Monday, July 31, 2017

7/31 Hot weather, pesticides, aphids, winter chum, HR 2083, Taylor fined, Helena Star, Gorge Swim, Salish radio, mud shrimp, Octo Bella, sea drones

Pacific Coast termite
Pacific Coast Termite Zootermopsis augusticollis
Devourers of wet wood, the Pacific Coast termite live in wooded areas on rotting stumps and moist fallen tress from northern California to British Columbia. Colonies have no worker caste, only soldiers and three reproductive forms-- fertile males, 'first form' queens with small wing stubs, and secondary reproductives. Young serve as workers. These termites occasionally enter and destroy the rotting heartwood of old trees or wet pine timbers in buildings. (Audubon Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders)

105 degrees? Heat watch in effect this week throughout Puget Sound  Melissa Santos reports. (Tacoma News Tribune) See also: Massive ridge of high pressure to bring hot, hot weather to B.C.'s South Coast  (CBC)

Seattle's pesticide phaseout lags: Potentially harmful products used in parks
Despite the city’s commitment to lower its use of pesticides, Seattle continues to apply thousands of gallons of pesticides to its parks and golf courses each year. And some parks the city branded “pesticide-free” have been treated with pesticides as recently as this spring. Maya Sweedler reports. (Seattle Times) See also: The surprising way climate change could worsen toxic algal blooms  A new study, out Thursday in the journal Science, suggests that increased rainfall in the coming decades may wash more agricultural nutrients and fertilizers — including nitrogen, a prime cause of toxic algae growth — into our waterways. Chelsea Harvey reports. (Washington Post)

Aphids flock to Vancouver's linden trees, create sticky mess
The glistening sap falling from trees onto Vancouver sidewalks and roads this summer is the work of aphids and their appetite for sucking juices from leaves. Aphids are tiny insects that feed by sucking sap from plants. In Vancouver, they've grown attached to linden trees, also known as tilias. The pests secrete a sticky substance that coats pavement and car windshields. Chad Pawson reports. (CBC)

Winter chum salmon in South Puget Sound fail test for uniqueness
Sam Wright, who has been remarkably successful in getting various fish species protected under the Endangered Species Act, has learned that his latest ESA petition — possibly his final petition — has been rejected. Sam, who retired from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife after years of studying salmon and other fish, would like to get special recognition for a unique population of chum salmon that return to South Puget Sound in the winter. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Congress seeks to weaken the Marine Mammal Protection Act 
On Wednesday, July 26, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed 21 bills during a markup session. One, H.R. 2083, aims to protect salmon by allowing permit holders to kill California sea lions in the Columbia River. Critics caution the bill undermines federal protections such as the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, without addressing the root causes of salmon declines, which include habitat destruction and dams. Maya L. Kapoor reports. (High Country News)

Taylor Shellfish to pay $160,000 to settle racial harassment case
One of the nation’s largest producers of shellfish has agreed to pay $160,000 to settle a racial harassment lawsuit involving a black maintenance mechanic. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission sued Taylor Shellfish last September, alleging that mechanic Jeremy Daniels faced demeaning comments and stereotypes about his race from the first week of employment at the company’s Samish Bay Farm in Washington state. (Associated Press)

Feds go after owners of Helena Star, sunken boat that spilled oil into Hylebos
It cost a lot to clean up the Helena Star after the 167-foot boat sank in 2013 and spilled oil into Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway. And the owners need to pay for it, the federal government said in a recent lawsuit. “The precise amount of unpaid removal costs and damages sustained by the United States presently exceeds $633,898.06,” the Department of Justice said in a complaint filed July 11 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. Alexis Krell reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Gorge Swim Fest cancelled after sewage discovered in Esquimalt creek
Officials are working to contain and identify the source of a possible sewage spill or dump in a popular Victoria area waterway. The incident has lead to the cancellation of the Gorge Swim Fest scheduled for Sunday. The sewage was found in a creek that flows into the waterway in Esquimalt but much of the Gorge is in Victoria, including Banfield Park dock, where the Gorge Swim Fest was scheduled to take place. Officials have not determined if sewage presence was an accident or deliberate. Ash Kelly reports. (CBC)

Tune In: KNKX Launching Special Interview Series 'Return To The Salish Sea'
Residents of Western Washington and British Columbia likely recognize bodies of water like Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia. However, many people don’t realize that what were once perceived as individual waterways are now widely considered one ecosystem. That body of water is called the Salish Sea…. Our new series, Return to the Salish Sea, will highlight the intimate and personal efforts of residents throughout the ecosystem who have a stake in this place and are working to protect it. KNKX environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp hosts this new series of interviews, which will air every Monday on Morning Edition and All Things Considered and continue into November. (KNKX)

Native Shrimp Once Killed With Pesticides Now At Risk From Invasive Parasite
Oregon State University researcher John Chapman is knee-deep in mud and sinking deeper by the minute. The mudflat surrounding him in Newport’s Yaquina Bay is pocked with holes – some snaking down more than 6 feet underground. These are the burrows of the burrowing mud shrimp. “This is the last, biggest population in the world,” he said. “In San Francisco Bay, they’re extinct. In most of California, they’re extinct.” Cassandra Profita reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Padilla Bay aquarium staff, volunteers say goodbye to Bella
With a steady hand, scalpel and no fear of the stench, Samantha Russell cut into a dead octopus about the size of a banana Thursday at the Breazeale Interpretive Center aquarium near Bay View. The octopus, named Bella, died this week after nearly a year at the aquarium at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Russell, who works at the reserve, removed Bella’s beak in order to keep it for ongoing education purposes. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

5 Ways Underwater Drones Are Helping Citizens Save the Ocean
Later this year, an army of small swimming robots is set to plumb the mysteries of oceans around the world. Each one will have its own mission, as defined by citizen scientists interested in everything from reefs to "robomussels" that can self-monitor temperature. The underwater drones are the latest iteration of National Geographic Emerging Explorer David Lang's OpenROV project, an effort to accelerate marine discoveries by unveiling the ocean to more people via cameras on ROVs (remotely operated vehicles). With a grant from director James Cameron's Avatar Alliance Foundation and other supporters, the group will distribute 1,000 units of its newest drone, the Trident, over the course of the next year through the companion site OpenExplorer. In addition to citizen scientists, the free drones will go to nonprofit organizations and classrooms. Christina Nunez reports. (National Geographic)

Now, your tug weather--
851 AM PDT Mon Jul 31 2017
 Light wind becoming NW to 10 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 8 seconds.   

