Wednesday, July 13, 2016

7/13 Orcas, seal scat, humpbacks, bag ban, 1-732, Colstrip, K-ply, bee killer, green crab, Vic sewer

Pigeon guillemot (Whidbey Daily News)
Unique Whidbey Island bird celebrated
To an undiscerning eye, they don’t look very exotic or special, but the seabird known as the Pigeon Guillemot plays an important role on and about Whidbey Island and the rest of Puget Sound. The seabird is so popular, in fact, Pigeon Guillemot Appreciation Day was just observed at Ott and Murphy’s Winery and Tasting Room in Langley. The event was put on by the Guillemot Research Group, a citizen science project of the Whidbey Audubon Society. The group, founded by Whidbey Island author and naturalist Frances Wood, along with professor Phyllis Kind, has been conducting an annual breeding survey of the seabirds the past 12 years. Kathy Reed reports. (Whidbey Daily News)

Whale Scientists Say Resident Orcas Are Mostly Missing From Salish Sea This Year
Whale watchers say they finally spotted some orcas off the Washington coast late last week. But experts say it’s still an alarmingly bad year for sightings of resident killer whales, which have been late to arrive and are showing up in much smaller numbers than usual. May and June are normally the months when three pods of orcas known as the Southern Residents show up in the Salish Sea. They usually stick around in large groups through September, feasting on Chinook salmon from the Fraser River. But this year, they’ve been scarce. “To say that they’re late, that’s like the understatement of the century,” said  Dr. Deborah Giles, with the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island.  “It’s really scary.” Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Researchers collect seal scat to study decline of fish
Researchers are collecting seal scat across Puget Sound in an effort to learn why salmon and steelhead are at historically low returns. The work is part of the Salish Marine Survival Project. It will supplement a variety of other research, including acoustic tags placed in fish, as well as a swim study focused on steelhead infected with a prevalent parasite. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

'Humpback comeback' in Salish Sea wows whale watching companies
A West Coast whale watching association is reporting unprecedented sightings of large groups of humpback whales near Victoria and Port Angeles, Wash. Whale watching groups are calling the phenomenon the "humpback comeback" in the Salish Sea. Anita Bathe and Maryse Zeidler report. (CBC)

Tacoma City Council votes in favor of plastic bag ban
Starting a year from Tuesday, Tacomans won’t be able to get thin, single-use plastic bags at the grocery store or at other places they shop in the city. The Tacoma City Council voted, 8-1, on Tuesday night to ban the plastic bags after hours of discussion and after a substitute ordinance that would have charged a five-cent fee for paper and plastic was brought before the group and then shot down.  Candace Rudd reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Audubon backs I-732 to fight climate change — it’s better than nothing
You’d think a major environmental group endorsing a measure to combat climate change would be no big deal. But over at Audubon headquarters in Seward Park, they are girding themselves for the blowback. Audubon Washington, the state chapter of the century-old National Audubon Society, is set this week to back Initiative 732, a grass-roots effort to levy a statewide tax on fossil fuels. It means Audubon is breaking away from a huge group of environmental, labor and progressive groups in the Puget Sound region — a group that Audubon awkwardly still belongs to. That coalition has opposed Initiative 732 as a “Republican lite” effort that raises no money for various causes and may even blow a hole in the state budget. Danny Westneat reports. (Seattle Times)

Puget Sound Energy agreement to shut part of Montana coal- power plant
Puget Sound Energy has reached an agreement to close part of its Montana coal-fired power plant by 2022, the company announced Tuesday. Under a settlement with the Sierra Club and Montana Environmental Information Center, PSE and Talen Energy will shut down the two oldest units of the Colstrip Generating Station, which the companies co-own, by July 1, 2022. In return, the environmental organizations will drop their allegations that the plant has violated the federal Clean Air Act, which stem from a 2013 lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court in Missoula.  Joseph O'Sullivan reports. (Seattle Times)

Port of Port Angeles approves settlements for millions for plywood mill site cleanup
Port of Port Angeles commissioners have approved settlements with ExxonMobil and Rayonier Advanced Materials that will reimburse the port’s out-of-pocket costs of cleaning the former 19-acre plywood mill site at 439 Marine Drive. ExxonMobil will pay $5.5 million and Rayonier $2.2 million as reimbursement to the port for their shares of the costs. Commissioners took action Monday. Jesse Major reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Vancouver votes to ban bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides
A hotly-debated class of pesticides, which are toxic to bees, will no longer be allowed to be used in the City of Vancouver to improve the look of lawns ravaged by chafer beetles. City council voted unanimously early Tuesday to ban neonicotinoids, which includes imidacloprid, an insecticide marketed and sold to kill the grubs…. The chemicals are legal in Canada, though Health Canada is currently reviewing the use of imidacloprid because of emerging evidence it hurts pollinators. Lisa Johnson reports. (CBC)

Scientists, citizens track voracious predator: European green crab is not our friend
Washington Sea Grant (WSG) is calling on beachgoers to be on the lookout for a "raving mad" crustacean that has colonized waters and threatened native shellfish from South Africa to the Pacific Coast. The European green crab, a small, efficient and adaptable predator also known as Carcinus maenas, meaning “raving mad crab,” was discovered in 2012 in Sooke Inlet, just west of Victoria on the south end of Vancouver Island, a discovery that sounded the alarm for Puget Sound's shellfish beds. The green crab feeds on a variety of organisms found in estuarine environments, including native shore crabs. It has been blamed for the collapse of the soft-shell clam industry in Maine, and might likewise affect native and commercial species in Puget Sound. (Port Townsend Leader)

Kilmer urges action on British Columbia sewage releases into Strait of Juan de Fuca
The House Appropriations Committee passed Tuesday a bill that includes a provision authored by U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer seeking to make progress on the dumping of raw sewage from Canada into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The report accompanying the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2016 includes language encouraging the U.S. State Department to work with Canadian counterparts on a solution to Victoria’s sewage problem. (Peninsula Daily News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  304 AM PDT WED JUL 13 2016  

TODAY
 LIGHT WIND...BECOMING NW 5 TO 15 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND  WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. NW SWELL 4 FT AT 4 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
 W WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING 5 TO 15 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT.  WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT...SUBSIDING TO 2 FT OR LESS AFTER MIDNIGHT.  NW SWELL 4 FT AT 4 SECONDS.

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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 at salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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