Tuesday, October 23, 2018

10/23 Merlin, BC gas, microplastics, Fidalgo Shoreline Academy, freighters, vessel noise, orca data, Princess Sophia, coyotes

Merlin [Gregg Thompson/BirdNote]
Here Come the Merlins
Smaller than a pigeon — but fierce enough to knock one from the air — are the powerful, compact falcons known as Merlins. Climate change is pushing ranges of many birds farther north, but more and more Merlins have been nesting farther south, in towns and cities across the northern United States. Merlins will take over old crow nests, especially in conifer trees, in parks, cemeteries, and neighborhoods.(BirdNote)

B.C.'s natural gas supply could be reduced as much as 50% this winter
FortisBC is warning customers that the gas pipeline explosion earlier this month will reduce natural gas supply between 20 and 50 per cent of normal levels going into the winter. "The natural gas system will be challenged in times of high demand throughout the winter," a statement from the energy company warns. FortisBC is asking all British Columbians to conserve energy wherever possible. The news comes after an Enbridge pipeline exploded and caught fire northeast of Prince George on Oct. 9. The cause of the explosion is still unknown. (CBC)

Microplastics Find Their Way Into Your Gut, a Pilot Study Finds
In the next 60 seconds, people around the world will purchase one million plastic bottles and two million plastic bags. By the end of the year, we will produce enough bubble wrap to encircle the Equator 10 times. Though it will take more than 1,000 years for most of these items to degrade, many will soon break apart into tiny shards known as microplastics, trillions of which have been showing up in the oceans, fish, tap water and even table salt. Now, we can add one more microplastic repository to the list: the human gut. In a pilot study with a small sample size, researchers looked for microplastics in stool samples of eight people from Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and Austria. To their surprise, every single sample tested positive for the presence of a variety of microplastics. Douglas Quenqua reports. (NY Times)

Experts talk research at Fidalgo Shoreline Academy
Experts from as far away as Rhode Island visited Anacortes on Saturday to share their knowledge of critters and plants that call the region home during the seventh annual Fidalgo Shoreline Academy. The academy is a day-long event hosted by the local nonprofit Friends of Skagit Beaches. The event aims to showcase research, inform the community about environmental issues and raise money through registration fees to support the nonprofit’s programs, volunteer Matt Kerschbaum said. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Freighters in Paradise
Satellite Channel shimmers in the autumn sun, while grebes and cormorants break the cellophane-like surface and gentle waves lap the shoreline of Cowichan Bay off Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Mid-channel, disrupting the sightline to Saltspring Island, three red-and-black freighters up to 300 meters long await their turn to dock in Vancouver, just across the Strait of Georgia.... Bulk freighters, mainly grain carriers, are a long-accepted fixture on the Vancouver skyline and a symbol of the city’s enduring history as a working port. But the sudden presence of those same ships anchored in the picturesque passes between British Columbia’s southern Gulf Islands—as little as a one-hour ferry ride from the mainland—is raising the ire of local residents. Larry Pynn reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Federal government announces new monitoring of vessel noise impacts on endangered whales
The federal government says it will monitor underwater ship noise in British Columbia's Salish Sea to help develop measures to support the recovery of endangered southern resident killer whales. Terry Beech, parliamentary secretary to the transportation minister, announced the measures Monday as his government is set to face new scrutiny of the impacts of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on the threatened species....Beech said Transport Canada will work with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority's Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) program, which is looking at ways to reduce underwater noise in key areas for the whales. It will deploy an underwater hydrophone, or listening device, at Boundary Pass in the Salish Sea, to collect individual vessel and mammal noise profiles, he said. The department will also carry out a four-year project with support from the National Research Council of Canada to better predict propeller noise and hull vibration of a vessel. (The) $1.6M project is part of a previously announced $167.4M Whales Initiative Laura Kane reports. (Canadian Press)

Sightings of southern resident killer whales in the Salish Sea 1976−2014: the importance of a long-term opportunistic dataset
A 2018 paper in the journal Endangered Species Research analyzes southern resident killer whale sightings in the Salish Sea between 1976 and 2014. A recently published manuscript by scientists at the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor shows how more than 40 years of opportunistic sightings were used to look at habitat use and establish baseline patterns of endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. Effort corrected data were used to highlight a few key ‘hot spots’ in the Salish Sea and to establish an overall pattern of consistent presence in the Central Salish Sea during the summer months and a presence in Puget Sound proper during the fall and early winter months. A surprising shift in SRKW presence in Puget Sound documented in the late nineties supports the hypothesis that the movement patterns of these whales may be driven by prey availability and highlights the importance of long-term monitoring. Jennifer K. Olson, Jason Wood, Richard W. Osborne, Lance Barrett-Lennard, Shawn Larson authors. (Encyclopedia of Puget Sound)

The worst shipwreck in Northwest history happened a century ago
If you can spare some time for contemplation, you might devote a few minutes to the people of the steamship Princess Sophia, who departed Skagway for Seattle and ports between, on a threatening October day 100 years ago. The story needs to be part of our cross-border culture, Ken Coates insists. He's a Canadian historian who has spent years researching the worst shipwreck in the history of the Northwest. Coates and fellow historian Bill Morrison co-authored the definitive book on the Princess Sophia disaster: The Sinking of the Princess Sophia: Taking the North Down With Her (University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks; Oxford University Press, Don Mills, Ontario). Bob Simmons writes. (Crosscut)

Why are coyote sightings spiking in Tacoma and elsewhere?
This time of year people all around King and Pierce counties are reporting seeing more coyotes. “There’s 211 members as of now,” said Ana Sierra who started the “Tacoma Coyotes” Facebook group a week ago. “They’re sharing pictures and questions,” said Sierra. She says after talks with neighbors revealed she’s not the only one who has seen coyotes in the north end of Tacoma, she decided starting a page would help people share sighting information to keep the neighborhood on alert....The department of Fish and Wildlife says coyotes are all around us, in urban and suburban neighborhoods and we just have to get used to living with them.  Tatevik Aprikyan reports. (KCPQ)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  249 AM PDT Tue Oct 23 2018   

TODAY  NE wind to 10 kt becoming E 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 12 seconds. Areas of fog  in the morning. A chance of rain in the afternoon. 

TONIGHT  SE wind 5 to 15 kt becoming SW to 10 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 8 ft at 11 seconds.  Rain likely 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 (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

10/22 Shrew, quakes, pine bunting, saving orcas, youth climate, Capitol Lake, fish farms, recycling, Point Wells, evil urchin

Vagrant shrew [UCal Berkeley]
Vagrant shrew Sorex vagrans
Shrews (Sorex spp.) are Washington's smallest mammals; the pygmy shrew is no bigger than your entire thumb. Shrews are also one of our most common mammals, inhabiting areas from sea level to high mountain meadows.... Nine species of shrews are found in Washington. The 4-inch long vagrant shrew is the most widespread species and is found in marshes, wet meadows, forests, streamsides, and gardens throughout the state. Shrews prefer moist environments because their high metabolic rates create high moisture requirements and they can easily become dehydrated. Moist environments also tend to have a diverse and abundant food supply. Shrews are preyed on by owls, snakes, and Pacific giant salamanders. Domestic cats, opossums, foxes, and similar-size mammalian predators kill but may not eat shrews, presumably because, when frightened or agitated, shrews produce a musky odor from their anal glands. (WDFW)

Several earthquakes strike off Vancouver Island, with no reports of damage
A series of three large earthquakes have struck off the coast of British Columbia, according to the United States Geological Survey. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the quakes. The first struck just before 11 p.m. PT Sunday, around 190 km southwest of Port Hardy, a town on the northeast end of Vancouver Island. The first quake, reported as a magnitude 6.5, was followed by another, with a magnitude of 6.8, around 40 minutes later. The third quake was reported at magnitude 6.5 just before midnight, near the same area as the previous two. (CBC)

Pine bunting
Regarding the article last week about the pine bunting sited on Vancouver Island ['A really, really significant sighting': Vancouver Island birdwatchers aflutter over unusual arrival], Charles Easton writes: "I observed a pine bunting at Waterfront Park on Bainbridge Island, Winslow, about a month ago. It was actually next to the boat launch. What seemed so odd, was how close I could get to it, almost tame.... I did note that the range did not include our area. At the same time, I was very confident in my identification because he was foraging on the ground 10 feet away from me for such a long period of time."