TONIGHT  W wind 10 to 20 kt easing to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less after midnight. W  swell 4 ft at 7 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

7/28 Energy rules, logging Bowen Is., plastic patch, whale traffic, sword ferns, NW Straits, wasps

Pacific sanddab [Wikipedia]
Pacific Sanddab Citharichthys sordidus
Sanddabs are similar to flounders and soles and are also called lefty or left-sided flounders because their right eye migrates to the left side of their body. They are found on sandy bottoms below the 50-foot depth feeding on amphipods, mysids, shrimps and worms. They are an important sport fish and are found from the Bering Sea to southern Baja California. (Marine Wildlife of Puget Sound, the San Juans, and the Strait of Georgia) See also: Kirkland man catches record Pacific sunddab  (Omak Chronicle)

The Energy Bill You've Probably Never Heard Of
Packaged in 890 pages of legislation, its little wonder that the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 has received little attention. But if you care where your energy comes from: oil and gas pipelines or their carbon and methane free counterparts, renewables, you may want to take notice. The bill was co-authored by Senators Maria Cantwell and Lisa Murkowski earlier this month and fast-tracked through committee by Mitch McConnell. Martha Baskin reports. (PRX)

What the Supreme Court rulings mean for pipeline proponents (it could be good news)
At first glance, the Supreme Court's recent rulings on energy infrastructure might seem like a blow to the pro-development forces in Canada aiming to tap the country's natural resources. After all, the top court quashed seismic testing in the North, seen by some as the next frontier for oil and gas extraction. However, a closer reading of both the Clyde River and Chippewas of the Thames decisions might give pipeline proponents in particular some solace. It's no secret building a crude oil pipeline — especially one headed for tidewater — has been an arduous task in recent years. But there is nothing investors love more than predictability, and now, with a court-approved constitutional checklist of sorts available to Indigenous Peoples, the National Energy Board and proponents, the approval process for projects is that much more clear. John Paul Tasker writes. (CBC) See also: 'Dithering' by B.C., Ottawa helped kill Pacific NorthWest LNG, energy CEO says  Kate MacNamara reports. (CBC)

No immediate plans to log Bowen Island
The fir, hemlock and cedar trees of Bowen Island are safe for now. A week after the mayor of the 50-square-kilometre island just off West Vancouver expressed surprise at discovering government plans to potentially log 30 per cent of the picturesque island, B.C. Timber Sales said the plans have been taken off the table. Matt Robinson reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Plastic Garbage Patch Bigger Than Mexico Found in Pacific 
Water, water, everywhere—and most of it is filled with plastic. A new discovery of a massive amount of plastic floating in the South Pacific is yet another piece of bad news in the fight against ocean plastic pollution. This patch was recently discovered by Captain Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Research Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to solving the issue of marine plastic pollution. Moore, who was the first one to discover the famed North Pacific garbage patch in 1997, estimates this zone of plastic pollution could be upwards of a million square miles in size. Shaena Montanari reports. (National Geographic)

Why Don’t Whales Get Out of the Way?
…. Ship strikes are a major cause of injury or death for whales. But why do they happen at all? The ocean is vast, and huge ships don’t exactly travel at freeway speeds—there should be enough noise, movement, and warning for a whale to get out of the way, right? Why whales may remain in dangerous proximity to ships is tough to study, but over the years, some clues have begun to emerge. One reason is that whales may not know ships are dangerous. After all, as the biggest animals in the ocean, whales may not understand that there are things in the ocean larger and more powerful than they are. Amorina Kingdon reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Sword Fern Mystery: Acres Of Dead Forest Plants Puzzle Scientists 
Ellie and Emma are toddlers. They spend a lot of time with their dad Tim Billo in Seward Park, a fragment of old-growth forest on the edge of Lake Washington. … The grove Billo and his daughters are exploring today used to have sword ferns that had grown taller than Ellie and Emma. But, now, the ground is bare and dusty. There are no plants growing beneath the towering trees. That’s because sword ferns made up the understory here--and those ferns have been dying in huge numbers in forests around Puget Sound. The problem is spreading and scientists are scrambling to figure out what’s killing the centuries-old plants.  Eilís O'Neill reports. (KUOW)

If you like to watch: "Engaging Conservation Leaders"
Animator Andrea Love created a short stop-action film for the Northwest Straits Initiative to highlight how the Initiative’s work contributes to the goal of protecting and restoring our marine waters. The short film illustrates the partnership of scientists, locally-based advisory groups, and volunteers who all share the common goal of protecting local marine waters through programs such as the removal of derelict fishing gear and restoration of many shoreline sites.

Wasp Populations Low This Summer, But Don't Celebrate Yet
Normally by late June, wasps are a common nuisance at summer barbecues. But this year, entomologists have noticed a drop-off in Washington state and wasp populations are lower than usual. A cold and wet spring meant the insects had a hard time building nests and finding food. But don’t celebrate just yet. Peter Landolt, an entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture warns that this situation is getting better for wasps. Esmy Jimenez reports. (NW News Network)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  244 AM PDT Fri Jul 28 2017  
 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 3 ft at 8 seconds. Patchy fog in the morning.
 W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  3 ft at 7 seconds.
 W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft in the afternoon. W  swell 2 ft at 7 seconds. Patchy fog in the morning.
 W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 7 seconds.
 W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft in the afternoon. W  swell 4 ft at 8 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

7/27 Cockle, Bay Day, Wyden bill, marine reserves, humpback action, watch merlins

Heart cockle [Nancy Olson]
Heart Cockle Clinocardium nuttallii
Imagine a shellfish able to jump away from danger. The Heart Cockle is a soft-bodied animal that lives between two hard shells connected by a hinge. Sensing a predatory sea star nearby, the cockle sticks a muscular foot from between its shells and gives a sudden push, vaulting up and out of harm's way. Looked at edge-on, the cockle’s shells form a heart-shape, so it’s called the "heart" cockle. It’s one of many kinds of bivalves living in Puget Sound. Cockles feed by drawing water in one tube, or siphon, filtering out tiny edible creatures, and then expelling the water through another tube. Because these siphons are short, cockles lie just beneath the sandy surface or even on top, visible in shallow water. (Friends of Skagit Beaches)

Fidalgo Bay Day
Enjoy a free, fun, family outing at the 14th annual Fidalgo Bay Day on Saturday, August 12 from 11 AM – 3 PM, at the Samish Indian Nation’s Fidalgo Bay Resort, located at 4701 Fidalgo Bay Road in Anacortes.  Celebrate National Estuaries Day and the beauty, history, and wonderful marine life with the Friends of Skagit Beaches Trail Tales docent stations along the Tommy Thompson Trail. Take part in our popular beach seining demonstration, touch live marine critters in Shannon Point Marine Center’s undersea zoo, get creative at the kid friendly craft tables, play fun games, and learn about local projects and volunteer opportunities at the many educational exhibits staffed by local agencies and organizations.

