Thursday, August 11, 2016

8/11 Cetacean set-to, Perseid shower, cancelled festival, Owl Is., microbes, bad water, news bot

Cetacean set-to (Valerie Shore/Canadian Press)
Whale watchers witness battle of behemoths in waters off Vancouver Island
A whale watching association says a battle between some of the largest creatures in the seas off the coast of British Columbia appeared to end with the human equivalent of fist waving and name calling, although they can't be sure of the outcome. Several whale watching boats at the western edge of the Salish Sea off Jordan River on Vancouver Island spotted a group of transient orcas surrounding two adult humpback whales and a calf on Sunday. (Canadian Press) See also: A humpback whale's death hints at good news for the species  Kim Malcolm, Katherine Banwell & Gil Aegerter report. (KUOW)

Awesome Perseid Meteor Shower set to dazzle Northwest skies this week
The best meteor shower of the year is upon us, and for once, the weather around the Pacific Northwest is going to cooperate! Dare we even say, perfect? The Perseid Meteor shower peaks around Aug. 11-13 each year (this year it's Aug. 11-12) as the Earth moves through the dust and debris about the size of Grape-Nuts cereal left over from the Swift-Tuttle Comet, which comes around these parts every 133 years. As the leftover dust and rocks from the comet burn up in our atmosphere, they make for the streaks of light in the sky - commonly known as "shooting stars." Scott Sistek reports. (KOMO)

Horsefly River Salmon Festival cancelled because of lack of sockeye
The community of Horsefly, B.C., is canceling its annual salmon festival because of a shortage of the main attraction — Fraser River sockeye. "Basically there's not going to be any fish for anybody to look at," said Maureen LeBourdais, chair of the Horsefly River Roundtable, the environmental stewardship group that organizes the festival. LeBourdais said the Horsefly River spawning ground in B.C.'s Interior usually sees more than 100,000 sockeye salmon. But so far this year, only 3,000 have arrived. Andrew Kurjata and Maryse Zeidler report. (CBC)

Tsawout Nation mounts campaign for Owl Island
Owl Island is the latest Salish Sea property to land in the crossfire between development pressure and conservation claims. The tiny two-acre islet located off the coast of Prevost Island is currently listed for sale at $1.68 million. Unlike other similar islets in the region, it has not experienced much in the way of modern human disruption. It’s also one of the few places that’s escaped colonization by rabbits or deer. Added to the huge ecological significance of such a paradise, the islet contains one documented First Nations archeological site and others that have yet to be registered. Elizabeth Nolan reports. (Gulf Islands Driftwood)

Oregon, Union Pacific Use Microbes To Clean Up Oil Train Spill
Oil that spilled from a derailed train in the Columbia River Gorge in June contaminated nearby groundwater. Starting in the next week, Union Pacific Railroad will be working with Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality to clean it up. Crews are installing a treatment system that aims to speed up an already naturally occurring process, where microbes that exist in the soil consume the oil. It’s called bio-sparging.  Emmily Schwing reports. (KPLU)

Cancer-causing chemical in drinking water traced to fire-fighting foam
Fire-fighting foam containing highly fluorinated chemicals is contaminating drinking water supplies around many of the nation’s military bases, airports and industrial sites, according to a new study by UC Berkeley and Harvard University researchers. In humans, these chemicals have been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, high cholesterol, obesity and endocrine disruption. The study authors estimate that 6 million or more people may be drinking water contaminated with these highly fluorinated chemicals – in this case, poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These chemicals are used widely to extinguish liquid fuel fires and during training exercises, and are referred to as aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) because they contain a fluorocarbon surfactant, such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), that reduces surface tension and increases spreading over the liquid. Robert Sanders reports. (UC Berkeley News)

Washington Post bot gets a floor exercise in Rio
It’s the summer of bots, after a spring of bots, probably before an autumn of bots. At the Republican and Democratic conventions, news outlets trotted out their new experiments: BuzzFeed’s Facebook messenger bot collected news, The Washington Post’s bot on wheels rolled around live streaming video, and CNN reported the news to teenagers via a Kik bot. Now, at the Rio Olympics, another non-human reporter is making its debut. Heliograf is the Post’s automated storytelling software, and while it’s been in use since the primaries, the Olympics is its first public appearance. Heliograf takes data, like scores and tallies from sports or elections, and outputs templated stories. “It’s like reverse Mad Libs,” with the data used to fill in the blanks of an already written story, says Jeremy Gilbert, director of strategic initiatives at the Post. The software was named after the heliograph, a nineteenth-century invention that used sunlight and mirrors to transmit Morse code faster than a telegraph. The Post’s twenty-first century iteration uses data and code to transmit stories nearly in real-time. (Columbia Journalism Review)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  255 AM PDT THU AUG 11 2016  

TODAY
 NW WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 3  TO 4 FT AT 8 SECONDS. PATCHY MORNING FOG.
TONIGHT
 W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 4  FT AT 8 SECONDS.

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