Orca Task Force Meeting #5: What the draft recommendations look like now
Monika Wieland in Orca Watcher writes: "With another task force meeting – this one a 2-day marathon – in the books, I thought it would be worth posting an update about how the package of draft recommendations is looking....I thought it would be worth posting an update of what looks likely to be moving forward at this time. It’s unclear how much more in terms of prioritization will happen; actions will likely still be ranked to some degree, but it’s not clear if the task force will pitch everything to the governor, or will try to narrow it down to a “Top 10” or something like that. Here is a summary of the actions as they stand now, down from ~50 to ~30...."

Supreme Court Suspends Proceedings In Youth-Led Climate Case In Eugene
The U.S. Supreme Court has suspended proceedings in a youth-led climate case scheduled to go to trial in Eugene beginning Oct. 29. The brief order issued Friday by Chief Justice John Roberts says only that discovery and trial in U.S. District Court in Eugene are on hold pending receipt of a response from the plaintiffs, who include 21 youths — six of whom are from Eugene.... Under Roberts’ order, the plaintiffs have until next Wednesday to file a response to a motion filed Thursday by the government to halt the case. After the response is reviewed, either Roberts or the full court will issue another order. Jack Moran reports. (Eugene Register Guard/OPB)

Final Chance For Public Input On Scope Of State’s Study For Capitol Lake’s Future
Olympia’s Capitol Lake was designed to be an ornamental reflecting pool to compliment the dome of the legislature. But the lake is in trouble.  A $4-million dollar study of options to fix it is underway. Public comments on what should be included in the study will be heard Monday at a meeting in Olympia. Capitol Lake was created when the Deschutes River was dammed in 1951 and has been filling up with sediment ever since.  It now holds about 60 percent less water. It’s violating water quality standards because of high levels of phosphorus that cause algae blooms. It’s been closed to recreation since 2009 because of invasive mud snails. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Growing pains as companies try to move fish farms from ocean to land
Each time the food dispenser starts up at Golden Eagle Aquaculture, the water boils with supple, perfect coho salmon. They are Ocean Wise recommended and a Seafood Watch green light best choice — a conservationist’s dream. The flesh is invitingly red, delicious and rich in omega-3s.Land-based tanks are dimly lit to simulate winter light levels in order to trick the fish into growing faster, while delaying sexual maturity. It is one of many tricks needed to grow salmon outside the ocean, its natural environment. Consider the difficulties of raising cattle underwater while keeping their living space and air pristine and you get a sense of the challenges faced by land-based fish farms growing coho, tilapia and especially Atlantic salmon. Most Atlantic salmon are grown in net pens in the ocean, drawing criticism from First Nations and environmentalists. Washington state’s decision to end net-pen farming gave some hope that a breakthrough in B.C. could be at hand. But fish farmers say a large-scale move is not commercially feasible. (Vancouver Sun)

Why some Washington counties may stop recycling plastic
Since China stopped buying recycled waste that it deems too dirty, a lot of recyclables in Washington end up in the landfill. Now, Washington state regulators are making a big ask when it comes to recycling: They're asking each county to stop recycling certain products — or at least consider it — if there's no market for it. Dave Danner is chair of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, which sent a letter to each county on October 18. "We're asking them if there's no market for this commodity, we want them to really think about whether it should be collected or not," Danner said. That could include glass, shredded paper and certain plastics. Danner said they won't restrict what counties and their solid waste companies can collect. But, he says if products can't be sold for profit, recycling companies are asking the state to approve higher rates on consumers. Already, solid waste companies are increasing rates in 30 service areas. Otherwise they're losing profit that they used to get from selling recyclables. Paige Browning reports. (KUOW)

Woodway readies possible annexation of Point Wells
The town of Woodway could soon move to annex Point Wells, the waterfront property where a developer has been trying, unsuccessfully, to build high-rise condos up to 17 stories tall. There’s a rival suitor, though, with the city of Shoreline also taking steps to claim the unincorporated piece of land in Snohomish County that’s an ongoing source of neighborhood anxiety. Woodway has scheduled a hearing at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 about starting the annexation process.... The proposed Point Wells high-rise development, with more than 3,000 condo units, has suffered major setbacks this year. A hearing examiner denied the project in June and declined to give developer BSRE Point Wells more time to work on it. The County Council upheld the decision earlier this month. For now, the project is dead. BSRE could try to revive it by appealing in court. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

California’s Underwater Forests Are Being Eaten by the ‘Cockroaches of the Ocean’
Early on a gray summer Saturday, an unusual assemblage — commercial fishermen, recreational boaters, neoprene-clad divers — gathered for a mission at Albion Cove, a three-hour drive north of San Francisco. “Our target today is the purple urchin,” said Josh Russo, a recreational fishing advocate who organized the event. “The evil purple urchin.” Five years ago, assigning wickedness to the purple urchin, a shellfish the size of a plum with quarter-inch spikes, would have been absurd. That was before the urchins mowed down Northern California’s kelp forests. Kendra Pierre-Louis reports. (NY Times)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  250 AM PDT Mon Oct 22 2018   

TODAY  Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 6 ft at  15 seconds. 

TONIGHT  Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 6 ft at  13 seconds.

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

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Friday, October 19, 2018

10/19 Pine bunting, breaching dams, Sally Jewell, Port Alberni LNG, Hamilton town

Pine bunting [Maury Swoveland/BC Rare Bird Alert]
'A really, really significant sighting': Vancouver Island birdwatchers aflutter over unusual arrival
The B.C. birding community — in fact, the North American birding community — is aflutter over a sighting so rare it's sending birders flocking to Vancouver Island.  As birder and Rocky Point Bird Observatory volunteer Ann Nightingale puts it: "On a scale of 1 to 10, this is like a 100." The cause of all the excitement is the rare sighting of a pine bunting. The bird, which is native to temperate regions across Asia, was spotted in Uplands Park in Oak Bay in the Greater Victoria area. It's thought to be the first sighting in B.C. It also marks the first time the bird has been spotted south of Alaska, Nightingale said.  Roshini Nair reports. (CBC)

Breaching dams to save Northwest orcas is contentious issue
Calls to breach four hydroelectric dams in Washington state have grown louder in recent months as the plight of critically endangered Northwest orcas has captured global attention. Some argue the best way to get more salmon to the starving whales is to tear down four dams on the Lower Snake River, a tributary of the Columbia River, to help migrating fish. But federal agencies and others have pushed back, saying the dams provide benefits to the region in low-cost hydropower, navigation and recreation. Breaching the dams has long been contentious, but it’s gained renewed attention as the orcas have hit the lowest numbers in more than three decades. The whales struggle from pollution, boat noise and lack of chinook salmon, which have been declining because of dams, habitat loss and overfishing. Just 74 animals remain in the small group. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will guide UW's new climate initiative
Sally Jewell, the Obama-era interior secretary and former CEO of REI, is throwing her weight behind a new University of Washington institute that aims to tackle climate change by having faculty scientists plan for a warming world. Jewell served for nearly 12 years on the UW’s governing board of regents, so she knows a thing or two about how academics often fail to serve up practical solutions for real-world problems — even though they have the know-how. Providing that know-how is the goal of the new institute, called EarthLab. Katherine Long reports. (Seattle Times)