Wyden Bill Encourages Outdoor Recreation On Public Lands
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden introduced a bill Wednesday that aims to simplify the permitting process for outdoor recreation on public lands. The Oregon Democrat says getting outdoors often requires obtaining permits, parking passes and camping fees that can be confusing, complicated and time-consuming. He wants to cut the red tape around access to public lands to encourage outdoor recreation, giving an economic boost to surrounding communities. The Recreation Not Red Tape Act, co-sponsored with U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, requires the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to review their permitting processes with an eye toward minimizing costs and processing times, and create educational materials to help people applying for permits. Cassandra Profita reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Emergency Meeting Held To Oppose Trump Weakening Marine Monuments
The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council held an unprecedented emergency meeting Monday to approve a letter urging the Trump Administration to maintain 11 marine reserves that are under federal review, including Papahanaumokuakea in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. President Donald Trump issued an executive order April 28 implementing his America-First Offshore Energy Strategy, which is exploring opening up protected ocean areas to wind farms and mining for oil, natural gas and methane hydrates. The advisory council’s letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was one of hundreds that came in just ahead of Wednesday’s deadline for public comments. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration opened the comment period June 26. Nathan Eagle reports. (Civil Beat)

Incredible video shows humpback whale ‘mugging' boat in northwest waters
An incredible encounter between a northwest boater and a humpback whale in the Strait of Juan de Fuca is getting thousands of views on social media. The boater, who asked to not be named, shared her video with KIRO 7 News after a whale swam under her boat on Tuesday. (KIRO)

If you like to watch: Barb Deihl, the Merlin friend, suggests, for those of you who missed some of this kind of action this season around Puget Sound (or even if you didn't miss it), the following short videos:

Falcon Attack/Nestcam-Part 1       

Chicks in the Nest-Part 2   

Falcons Leaving the Nest-Part 3    

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  245 AM PDT Thu Jul 27 2017  
 W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 10 to 20 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft in the  afternoon. W swell 4 ft at 8 seconds.
 W wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 4 ft at 8 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter.

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

7/26 BC LNG, Fraser sockeye, native rights, orca risks, Lost Lagoon, sharks, Blanchard Mtn.

Fireweed Epilobium angustifolium
The Haida used the outer stem fibers of fireweed to make cord…. The Coast Salish used the seed fluff in weaving and padding. The Saanich and other Vancouver Island groups along with the Squamish and Puget Sound groups added the seed fluff to dog hair or mountain goat wool and wove the mixture into blankets and clothing… This plant was sometimes called asperse by the the French Canadian voyageurs, and it was used by them as a green potherb. The leaves are rich in vitamin C and can also be used to make a tea…. The flowers produce ample nectar, which makes an excellent honey. (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast)

Pacific NorthWest LNG project in Port Edward, B.C., no longer proceeding
A plan to build a liquid natural gas liquefaction and export facility in Port Edward, B.C., will not go ahead. A release from Pacific NorthWest LNG said the decision to cancel the $36-billion project was made after "a careful and total review of the project amid changes in market conditions." Pacific NorthWest LNG is majority owned by Petronas, a Malaysian oil and gas company. Michelle Ghoussoub reports. (CBC) See also: BC NDP reaffirms commitment to LNG despite Petronas’ project cancellation  Ian Bailey reports. (Globe and Mail) And also: 'I'm scared for my community': northerners react to cancellation of Pacific NorthWest LNG megaproject  Andrew Kurjata reports. (CBC)

Fraser River sockeye fishery closed after low early returns
The Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery will remain closed for now, the Pacific Salmon Commission's Fraser River Panel decided Tuesday, after lower than expected returns from two early runs. "The initial testing we've been doing and assessments are indicating [returns are] not very good at all," said Mike Lapointe, chief biologist of the Pacific Salmon Commission. So far, only the early Stuart and early summer Fraser River sockeye runs have been assessed, which represent only a small fraction of all the sockeye expected to return to the Fraser this summer. That means things may improve with larger, later runs, but it's not a good sign, said Lapointe. Lisa Johnson reports. (CBC)

Supreme Court to issue landmark rulings on Indigenous relationship with energy sector
The Supreme Court will deliver two landmark rulings Wednesday that could lead to fundamental changes for Canada's energy sector and its relationship with Indigenous Peoples. At issue is the Crown's constitutional obligation to consult with Indigenous Peoples before approving the construction of a pipeline or allowing a natural resources project to proceed. The top court is expected to give further details on just how much consultation is required, and who should be doing it. John Paul Trasker reports. (CBC)

Killer whales at most risk from oil spill: study
Local southern-resident killer whales are at the highest risk of death and long-term population impacts in the event of an oil spill in B.C.’s coastal waters, according to a new study of mammals and oil exposure. Researchers used projections from Trans Mountain pipelines to estimate the dispersion of oil from a tanker incident in Haro Strait, near Victoria, and overlaid that with both the range and behaviours of common marine mammals. Both northern- and southern-resident killer whales and sea otters are at the most risk, said co-author Misty MacDuffee, but 18 of the 21 mammals considered are at high risk. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Vancouver: Fresh idea to turn Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon salty again
Lost Lagoon has been a freshwater lake for 100 years, a long time in human memory, but just the single beat of a hummingbird’s wings in terms of natural history. Today, otter Susie and otter Sam frolic to the amusement of tourists, carp splash the surface as they slurp food from the bottom, turtles sun themselves on rocks and logs, the beavers are busy. Yet none are native to the lake, which was an intertidal salt marsh until the Stanley Park causeway was completed in 1917. The Vancouver Park Board is taking the first wee steps to examine whether it would be feasible to one day reconnect Lost Lagoon with Coal Harbour. Gordon McIntyre reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Climate change to bring great white sharks to B.C. says UBC prof
As if climate change isn't already scary enough, here's a new reason to curb emissions. Great white sharks are likely to move north as B.C.'s chilly Pacific waters warm, said associate professor William Cheung of UBC's Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. His team has been developing computer simulation models on how fish distributions will change in the future and finds temperature changes are likely to expand the range where sharks regularly live. Lisa Johnson reports. (CBC)

