Wednesday, May 25, 2016

5/25 Velella, seal health, green sewer, SEA Discovery Ctr., Mt Rainier, Vic bag levy, orca risk, marine debris

Velella velella at Haida Gwaii (Chris Ashurst/CBC)
Velella velella stink up a Haida Gwaii beach
Thousands of little blue sea creatures have washed up on the shores of Haida Gwaii and have left a stench. They are called Velella velella — small, carnivorous creatures related to the jellyfish. They usually float in the open ocean but they can't swim, so their movements are dictated by the wind and the currents — earning them the nickname, by-the-wind sailors.   Sometimes when the wind changes direction they get pushed around and end up drifting to the shores where they pile up, looking like deflated balloons. Tina Lovgreen reports. (CBC)

Harbour seals in Strait of Georgia healthier than Puget Sound
Levels of two “persistent organic pollutants” in harbour seals have declined dramatically over the decades, but remain considerably higher in Washington state’s Puget Sound than in southern B.C. waters, new research shows…. The study obtained blubber samples from four-to-six-week-old seals at four sites: Hornby Island in the Strait of Georgia, Burrard Inlet near Port Moody, Smith Island in eastern Juan de Fuca Strait near the Canada-U.S. border, and Gertrude Island in southern Puget Sound near Tacoma in Washington state…. Toxins such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, used as industrial coolants) and PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers, used as flame retardants) bioaccumulate in the blubber and provide an indication of pollution near the top of the food chain. The study showed that harbour seals in southern Puget Sound are four to five more times contaminated with PCBs and 1.8 times more with PBDEs than their counterparts at the other Salish Sea sites. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Pierce County sewer plant expansion has green benefits
One day, recycled Pierce County sewage could water the greens at Chambers Bay golf course. The new source of irrigation water for the course and surrounding parklands is one benefit of a $342 million expansion of the Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, county officials say. While the irrigation system to make use of the reclaimed water possible will take some time, other benefits of the sewer plant upgrade are close. Brynn Grimley reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Poulsbo Marine Science Center gets a SEA change
Poulsbo's Marine Science Center became the SEA Discovery Center with the swipe of a pen and unveiling of a new sign Tuesday afternoon. Western Washington University will take over the center's youth programs, floating lab, aquarium and museum while leasing the building from Poulsbo at no cost until the facility can be fully handed over to the Bellingham-based university…. The facility's new name comes from the location by Liberty Bay that connects to Puget Sound and is an acronym for the center's three service components: science, education and aquarium. Rachel Seymour reports. (Kitsap Sun)

What will happen when Mount Rainier erupts?
When geologist Carolyn Driedger talks about Mount Rainier, she feels like she’s trash-talking…. She’s talking about a possible eruption, which could happen in our lifetime. Statistics show there’s a volcanic eruption in the Cascades two to three times every century; Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in that range. Joshua McNichols reports. (KUOW)

Victoria city staff recommend 10-cent bag levy to reduce waste
In a move some critics say is too timid, Victoria city staff are recommending that businesses be encouraged to introduce a levy of at least 10 cents apiece on plastic and paper bags to reduce their use. Collected fees could be reinvested in improving and reducing business packaging, says a staff report to be considered by councillors this week. Staff recommend the city hold meetings with businesses and waste-management stakeholders before the end of next month and, based on the feedback, work with local businesses and retailers to promote the voluntary fee structure. Another recommendation is to help develop a working group to improve management of single-use retail bags, single-use beverage containers, food packaging and plastic film products. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

2 million pounds of water debris cleaned up to keep boaters safe
Harbor Patrols have been busy clearing logs and hidden hazards from Lake Washington and Puget Sound before boating season. They've pulled more than two million pounds of floating debris from the water. Jeff Dubois reports. (KIRO)

More tanker traffic bad news for orcas
The highest-visibility impact of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, as far as Victoria is concerned, would be the tanker traffic going by the waterfront. The National Energy Board devoted several chapters to the marine effects of the proposed new line from Edmonton to Burnaby. It concluded, as with all the other aspects of the pipeline, the rewards outweigh the risks. The marine risks relate to ship movements, and there would more of them. The Burnaby terminal now dispatches about five tankers a month on the 296-kilometre, 15-hour trip out Burrard Inlet, through the Gulf Islands, past Victoria and out to the end of Canadian waters. Twinning the existing pipeline would increase that by about 30 ships. That’s 360 departures a year, meaning 360 more arrivals a year, for a total of 720 more ship movements a year. But Trans Mountain supplied a traffic study of the Salish Sea circa 2012 to the NEB and it shows how busy the Juan de Fuca, Haro and Georgia straits already are. Those supertankers cruising off in the distance that are so familiar to beachfront strollers really add up. The study counted 1,197 tanker movements a year through Juan de Fuca Strait, most of them headed to the U.S. refineries around Cherry Point. There are 391 tankers a year in Haro Strait, on the Canadian side, and similar numbers in the Strait of Georgia and in Vancouver’s harbour. Tankers are only a small part of the 23,000 ship movements a year in Juan de Fuca and Georgia straits. The increase in traffic that would result from the new pipeline would include corresponding increases in tug traffic along the route. Of all the marine life that could be affected, the endangered southern resident killer whales — 84 members as of December — are likely the highest-profile example. They’ve been symbolic of the West Coast for generations, and have the most emotional impact on the most people. The news on that front is bad, and worse. Les Leyne writes. (Times Colonist)

Now, your tug weather--


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