Port Alberni LNG plan submitted to provincial environmental office
The Kwispaa LNG project proposed for Port Alberni took a step forward Wednesday as its proponents submitted a project description to the provincial environmental assessment office. The filing will allow the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and its provincial equivalent to determine whether an environmental assessment is required and to provide information to any parties who may be affected by the project.  The Kwispaa LNG export facility, a joint project between Steelhead and Huu-ay-aht First Nations, is to feature floating production and storage units and is proposed to be built at Sarita Bay off land owned by the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. The final investment decision for the project is scheduled for 2020 and, if it clears all regulatory hurdles, the 24-million-tonne capacity facility is expected to be operational in 2024. (Times Colonist)

Community reacts to plan to extend Hamilton onto drier ground
Town officials and the nonprofit Forterra are bringing the community of Hamilton into discussions about building a new portion of the town outside the Skagit River floodplain. A crowd of about 35 — mostly town residents — packed a meeting room Wednesday at Town Hall to ask questions and share opinions. The town and Forterra, which invests in environmentally conscious land-use projects in Washington, have partnered to determine how the town’s urban growth area could be transformed into an extension of the town where residents who are tired of being affected by floods could relocate. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  252 AM PDT Fri Oct 19 2018   

TODAY  Light wind becoming NW to 10 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 12 seconds. Areas of fog in  the morning. 

TONIGHT  W wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 4 ft  at 12 seconds. Areas of fog after midnight. 

SAT  SW wind to 10 kt becoming E in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 11 seconds. Areas of fog in the  morning. 

SAT NIGHT  Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 6 ft  at 11 seconds. 

SUN  Light wind becoming E to 10 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 12 seconds.

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

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Thursday, October 18, 2018

10/18 Cup&Saucer, Camano culverts, warm water, low water, 'son of blob,' harbors bill, Octo Eleanor, World Heritage, green crabs, quake warning

Cup and saucer [Joel White]
Cup and Saucer Constantinea simplex
Cup and saucer seaweed is a whimsically-shaped perennial red algae, with thick blades that somewhat resemble cups and saucers or inside-out umbrellas, depending on the time of year.... The species grows on rocks in the low intertidal and shallow subtidal areas along exposed coastlines. Its range extends form the Kamchatka Peninsula, Commander Islands and Aleutian Islands east to northern Alaska and south to southern California. (Central Coast Biodiversity)

Guest blog: Waiting for the Tide to Turn …
Guest blogger Pete Haase writes: "It has been a pretty rough spring and summer for most of us volunteer folks who spend some of our time working to help protect and restore the Salish Sea - one bad news report after another...." (read more)

New Camano Island culverts open 1.6 miles of fish habitat
After more than 15 years of planning, Barbara Brock finally saw the installation of a set of fish-friendly culverts along Kristoferson Creek on the east side of Camano Island. The project opened up about 1.6 miles of critical habitat for several species of salmon.... Kristoferson Creek, a small coastal stream, begins at Kristoferson Lake and flows under East Camano Drive eventually reaching Triangle Cove, a pocket estuary. These habitats provide refugee for young salmon where they spend months growing before heading out to the ocean.  Lizz Giordano reports. (Everett Herald)

Federal judge orders EPA to protect salmon from warm temps in Columbia River basin
A federal judge has ordered protection for salmon in the Columbia River basin from warm water temperatures that have been lethal to salmon and steelhead as the climate changes. The U.S. District Court for the Western District at Seattle in a 16-page ruling Wednesday ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead from dangerously warm water temperatures in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Climate change has exacerbated a long standing problem with water temperature in reservoirs behind hydropower dams on the rivers, increasing the number days in which temperatures exceed what can be tolerated by salmon and steelhead, which are cold-water species. In 2015, 250,000 adult sockeye salmon died when the Columbia and Snake rivers became too warm. Hot water pushed survival rates for critically endangered Snake River sockeye to only 4 percent in 2015. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

'Unprecedented low water levels' in northern, central B.C. raise fears for future of wildlife
October's long dry spell in the northwest of British Columbia may be coming to an end with rain in the forecast, but the prolonged drought — which reached a level 4 warning in some areas — is already having adverse effects on wildlife in the region. At the beginning of the week, Prince Rupert had seen only a couple of days of rain in October — which is highly unusual for the typically soggy city... The dry conditions are particularly affecting salmon in the Upper Skeena region, according to Mark Cleveland, head biologist for Gitanyow Fisheries. Clare Hennig reports. (CBC)

'Son of the blob': Unseasonably warm weather creating new anomaly off B.C. coast
The blob is back. A meteorologist says unseasonable conditions in B.C. are likely once again causing a large area of the Pacific Ocean to heat up, emulating a phenomenon from past years called the "blob." That mass of warm water was blamed for warmer weather on land, poor feeding conditions for salmon and even dead whales. Now, Armel Castellan with Environment and Climate Change Canada says it appears a warm-water patch dubbed the "son of the blob" is establishing itself off B.C.'s coast. Liam Britten reports. (CBC)

Congress Passes Key Harbors and Waterways Bill
This year's edition of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) has passed the U.S. House and Senate as part of a larger package, and now awaits the president's signature. The final version of the America's Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018 authorizes investments in the nation’s ports, waterways, dams, and public drinking water systems. It passed the Senate by 99-1, with Senator Mike Lee of Utah providing the lone dissenting vote.... AWIA authorizes the construction of three navigation projects at the ports of Seattle, Galveston and San Juan, Puerto Rico. It also approves modifications to previously-authorized projects in Savannah, Norfolk, and Sault St. Marie/Soo Locks. It also expedites planning for projects at the Port of Tacoma, the Port of New York and New Jersey, the port of Nome, Alaska, and ports in Houma, Baptiste Collette and Bayou LaFourche, Louisiana.... AWIA also contains a raft of licensing policy modifications for dams, which will shorten the approval timeline for dam projects and "provide regulatory incentives for investments at existing hydropower facilities," according to the American Hydropower Association. It also provides additional resources for drinking water projects - motivated in part by Flint, Michigan's lead contamination problem - and doubles the size of a state loan assistance program for water utilities. (Marine Executive)

Meet Eleanora, PT Marine Science Center’s new Giant Pacific Octopus
She’s friendly, but reserved. She likes to play, but she’s also dignified. She’s a lady, but she also likes to eat fish popsicles.  Her name is Eleanora, and she’s a Giant Pacific Octopus.... Eleanora, who is roughly 2 years old, originally came from the area around Whidbey Island. She had been living at the Friday Harbor Laboratories, where she was helping researchers study the intelligence of the Giant Pacific Octopus.  Lily Haight reports. (Port Townsend Leader)

Salish Sea misses Canada’s tentative list for World Heritage Sites
The Salish Sea, regarded as some of the most biologically diverse and important waters in the world, did not make the cut for Canada’s tentative list for World Heritage Sites. In August 2016, Canadians were invited to nominate the country’s most exceptional places to be future candidates for the UNESCO recognition. Although a petition supporting the Salish Sea application garnered more than 1,000 signatures, the Ministerial Advisory Committee tasked with reviewing the 42 applications received did not endorse it. (Sooke News Mirror)

