Thursday, November 17, 2016

11/17 Slime, beluga death, protest felonies, big oil find, bad Shell air, river restoration

Western sandpipers (Donald M. Jones/Minden Pictures)
Slime, Shorebirds, and a Scientific Mystery
As the tide pulls out over British Columbia’s Roberts Bank on an early October morning, it pools amid the hummocks, follows intertidal runnels seaward, and leaves a silvery-green sheen on the exposed mudflats where Canadian researcher Bob Elner walks. Thousands of southbound snow geese, propelled skyward by a hawk’s approach, move in ever-shifting murmurations to Elner’s right. Dunlin and ducks grub along the tideline to his left. But the western sandpipers, he observes, are gone. A scientist emeritus at Environment and Climate Change Canada, Elner has long studied the sandpipers, and he knows they have headed south on their 10,000-kilometer fall migration from the Arctic to Latin America. The big unspoken question hanging over these mudflats is how long the sandpipers and other shorebirds will continue to stop on the Fraser River estuary and fuel up, before flying onward. Daniel Wood reports. (Hakai Magazine)

First beluga born in captivity in Canada dies at Vancouver Aquarium
The first beluga whale to be born in captivity at a Canadian aquarium has died. Qila died this morning at the age of 21, a Vancouver Aquarium media relations spokesperson said. The cause of death has not been determined and a necropsy is expected to take place later today [Wednesday]…. Qila was from the Western Hudson Bay population of beluga whales. The average lifespan of a beluga from this population is 15 years in the wild but some have been known to live as long as 40 or 50 years, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Lien Yeung reports. (CBC)  See also: Vancouver Aquarium beluga death shocks staff  Gordon McIntyre reports. (Vancouver Sun)

State senator supporting Trump wants some protests to be treated as felonies
As protests against President-elect Donald Trump sweep through Seattle and other major cities, a Republican state senator wants to criminalize demonstrations that cause what he labels “economic terrorism.” State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, says he’s written a bill for the coming legislative session that would allow felony prosecution of protesters who purposely disrupt economic activity, for example by blocking traffic or sitting on railroad tracks. The proposal is unlikely to pass in a divided Legislature and drew swift criticism from a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who called it inflammatory and unnecessary. Jim Brunner reports. (Seattle Times)

USGS Announces Its Largest Oil And Gas Discovery Ever In The States
The U.S. Geological Survey says it has found the largest continuous oil and gas deposit ever discovered in the United States. On Tuesday, the USGS announced that a swath of West Texas known as the Wolfcamp shale contains 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That is nearly three times more petroleum than the agency found in North Dakota's Bakken shale in 2013.  Jeff Brady reports. (NPR)

Shell refinery faces another fine for 2015 emissions incident
The Northwest Clean Air Agency has fined Shell Puget Sound Refinery near Anacortes $133,000 for emissions and related odors released from the refinery last year. The air agency, which regulates air quality in Whatcom, Skagit and Island counties, announced the fine Wednesday. According to a news release, the regional air agency received dozens of complaints in February 2015 about odors coming from the refinery, and found after investigating that the refinery had emitted various chemicals and “failed to meet general duties to follow good air pollution control practices.” Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

North fork of Skagit one of three finalists for nearshore restoration
The North Fork Skagit River Delta is one of three major river estuaries that could be restored in the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project (PSNERP), recently approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers…. The three PSNERP large-scale restoration projects include work on the Duckabush River Estuary on the east slopes of the Olympic Mountains to Hood Canal, and on the Nooksack River Delta in Whatcom County. Sarah Arney reports. (Stanwood Camano News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  259 AM PST THU NOV 17 2016  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS
 AFTERNOON  
TODAY
 SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 10 FT  AT 13 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY.
TONIGHT
 SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING E 10 TO 20 KT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 8 FT AT 11 SECONDS. A  CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE EVENING.

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