Thursday, May 17, 2018

5/17 Pipefish, BC pipe, microplastics, 'blob,' wood debris, summer fires, wetland damage, humpback gash, Pruitt's EPA, straw ban

Bay pipefish [Seattle Aquarium]
Bay Pipefish Syngnathus leptorhynchus
The bay pipefish, in common with the sea horse and other tropical pipefish, has a tiny toothless mouth located at the end of a tube-like snout. They feed on small amphipods, copepods and crab larvae by sucking them into their mouth. Ranging from S.E. Alaska to Baja, the bay pipefish is the only member of the pipefish family that occurs in our area. This group of fish bear the young alive rather than laying eggs on hard surfaces or dispersing them in the water. After mating in early summer, the female will immediately transfer her eggs to the male's brood pouch where they grow to about 3/4 of an inch in size after several weeks. The young are not only protected while in the brood pouch, but also nourished by the male's blood system . The young will remain in the area after they are expelled usually hiding among blades of eelgrass. (Puget Sound Sea Life)

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Readers Rick Haley, Don Norman, Lorna Smith and Robert McFetridge kindly noted that yesterday's photo was that of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and not a Golden-crowned Kinglet. Golden-crowned Kinglets have white wing bars, a black stripe through the eyes and a yellow crown surrounded by black. The adult male has an orange patch in the middle of the yellow crown. Ruby-crowned Kinglets have olive-green plumage with two white wing bars and a white eye-ring. Males have a red crown patch, which is usually concealed. (Wikipedia)

Morneau says government willing to compensate Kinder Morgan against political delays
Canada is willing to write Kinder Morgan — or anyone else who steps up to the plate — a cheque to ensure the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion gets built, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Wednesday. Morneau said the federal government is willing to compensate the pipeline's backers for any financial loss due to British Columbia's attempts to obstruct the company's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. "The indemnification would allow Kinder Morgan to finish what they started, what they received federal and B.C. approval to do," he said Wednesday morning during a news conference that laid out in broad terms what his government is willing to do to move the project ahead. Catharine Tunney reports. (CBC) See also: 'Rhetoric and hyperbole': Horgan fires back at finance minister over feds' Trans Mountain backing  Megan Thomas reports. (CBC) And also: Protesters stage "die-in" at Kinder Morgan plant in Burnaby to illustrate risks  (Postmedia News)

Puget Sound microplastic pollution 'everywhere we've surveyed for it,' study shows
Walk any Puget Sound beach and you're bound to find plastic garbage —  a soda bottle, a chunk of foam, maybe a dog's lost chew toy. But that's just the plastic pollution you can see. The results of a recent volunteer-powered research project suggest there are tiny particles of plastic suspended in nearly every jarful of water along the shoreline. Non-profit Puget Soundkeeper Alliance teamed up with the University of Puget Sound to analyze water samples gathered last fall by volunteers around the Sound. They found an average of 2.8 pieces of microplastic (plastic bits smaller than 5 millimeters) per 150 milliliter water sample (roughly 1 gulp, to use an unscientific term). A sample taken in Bremerton produced four pieces of microplastic.  The first year of the monitoring program didn't produce enough data to support a published paper, but UPS conservation biologist Peter Hodum said even the anecdotal results highlight how pervasive microplastics have become. Tad Sooter reports. (Kitsap Sun)