Green crab numbers dwindle in Dungeness
Resource managers at Dungeness’ Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge are happy to find less of what they were hunting. Lorenz Sollmann, deputy project leader at the refuge, said the group caught 69 of the invasive European green crabs on the Dungeness Spit from April through Oct. 7, with all but four of those found on Graveyard Spit. That’s down from 96 last year during approximately the same time span.... In Jefferson County, a green crab was found Sept. 8 at Kala Point Lagoon during routine monthly trap sampling as part of the Crab Team’s early detection network. Intense trapping led by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife staff led to a second green crab to be trapped in Scow Bay between Indian and Marrowstone Islands. After catching 34 green crabs in a short span last season in Neah Bay, resource managers through Makah Fisheries Management and community partners captured 1,030 this year in the Wa’atch River and Tsoo-Yess River.... Along the Salish Sea, volunteers found green crab in June on Whidbey Island’s Lagoon Point, two at Westcott Bay and a molt in Fidalgo Bay on San Juan Island. Matthew Nash reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

West Coast quake warning system now operational, with limits
Automated alerts from the fledgling West Coast earthquake early warning system are ready to be used broadly by businesses, utilities, schools and other entities but not for mass public notification, officials said Wednesday.... The system being built for California, Oregon and Washington detects that an earthquake is occurring, quickly analyzes the data and sends out alerts that may give warnings of several seconds to a minute before strong shaking arrives at locations away from the epicenter. That can be enough time to automatically slow trains, stop industrial processes, start backup generators, pause a surgery or send students scrambling for protection under desks and table. (Associated Press)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PDT Thu Oct 18 2018   

TODAY  W wind to 10 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 13 seconds. Areas of fog  in the morning. 

TONIGHT  W wind 5 to 15 kt in the evening becoming light. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 13 seconds. Areas of fog  after midnight.

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

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

10/17 Canadian weed, climate peril, BC LNG blast, Skagit red tide, marmot breeding

Mary Jame [USA Today]

Canada becomes second country to legalise recreational marijuana
The first recreational cannabis to be legally bought in Canada was purchased at midnight on Wednesday (02:30 GMT) on the eastern island of Newfoundland amid queues of hundreds of people. Canada has become the second country after Uruguay to legalise possession and use of recreational cannabis. (BBC) See also: Canada Makes Marijuana Legal, and a National Experiment Begins Canada on Wednesday became the first major world economy to legalize recreational marijuana use, beginning a national experiment that will alter the country’s social, cultural and economic fabric, and present the nation with its biggest public policy challenge in decades. (NY Times)

Political and corporate leaders ignore climate peril 
 David Horsey opines. (Seattle Times)

Samples show dust from B.C. pipeline explosion isn't a health threat: Enbridge
The company that owns the natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned one week ago in central British Columbia, says the dust that settled on homes near the blast site does not pose a health threat. The latest post on the Enbridge website says earth sampling near Prince George shows mineral and metal composition is well below provincial and federal standards for urban and residential areas. Enbridge also says construction of an access road to the damaged line continues and repair crews may be able to reach the scene later this week, although the company has said there is no timeline to return the 91-centimetre pipeline to service. (CBC)

Red tide still impacting area waters
Toxic algae known as red tide continues to impact Samish Bay, but some areas are reopening this week to commercial shellfish harvesting. The state Department of Health announced Tuesday that as of Monday, two parcels within the bay were approved to reopen to the commercial harvesting of manila clams and Pacific oysters. The entire bay remains closed to recreational harvesting due to the risk of exposure to the algae, which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning if contaminated shellfish are consumed. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Marmot breeding programs could lead to problems down the road, biologist says
Captive breeding appears to have saved the Vancouver Island marmot, but genetic problems may lie hidden in the population, says a Vancouver Island University biologist. Prof. Jamie Gorrell is embarking on a five-year study to determine if the marmot recovery program, breeding animals in zoos and introducing offspring into the wild, has led to a wild population whose individuals are more closely related than is healthy.... Gorrell is the recipient of a five-year grant of $24,000 per year from the federal Natural Sciences and Research Council to study the genetics of the Vancouver Island marmot, now numbering about 200 and living on hills near Nanaimo. Richard Watts reports. (Times Colonist)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PDT Wed Oct 17 2018   

TODAY  E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft  at 16 seconds. 

TONIGHT  Light wind becoming W to 10 kt after midnight. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 7 ft at 15 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. 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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

10/16 Cockles, dam removal, Longview coal, military bases for fuel,Karen Budd-Falen, Site C, Herschel

Cockles Clinocardium nuttallii
Cockles are found from the Bering Sea to California.... Cockles have short siphons and, therefore, are rarely buried more than an inch or two in the substrate. Shallowly buried, they are easily harvested by sport diggers at low tide who pick them from the surface by hand or with a garden rake.... The cockle has a powerful muscular foot, which gives it a high degree of mobility. They have been observed moving along the bottom by springing with the foot. Each hop can cover two to three feet. They frequently enter the commercial harvest with butter and littleneck clams but are not important commercially. They spawn in the summer. (WDFW)

Orca survival may be impossible without Lower Snake River dam removal, scientists say
Leading killer-whale scientists and researchers are calling for removal of four dams on the Lower Snake River and a boost of water over the dams to save southern resident killer whales from extinction. The scientists sent a letter Monday to Gov. Jay Inslee and co-chairs of a governor’s task force on orca recovery. The whales need chinook — their primary prey — year round, scientists state in their letter, and the spring chinook runs in particular returning to the Columbia and Snake are among the most important. That is because of the size, fat content and timing of those fish, making them critical for the whales to carry them over from the lean months of winter to the summer runs in the Fraser River, the scientists wrote. The need for Columbia and Snake river fish is so acute, “we believe that restoration measures in this watershed are an essential piece of a larger orca conservation strategy. Indeed, we believe that southern resident orca survival and recovery may be impossible to achieve without it.” Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Corps of Engineers moving forward with review of Longview coal terminal despite state objections
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will move forward with an environmental review of a proposed Longview coal-export terminal that already has been rejected by the state Department of Ecology for failing to meet water-quality standards. The Corps’ continued involvement has been sought by developers who want the Trump administration to help keep alive the Millennium Bulk Terminals project, which would offer a new outlet to export up to 48 1/2 million tons of western coal to Asian markets.  The Corps plans to oversee the preparation of a final environmental-impact statement by a yet-to-be-selected independent contractor, according to a statement released Monday by the Corps’ Seattle district office. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

US eyes military bases for coal, gas exports 
The Trump administration is considering using West Coast military installations or other federal properties to open the way for more U.S. fossil fuel exports to Asia in the name of national security and despite opposition from coastal states. The proposal was described to The Associated Press by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and two Republican lawmakers. “I respect the state of Washington and Oregon and California,” Zinke said in an interview with AP. “But also, it’s in our interest for national security and our allies to make sure that they have access to affordable energy commodities.” Accomplishing that, Zinke said, may require the use of “some of our naval facilities, some of our federal facilities on the West Coast.” He only identified one prospect, a mostly abandoned Alaska military base. Matthew Brown reports. (Associated Press)

Critic Of Federal Public Lands Management To Join Department Of The Interior
A Wyoming property rights attorney who’s long criticized what she calls federal overreach over public land management will take a position as one of the U.S. Department of Interior’s top litigators. The DOI confirmed in an email Monday that Karen Budd-Falen will join the agency as deputy solicitor for parks and wildlife. Despite being a vocal opponent of federal lands policy, she told The Fence Post magazine she believes there are a lot of “good people” in Washington and she hopes she’ll be able to bring the perspective of the West to the agency. “I think unless you’ve lived out here and tried to make a living on the land and really worked with people out here, I think you don’t have the perspective,” she said.  Kirk Siegler reports. (NPR)

BC Hydro says Site C dam safe from landslides, but engineer calls for review
BC Hydro says the Site C megaproject construction site in northeastern B.C. is safe from a landslide despite calls for an independent safety review from a retired engineer who helped design the area's three dams.  Up to 200 people from the community of Old Fort four kilometres from Site C could be out of their homes for the entire winter while emergency officials wait for a landslide first reported on Sept. 30 to stop moving. The Peace River Regional District has deemed the area south of Fort St. John unsafe to enter, Andrew Watson, the director of design engineering for Site C,  says BC Hydro is aware the area is prone to landslides and has designed the project with those risks in mind. "We don't have any concerns," said Watson.  Andrew Kurjata reports. (CBC)

Herschel, the Very Hungry Sea Lion
It’s dangerous to blame the decline of one species on a single predator. We humans like to do it anyway. Katharine Gammon reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  259 AM PDT Tue Oct 16 2018   


TODAY  E wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 5 to 15 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 1 to 2 ft in the  afternoon. SW swell 4 ft at 13 seconds. 