Without state budget, decisions for Blanchard forest, other public lands put on hold
The state Legislature’s failure to pass a capital budget last week has left several public lands projects in Skagit County in limbo. Among them is the state Department of Natural Resources’ need for $7.7 million to permanently preserve the central recreation area in the Blanchard State Forest. Natural Resources needs the money to fulfill an agreement with Skagit County to purchase state trust lands elsewhere to prevent logging in the area referred to as the core, which includes the popular Oyster Dome Trail and the Samish Overlook. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

GOP compares Washington property-rights dispute to plight of millions without safe water
Republicans in Washington state took a water-rights dispute a step farther Monday by comparing landowners who can’t drill wells on their property to people lacking safe drinking water in developing nations. The state’s Legislature spent a record number of days in overtime this year debating how to respond to state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision, which has effectively halted construction for some property owners in rural areas. Melissa Santos reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  248 AM PDT Wed Jul 26 2017  
 W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 3 ft  at 6 seconds. Patchy fog in the morning.
 W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  3 ft at 8 seconds.
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

7/25 EPA budget, dead orca, pipe oversight, Custom Plywood, 4M souls, refinery safety, goat options

"Lively Woodpecker" [Jeff Anderson]
Bird Fest poster winner announced
Jeff Anderson has been named the winner of the 2017 Puget Sound Bird Fest Poster Art Contest with his entry “Lively Woodpecker.” The piece was selected by a jury from among 20 entries, and will be featured on the promotional poster for the annual fall event. The contest is held each spring to select a piece of original art to be used for the festival’s promotional poster. Sponsored by the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation, the winning artist is awarded a $200 prize. (Edmonds Beacon)

U.S. House votes to cut Puget Sound funding by $3 million
Bucking a proposed White House budget that would have cut EPA’s Puget Sound funding entirely, the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday voted to approve $25 million for Puget Sound in fiscal year 2018. That still falls short of the $28 million budgeted by EPA for the region in fiscal 2017, amounting to a cut of more than 10%. The bill passed on a 30 – 21 vote and now goes to the Senate, which may revise the numbers further. The budget was part of a $31.4 billion appropriations bill for several federal agencies, including the EPA and the Interior Department. Overall, it would cut EPA’s yearly budget from 8.06 billion to 7.5 billion. That’s less than the 31% cut proposed by the Trump administration, but still steep according to some House Democrats. (Puget Sound Institute)

Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies
The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld’s former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company’s San Antonio park, SeaWorld said. Veterinarians were treating 3-month-old Kyara for an infection last weekend, but her health continued to decline, the Orlando-based company said in a news release. (Associated Press)

Trans Mountain pipeline gets Indigenous-led oversight committee
Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has a new Indigenous-led oversight committee, backed by the federal government, to monitor the controversial project's construction which is slated to begin in September. The Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee includes 13 Indigenous members, representing bands from Alberta to the B.C. coast, and six federal representatives including the National Energy Board, Indigenous leaders announced today…. Ottawa has pledged $64.7-million over five years to support the work of the committee, which starts meeting in August. Lisa Johnson reports. (CBC)

Group completes survey at Custom Plywood restoration site
Where Custom Plywood once churned out wood products, a variety of wildlife is now found clinging to the pebbles, nestled in the mud and floating in the water. On Monday, the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee documented crabs, clams and other critters at the Fidalgo Bay beach site…. The volunteer effort Monday marked the third annual intertidal survey since thousands of tons of contaminated material were removed from the site in an effort to restore the beach. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Puget Sound area population climbs over 4 million h
The central Puget Sound region of Snohomish, King, Pierce and Kitsap counties gained another 82,000 people in the last year, reaching a total population well over 4 million as of April 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This was the second year in a row that population growth exceeding 80,000. The 2.9 percent growth rate that is among the fastest in the nation. (Everett Herald)

11 states sue Trump admin to reduce risk of chemical explosions
Eleven states including Washington have sued the Trump administration to improve safety at the nation’s refineries and chemical plants. The lawsuit aims to force the Environmental Protection Agency to revive safety rules enacted in the final days of the Obama administration. Within days of taking office, the Trump administration put the rules on hold as part of its push to de-regulate the U.S. economy. The chemical safety rules — amendments to EPA’s Accidental Release Prevention Requirements under the Clean Air Act — are in limbo until 2019. They were intended to reduce the risk of explosions that have killed workers and endangered communities in Anacortes and elsewhere in recent years. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

Relocate, kill are among options studied for mountain goats
Olympic National Park officials are weighing several options to remove mountain goats from the park, including a plan to capture and relocate as many of the animals as possible and shooting others. In releasing a draft environmental review Monday, park officials say the plan will allow them to reduce environmental impacts and protect public safety. Mountain goats, which are not native to Washington's Olympic Peninsula, have long posed an environmental problem for the park. The fatal goring of a hiker in 2010 raised new concerns. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  238 AM PDT Tue Jul 25 2017  
 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 5 ft at 7 seconds.
 W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5  ft at 7 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter.

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Monday, July 24, 2017

7/24 Tom Jay salmon, Seattle sewer, BC LNG, BC Hydro, WA green budget, forest fish, dam debate, loonie rise

Tom Jay's salmon
Tom Jay: "Salmon are the sea-bright silver shuttles that weave us all together."
Tom Jay's monumental salmon was dedicated at LaConner's Waterfront Park along the Swinomish Slough. You can slide down the salmon after walking up a ramp through a shape of a salmon. According to artist Tony Angell, Tom had been working on this piece for over a year and many others had helped him from time to time.  "I think this is a remarkable metaphor as Tom's works so evocatively suggest, for the entire community came together around the project and the profound and lasting meaning of its statement" said Tony. And, as Tom said, "Salmon are the sea-bright silver shuttles that weave us all together."

Troubled West Point Treatment Plant has problems with staff turnover, training
It’s not a new complaint at the West Point Treatment Plant — the cost of living is too high for operators to live near the Magnolia facility and the commute is a bear. The result is employees transfer elsewhere, leaving the largest and most complex treatment plant in the Pacific Northwest in the hands of less experienced and less trained crews. A recent report by AECOM, a contractor hired by King County to determine causes and contributing factors to the Feb. 9 catastrophic flood at West Point, found the facility had the highest turnover of employees among the three county plants and a lack of consistent training. The Seattle Times discovered these are long-standing problems the county has failed to solve. Christine Willmsen reports. (Seattle Times)

BC NDP to press on with LNG support; Green allies remain opposed
British Columbia's new NDP government will continue support for the development of a liquefied natural gas sector, despite its past criticisms of the former Liberal government's aggressive pursuit of the industry. Jen Holmwood, a spokeswoman for the NDP, said in a statement last week a more detailed outline of the new government's view on LNG will be upcoming, but she said the NDP will conditionally support the industry. The Liberals campaigned in the last two elections on an LNG sector becoming a major boon for the province, creating jobs and revenues…. But Adam Olsen, one of three BC Green Party members of the legislature who have committed to support the NDP as government, said the Greens remain opposed to LNG development. Ian Bailey reports. (Globe and Mail)

