Wednesday, August 5, 2015

8/5 Toxic algae, hooked orca, Lolita, port race, WA oil port, BC salmon, canoe journey, Calvert prints

Toxic algae pseudo-nitzchia (NOAA)
Toxic algae flourishes in warm water from California to Alaska, closing valuable fisheries
A vast bloom of toxic algae off the West Coast is denser, more widespread and deeper than scientists feared even weeks ago, according to surveyors aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel. This coastal ribbon of microscopic algae, up to 40 miles wide and 650 feet deep in places, is flourishing amid unusually warm Pacific Ocean temperatures. It now stretches from at least California to Alaska and has shut down lucrative fisheries. Shellfish managers on Tuesday doubled the area off Washington’s coast that is closed to Dungeness crab fishing, after finding elevated levels of marine toxins in tested crab meat. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Feds monitoring orca with fishing lure hanging from mouth
Federal officials say they’re monitoring a killer whale near the San Juan Islands that appears to have a salmon lure hanging from its mouth. NOAA Fisheries says the orca, a 12-year-old male known as J-39, does not appear to be injured. The lure is a “flasher,” a shiny, oblong-shaped lure, and it may be attached to a barbless hook. The agency says it will provide additional money to the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor to further track the whale and assess its condition. (Associated Press)

Orca Network hosts event in honor of Lolita survival
Forty-five years ago, more than 100 orcas were herded into Penn Cove. The young ones were netted and hauled onto trucks for theme parks worldwide. All but one had died by 1987. Incredibly, one is still alive. They call her Lolita. August 2015 marks the 45th anniversary of Lolita’s capture from her family, the Southern Resident orcas, in Penn Cove off Whidbey Island. In memory of the nearly 40 Southern Resident orcas captured in Washington State, and the 13 orcas killed during the captures, and in honor of Lolita, also known as Tokitae, Orca Network is sponsoring several events to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the 1970 Penn Cove orca capture on Saturday, Aug. 8. (Whidbey News Times)

It’s a tight race for top 2 candidates for Port Commission’s Position 5
Fred Felleman and Marion Yoshino are leading in the race for the open Port of Seattle Commission seat currently held by Bill Bryant, who is stepping down to run for governor in 2016. Coral Garnick reports. (Seattle Times)

EPA: Withhold permit for oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver
Environmentalists opposed to the construction of the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal on the Columbia River in Vancouver say it could be a “game-changer” that two federal agencies have recently expressed concerns about the project, but the companies behind the plan say they believe they can address them. In a letter last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the plans for the terminal do not comply with the federal Clean Water Act, and that a key permit for the project should be withheld until its risks are addressed, The Columbian newspaper reported. The National Park Service sent its own letter citing concerns just days earlier. (Associated Press)

Warm water puts B.C.’s Fraser River sockeye run at risk
The success of this year’s sockeye spawning season will depend on whether rain and cooler weather manage to lower water temperatures. Record low river levels and warm water temperatures could have a devastating effect on millions of sockeye salmon headed for the Fraser River to spawn, according to a UBC biologist. If this summer’s unusual weather conditions continue, few salmon will brave the stifling temperatures of the river, and many of those that do will die trying, Tony Farrell said. Bethany Lindsay reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Coho at risk on Sunshine Coast
Extremely dry conditions have put the lives of 54,000 juvenile coho at the Chapman Creek Hatchery on the Sunshine Coast at risk. The fish now depend on a plug-in pump sucking low-oxygen water from an old well. Matt Robinson reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Polluted retention pond mires Langley’s dredging plans
The discovery of pollutants in a Langley retention pond have put dredging plans in limbo and left city leaders with more questions than answers over their next step. The pond, which is located near Suzanne Court, was found to contain trace amounts of barium and diesel fuel in its soil, and the sheer volume of the polluted muck that needs to be removed is too much for Island County to handle. County officials stress the situation does not constitute a health hazard, but they simply lack the facilities to properly process the soupy mess. That’s left Langley with little choice but to scrap its dredging plans, at least for the time being. Ben Watanabe reports. (South Whidbey Record)

Canoes return to Suquamish
With paddles up as a welcome sign, 20 canoes pulled into Suquamish on Tuesday afternoon from a daylong paddling journey. It’s the time of year when tribes from the Pacific Northwest participate in the annual Tribal Canoe Journeys, with some canoes paddling from as far as Canada to a weeklong celebration put on by a host tribe with quicker stops along the way. But after last year’s journey to Bella Bella, British Columbia, tribes opted this year for a series of shorter journeys. They started in Birch Bay in Whatcom County on July 30. Most of the canoes pulling into Suquamish on Tuesday were traveling from Tulalip. Rachel Anne Seymour reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Footprints in the NW sand: Perhaps 13,000 years old
Fats Domino was famously “walking to New Orleans.” No one knows where the people who left footprints on British Columbia’s Calvert Island were walking. They may have been on their way from what is now Alaska to what is now Washington or points south. They may have stopped there during a journey by boat. Wherever and however they were going, at least three of them, possibly a large adult, a small adult and a child, left footprints of different sizes in the sand of the island, which lies west of Bella Coola and north of Vancouver Island, perhaps 13,000 years ago. If the date is confirmed, they have left the oldest human footprints in North America. Daniel Jack Chasan reports. (Crosscut)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT WED AUG 5 2015
TODAY
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 2 FT. NW SWELL 3 FT AT 7 SECONDS. A SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE MORNING...THEN A CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
SW WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. NW SWELL 3 FT AT 7 SECONDS. A SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE EVENING.
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