Wednesday, January 6, 2016

1/6 Orca tag, oil tax, oil embargo, salmon climate, Sound map, quakes, new BC ferry, WA oil port

Merlin (Tom Grey/BirdNote)
If you like to listen: Winter Brings Falcons
A Merlin — like this one — hunts boldly from a high perch. A Peregrine Falcon dives on a hapless pigeon, with an air speed approaching 200 miles per hour. The Gyrfalcon can fly down even the fastest waterfowl in a direct sprint. A Prairie Falcon blends in with its background. And the smallest North American falcon of all, the American Kestrel, hovers a field, watching for a mouse or large insect. (BirdNote)

Biologists Track Endangered Orcas with Satellite Tag
Federal biologists are once again tracking the winter movements of the endangered population of orcas that spend time in Washington state waters. Researchers with NOAA Fisheries have been following an adult member of the K pod since tagging the animal with a satellite-linked transmitter on Thursday. The satellite tracking project and other research are helping answer questions about where the orcas during the winter, what they eat, and what risks they encounter. (Associated Press)

Lower oil prices are bad news for pollution cleanup
Prices at the pump these days are good for drivers – and not so good for Washington’s more than 5,000 contaminated sites in need of cleanup. Much of the money to clean toxic zones and prevent new ones from forming comes from a voter-approved state tax on petroleum products and other “hazardous substances.” But lower oil prices combined with state lawmakers’ demands to spread tax revenue around have left a shortfall of more than $40 million for cleanups. Jordan Schrader reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Taunting Maggie’s Ghost
Suddenly, big oil has the political prize it has coveted for decades. The oil export ban, signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1975, is history. It was an emergency response to a decision by Arab oil producers not to sell to the US. The Arab boycott had quadrupled the global price of oil and triggered a stock market crash. Ford called the export ban “the first step to energy independence.” Congress repealed the ban last month, and U.S. oil producers are free to export crude oil to the world market. Speculation flourishes over the impact on Washington state, positioned to become the funnel through which North Dakota will pour its oil on China. Bob Simmons reports. (Cascadia Weekly)  See also: Oil trains: Creating a regional approach to prepare and plan for risks  Dow Constantine writes. (Seattle Times letter)

Kwiaht says El Niño year sets the tune for climate change impacts on salmon
The response of juvenile Chinook salmon to this year’s unusually warm El Niño is a preview of the longer-term impacts of climate change on Salish Sea salmon…. According to Kwiaht director Russel Barsh, “it’s a good thing we began collecting data years earlier, since what we are seeing now is nothing like what we observed previously and considered normal.” Compared to Kwiaht’s 2009-2014 baseline years, outbound juvenile Chinook this past summer were far fewer, smaller, and eating less fish. As a result, their probability of survival at sea is poor, and there may be a substantial decrease in adult Chinook returning to spawn in SalishSea streams four to six years from now. (San Juan Journal)

Bulk Carrier Detained in Seattle
The U.S. Coast Guard has detained the 82,000dwt bulk carrier Lowlands Kamsar in Seattle after a port state control examination found safety violations relating to the vessel’s fire safety systems. The Lowlands Kamsar, a 229m (751-foot) Panamanian-flagged ship, will remain in Sector Puget Sound's Captain of the Port zone until the violations are corrected. Port state control officers discovered that the automatic fire extinguishing system that protects the vessel’s engine room had been disabled by the crew, and that the vessel’s owner, Misuga S.A., failed to ensure that appropriate corrective action was taken. (Maritime Executive)

Mapping the Sound
We're surrounded by oceans, but scientists know more about the topography of Mars than they do about the seafloor. The University of Washington's School of Oceanography wants to change that through high-tech sonar mapping equipment. It's 5:00 a.m. and Katherine Ball has been up since midnight processing seafloor mapping data on an ocean research vessel. The data shows high-resolution images of Puget Sound’s seafloor and Katherine, a UW oceanography student, is tired but invigorated. “This area has some holes in NOAA’s mapping,” she says. “So this is very good for them and very good for us.” Katherine is part of a three-day research cruise with staff and students from the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography. The goal? To map the seafloor. Stacey Jenkins reports. (KCTS)

Expert: Thousands of rumbles registered in region, but real quake activity unlikely amid slow slip and tremor episodes
The multitude of slow slip tremors geologists have measured over the past few days in the Pacific Northwest are not unusual and probably don’t portend earthquake activity, experts said. Since New Year’s Day, the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network has registered over 2,000 of the low slip and tremor events beneath the Peninsula, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island, according to The Outdoor Society — a online magazine celebrating outdoor recreation based in Olympia. Chris McDaniel reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

New Victoria-Vancouver passenger ferry signs lease
A new private passenger ferry between downtown Victoria and dowtown Vancouver is one step closer to starting service this summer. Australian company Riverside Marine said it has signed a lease agreement with Victoria's Harbour Authority. The company currently runs similar ferries in Australia. The 300-person vessel would take up to 3.5 hours and will likely cost about $80 one way, catering to tourists hoping to have a close-up look at West Coast wildlife. (CBC)

Hundreds Show Up To Speak On Vancouver Oil Project
Hundreds of people showed up to speak Tuesday at a hearing on the controversial Vancouver Energy oil terminal. Tesoro Corporation and Savage Companies have proposed building what would be the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country at the Port of Vancouver in Washington. Supporters of the project welcome the jobs and economic development that would come along with the terminal. Opponents say shipping that much oil is too dangerous and they’d rather see the port develop cleaner energy.
Cassandra Profita reports. (EarthFix)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  300 AM PST WED JAN 6 2016  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST THIS MORNING

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM PST
 THIS MORNING THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON  

TODAY
 E WIND 15 TO 25 KT...BECOMING SE 10 TO 20 KT IN THE  AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 10 FT AT 14 SECONDS. RAIN  IN THE MORNING.

TONIGHT
 SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 8 FT  AT 16 SECONDS.

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