stretch to call zoologist John Fleckenstein a beginner.  He recently retired from a long career as a kind of wildlife detective. He worked with Washington State’s Natural Heritage Program, looking for and studying the behaviors of all kinds of rare creatures. But he was relatively new to the Pacific Northwest in the late 1990s. He had just relocated from the mid-west and wanted to get out and explore. He needed to “learn the butterflies” here.  And he had to rely on the help of others who had deeper knowledge of that field when he and a colleague embarked on a project to establish baseline data for the inventory they were creating.... Fleckenstein was drawn to the rugged beauty of the San Juan Islands. He collected a bunch of butterflies on a beach near American Camp, a National Historical Park on the south end of San Juan Island, in the heart of the Salish Sea. As it turned out, that work brought in an extremely rare specimen. The Island Marble Butterfly was thought to be extinct until 1998, when Fleckenstein netted two of these small white butterflies, which get their name from the bright green camouflage pattern on the underside of their wings. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

The Bigger The Mother Fish, The More Babies She Has
When it comes to motherhood, at least if you’re a fish, big is better. Bigger fish produce more far more offspring pound for pound than smaller fish. And that can mean more on your plate. The new research comes from a team in Australia and Panama and reinforces fishing practices that protect larger fish as well as marine protected areas, which are like fish “sanctuaries” in the ocean. The researchers set out to see how much of an advantage size was in having babies. “So we went and gathered every bit of data we could for every kind of fish that grew in the ocean,” says biologist Dustin Marshall of Monash University. (Well, not every kind, but 342 species.) It’s been known that for some fish species, being a bigger female means you’ll have more eggs — a lot more eggs. But the surprising thing that Marshall’s team found was that bigger fish produce “massively more offspring and larger offspring than smaller fish,” Marshall says. As fish grew larger, female fertility grew even faster. Christopher Joyce reports. (NPR)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  547 AM PDT Fri May 11 2018   
 W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming NW 10 to 20 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 8 ft at 14 seconds. 
 W wind 10 to 20 kt becoming SW to 10 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less after  midnight. W swell 7 ft at 13 seconds. 
 E wind to 10 kt becoming NW in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 8 ft at 13 seconds. 
 W wind 5 to 15 kt in the evening becoming light.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 8 ft at 13 seconds. 
 E wind to 10 kt in the morning becoming light. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 7 ft at 12 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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