TONIGHT  SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  4 ft at 19 seconds.

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

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Monday, October 15, 2018

10/15 Crocus, climate, BC LNG, BC treaties, BC pipe, oil profits, BC sockeye, Kabelac culvert, Haida Gwaii rats, Princess Sophia

Naked ladies [Luc Viatour/Wikimedia]
Naked ladies Colchicum autumnal
Colchicum autumnale, commonly known as autumn crocus, meadow saffron or naked ladies, is an autumn-blooming flowering plant that resembles the true crocuses, but is a member of the Colchicaceae plant family, unlike the true crocuses which belong to the Iridaceae family. The name "naked ladies" comes from the fact that the flowers emerge from the ground long before the leaves appear. Despite the vernacular name of "meadow saffron", this plant is not the source of saffron, which is obtained from the saffron crocus, Crocus sativus – and that plant too is sometimes called "autumn crocus". (Wikipedia)

We’re going in the wrong direction,’ says SFU author of UN climate report
B.C. is moving in the wrong direction if it wants to be a leader in curbing climate change, says a Simon Fraser University professor who co-authored a dire United Nations report this week on the impacts of global warming. “We are at a critical juncture. We need rapid and unprecedented changes across all aspects of the economy and society,” said Kirsten Zickfeld, a climate science professor at SFU’s Department of Geography. Tiffany Crawford reports. (Vancouver Sun) See also: 'It's urgent emissions come down': UW researcher is lead author on stark climate report  Kristie Ebi, a UW professor of global health, likened the new climate report to a doctor following up a patient's difficult diagnosis. “If you have cancer, you need the doctor to tell you how serious your cancer is and what your options are,” she said. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times)

Enbridge begins building a road to pipeline explosion site in northern B.C.
Enbridge Inc. says it has begun construction of a temporary access road to the site of a natural gas pipeline explosion north of Prince George, B.C. In a news release issued Sunday the company says construction will take a few days, but it has no timeline on when the repair work will be completed. Enbridge says it has completed soil sampling and preliminary field observations in the area of the blast and found no traces of hydrocarbons in the soil.It also says field observations show that animals and plants are still active and viable around the explosion site. Enbridge says it expects the site to recovery quickly. (Canadian Press)

First Nations, federal and B.C. provincial governments sign new treaty agreement
The British Columbia government says a new agreement between a group of Indigenous people and the provincial and federal governments is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The treaty negotiations memorandum of understanding was signed Saturday at a ceremony in the Leq'a:mel community by the chiefs from the six First Nations of the Sto:lo Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association and ministers from the provincial and federal governments. The new approach recognizes that Indigenous rights are inherent and cannot be extinguished or surrendered, and shifts away from seeking a full and final settlement. A release from the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation says it builds a collaborative and predictable ongoing government-to-government relationship that can adapt to changing circumstances over time, as policies evolve or new rights are established by the courts. (Canadian Press)

NEB sets Trans Mountain hearings schedule to meet February deadline 
The National Energy Board has released a schedule that it says will allow it to reconsider its approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in time to meet a Feb. 22 federal government deadline. The federal regulator is imposing filing deadlines starting this month, will hear oral traditional evidence by Indigenous groups in November and December, and will hear potential oral summary arguments in January. The plan to triple capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C., is in limbo while Ottawa, which now owns the pipeline, attempts to fulfil a court’s requirements to consult Indigenous communities and consider the environmental impact of additional oil tankers off the coast. (Canadian Press)

Oil industry is booming, but nervous
The good times are back. Or are they? The money is rolling in once again for the international oil giants after a grim period of budget cuts and job reductions following the plunge in oil prices in 2014. The profitability of major oil companies now approaches or, by some measures, exceeds the levels before the crash.For eight of the world’s largest oil companies including, ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Royal Dutch Shell, combined free cash flow, a measure that tracks the money going in and out of company coffers, was $30.9 billion in 2017 — far higher than the $3.8 billion recorded in 2014, when oil prices were far higher, according to Bernstein Research. That was after paying a rich $46 billion in dividends to shareholders. Stanley Reed reports. (NY Times)

B.C. sockeye salmon return thrills onlookers despite concerns over decline
Adams River is one of the best places in B.C. to see the natural phenomenon — masses of sockeye that have turned bright red — and their return is one the largest in North America. Numbers peak every four years, with millions of fish crowding the stream beds, and 2018 is such a peak....Fisheries and Oceans Canada forecasted as many as 14 million sockeye would return to the Fraser River in 2018, but scientists warned in the summer that warmer water in B.C.'s ocean and rivers have coincided with low sockeye survival the past three years. (CBC)

Project to restore fish habitat saves Gorst couple's home
What's good for steelhead is good for the Vedin family. Along a shady ravine at the head of Sinclair Inlet, contractors began work this month to replace a skinny, busted culvert that for years blocked fish from wiggling into the upper reaches of Kabelac Creek. The same undersized culvert has been a bane to Deborah and Martin Vedin, causing erosion that destabilized their bridge across the stream — the only entry to their hillside parcel south of Highway 16. The Vedins haven't been able to drive to their house since a flood washed away part of their driveway in 2012, and they were in danger of losing access entirely to a property that's been in Deborah's family for generations. Tad Sooter reports. (Kitsap Sun)

The Rats Are Dead. Long Live the Rats
Parks Canada figured it had rats on the run. In 2013, the agency dropped poisoned pellets from helicopters across Faraday and Murchison Islands in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site on Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. The objective was to rid the side-by-side islands of invasive black rats, which were introduced to the region by ships more than a century ago and have been decimating vulnerable seabird nesting colonies ever since. The pellet drop was part of a multi-year eradication effort that saw the agency and its partners spend CAN $3.18-million between 2011 and 2015. By 2016, the Haida Nation, Parks Canada, and a variety of government and conservation groups, were celebrating their conquest over rats on these remote, rugged islands. Follow-up monitoring suggested a six percent increase in the local population of ancient murrelets—a stubby, black-and-white, federally protected seabird that was one focus of the conservation effort. But the party was short-lived. By September 2017, cameras showed that rats were once again on the islands. These were not the black rats that had been eradicated, but new invaders: bigger, more aggressive brown rats. “It was crushing news,” says Miranda Post, a spokesperson for Parks Canada. Larry Pynn reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Revisiting the Princess Sophia, the sunken 'Ship of Sorrow'
....  The SS Princess Sophia sank on Oct. 25, 1918, with estimates of the death toll ranging up to 367. Nobody on board survived, save one pet dog who swam to shore. The ship was one of four coastal liners operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway, all named for princesses. The Princess Sophia had departed Skagway, Alaska, on Oct. 23, 1918, with stops planned in Juneau, Wrangell and Ketchikan before hitting Prince Rupert, Alert Bay and eventually Vancouver. The following day at 2 a.m., about 87 kilometres south of Skagway and 74 kilometres north of Juneau, the Princess Sophia struck a reef. Slightly off course in bad weather, she was going full steam, rode up onto the rock and stuck fast. She remained stuck for 40 hours, enough time for rescue boats to arrive. But stormy conditions and high tides made it too risky to abandon ship. Rescue boat crews chose to return to port and come back the following day, the 26th, when weather was expected to improve. But in the meantime, the Princess Sophia was lifted off the reef and sank, leaving no survivors. Richard Watts reports. (Times Colonist)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  238 AM PDT Mon Oct 15 2018   


TODAY  E wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. SW swell 3 ft  at 14 seconds. 

