Thursday, July 14, 2016

7/14 Corals, eagles, pipelines, oil spills, drones, PSP, daylight, Stanwood parks

(Jaffe Lab, Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
If you like to watch: Underwater microscope catches corals dancing in their natural habitat
A new underwater microscope allows scientists to take their lab right to the bottom of the ocean, where they can get up close and personal with coral and other sea life to see how they behave in their own watery domain.  This high-powered tool, described in a paper published Tuesday in Nature Communications, is already revealing new details about life at the sea floor and the inner workings of mysterious marine organisms like coral.  Coral reefs can stretch for miles. The huge structures are built by tiny animals, called polyps, that are related to jellyfish and sea anemones. It takes millions of them to build and maintain a reef. Megan Daley reports. (LA Times)

State agency proposes removing protection for bald eagles
State wildlife managers are proposing to remove bald eagles and peregrine falcons from Washington’s endangered species list. They’re also recommending greater protections for lynx and marbled murrelets, small seabirds that nest in old-growth trees. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says bald eagles have made “an extraordinary recovery” in Washington state and nationally, following decades of decline due to widespread use of the pesticide DDT and habitat loss. Bald eagles were removed from the federal endangered species list in 2007. The agency says peregrine falcons have also recovered and can now be found nesting throughout much of the state. Both birds would still be protected under other federal laws. (Associated Press)

Surveys off Alaska lead to new types of soft-bodied fish
Federal biologist Jay Orr never knows what’s going to come up in nets lowered to the ocean floor off Alaska’s remote Aleutian Islands, which separate the Bering Sea from the rest of the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes it’s stuff he has to name. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration biologist is part of a group that uses trawl nets to survey commercially important fish species such as cod in waters off Alaska. Sometimes those nets come up with things no one has seen before. With co-authors, Orr has discovered 14 kinds of new snailfish, a creature that can be found in tide pools but also in the deepest parts of the ocean. A dozen more new snailfish are waiting to be named. Additional species are likely to be found as scientists expand their time investigating areas such as the Bering Sea Slope, in water 800 to 5,200 feet deep, or the 25,663-foot deep Aleutian Trench. Dan Joling reports. (Associated Press)

Natural gas company may face $4M in penalties for failure to track pipeline pressure limits
Regional natural gas distributor Cascade Natural Gas may face $4 million in penalties for safety violations along segments of its pipeline, some of which are in Mount Vernon. The state Utilities and Transportation Commission announced the safety violations Tuesday. According to a news release, Cascade Natural Gas does not have proper documentation to ensure segments of its pipeline are being operated under the appropriate pressure. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Feds Propose Railroads Have Plans to Deal With Oil Spills
 Railroads hauling crude oil would be required to develop comprehensive plans for dealing with a significant oil spill, including providing detailed information to state and tribal authorities, under a rule proposed Wednesday by the Department of Transportation. The proposal also includes a new testing method for shippers to determine the volatility of oil shipments. Oil is often transported in trains with as many as 100 tank cars at a time. At least 27 oil trains have derailed in the U.S. and Canada in the last decade, often leading to fiery explosions and extensive environmental damage. Local authorities have complained in the past that they've been unable to obtain information or there have been delays in obtaining information from railroads. Joan Lowy reports. (Associated Press)

New Energy East memo reveals conflicting government views on pipeline's value
Canada's oil pipelines are already operating to their full potential and the Energy East project is well-positioned to meet the country's projected need in increased capacity by 2020, according to a briefing memo to Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr obtained by CBC News. "Absent this capacity, more oil will be shipped by rail, and some production will be restricted," reads the document, dated Feb. 15, 2016. The memo was released under an access to information request and largely contradicts an earlier finance department memo, obtained in the same way, which suggested Canada already has sufficient capacity between rail and pipelines "until at least 2025." Andrew Leach, an energy and environment economist at the University of Alberta's school of business, said he's more inclined to trust the analysis in the memo sent to Carr. Robson Fletcher reports. (CBC)