Not too late for LNG projects: B.C. LNG Alliance responds to criticism
The National Energy Board has described Canada as a "late entrant" to the liquefied natural gas industry in a recent report, sparking debate about when—if ever—was the right time to push forward with LNG projects. A little over four years ago, the B.C. Liberal government under Christy Clark promised the LNG industry would bring billions to the province by the year 2020. Now, there is a new government, no new plants under construction and LNG prices, in the words of the NEB, are "historically low." But David Keane, the president of the B.C. LNG Alliance, told CBC's Early Edition guest host Stephen Quinn he thinks it's entirely feasible to have a significant LGN industry going forward. Clare Hennig reports. (CBC)

BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald fired
The BC Hydro board of directors has fired CEO Jessica McDonald as the new NDP government continues to make changes after being sworn into office earlier this week. On Thursday, Kenneth Peterson was appointed chair of the BC Hydro board, replacing former Liberal adviser Brad Bennett. "[Peterson] was given the direction to assess any changes that needed to be made and he clearly did that job," said Energy Minister Michelle Mungall. Karin Larson reports. (CBC)

Washington Lawmakers Leave Enviros Feeling Shorted
Washington’s legislative session, the longest in state history, did not deliver the money environmentalists wanted for toxic cleanup, oil transportation safety, or natural resources. Going into the session, the Environmental Priorities Coalition — made up of more than twenty Washington environmental groups — had placed a priority on getting the state to spend more on environmental protection.  Eilís O'Neill and Courtney Flatt report. (KUOW/EarthFix)

Forest battle continues over defining the upper bounds of fish habitat
A long-running battle over how to manage potential fish habitat on commercial forestland could be coming to a head — although it isn’t clear if the solution will satisfy either forestland owners or environmentalists. To be clear, there is not much argument about streamside buffers where salmon, trout and other fish are readily found, thanks to state and federal rules stemming from the landmark Forests and Fish Report. Buffers are designed to save trees that serve the needs of fish — including insects for food, shade for cool water and eventually down trees that form pools for resting as well as hiding places and spawning areas. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Red cloud: Environmental experts fear for fish as wildfires drive more fire retardant drops
With more than 700 wildfires burning through British Columbia's forests since this spring, environmental experts fear the rising use of chemical fire retardants may put wild fish at risk. The red plumes of the ammonia compound are a critical tool in aerial fire fighting, and it's expected to be needed more in coming decades if climate change causes more wildfires, according to B.C.'s Wildfire Management Branch. The B.C. Wildfire Service says air tankers have already dropped eight million litres of retardant. That's a lot, considering the yearly average in the province is 9.4 million litres over the course of the entire wildfire season. And B.C. pilots say sometimes it's accidentally dropped into streams and lakes. Yvette Brend reports. (CBC)

Debating Dams: What's The Best Way To Protect Salmon?
What’s the best way to ensure the return of salmon and steelhead to something like their historic numbers in the Columbia and Snake rivers? It’s been a hotly debated question for more than 20 years. And it’s getting a renewed look with a controversial option on the table: Removing the four lower Snake River dams. Last year, Federal District Court Judge Michael Simon rejected the government’s latest plan to protect threatened and endangered fish. The plan guides dam operations along the Columbia and Snake rivers. This was the fifth time it had been rejected. Simon wrote in his decision that the system “cries out for a new approach.” He told the federal government it needed to study the effects of removing or altering the Snake River dams. Courtney Flatt and MacGregor Campbell reports. (NWPR/EarthFix)

Canadian dollar taking aim at 80 cents US for first time in 2 years
The Canadian dollar is flirting with 80 cents US, a level it hasn't touched since the summer of 2015. The Canadian dollar finished last week just below the threshold, settling at 79.76 cents US when stock markets closed on Friday. Since bottoming out at the start of May, the loonie has gained almost 10 per cent, buoyed by a series of strong data points about the Canadian economy including a strong job market, booming retail sales and factories ramping up production. Peter Evans reports. (CBC)

They’ve fought an asphalt plant for decades. Now, they have to battle county government.
Howard Glastetter and his Nisqually Valley neighbors waged war against Lakeside Industries’ proposal to use recycled asphalt at its plant on Durgin Road when the company applied to open it in 1999. Over the years, there have been lawsuits, appeals and negotiations. Now, Thurston County commissioners have asked for a review of a policy that prohibits the use of recycled asphalt by asphalt plants the area. It’s one of the projects for the Comprehensive Plan amendments for 2017-18. Lisa Pemberton reports. (Olympian)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  249 AM PDT Mon Jul 24 2017  
 Light wind becoming NE 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 8 seconds.
 W wind 10 to 20 kt becoming SW to 10 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less. W swell  6 ft at 8 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

7/21 Tribal journeys, cap budget, BC fire, BC pipes, ESA rollback, slow ships, World Heritage sites

(Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Of the first water: Canoes on the move for a potlatch in British Columbia
The 2017 Canoe Journey is underway, and tribes from across Washington state and British Columbia are making their way to the Campbell River. North Olympic Peninsula tribes are joining the annual tradition throughout the next few days. By the time they reach the end of their journey at the Campbell River on the east coast of northern Vancouver Island on Aug. 5, the Quinault will have been joined by a flotilla of canoes. Jesse Major reports. (Peninsula Daily News) See also: Tribal Canoe Journey: Tribes depart Washington on epic voyage  Julian Brave NoiseCat reports. (CBC) And also: Annual Tribal Canoe Journey Stops At Alki Beach  (KNKX Public Radio & Jackson Main)

Washington state Legislature adjourns without capital budget
The House and Senate have official adjourned their third special session, but lawmakers left on a sour note after a dispute over a water-rights bill prevented a vote on a two-year capital budget. Legislative leaders had previously said they were likely to adjourn earlier in the day after negotiations broke down Wednesday on a water-rights bill that was tied to passage of a new construction budget for the state. Once it became clear that no progress would be made, the exodus began, first by the House Democrats, followed by other caucuses. (Associated Press) See also: Sewage Seeps In Washington Town Desperate For State Funds  Austin Jenkins reports. (NW News Network)

