|Comb jelly (Smithsonian/KPLU)|
A squishy little sea creature fished out of the Salish Sea may be rewriting our history of how animal life first evolved. They’re called comb jellies, and they have nothing to do with hair products. They are translucent blobs that propel themselves with rows of shimmering threads called cilia. Scientists captured specimens at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories and analyzed their genomes, coming to two pretty startling conclusions. First, these animals have nervous systems, but they look almost nothing like those of people or fish, or any other animal on Earth.... What may be even more surprising is that these aliens are our relatives. Scientists have long thought multicellular life began with sponges, which have no nerves or muscles. They just sit there and filter water. The thinking was animals got more complex much later. But the comb jelly, a predator with sophisticated anatomy, seems to actually be the first branch on the evolutionary tree, predating the more primitive-seeming sponges. Gabriel Spitzer reports. (KPLU)
Long, Warm Summer On Tap, According To Weather Service Outlook
This summer in the Pacific Northwest will be warmer than average, according to the National Weather Service. The supercomputers at the Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center have crunched long-term trends to produce an outlook for June, July and August. For most of the Northwest, the forecast gives a strong probability of above-normal temperatures. Tom Banse reports. (KPLU)
New twists in battle over Lolita give activists new hope
There are new developments in the decades-long battle over whether Lolita the killer whale, still at Miami Seaquarium, will be returned to her home waters near Seattle. Activists believe, while still a long shot, these developments present the best chance in 40 years to achieve their goal. Among the developments, Lolita will likely get protections under the Endangered Species Act; a new company with less reliance on Orca shows will complete its purchase of Seaquarium in mid-May; and celebrities are speaking out about Lolita's plight including Seattle natives Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. Jeff Burnside reports. (KOMO)
Study assesses potential risk from increased shipping traffic in Puget Sound
A recently released Vessel Traffic Risk Assessment (VTRA) shows that three proposed maritime terminal developments could increase the risk of oil spills from vessel accidents. However, the study also shows that when a combination of management tools is applied to simulations of increased traffic, the potential for accidents could fall below the level regarded as the region’s baseline accident rate. The baseline was developed based on vessel traffic data collected in 2010. The VTRA study focuses on evaluating how the risk of accidents and oil spills in Puget Sound changes when commercial vessel traffic increases... The VTRA study is available here. (Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal)
Island glaciers will disappear in 25 years, scientist says
All Vancouver Island glaciers, including the iconic Comox glacier, will be gone within 25 years due to climate change, says University of Victoria geography professor Dan Smith. “There are not many glaciers left,” Smith said Wednesday. “In the 1970s, they did an inventory on Vancouver Island and they counted about 170 glaciers, and I’d say there are five of what you could call glaciers left.” Sandra McCulloch reports. (Times Colonist)
Tunnel to be drilled under Magnolia bluff this summer
This summer, a tunnel will be drilled below the Magnolia bluff to connect the existing sewer pipes and the new storage tank for the South Magnolia Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) project from King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD). During major rainstorms, the existing diversion structure cannot handle the increased water, and a mixture of rainwater and raw sewage overflows directly into Puget Sound. This happened 36 times last year; now, WTD is under a federal consent decree to limit that to one time per year on a long-term average. To get this water to the new storage facility, it will need to go via gravity pipe under the Magnolia bluff. Sarah Radmer reports. (Queen Anne & Magnolia News)
Reject Delta’s Southlands proposal, Metro staff report says
Delta’s contentious plan to convert a parcel of Tsawwassen farmland into a massive residential development is a significant breach of Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy and could put more agricultural land at risk, a Metro staff report suggests. The report, slated to go to the Metro board Friday, recommends that directors reject an amendment to the plan, which would see 59.7 hectares of the land transferred from agricultural to general urban and re-designate 42.2 hectares from agricultural to conservation and recreation. Kelly Sinoski reports. (Vancouver Sun)
Some northern Whatcom County beaches closed to recreational shellfish harvesting
The state Department of Health has closed some beaches in northern Whatcom County to recreational shellfish harvesting because of unsafe levels of the biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning. The ban affects beaches from Point Whitehorn north to Birch Point. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)
Gorge pollutant identified
A substance that polluted Gorge Creek and the Gorge waterway this month has been found to be a combination of motor oil and engine-cleaning fluid. While most of the liquid has been collected, booms and absorbent material are being left in place for at least the next three weeks to ensure that if more appears, it will be contained. The Ministry of Environment said five ducks were found to have been affected by the liquid. Jeff Bell reports. (Times Colonist)
Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 250 AM PDT THU MAY 22 2014
LIGHT WIND...BECOMING NW 10 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. SW SWELL 3 FT AT 15 SECONDS...BECOMING NW 4
FT AT 8 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON. A CHANCE OF RAIN.
NW WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 9 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN.
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