TONIGHT  E wind 10 to 20 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2  to 4 ft. SW swell 3 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 (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

10/12 Bay pipefish, BC gas, consulting natives, super oysters, vanishing world

Bay pipefish Syngnathus leptorhynchus
The bay pipefish is generally a nearshore species, though sometimes it is found in shallow offshore water. It camouflages itself in eelgrass beds (where it looks like a strand of eelgrass) and in patches of other seaweed in bays and estuaries. It can also be found hanging around wharves and floating freely in tidelines. Its range stretches from Sitka Alaska to southern Baja California... Pipefish and seahorses belong to the same family. For all species of this family, the female transfers eggs to the males brood pouch, located under the tail, and the male cares for the developing young. (Biodiversity of the Central Coast)

Canadian natural-gas flow to Washington resumes, but PSE maintains conservation warning
Western Washington utilities told their customers Thursday they can return to normal use of hot water and electricity after a shortage of Canadian natural gas that they rely on was resolved. The disruption to garbage collection also ended. Natural gas resumed pumping into Washington from Canada early Thursday, having been halted since Tuesday by a pipeline rupture near Prince George, British Columbia, according to Puget Sound Energy, Washington’s biggest private energy utility company. Cascade Natural Gas, another company impacted by the stoppage, said Thursday morning that its customers no longer needed to curtail their usage, according to an emailed statement. Paige Cornwell reports. (Seattle Times) See also: 'Is this gonna blow up?' Fear, questions from B.C. First Nation after pipeline explosion  Andrew Kurjata reports. (CBC)

Supreme Court rules Ottawa has no duty to consult with Indigenous people before drafting laws
Canada's lawmakers do not have a duty to consult with Indigenous people before introducing legislation that might affect constitutionally protected Indigenous and treaty rights, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The decision will be welcomed by the federal government, which has argued such an obligation would be far too onerous and slow down the legislative process considerably. In its 7-2 decision, the top court has ruled against the Mikisew Cree First Nation in Alberta, which had argued that two omnibus budget bills introduced by the former Conservative federal government in 2012 affected its constitutionally protected treaty rights because they amended regulatory protections for waterways and the environment. John Paul Tasker reports. (CBC)
Can these super oysters survive our screwed-up oceans?
Thanks to us, the famously delicious oysters of the Pacific Northwest are in danger. The CO2 and methane we release into the atmosphere ends up acidifying the ocean — which makes it difficult for oysters and other shelled sea creatures to calcify the homes they carry on their backs. But at the NOAA Research Station in Manchester, Washington, marine biologist Joth Davis of Pacific Hybreed is helping oysters fight back by selectively breeding varieties that are resistant to ocean acidification and other threats. Basically, he's growing super oysters. To get there, Davis raises millions of oyster larvae (a single mother can produce 100 million eggs at a time) from dirt-like specks to super-shelled adults in specialized tanks and eventually the open ocean. The experiment is ongoing, but the hope is that genetically resistant oysters can eventually overcome ocean acidification, disease or any other doomsday threat we can throw at them. Sarah Hoffman reports. (Crosscut)

How to Write About a Vanishing World
Scientists chronicling ecological destruction must confront the loss of their life’s work and our planet’s riches. Elizabeth Kolbert reports. (New Yorker)

Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  227 AM PDT Fri Oct 12 2018   

TODAY  W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. SW swell 3 ft  at 4 seconds. Widespread fog with visibilities below one quarter  mile this morning. 

TONIGHT  W wind to 10 kt becoming E after midnight. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 1 ft at 5 seconds building to 6 ft at  5 seconds after midnight. Patchy fog after midnight. 

SAT  SE wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 6 ft at  7 seconds. Patchy fog in the morning. 

SAT NIGHT  E wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell  4 ft at 6 seconds. 

SUN  SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. SW 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 (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

10/11 Skipjack Is., BC gas pipe, Lolita lawsuit, tug spill suit, WA wildfire fund, "The Fifth Risk"

Skipjack Island [Dept. of Ecology]
Skipjack Island
Wilkes originally named the two adjacent islands north of Waldron Island as the Ship Jack Islands, probably after fish found in the area and commonly referred to as shipjacks. In 1853 the U.S. Coast Survey noted the contrast in the islands' appearances and renamed them Wooded and Bare islands. The latter was renamed as Penguin Island in 1858. Subsequently, the islands were officially charted under the present names of Skipjack and Bare islands. (Washington State Place Names)

Risk of power outages rises in Puget Sound after Canadian pipeline explosion cuts off natural-gas supply
A pipeline explosion in British Columbia on Tuesday has cut off the flow of Canadian natural gas to Washington, raising the risk of power outages in Puget Sound. Puget Sound Energy, the state’s largest private energy utility, said its natural-gas supply from the pipeline was halted between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Wednesday. The company hasn’t been informed when the flow will resume and is looking to make up for the deficit by tapping all other energy sources that aren’t “already spoken for,” Duane Henderson, a PSE gas-systems integrity manager, said by phone. If the situation isn’t resolved soon and the energy deficit persists, the company may be forced to cut power to some of its customers, he said. Agueda Pacheco-Flores reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Precautions taken in wake of B.C. gas pipeline explosion   Local companies including two oil refineries, a natural gas supplier and a regional power utility are expecting to be impacted by a natural gas pipeline explosion that occurred late Tuesday in British Columbia. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald) And also: UBC issues urgent alert, braces for natural gas shortage after pipeline explosion  (CBC)

Federal court won't reopen case of captive orca Lolita 
Activist groups have lost the latest battle in a decadeslong fight to free an orca named Lolita from the Miami Seaquarium. The Miami Herald reports a federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected a petition to reopen a lawsuit over Seaquarium’s treatment of Lolita. Lolita lives in the country’s smallest orca aquarium, and has been Seaquarium’s star attraction since she was captured off the Puget Sound in 1970. The decision says that, at around 51, Lolita’s age makes the case “unique,” but there’s no threat of serious harm that could trigger a federal animal welfare law violation. The court also couldn’t identify a “realistic means” to return her to the wild without being harmed. (Associated Press)

Heiltsuk First Nation sues sunken tugboat operator, B.C. and federal governments
A B.C. First Nation is suing the operator of a sunken tugboat that spilled thousands of litres of diesel into waters near Bella Bella. The Nathan E. Stewart spilled an estimated 110,000 litres of diesel and another 2,000 litres of lubricants after it ran aground in the Seaforth Channel on Oct. 13, 2016. The Heiltsuk First Nation says the spill contaminated valuable clam beds worth up to $200,000 annually to the Indigenous community. Subsequent reports found the sailor on watch fell asleep before the crash.  Jon Hernandez reports. (CBC)