No end in sight two weeks after B.C. state of emergency declared over wildfires
Today marks two weeks since raging wildfires that have displaced thousands of people British Columbia forced the province to call a state of emergency. On Wednesday, Premier John Horgan said he would extend the order for an additional two weeks since many of the 43,000 people who had to flee their homes in the province's Interior will not yet be able to return. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, who was sworn in Tuesday as part of B.C.'s new NDP government, says a $100 million fund established by the former Liberal government is enough to cover costs for now and the province is ready to spend more if necessary. (Canadian Press)

B.C.'s pipeline opposition strategy still under wraps while Trans Mountain forges ahead
Blocking Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd.’s Trans Mountain expansion project was a key election promise made by the new NDP government, but Premier John Horgan’s cabinet hasn’t yet indicated what its first steps will be to honour that commitment. Derrick Penner reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Judge rules that NEB must reconsider B.C. natural gas pipeline jurisdiction 
A Federal Court of Appeal judge has ruled the National Energy Board must reconsider whether a proposed TransCanada Corp. natural gas pipeline in B.C. falls under provincial or federal jurisdiction….[Michael] Sawyer argued the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project, a roughly 900-kilometre proposed pipeline from Hudson's Hope, B.C., to a facility on the province's Lelu Island, required federal and not provincial approvals. The province has already green lighted the pipeline project, but it is waiting to receive a final commitment from Pacific NorthWest LNG, which will build and operate the Lelu Island facility, before starting construction. (Canadian Press)

GOP targets Endangered Species Act as protections lifted 
Congressional Republicans are moving forward with legislation to roll back the Endangered Species Act, amid complaints that the landmark 44-year-old law hinders drilling, logging and other activities. At simultaneous hearings Wednesday, House and Senate committees considered bills to revise the law and limit lengthy and costly litigation associated with it. The bills come as a federal court lifted federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the Trump administration moved to lift protections for grizzly bears in and near Yellowstone National Park. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke also is reviewing federal efforts to conserve the imperiled sage grouse in 11 Western states. Matthew Daly reports. (Associated Press)

Vancouver Port asks ships to slow down for orca research
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is asking vessels coming through Haro Straight to slow down, in order to study how underwater noise affects orcas' ability to echolocate.  All piloted commercial vessels transiting between Discovery Island and Henry Island between August 7 and October 6 will be asked to reduce their speed to 11 knots.  The average speed for a vessel transiting through the area typically ranges from 18 knots for a cruise or container vessel and 13 knots for a tanker or bulk carrier. Port authorities estimate the slowdown could cause delays of between 30 minutes to an hour to the total transit time between Boundary Pass and Brotchie Point. Michelle Ghoussoub reports. (CBC) See also: Scientists study orca’s response to underwater noise in BC  (Associated Press)

Island’s Salish Sea Trust searches for heritage site designation
It is no small feat to have your bit of the world designated as a World Heritage Site. The process can take between six and 10 years, and in the end, there is no guarantee your application will be approved and adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to join the 1073 such sites already in existence. But despite the daunting nominating process and the trials and tribulations of advocating a site for consideration, Laurie Gourlay, interim director of the Salish Sea Trust is confident that the Salish Sea will eventually be named to this prestigious and practically important designation. Tim Collins reports. (Victoria News)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  239 AM PDT Fri Jul 21 2017  
 Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. SW swell 2 ft at  13 seconds. A slight chance of rain in the morning then a chance  of rain in the afternoon.
 NE wind to 10 kt becoming E after midnight. Wind waves  1 ft or less. SW swell 2 ft at 13 seconds building to W 4 ft at 8  seconds after midnight. A chance of rain.
 SE wind to 10 kt becoming W in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 7 seconds. A chance of rain.
 W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. W swell  4 ft at 7 seconds.
 W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 8 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

7/20 WA budget, Fraser sockeye, Tesoro air, canoe journey, Navy jets, Springer!, Pressentin Park, plastics, Canuck, record kokanee

Tufted puffin [Gregg Thompson/BirdWeb]
Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata
Tufted Puffins are medium-sized, stocky seabirds with rounded heads. They are solid brown-black overall, except for distinctive facial coloration. The outer wings are wider than the inner wings, giving the outstretched wing a hand-like appearance. The feet and bill are orange…. The Tufted Puffin is one of the most abundant and conspicuous seabirds nesting in the north Pacific. Many California populations, however, have disappeared or significantly declined. In recent years, potentially serious declines have occurred in Washington as well. (BirdWeb)

No deal on well drilling, so no deal on capital budget
The University of Washington lost out on more than $130 million in state construction money Wednesday due to legislative Democrats and Republicans being unable to resolve an unrelated water rights dispute. The capital budget also includes more than $900 million for school construction projects and another $100 million for mental health facilities. Legislative bargaining went south Wednesday afternoon as the Legislature prepared to end its third special session of the year on Thursday. Unless there’s some last-minute reversal or Gov. Jay Inslee calls a new session, perhaps later in the year, projects may be put on long-term hold or only have partial funding, such as from local governments. John Stang reports. (Crosscut)

Warm temperatures, low water flow could hurt Fraser River sockeye run
Following a record-low year for the Fraser River salmon run in 2016, fisheries officials are keeping a close eye on returns in a season already showing some signs of trouble. Last summer, Fisheries and Oceans Canada suspended all sockeye fisheries along the river after forecasting returns of just 1.1 million fish — the lowest number on record. It's still early in the season, but the 2017 season isn't shaping up to be quite so disappointing, according to the Pacific Salmon Commission's chief biologist, Mike LaPointe. "This year's return is forecast to be significantly better. It's supposed to be in the four million, 4.2 million range," LaPointe said. (CBC) See also: Big harvest and a buck a pound, Bristol Bay’s 2017 should be huge  Dave Bendinger reports. (KDLG/Alaska Public Media)

Air agency issues permit for Tesoro refinery project
The Northwest Clean Air Agency on Tuesday issued a permit for the Tesoro Anacortes Refinery's proposed clean products upgrade project. The permit is one of 18 the refinery needs from local, state and federal agencies in order to move forward with the project. The project would involve upgrading and building new equipment to reduce sulfur emissions from fuels it produces at the refinery and to extract the chemical compound xylene during the refining process. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Tribal canoe journey comes to Lopez, July 24
“To make a show of respect and peaceful intent when arriving by canoe, the crew executes a full counter-clockwise circle just in front of the hosts on shore. When the canoe is broadside, it is proper to go paddles-up, to lift paddles overhead with tips pointed skyward.” So says Lopezian Sam Barr, 27, of Samish descent, a member of the Samish Stewards Institute and co-founder with Erin Licata of the Coast Salish Stewardship Corps, as he describes traditional tribal protocols when arriving by canoe within the Salish Sea. Kai Sanburn writes. (Islands Weekly)

Ecology taking comment on NAS Whidbey jet proposal
The state Department of Ecology is taking public comment on a proposed increase in jet operations at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, according to a notice issued Wednesday. Ecology will take comments through Aug. 8. The Navy proposes increasing the number of EA-18G Growler jets at the base, increasing jet operations and bringing in more personnel. The goal is to expand NAS Whidbey’s electronic attack capabilities. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

"Celebrate Springer!"
The 15th anniversary of the orphan orca's rescue and recovery is celebrated this weekend at Telegraph Cove, BC. At 11 AM on July 22 visitors can hear “Springer’s Story,” a slide show narration by members of Springer’s rescue team, followed by a panel discussion. At 4 PM, the new Telegraph Cove Whale Trail sign will be dedicated and at 5:30 PM, the public is invited to join in for a salmon dinner on the Boardwalk. To top it all off-- celebrate the news of Springer's second calf.

