Monday, August 15, 2016

8/15 Marine mammals, drones, carbon tax, refinery safety, Petrogas, coal export, Big Beef Cr., KNKX, mining mess

A Crow That Makes Tools
A crow named Betty learned how to take a straight piece of wire and bend one end into a hook. She then used the hooked end to haul a tiny bucket of meat from the bottom of a long tube. A postage stamp was issued in honor of this New Caledonian Crow. (BirdNote) If you like to watch:  How smart is a crow?

Demanding international changes to help protect marine mammals
After 43 years and some legal prodding, the United States is preparing to use its economic and political power to protect whales, dolphins and other marine mammals around the world. On Monday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is scheduled to publish regulations that will set up a system to ban imports of seafood from any country that fails to control the killing of marine mammals in its fishing industry. To avoid a ban, foreign controls must be as effective as standards adopted by the United States to reduce the incidental death and injury to marine mammals in the U.S. fishing industry. Harvesting nations that wish to continue selling fish and fish products to U.S. markets will have five years to implement their marine mammal protection programs, if they have not already done so. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Whale wars: humpbacks versus orcas focus of new study 
It's a strange marine phenomenon: humpback whales actively defend other marine mammals like seals and grey whales from orca attacks, according to a new study. But while some people might call it a rare example of interspecies altruism, the study also found that these attacks are likely a survival behaviour due to orcas' tendency to feed on humpback calves. Robert Pitman, a marine ecologist in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in southern California, is the lead author of the study recently published in the Marine Mammal Science journal. Roshini Nair reports. (CBC)

From scientists to activists, everyone has eye in the sky
From high above two pods of orcas near Telegraph Cove, a drone captured images that hold clues to the threatened species’ health. Northern resident killer whales are picky eaters, with an almost exclusive diet of chinook salmon. Using aerial images such as those taken on Thursday, researchers are keeping track of the whales’ size in relation to salmon abundance over time — from a perspective they can’t get on a boat…. Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, pose risks to both humans and animals when used irresponsibly. Washington state Fish and Wildlife officers ticketed two drone operators for flying too close to whales near the San Juan Islands last year. And firefighting efforts had to be halted twice last year and once this year, when amateurs flew drones over B.C. wildfires. But increasingly, everyone from researchers to firefighters are finding ways to take advantage of the new technology. Amy Smart reports. (Times Colonist)

Carbon-tax initiative backers press campaign despite green opposition
Carbon Washington campaigners seek to persuade voters to embrace Initiative 732, which would implement a carbon tax with the goal of driving down fossil-fuel use. But the state’s environmental community is divided. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Federal agency critical of oil refinery safety measures
A federal agency issued new oil refinery safety recommendations Thursday that it says if not followed would leave the industry vulnerable to more incidents such as the explosion that killed seven workers in 2010 at Anacortes Tesoro Refinery. The safety recommendations by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board stem from a board investigation into the Anacortes explosion. In that incident, a device called a heat exchanger cracked and weakened over time even though safety measures aligned with industry standards, according to the board’s report. Aaron Weinberg reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Petrogas plans to take over Alcoa Intalco pier at Cherry Point
Petrogas West, which receives, stores and ships liquefied petroleum gas at Cherry Point, plans to take over Alcoa Intalco Works’ wharf and pier, pending a sale deal that includes transfer of a state aquatics lease. Petrogas currently employs about 30 full-time workers at the Ferndale terminal, and already uses the pier with permission from Intalco, as allowed under the state lease. Samantha Wohlfeil reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Judge upholds Oregon denial of coal export permit
An administrative law judge in Oregon has upheld the 2014 rejection of a proposed coal terminal on the Columbia River that could be a conduit for millions of tons of American coal headed to Asia annually. Administrative Law Judge Alison Greene Webster found Friday state lands regulators were within their authority when they denied the permit to Brisbane, Australia-based applicant Ambre Energy. Ambre Energy wants to transport coal mined from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming through Oregon on its way to power-hungry Asian markets. (Associated Press)

Hospitality for salmon coming with restoration of Big Beef Creek
Big Beef Creek, which flows into Hood Canal near Seabeck, will soon undergo a major wetland renovation that should improve the survival of coho salmon and steelhead trout. Other work, which started last year, involves placing large woody debris in the stream to create deep pools for salmon to cool off and rest before continuing their migration. The wood also will help to form new spawning areas for coho, fall chum and the threatened summer chum of Hood Canal. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

KPLU renamed KNKX (pronounced ‘connects’)
The newly saved public-radio station KPLU has a new name: KNKX, or “Connects.” The station had to change its call letters as part of the deal that bought its independence from Pacific Lutheran University a few months ago. Brendan Kiley reports. (Seattle Times) [or, try KNKX=’kinks’]

Mining company facing charges for alleged damage to Hecate Strait island
A B.C. mining company, along with its CEO and chief geologist, are facing charges for allegedly releasing waste material into woods, wetland, and water on a Hecate Strait island. They have been charged with 18 offences for allegedly violating the province's Environmental Management Act, including failure to report a spill of a polluting substance and repeatedly failing to comply with environmental permits. Banks Island Gold Ltd., president and CEO Benjamin Mossman and chief geologist Dirk Meckert have not yet appeared in court. They will make their first appearance in Prince Rupert on Sept. 7. According to the Gitxaala First Nation, the company has left behind environmental damage that has people worried about the safety of their food and fish.  Andrew Kurjata reports. (CBC)

Program set to learn more about health of state park's lakes
Jack Hartt is looking to science for help in understanding a pesky problem that plagues a couple of the state park’s lakes. Hartt, the park’s manager, is spearheading a research project involving Cranberry and Pass lakes, and is enlisting the help of volunteers to create a scientific profile of both lakes through data gathered over time…. Hartt is trying to find out why both lakes are plagued by cyanobacteria, a toxic algae known for its blue-green color. Cyanobacteria is a natural component of water, but certain types produce toxins that can lead to both acute and chronic health effects. When certain levels of toxins are reached, lakes are closed. Vince Richardson reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

'Toadvisory' issued for Whistler area as toadlets migrate
The migration of tens of thousands of tiny Western toads, or "toadlets," begins this week as the dime-sized amphibians continue their biologically-driven quest from Lost Lake into the surrounding forest area. Every spring, about 50 of the toads lay hundreds of thousands of eggs along the shores of the lake, resulting in a black cloud of tadpoles when they hatch several weeks later. Once they sprout arms and legs in July and August the toadlets are on the move towards the forest surrounding the lake. Anna Dimoff reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  259 AM PDT MON AUG 15 2016  

TODAY
 LIGHT WIND...BECOMING NW 10 TO 20 KT IN THE AFTERNOON.  WIND WAVES LESS THAN 1 FT...BECOMING 1 TO 3 FT IN THE AFTERNOON. W  SWELL 4 FT AT 12 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG IN THE MORNING.  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.  W SWELL 4 FT AT 14 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG.

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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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