Tuesday, May 21, 2013

5/21 Water tests, UW green portfolio, ghost nets, ghost ships, plastics, sea sounds, overfishing, BC election oops

Hazel Wolf (r.) at Wenas, 1966 (UW Special Collections)
If you like to listen: The song of a Western Meadowlark rings out across the eastern slope of Washington’s Cascade Mountains. Come Memorial Day weekend, members of Audubon and friends will celebrate 50 years of gathering at the Wenas Campground to welcome the birds and wildflowers of spring. Two hundred and fifty-seven species of birds have been recorded in the area. Few, however, in quite the way as Hazel Wolf, the legendary environmental activist, did. BirdNote: Celebrating 50 Years and One Rare Bird at Wenas; Featuring Puns for Wenas by Hazel Wolf

A summer-long program to make sure your local beach is safe for swimming kicked off this week. Water samples taken from beaches like the one at Golden Gardens Park will be tested to make sure people who play in the water will be safe and not get sick from bacteria. If unsafe bacteria levels are found it could result in a public advisory or a total closure. Beaches around Puget Sound and on the Washington coast will be tested weekly. John White reports. Water quality tests conducted on local beaches

Students at the University of Washington want the school to dump its investments in major fossil fuel companies like Exxon and BP as part of a nationwide campaign to combat climate change through public institutions.  The University of Washington prides itself on being a green campus, but Kyle Murphy thinks they should have a green portfolio too. Murphy is one of the founders of UW Divest, the student group proposing a change to the way the UW Endowment Fund invests its money. He said that this is about ethics more than economics, “It’s about preserving and creating a world that allows everybody to live in it equitably and securely; and climate change threatens all of that.” Allie Ferguson reports. UW Students Seek End of Fossil Fuel Investments  

Doug Monk captains the 39-foot Bet Sea out into the waters of Puget Sound, just south of the Canadian border. He’s heading for a favorite fishing spot off Point Roberts, where a shallow shelf is lined with reefs and boulders. This is excellent habitat for migrating salmon and Dungeness crab. Monk has been a commercial diver on the Olympic Peninsula for some 20 years, harvesting shellfish and sea cucumbers, but for the past decade, he’s been after a different harvest: ghost nets. Ashley Ahearn reports. Vanquishing Zombie Fishing Nets In Puget Sound  

Plastics have only been in wide use since the 1940s, yet they are everywhere, from sandwich bags to phones, to keyboards, to rain gear. Even the cans of soup in the grocery aisle are lined with it. It's hard to imagine a world before these conveniences. What would your life be like without plastics? Seattle resident Samantha Porter decided to find out. She works behind the scenes of the Burke Museum, which is hosting an exhibit titled "Plastics Unwrapped." Bellamy Pailthorp reports. Exhibit inspires woman to try living plastics-free for entire month

Legislation that would encourage state officials to deal with derelict vessels earlier than usual was signed Monday by Gov. Jay Inslee. Key provisions of the bill include extending a $1 surcharge on vessel registrations to help pay for the program, authorizing state agencies to board vessels that threaten public health and the environment, changing violations from a criminal offense to a civil infraction to improve enforcement efforts, and requiring owners of vessels longer than 65 feet and older than 40 years to obtain an inspection before selling the boat. The inspection provisions take effect in July 2014. Chris Dunagan reports. Derelict vessel bill signed into law  

If you like to listen: The oceans are very noisy places: Shrimp crackle, fish bark, dolphins click, humpbacks sing, and many species talk to each other. Humans steer loud ships through the waters. According to research by a graduate student at the University of Washington, even the gravelly seabed contributes to the cacophony, particularly when the tide is strong. Indeed, the noise of the gravel can be so loud it often drowns out the other noises, making it impossible for scientists to hear the other sounds of the sea if the animal is not close to the microphone. "The reason for my project is that scientists are starting to look at these environments to exploit the power of these currents for renewable energy generation," said Christopher Bassett, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering. "Studying the sound is one way of addressing the potential for tidal energy development." Joel Shurkin reports. Tide-born pebbles on the seabed can drown out other ocean noises

The consequences of overfishing have led fisheries to rely on a handful of highly valuable shellfish—but new research shows this approach is extremely risky. Overfishing has reduced fish populations and biodiversity across much of the world’s oceans. New research, published today in Fish and Fisheries, shows that traditional fisheries targeting large predators such as cod and haddock have declined over the past hundred years. In their place, catches of shellfish such as prawns, scallops, and lobsters have rocketed as they begin to thrive in unnaturally predator-low environments often degraded by the passage of trawls and dredges. In many places, including the UK, shellfish are now the most valuable marine resource. The research by the Environment Department at York suggests that although a shellfish-dominated ecosystem appears beneficial from an economic perspective, it is highly risky.  Lack of biodiversity could topple fisheries

In a parallel universe, British Columbia’s NDP party swept to power in last week’s general election and leader Adrian Dix created an “unbroken string” of “green” governors and premiers along the West Coast from B.C.’s north to California’s border with Mexico. At least that’s what a column posted on a prominent Seattle news site reported soon after the final ballots were cast last Tuesday night. The piece, which states “Washington Gov. Jay Inslee should find a soulmate in Dix,” was still on The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s mobile site Monday night. Mike Hagar reports. Seattle news site accidentally calls B.C. election for the NDP

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT TUE MAY 21 2013
TODAY
SW WIND 10 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 2 FT. SW SWELL 4 FT AT 16 SECONDS...BECOMING W 5 FT AT 9 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON. RAIN THIS MORNING...THEN SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 9 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS...THEN SHOWERS LIKELY AFTER
 MIDNIGHT.

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