The Oil Spill Cleanup Illusion
When the Deepwater Horizon well operated by BP (formerly British Petroleum) exploded and contaminated the Gulf of Mexico with at least 650 million liters of crude oil in 2010, blue-smocked animal rescuers quickly appeared on television screens. Looking like scrub nurses, the responders treated oil-coated birds with charcoal solutions, antibiotics, and dish soap. They also forced the birds to swallow Pepto-Bismol, which helps absorb hydrocarbons. The familiar, if not outlandish, images suggested that something was being cleaned up. But during the chaotic disaster, Silvia Gaus poked a large hole in that myth. The German biologist had worked in the tidal flats of the Wadden Sea, a region of the North Sea and the world’s largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud, and critical bird habitat. A 1998 oil spill of more than 100,000 liters in the North Sea had killed 13,000 birds in Wattenmeer national park, and the scientist had learned that cleaning oil-soaked birds could be as harmful to their immune systems as the oil accumulating in their livers and kidneys. Kill, don’t clean, she advised responders in the 2010 BP spill. Gaus then referred to scientific studies to support her unsettling declaration. One 1996 California study, for example, followed the fate of brown pelicans fouled by oil. Researchers marked the birds after they had been “cleaned” and released them into the wild. The majority died or failed to mate again. The researchers concluded that cleaning brown pelicans couldn’t restore them to good breeding health or “normal survivability.” Another study from 1997 observed that once birds affected by an oil spill had been cleaned, they fared poorly and suffered higher than expected mortality rates. Andrew Nikiforuk reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Exxon is using drones -- to scout for whales
Drones are quickly becoming a game-changer in the oil and gas industry, as the flying robots perform otherwise costly and dangerous inspections of pipelines, offshore rigs and refineries. Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM, -0.07%  is one of many major oil companies using drones in its oil-and-gas production operations (Shell Oil RDSB, -0.56%   and BP BP, -0.95%   are among the others), but it’s also finding new ways to make use of the technology. Exxon this year successfully used drones along the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif. to contribute to a continuing research project of tracking whales. It’s typical for oil and gas companies to do environmental studies before conducting offshore operations. Sally French reports. (MarketWatch)

Kilisut Harbor, Mystery Bay shut to recreational shellfish harvesting
Kilisut Harbor, including Mystery Bay, has been closed to recreational shellfish harvesting. The state Department of Health closed the area after shellfish samples were found to contain elevated levels of marine biotoxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), reported Michael Dawson of Jefferson County Environmental Health on Wednesday. (Peninsula Daily News)

Seattle’s “season of light” coming to an end for 2016
The bright reddish glow lingers until around 10pm behind the jagged silhouetted peaks of the Olympic mountains in picturesque form. For the Pacific Northwest, this is our season of light. Every year for about 40 days, Seattle has sunsets that are after 9pm. These long days straddle the summer solstice which happens annually in late June…. This season of light around the Emerald City comes to a close soon. (KCPQ)

Plans for waterfront finalized
With help from a proactive committee led by Theresa Metzger, the city of Stanwood has completed a master plan for two waterfront parks. Deborah Knight, city administrator, offered a quick overview at the recent joint meeting of the Stanwood and Camano Island chambers of commerce on June 30. Two pieces of land, purchased with Conservation Futures funds from Snohomish County, will reorient the city back to the water, Knight said. “Like La Conner and Mount Vernon,” she said. Sarah Arney reports. (Stanwood-Camano News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  300 AM PDT THU JUL 14 2016  

TODAY
 W WIND TO 10 KT...RISING TO 10 TO 20 KT IN THE AFTERNOON.  WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS...BUILDING TO 1 TO 3 FT IN THE AFTERNOON.  NW SWELL 4 FT AT 4 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
 W WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING SW 5 TO 15 KT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT...SUBSIDING TO 2 FT OR LESS AFTER  MIDNIGHT. NW SWELL 6 FT AT 3 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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