EarthCorps crew preps Pressentin Park for project
An EarthCorps crew is battling invasive blackberry vines in Pressentin Park this week in preparation for a Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group restoration project. With the sun beating down and scratches accumulating on their arms, the crew worked Tuesday to remove the sprawling, thick-stemmed blackberry plants at the Skagit County park in Marblemount. The six-member EarthCorps crew is removing invasive blackberry from a section of the 55-acre park this week by cutting the plants back and digging up the roots. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Plastic Is Everywhere And Recycling Isn't The End Of It
Few inventions in modern history have been as successful as plastic. It’s in vehicles and building materials and most of our electronic devices. We wrap stuff in it and even wear it. Now a research team has tallied up how much plastic has been produced and where much of it has gone. Turns out, it’s literally almost everywhere. Roland Geyer, an industrial ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, says no one had tallied how much plastic people have manufactured since its invention. When he did it, he was shocked at what he found. “Eight point three billion metric tons of plastics produced so far. That’s just really a staggering amount.” Christopher Joyce reports. (NPR)

Canuck the Crow’s fame grows as beloved bird stars in new documentary
Canuck the Crow has really padded his resume this summer. In addition to picking up a full-time job at the PNE, Vancouver’s unofficial official bird is now a full-fledged movie star after picking up his first film credit in the Telus original documentary, Canuck & I. The 20-minute short film is an in-depth look into Canuck’s life, as well as his unlikely friendship with East Vancouverite Shawn Bergman, who finds Canuck waiting at his front door every morning to accompany him to the bus stop.  Harrison Mooney reports. (Vancouver Sun)

B.C. man caught world record fish with his bare hands before eating it
The world's largest recorded kokanee salmon was caught, smoked and eaten before anyone realized what a prize fish it was. Government biologists recently confirmed DNA testing that shows the 5.4-kilogram fish caught in British Columbia shatters the previous record (3.9 kilograms) held since 2010 by Oregon fisherman Ron Campbell. "We were thinking it was a big rainbow [trout]. We never even thought that it was a kokanee," said Denis Woodcox, who landed the beast with his bare hands. Ash Kelly reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  238 AM PDT Thu Jul 20 2017  
 W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 10 to 20 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft. SW  swell 2 ft at 14 seconds. A chance of showers.
 W wind 10 to 20 kt easing to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less. SW swell 2 ft at  14 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

7/19 New BC gov't, Seattle sewer, methanol, crab catch, sea stars, BC farmland, Swinomish border

Pacific hagfish [Wikipedia]
Pacific hagfish Eptatretus stoutii
The Pacific hagfish is a species of hagfish. It lives in the mesopelagic to abyssal Pacific ocean, near the ocean floor. It is a jawless fish, a throwback to the Paleozoic Era when fish evolved.... The hagfish is notorious for its slimy skin. When disturbed, it oozes proteins from slime glands in its skin that respond to water by becoming a slimy outer coating, expanding it into a huge mass of slime. (Encyclopedia of Puget Sound) Hagfish are not often eaten, owing to their repugnant looks and sliminess. However the inshore hagfish, found in the Northwest Pacific, is valued as food in Korea.... The inshore hagfish, known as kkomjangeo or meokjango in Korean and nuta-unagi in Japanese, is the only member of the hagfish family with a seasonal reproductive cycle. (Wikipedia)

B.C.'s new NDP government sworn into office
After a historic provincial election that took nearly two months to resolve, the B.C. NDP has officially taken power. John Horgan has been sworn in as British Columbia's 36th premier, along with his cabinet. Horgan, 57, replaces Christy Clark as premier and ends 16 years of Liberal rule in B.C.  Richard Zussman & Justin McElroy report. (CBC)

West Point treatment plant ill-prepared in growing Seattle region, contractor finds after flood
A contractor hired to investigate February’s catastrophic flood at the West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle found inadequate training, lack of redundant treatment capacity and backup systems, and flaws in a new $40 million automated control system. Lynda V. Mapes and Christine Willmsen report. (Seattle Times)

Sierra Club Challenges Washington's Green Governor on Plans to Build Fracked- Gas-to-Methanol Refinery
Since the plan to build what would become the world's largest fracked-gas-to-methanol refinery on the banks of the Columbia River was proposed, environmentalists and Governor Jay Inslee, considered one of the nation's greenest, have held opposing views. For Inslee the proposal by a subsidiary of the Chinese government, spells trade and “low-carbon energy”. But for the Sierra Club, 350 Seattle and others, the refinery, which would release methane, a powerful warming gas, is one they say neither the state or planet can afford. Martha Baskin reports.

Dungeness crab numbers decline in south sound
Islander John Cushing has gone crabbing for the Pacific Northwest’s famed Dungeness crab two times this year, and unlike in previous years when he quickly caught his limit, this year he has come away nearly empty handed — and concerned about the state of the fishery…. Don Velasquez, fish and wildlife biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) summed the situation up succinctly. “What you see is a big drop in the harvest,” he said recently. While the numbers of Dungeness crabs in the north sound were predicted to be high this season, the declining numbers are evident in this area of Puget Sound. In Marine Area 11 — Vashon waters — and Marine Area 13 — south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the harvest was predicted to be low before the season opened, based on early testing. In Marine Area 12, south of the Hood Canal bridge, the picture is mixed, Velazquez said, with the northerly portion showing higher harvest numbers and the southerly portion also showing a substantial decrease. Susan Riemer reports. (Vashon Beachcomber)

The wasting of the stars: A look into the largest ocean epidemic in recorded history
A look back on Sea Star Wasting Disease and where things now stand.  Peter Arcuni reports. (Peninsula Press)

