Monday, December 22, 2014

12/22 Rainier, killer whales, vessel traffic, avian flu, stormwater, Slocan fuel spill, bird counts, fish spy

(PHOTO: Dean J. Kloepfler/News Tribune of Tacoma)
Losing Paradise: Climate Change is Changing Mount Rainier
If the scientists are right, the end is near for a Northwest treasure — at least as we know it. Global warming is melting Mount Rainier’s glaciers at six times the historic rate. For years now, the melting has sent floods of water and rock pounding down the mountain, filling up rivers, killing old-growth forests and endangering historic national park buildings. Rob Carson reports. (News Tribune of Tacoma)

Ten years after ESA listing, killer whale numbers falling
Puget Sound’s already small killer-whale population has declined in the decade since it was protected under the Endangered Species Act. Some experts view the death this month of a pregnant female orca as an alarm bell for the region’s southern residents. Craig Welch reports. (Seattle Times)

Study: Vessel traffic for proposed Whatcom coal port would increase spill risk, disrupt tribal fishing
A new study of ship traffic that would come with a proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point indicates a higher probability of oil and cargo spills. But state officials say the study, dated Nov. 4 and posted to the state Department of Ecology website on Thursday, Dec. 18, is not the definitive word on the hazards posed by ships headed to Gateway Pacific Terminal. The median number of oil spills in north Puget Sound in 2019 would increase 26 percent with the terminal in full operation, compared to traffic without the terminal, according to the study. That’s a change from about 10 spills a year to about 13. The quantity of oil spilled into the sound would increase 28 percent, according to the study — from 656 gallons to 857 gallons. The statistical analysis was done conservatively, in that it assumed more risk when available data was insufficient. Ralph Schwartz reports. (Bellingham Herald)

B.C. avian flu virus has Asian origin; first such outbreak in North America
The avian flu virus involved in an outbreak in B.C. is related to a deadly strain that has spread through Asia and is now affecting North American poultry for the first time, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says. Experts say the presence of an avian flu virus with Asian lineage does not increase the danger to humans - which remains very low - but it could pose a significant risk to the poultry industry. Nearly 250,000 chickens and turkeys are either dead or set to be euthanized due to avian flu, which has infected 11 sites in B.C.'s Fraser Valley since the beginning of the month. James Keller reports. (Canadian Press)

Stormwater runoff is killing Puget Sound
Taking in the view from the pier on the city’s waterfront, it’s hard to sense anything could be wrong with Puget Sound. The water is clear. It’s a popular place for people to cast their fishing lines or to toss metal-mesh crab pots into the water. Seals occasionally bob up among the rows of boats in the nearby marina. In winter, rafts of goldeneye ducks float on the waves near the ferry dock. For all this, Puget Sound, with 2,500 miles of shoreline, isn’t nearly as healthy as it looks. And that’s one of the biggest challenges facing the Puget Sound Partnership, the state organization charged with improving the Sound’s health. Sharon Salyer reports. (The Herald of Everett)

Marilyn Burgoon gets private charge approved following Slocan fuel spill
A B.C. provincial court judge has approved a charge under the Fisheries Act against the B.C. government and Executive Flight Fuel Services brought by a local resident. Judge Mayland McKimm has approved a charge under Section 36 of the Fisheries Act stemming from a massive discharge of jet fuel into Lemon Creek last year. The charge, filed by longtime Kootenay resident Marilyn Burgoon is under a section of the federal Fisheries Act that prohibits "the deposit of deleterious substances in rivers...or water where fishing is carried on." A tanker truck was transporting fuel for helicopters fighting a nearby forest fire on July 25, 2013, when it rolled into Lemon Creek after heading up an unmaintained forestry road that couldn't support its weight. (CBC)

Port: Bellingham waterfront negotiations will continue into new year
Negotiations with an Irish development group that hopes to rebuild part of the city’s waterfront will push into next year as the Port of Bellingham finalizes details of an agreement. The Port Commission first approved negotiating with Dublin-based Harcourt Developments in February this year. The negotiations involve the northwestern corner of a contaminated section of Bellingham’s waterfront that was formerly home to a Georgia-Pacific Corp. pulp and tissue mill. The site includes the Granary Building. Samantha Wohlfeil reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Bird season in Skagit
Even in urban parts of Skagit County, birds are a common sight. It doesn’t take an expert to spot common crows and pigeons, or even the region’s iconic great blue herons and bald eagles. But something special happens in the fall and winter, when large swaths of birds flock to the Skagit Valley, a prime wintering destination for birds traveling the Pacific Flyway. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Turkey vultures soar, skylarks missing in annual bird count
Large turkey vultures normally in Mexico by now were sighted in record numbers soaring around Greater Victoria but little brown skylarks were nowhere to be seen during Saturday’s Christmas Bird Count around Greater Victoria. Despite rain and dreary weather, as many as 200 bird lovers took part in the annual citizens’ science project, sighting 139 species from 7:30 until 6:14 p.m., Christmas Bird Count coordinator Ann Nightingale said. Katherine Dedyna reports. (Times Colonist)

How can a fish be a spy? - in 15 secs
The US Navy has developed a surveillance robot disguised as a tuna fish. The GhostSwimmer could be used to sneak up on enemy vessels, or deliver supplies to friendly operatives. (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST MON DEC 22 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
TODAY
NW WIND TO 10 KT IN THE MORNING...BECOMING LIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 11 FT AT 13 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
SE WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING E 15 TO 25 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT...BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT AFTER
 MIDNIGHT. W SWELL 11 FT AT 16 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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

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