J16 and calf (NOAA Fisheries)
Seattle’s most celebrated residents — the J, K, and L pods of southern resident killer whales — are looking good. The population of the 81 endangered whales appear to be in excellent health. They are fat and sleek, and several appear to be pregnant. The news was revealed by photogrammetry: measurements made from photographs, that help scientists understand the health of whales and other wildlife. In the case of the orcas, photos and videos taken this summer by a drone helicopter about the size of a large pizza reveal the animals are looking fat and robust. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Vancouver Aquarium and U.S. agency team up for drone research of killer whales Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)
Gear, not geoducks, impacts ecosystem if farming increases
The equipment used to farm geoducks, including PVC pipes and nets, might have a greater impact on the Puget Sound food web than the addition of the clams themselves. That’s one of the findings of the first major scientific study to examine the broad, long-term ecosystem effects of geoduck aquaculture in Puget Sound, published last week in the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea’s Journal of Marine Science. Michelle Ma reports. (UW Today)
Skagit Valley Sounds Off
Not that Anacortes isn’t well acquainted—even friendly—with Shell Oil. They’ve lived together for 104 years. That long ago, Shell made its first venture into the U.S. gas and oil business with a terminal a few miles from where its refinery now operates. At Anacortes Middle School last week, a number of speakers critical of Shell’s proposed oil-by-rail project began by stressing that Shell has been an O.K. neighbor, an excellent employer and supporter of local schools. Then they turned a verbal corner to say, “However…” The “however” is Bakken crude oil, the highly volatile feedstock Shell wishes to bring into the Skagit community by the trainload. The same that has made itself famous in 10 spectacular explosions in the United States and Canada since 2013. Bob Simmons reports. (Cascadia Weekly) See also: Residents ask for broad study of Shell’s oil-by-rail project Joan Pringle reports. (Anacortes American)
Northern Gateway hopes to change Trudeau's mind
While on the campaign trail Justin Trudeau went on record with his strong opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline, so it would be fair to assume his election win means certain death for the project. But no so fast says Northern Gateway. Communications Manager Ivan Giesbrect told CBC in an emailed statement, "We look forward to the opportunity to sit down with the new Prime Minister and his government to provide an update on the progress of our project and our partnerships with First Nations and Métis people in Alberta and B.C." (CBC)
Basking shark populations teeter on the brink of extinction
With a massive body and a mouth that emerges from the deep blue like a man-made dungeon cell, the basking shark resembles a great and terrible monster. But this is an animal whose terror resides only in its appearance. This harmless creature floats through the water with its mouth agape under a bulbous nose feeding mainly on plankton. It is only its size and the industry of man that has brought the basking shark from an abundant population to the brink of extinction. Twenty years ago kayakers and boaters in the Salish Sea would have had a chance to see a fairly common dorsal fin that did not belong to a whale. The basking shark, who is named for “sunning” itself on the surface of the water, is called “sunfish” or “sailfish” in some parts of the world. Basking sharks in this region are often referred to as the gentle giant slaughtered almost into oblivion. Cali Bagby reports. (San Juan Journal)
Cleanup planned for Anacortes' Quiet Cove
An environmental cleanup project is in the planning stage for an old fuel yard in Anacortes. The state Department of Ecology says the cleanup could promote future development of the site. Ecology is working with the Port of Anacortes on the project, which would remove soil and water pollution on the property at 202 O. Ave. known as Quiet Cove. Kimberley Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)
How will treaty rights influence environmental restoration?
Treaties signed 160 years ago guarantee Native Americans the right to take fish from Puget Sound for all time. A case now before the courts will help determine whether those same treaty rights place limits on how property is developed in the state of Washington. Specifically, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last week heard arguments about whether the state of Washington violated the treaties by building culverts that block or restrict the passage of salmon.... If the appeals court upholds a ruling by U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez, the state could be obligated to fix about 1,000 culverts within 17 years at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion, according to state officials. That’s 1.9 billion with a “b.” Chris Dunagan explains. (Watching Our Water Ways)
Glacier melt in B.C. mountains reaches 'shocking' levels
You've heard about glaciers melting for years, but what happened last summer across Western Canada is different, because it's much faster — giving what one researcher calls a "sad window" into our future, where the glaciers are gone. In the past decade, the bluish-white ice of the tongue, or terminus, of the glacier has receded over 200 metres, at a rate of roughly 15 metres a year. This summer though, the melt rate accelerated dramatically to about two and half times that pace, says Brian Menounos, a geography professor and glacier researcher at the University of Northern B.C. in Prince George. Chris Brown and Chris Corday report. (CBC) See also: Permafrost warming in parts of Alaska 'is accelerating' Matt McGrath reports. (BBC)
43 Canada geese killed in region cull at $725 each
It cost about $31,200 — about $725 each — to capture and kill 43 Canada geese in a cull undertaken by the Capital Regional District this year. The CRD had a permit to cull up to 250 geese on private agricultural land on the Saanich Peninsula, but managed to bag just 43. While CRD staff said the project met objectives to test culling methods, some CRD directors wondered about the cost. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)
Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 244 AM PDT THU OCT 22 2015
LIGHT WIND. WIND WAVES LESS THAN 1 FT. W SWELL 9 FT AT 15 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG IN THE MORNING.
LIGHT WIND. WIND WAVES LESS THAN 1 FT. W SWELL 9 FT AT 13 SECONDS. AREAS OF FOG AFTER MIDNIGHT.
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