‘Historic’ Wildland Fire Funding Request Goes to Washington’s Legislature
Washington Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz is asking the state legislature to nearly double funding to manage and respond to wildfire. Since 2008, Washington’s Department of Natural Resources has received nearly $21 million dollars on average from the legislature to pay for fire suppression annually. But every year for the last decade, the DNR has had to go back to the legislature after the fire season to ask for more than twice the original allotment to cover costs.... This year Franz is requesting $55 million dollars for the next two-year budget cycle. She wants to create 30 full-time, year-round leadership firefighting positions. Her request includes nearly a million dollars for seven new outreach specialists to educate the public about fire. Franz also wants $17 million dollars in capital funds to thin fuels and address forest health across the state. Emily Schwing reports. (KNKX)

Michael Lewis Wonders Who’s Really Running the Government 
Michael Lewis is the poet laureate of computer-driven data analysis. He has written a series of wildly successful and eminently readable books about the Information Age revolutions in two fields of American obsession, finance and sports (with clever side-trips into behavioral psychology and economics). He has done this in a breezy, pellucid manner, with a rare talent for explaining abstruse concepts — say, collateralized debt obligations — so that even I can understand them. His technique is deceptively simple: The stories are told through sketches of brilliant, eccentric people, experts in their fields, who tend to speak in the same effervescent, colloquial way that Lewis writes. You can’t help liking them. Now, though, Lewis has taken on his most difficult challenge: He has chosen to apotheosize three obscure government agencies — the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce. In “The Fifth Risk,” his heroes are federal bureaucrats. Book reviewed by Joe Klein. (NY Times)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  254 AM PDT Thu Oct 11 2018   

TODAY  E wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 3 ft  at 10 seconds. Areas of fog in the morning. 

TONIGHT  W wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 3 ft  at 12 seconds. Patchy fog after midnight.

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

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

10/10 Nudibranch, gas pipe rupture, pipeline protest, barge fire, Growlers, Skagit logging, ferries noise, whale scare, flatfish

Hooded nudibranch [Jan Cocian]
Hooded nudibranch Melibe leonina
The hooded nudibranch is the most bizarre of sea slugs. It has a large, inflated 'oral hood.' A fringe of stiff hairs point in toward the center of the hood, helping it to trap tiny amphipods and other small crustaceans. The hood also closes to trap air, helping the nudibranch drift from place to place. The bluish, almost transparent body reaches 4 inches. They are usually found on eelgrass. (Marine Life of Puget Sound, the San Juans, and the Strait of Georgia)

Enbridge pipeline ruptures, sparks fire near Prince George
Most residents are being allowed back into their homes after a gas pipeline ruptured north of Prince George, sparking a massive blaze. RCMP say the explosion happened at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and forced about 100 members of the nearby Lheidli T’enneh First Nation from their homes. Officials say it was from an Enbridge natural gas pipeline in Shelley, about 15 kilometres northeast of Prince George. Police say residences within several kilometres were evacuated as a precaution, but the evacuation zone has now been reduced to residences within a one kilometre radius of the explosion site. They say there are no injuries and no reported damage other than to the pipeline itself. (Canadian Press) See also: Puget Sound Energy customers asked to conserve gas, electricity after pipeline rupture  About two-thirds of all of the natural gas supply to the Puget Sound region has been compromised, supply managers say. Jake Whittenberg reports. (KING)

Minnesota judge acquits pipeline protesters from Seattle
A judge in Clearwater County has acquitted three pipeline protesters from the Seattle area just hours into the first day of testimony. The surprise outcome followed several developments that appeared to doom the defense's case. Emily Johnston, Annette Klapstein and Ben Joldersma faced felony charges stemming from the 2016 attempt to shut down two Enbridge oil pipelines in the county. Judge Robert Tiffany found that prosecutors failed to prove they had actually damaged the pipeline when they used a bolt-cutter to unlock a valve and turn off the flow. Enbridge had already shut down the line as a precaution following a heads up from the protesters. The defense had intended to mount a necessity defense, arguing that the action was justified in order to prevent greater harm from climate change. Dan Kraker reports. (Minnesota Public Radio)

Barge fire in Surrey partially extinguished
A Surrey barge fire that spewed thick, black smoke visible throughout much of Metro Vancouver was partially extinguished as of Tuesday evening. Asst. Fire Chief Chris Keon with Surrey Fire Services said the Fraser River barge fire was likely to be completely snuffed out after crews attacked the flames from a fireboat and from the shore. Keon said the fire was first reported shortly before 5 p.m. PT at the Schnitzer Steel facility just east of the Patullo Bridge. There were no injuries and no one was on the barge at the time of the fire, he said. Metro Vancouver said it was monitoring the situation for any air quality dangers but as of 7 p.m., had issued no warnings. Liam Britten reports. (CBC)

Whidbey residents rally against military jet noise
Nearly 500 people crowded into Central Whidbey’s historic Crockett Barn and spilled out into the surrounding grass during a rally against military jet noise last week. Sound Defense Alliance held three simultaneous events in protest of the Navy’s plans to bring 36 more EA-18G Growlers to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and to increase the amount of practice at the Outlying Field Coupeville by as much as 370 percent. Jessie Stensland reports. (Whidbey News Group)

U.S. conservation groups decry B.C. decision to allow logging in Skagit River system
The B.C. government, which opposes the expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline because of the potential threat to the Salish Sea’s marine environment and its endangered killer whales, is putting those same waters at risk by approving logging in a sensitive watershed, a coalition of U.S. conservation organizations says. The Skagit River system flows south from B.C. through Washington State and into Puget Sound, including waters that are critical to chinook salmon – the primary source of food for the southern resident killer whales. “Washington State has spent hundreds of millions of dollars restoring one of the largest chinook runs in the Salish Sea. Why mess with that?” said Michelle Connor, past co-chair of the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission. Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

B.C. Ferries spending spree could be good news for orcas 
B.C. Ferries plans to retire 18 aging vessels over the next 12 years and that is likely good news for the southern resident killer whales that share the waters with the ferry fleet. The Crown corporation will spend $2 billion on 22 new vessels, with the next round of new vessels to begin service in 2020. New ferry construction will prioritize noise reduction through improved propellers, quiet military design features, wake management and engine noise dampening. A typical ferry operating at service speed generates sound at about 185 decibels, which dissipates slowly over long distance, according to B.C. Ferries noise mitigation plan. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Woman Calls 911 As Whales Surround Boat On Puget Sound 
A Lynnwood family is sharing a whale of a tale after they had a close encounter with a few humpback whales on out Puget Sound recently. The whales were right under the Lucianna family's boat, and one woman on board - very freaked out - ended up calling 911 on the giant mammals. "I'm out in Puget Sound and there's three gray whales and I'm a afraid we might get flipped over and I'm really scared," the woman tells the 911 dispatcher. After a few minutes of watching the whales, the family decide to leave the scene.  Neal McNamara reports. (Patch)

These freaky fish use their fins to 'walk' across the seafloor
A flatfish scuttles along the seafloor with no legs, yet it takes its cue from the world’s leggiest animal. New video analysis reveals that the creature’s unusual gait is strikingly similar to that of a millipede. It’s one more weird fact about flatfish, which look like regular fish flipped on their sides and levelled with a rolling pin. The animals begin their lives looking like typical fish, but soon undergo a Picasso-esque metamorphosis. Bones and cartilage in the skull twist and shift, and one eye migrates across the head to join the other. The changes make flatfish—a group that includes flounder, sole, and halibut—the “most asymmetrical organisms on Earth,” says Claire Fox, a doctoral student studying fish locomotion at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. These oddities are adaptations to life on the seafloor. The animals have long, finger-like fin rays sticking out from the edges of their flattened bodies that somewhat resemble the many legs of a millipede. To move forward, they simply bunch up a few of their fin rays to form a “fin-foot,” which they use as a contact point to push against the seafloor, Fox and her colleagues report this month in the journal Zoology. Erica Tennenhouse reports. (National Geographic)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  247 AM PDT Wed Oct 10 2018   

TODAY  S wind to 10 kt becoming E in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 12 seconds. 