How the Blob Killed Thousands of Tiny Seabirds
For Cassin’s auklets, robin-sized seabirds of the northeast Pacific, the winter of 2014 was a disaster. Over the course of a few months, more than 9,000 washed up on beaches from British Columbia to California. Almost immediately, scientists hypothesized that the deaths were somehow related to a massive marine heatwave, known as the Blob, that went on to ravage the coastal ecosystem from 2013 to 2015. But it was only recently that a group of researchers confirmed the Blob as the culprit. In a new study, University of Washington ecologist Timothy Jones and his colleagues chronicle how these birds went from feast to famine. Dustin Patar reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Lower Fraser River, Strait of Georgia hazardous to navigate due to wood debris
A relentless torrent of wood debris being swept downstream by the fast-flowing Fraser River is creating severe navigational hazards for recreational boaters, including in the Strait of Georgia. Bob Pearson has lived and worked on the Fraser River for 50 years, and owns two commercial marine businesses on Canoe Pass downstream of Ladner. “It’s unbelievable, just solid,” he said Wednesday. “One of my boats had to go over to Active Pass and he said all the way across the Gulf he had to drive half speed to avoid the debris.” Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Federal natural resources researchers forecast long, hot wildfire season
Federal researchers say Canada may be heading into a long, hot summer in the forests. Richard Carr of Natural Resources Canada says wildfire numbers are already ahead of the 10-year average. He says weather is expected to be hotter and drier than normal in most parts of the country in the coming months. There have already been evacuations in the three prairie provinces because of wildfires. (Canadian Press)

County sues to halt ‘egregious’ damage to wetland and stream
Snohomish County is suing a Lynnwood-area couple over unpermitted clearing and grading that obliterated a wetland and diverted a stream. An emergency injunction and lawsuit was filed Friday. County code enforcement officials said stop work orders were ignored at an undeveloped lot near the intersection of Center and Beverly Park roads, just south of Paine Field. State and federal agencies have gotten involved, too. The work with heavy equipment depleted the wetland that until recently carpeted the entire 1.4-acre lot. Mounds of dirt remain, as well as standing water. “This is one of the most egregious and environmentally significant violations in our county’s history,” said Josh Dugan, a planning department manager. Lizz Giordano and Noah Haglund report. (Everett Herald)

Birch Bay and Blaine no longer the only beaches you need to avoid gathering shellfish
The Washington State Department of Heath has closed all Whatcom County beaches from Sandy Point north to the Canadian Border, including Point Roberts, for shellfish gathering. This is an expansion of last week's closure that included Birch Bay and beaches to the north. The move was made after unsafe levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning biotoxin were detected in molluscan shellfish on beaches from Birch Bay to Drayton Harbor, according to a Whatcom County Health Department release Wednesday. David Rasbach reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Severe gash to back of humpback whale in Howe Sound prompts warning to boaters
A severe gash on the back of a humpback in Howe Sound is prompting a warning to boaters to take extra caution when travelling in the presence of whales. Photos taken this week of the gash at the whale’s dorsal fin suggest it was hit by a boat, Jackie Hildering, education director with the Marine Education and Research Society, said Wednesday. The whale was first sighted uninjured feeding in the waters of Howe Sound on April 6. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

EPA's Scott Pruitt, Subject Of Many Ethics Probes, Plays Defense Before Senate
If Scott Pruitt arrived on Capitol Hill expecting to be grilled Wednesday, he did not have to wait long to see that expectation fulfilled. The Environmental Protection Agency administrator, who is facing a series of federal ethics investigations some 15 months into his tenure, fielded reproaches from both sides of the aisle during testimony before a Senate appropriations subcommittee.... The day before his Senate testimony, the list of those questions became just a little bit longer: Politico reported that emails revealed an attempt by the EPA and the Trump administration to delay a federal study on a suspected carcinogen, fearing what one White House aide reportedly described as a “potential public relations nightmare.” Colin Dwyer reports. (NPR)

Vancouver votes to ban plastic straws, foam cups and containers by June 2019
Vancouver has voted to ban the distribution of plastic straws as well as foam take-out containers and cups as part of its zero-waste strategy. The ban will be introduced on June 1, 2019.  The move is part of the city's Zero Waste 2040 strategy, which was approved by councillors in a vote on Wednesday. Council also approved a new, flexible bylaw to reduce the amount of disposable cups, as well as plastic and paper shopping bags handed out across the city. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  229 AM PDT Thu May 17 2018   

TODAY  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 9 seconds. 

TONIGHT  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.

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