Can you identify these marine mammals seen in South Puget Sound?
Who the heck are these guys featured in this video posted on Facebook by meteorologist Nick Allard of KIRO-7 TV? Pacific white-sided dolphins? Common dolphins? Dall’s porpoises? Harbor porpoises? Based on the conflicting comments on Nick’s Facebook page, as well comments on reposts, a lot of people are insisting that they know what these animals are. But even some longtime Puget Sound residents got it wrong. Annie Douglas of Cascadia Research took a look at the video, posted here with Nick’s permission. These creatures, she said, are long-beaked common dolphins. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Abbotsford eyes farmland for industrial growth
How much land can Abbotsford propose to remove from the Agricultural Land Reserve before its “city in the country” slogan no longer fits? In advance of a public hearing Monday night, opponents of a city-led proposal to remove 115 parcels from the ALR to make way for industrial growth are questioning council’s commitment to food security…. If passed, a proposal to remove 283 hectares (or 2.8 square kilometres) in two different parts of Abbotsford will go to the Agricultural Land Commission for approval. It’s not the first time the commission has been asked to weigh the value of agricultural land against industrial needs, and with a recent report showing Metro Vancouver has the lowest availability of industrial land in North America, it’s unlikely to be the last. Glenda Luymes reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Feds’ assurances on Puget Sound tribe’s reach pleases farm group
A Washington farm group says it’s relieved federal officials have made clear that a north Puget Sound tribe’s new constitution doesn’t expand the tribe’s jurisdiction to privately owned farmland, a concern that the tribe’s chairman says was overblown. The Interior Department approved July 7 a proposal by the Swinomish Indian tribe to delete references in its constitution to reservation boundaries set in 1873. Instead, the constitution will more generally describe the tribe’s territory to include “accustomed fishing grounds.” Bureau of Indian Affairs Northwest director Stanley Speaks told the tribe in a letter that the constitutional amendment won’t expand the tribe’s territory. The letter responded to concerns of farmers, homeowners, businesses and Skagit County commissioners that the tribe would use the new description of its authority to gain control over land outside its 7,000-acre reservation. Don Jenkins reports. (Capital Press)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  537 AM PDT Wed Jul 19 2017  
 W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. SW swell 2 ft at 10 seconds.
 W wind 10 to 20 kt easing to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less after midnight. SW  swell 2 ft at 14 seconds. A slight chance of showers in the  evening then a chance of showers after midnight.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

7/18 Death caps, BC pipe, Tacoma politics, octopus, Aurora borealis

Death cap [PHOTO: Adolph Ceska/CBC]
Death cap mushrooms beginning to return to Victoria
Lethal death cap mushrooms [Amanita phalloides] are beginning to return to Victoria for the summer. The fungi pop up in the capital city and around Vancouver every year, usually around August. Experts on Vancouver Island said a couple stumbled on a cluster of deaths caps in the Uplands near Victoria on Sunday, the first reported sighting of the season. (CBC)

What is the Trans Mountain pipeline? 
It may have taken some time but eventually B.C. Premier Christy Clark gave the green light to Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline. Now, with a new NDP government taking power on Tuesday, pipeline politics could once again come to the forefront with B.C. and Alberta on opposing sides.  Premier-designate John Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver are opposed to the project. In announcing their alliance, both have said they would use every tool they can to stop it. On the other side is  Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and the federal government who say the expansion of the pipeline is in the national interest.  Tamara Baluja reports. (CBC)

Tacoma Mayoral Hopefuls Answer To A Growing Environmental Movement
Environmental activists are the most vocal group in Tacoma politics today. That's a new development in a city known as a hub of heavy industry. But growing concerns about fossil fuels and pollution are already shaping the race for the next mayor. Protests by Tacoma environmentalists helped kill plans for a methanol refinery in the city last year. Activists have since set their sights on a planned liquefied natural gas plant. Will James reports. (KNKX)

Guess what’s new at the Marine Life Center in Bellingham
There’s a new resident in the Marine Life Center at the Port of Bellingham. It’s a giant Pacific octopus, a female that was caught in a commercial shrimp pot and brought to the center for display, said Casey Pruett, center director. Robert Mittendorf reports. (Bellingham Herald)

If you like to watch: Hansville webcam captures Aurora Borealis views 
Hansville’s Greg Johnson, who runs a weather webcam website called, captured a great view of the early morning lights. (Kitsap Sun)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  240 AM PDT Tue Jul 18 2017  
 W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 10 to 20 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft in the  afternoon. W swell 2 ft at 8 seconds.
 W wind 10 to 20 kt easing to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less after midnight. W  swell 2 ft at 7 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

7/17 Springer's second calf, no rain, WA capital budget, Seattle Aquarium expansion

Springer with new calf [PHOTO: Lisa Spaven, DFO, Canada]
Springer, once a lonely orphan, gives birth to her second baby orca
Springer, the killer whale, has borne a second calf some 15 years after she was rescued as a young orphan swimming alone near Vashon Island in Puget Sound. Springer’s rescue and return to her family in British Columbia is one of the all-time-great orca stories. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways) See also: Rescued orca Springer has had a second calf – join the celebration  Candace Calloway Whiting reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

No Rain In Sight For Puget Sound: Week-Ahead Forecast
Monday will be the 30th consecutive day with no precipitation in Western Washington - and the trend isn't stopping soon. Neal McNamara reports. (

Olympia in deadlock as lawmakers battle over water rights, construction
Capital construction budgets and water-policy legislation sometimes draw yawns in the political world. They’re important, necessary and not always exciting. Not this year. Lawmakers in Olympia, who have pushed themselves into a record-long legislative season, remain deadlocked over a two-year capital budget and a bill to address the state Supreme Court’s Hirst ruling over rural water rights. Senate Republicans effectively want to roll back the Hirst decision, which stopped drilling of certain domestic water wells and put the damper on some rural home construction. Joseph O'Sullivan reports. (Seattle Times)

Big aquarium expansion to boost capacity, transform waterfront
A massive, $100 million expansion will drastically increase the Seattle Aquarium's attendance and continue the transformation of the city's waterfront. The Ocean Pavilion, scheduled to be completed in 2023, will be situated next to the existing aquarium building on Piers 59 and 60. Aquarium leaders and Seattle-based LMN Architects are still hashing out a final plan, but early designs call for a 350,000-gallon warm-water tank as the centerpiece of the new structure. Stephen Cohen reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

Now, your tug weather--
 West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  250 AM PDT Mon Jul 17 2017  
 W wind to 10 kt becoming NW in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 6 seconds.
 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 3 ft at 9 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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