TONIGHT  Light wind becoming S to 10 kt after midnight. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 11 seconds. Areas of fog  after midnight.

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

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

10/9 Rabbits, global warming, Tacoma LNG, Marathassa oil, EPA in WA, food additives, BC Ferries, salmon magnet, alien oceans

European rabbit/Belgian hare [Wikimedia]
Washington non-native rabbits
The Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) was introduced to several areas in Washington as a game animal beginning in the 1930s. It averages 17 inches in length and is light brown in color; the white underside of its 2-inch tail is readily visible when the rabbit runs. It is commonly seen along roads, brushy fencerows, and blackberry thickets in and around areas where it has been introduced. The domestic rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is another introduced species. Also known as the European rabbit or Belgian hare, this single species is the ancestor of all domestic rabbits (about 80 varieties!). The domestic rabbit is considerably larger than other Washington rabbits, measuring 20 to 30 inches in length. It has black, white, brown, or multicolored fur, and is most frequently seen in the San Juan Islands where it was first introduced in 1900, although it is spreading into other areas where it has been released. (WDFW)

'It is a life-or-death situation,' says SFU professor who co-authored UN report on global warming
One of the Canadian co-authors of Sunday's gloomy report on climate change says the world is at a "critical juncture" if it is to avoid a potentially devastating rise in temperatures — and that fossil-fuel megaprojects planned for B.C. are a step in the wrong direction. Kirsten Zickfeld, an associate professor in geography at Simon Fraser University, was one of two Canadians selected to author the report, along with dozens of experts around the world. Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet, the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced Sunday.  In the 728-page document, the UN organization detailed how Earth's weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape if the world's leaders could somehow limit future human-caused warming to just 0.5 C from now, instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of 1 C. (CBC)

LNG plant would cut greenhouse gases — if the fuel comes from Canada, report says
A long-awaited draft environmental report on the liquefied natural gas project on the Tacoma Tideflats was released Monday, and it came with a caveat. Its findings — that overall greenhouse gas emissions in the area would be reduced as a result of the project — are directly tied to the plant getting fuel solely from British Columbia. That detail is so important that the review recommended the source of fuel be a “required condition” for the plant’s future and in obtaining the air permit needed to construct the plant’s emissions and production components. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in January ordered the supplemental environmental review to study the life cycle of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the plant. The review was needed before Puget Sound Energy could get the air permit for the project. The plant, under construction at East 11th Street and Alexander Avenue East, would hold up to 8 million gallons of LNG for natural gas customers and for maritime transport, including TOTE Maritime Alaska vessels. Debbie Cockrell reports. (News Tribune of Tacoma)

The Marathassa oil-spill case is collapsing, putting environmental protection in the spotlight
The Crown’s case against the MV Marathassa, the bulk carrier that spilled oil in English Bay three years ago, continues to fall apart. In the latest setback, Provincial Court Justice Kathryn Denhoff found that accidentally dumping bunker oil in the sea is not a crime under Canada’s environmental protection law. As the federal government looks for ways to push its Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion through to the West Coast, it is assuring British Columbians it is building a “world class” regime to respond to oil spills. In the spring of 2017, Greece-based Alassia NewShips Management Inc., the owner of the MV Marathassa, was charged with 10 pollution-related offences. One by one, the defendant has batted the charges off. Only four are still before the court. Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

EPA head touts Duwamish cleanup project
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency came to Seattle for the first time since the Obama administration on Wednesday. With a piledriver making an intermittent, deafening rumble behind him, EPA acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler spoke to reporters at a sewage treatment plant being built in the Georgetown neighborhood.... The EPA is helping finance the project with a $134.5 million loan. When the plant opens in 2022, it will reduce combined sewer overflows entering the Duwamish River by 95 percent, according to the EPA.... Wheeler took over the agency after Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid ethics scandals and federal investigations in July. During his two-day visit to Washington state, Wheeler met with Boeing officials, tribal officials and the American Conservation Coalition, a conservative group led by a University of Washington undergraduate. He also met with the Washington Farm Bureau, which supports the administration's efforts to reduce protections for wetlands and small water bodies. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

FDA Bans Use of 7 Synthetic Food Additives After Environmental Groups Sue
Ever heard of these food additives? Synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, methyl eugenol, myrcene, pulegone, or pyridine? These compounds can help mimic natural flavors and are used to infuse foods with mint, cinnamon and other flavors. You've likely never seen them on food labels because food manufacturers are permitted to label them simply as "artificial flavors." Now, the Food and Drug Administration has announced these compounds will no longer be allowed to be used as food additives. The FDA is giving manufacturers time to remove them from the food supply. Allison Aubrey reports. (NPR)

B.C. Ferries going on building spree; at least 5 large vessels
B.C. Ferries plans to build at least five new large ferries to serve Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, at a cost that could reach $1 billion — and it’s leaving open the possibility of building two or three more.  The five would replace four C-class ferries built between 1964 and 1981 and add another to deal with predicted growing demand. A request for expressions of interest has been issued and is open to Canadian and international firms. The five new ships would be built with the ability to make adjustments if travelling patterns change — for example, a car deck could be converted for passenger use if demand for on-board vehicle space drops. The vessels will also be quieter to reduce underwater noise for killer whales, and have lower emissions. Carla Wilson reports. (Times Colonist)

Atlantic salmon use magnetic fields to navigate, even when landlocked
Even when landlocked for several generations, Atlantic salmon can sense magnetic fields and use them to navigate, according to new research. Previous studies have documented Pacific salmon's ability to sense magnetic fields. To test whether Atlantic salmon also use Earth's magnetic field to navigate, scientists designed a series of fish pins, each with differently oriented magnetic fields. Researchers replicated the Earth's magnetic field using copper-coated wooden coils. The experimental fish pins were installed in Oregon's Hosmer Lake, where Atlantic salmon, originally transplanted from Maine, have been living living for 60 years. Scientists observed the behavior of 1,150 juvenile Atlantic salmon inside the pins. Brooks Hays reports. (UPI)

How Do You Find an Alien Ocean? Margaret Kivelson Figured It Out 
The data was like nothing Margaret Kivelson and her team of physicists ever expected. It was December 1996, and the spacecraft Galileo had just flown by Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter. The readings beamed back to Earth suggested a magnetic field emanating from the moon. Europa should not have had a magnetic field, yet there it was — and not even pointed in the right direction. “This is unexpected,” she recalled saying as the weird data rolled in. “And that’s wonderful.” It would be the most significant of a series of surprises from the Jovian moons. For Dr. Kivelson’s team, the mission should not have been this exciting. She and her colleagues had devised the magnetometer returning the anomalous data. The instrument’s job was to measure Jupiter’s massive magnetic field and any variations caused by its moons. Those findings were likely to interest space physicists, but few others. Dr. Kivelson’s instrument was never supposed to change the course of space exploration. And then it did. Dr. Kivelson and her team would soon prove that they had discovered the first subsurface, saltwater ocean on an alien world. David W. Brown reports. (NY Times)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  248 AM PDT Tue Oct 9 2018   

TODAY  W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming NW in the afternoon. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 7 ft at 13 seconds building to 9 ft  at 11 seconds in the afternoon. 

TONIGHT  Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 7 ft at  12 seconds.

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