Friday, August 3, 2018

8/3 Totten Inlet, saving J50, killing sea lions, luring T73B, Fraser sockeye, BC LNG, Wheeler's EPA, climate war, bad plastic

Dunlin Calidris alpina [Audubon]
Totten Inlet
Totten Inlet, one of the most significant shorebird habitats in the inland marine waters of Washington, supports the largest estuarine flocks of shorebirds in south and central Puget Sound in fall, winter, and spring. Dominant species are Western Sandpiper and Dunlin. The open waters support relatively high populations of scaup, scoter, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, and Ruddy Duck. Although the Kennedy Creek estuary is relatively small, it ranks high in importance to shorebirds within the entire Puget Sound region. The high-quality salt marshes and mudflats contain an exceptional biomass of invertebrates, which provides essential foraging habitat for migratory and wintering birds. (Audubon Important Birding Areas)

NOAA plans ‘outside the box’ response to save J pod orca, which may have just days to live
The federal government is marshaling an emergency response for J50, the starving 4-year-old orca whale, which will include feeding live chinook — dosed with medicine — to the ailing animal who may only have days to live. The young whale is so emaciated, the back of her cranium is visible. A worrisome white patch has also been spotted on the back of her head, near her blowhole. It could be an infection. The crisis comes as another member of the southern-resident orcas is clinging to her dead calf for a 10th day, unwilling to let it go. The calf born July 24 lived for only half an hour. Now officials are racing to put together a plan to prevent another death in the critically endangered whale clan. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Bill allowing more sea lions to be killed clears key hurdle 
A bill that would make it easier to kill sea lions that gobble endangered salmon in the Columbia River has cleared a key committee in the U.S. Senate. The measure allows the federal government to issue permits to Washington, Idaho and Oregon, and several Pacific Northwest tribes, allowing up to 100 sea lions to be killed a year. Supporters including the governors of those three states, fishing groups and tribes. They say the bill is needed to protect declining runs of salmon and steelhead. Critics say it’s won’t solve the problem of declining salmon. (Associated Press)

Orca lured from Comox Harbour with audio playback of other whales
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has successfully lured a transient male orca away from Comox Harbour, ending the killer whale’s nearly two week-long stay in the coastal waters. The 27-year-old orca, known as T73B, delighted tourists and onlookers with his behaviour and visibility over the past week. But concern grew among whale researchers that he may become habituated to the harbour, which is plenty busy already without a killer whale hunting in the waters.... On Thursday, the DFO led a multi-agency effort to “stickhandle” the whale away from the area using audio recordings of other whales with whom he’s been known to associate. The plan was unprecedented in British Columbia, where no other adult whales have been successfully lured in this manner. Harrison Mooney reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Penn Cove Orca Capture Anniversary
On August 8, Orca Network commemorates the 48th anniversary of the capture in Penn Cove of seven young orcas which were sold to marine parks. The day's events honor Tokitae (Lolita), the only surviving member of the capture and a vigil for the Southern Resident Killer Whales. Events from 2 PM to 6 PM include a boat ride (admission charge) and waterside ceremonies with the Lummi Tribe. Coupeville Wharf, Whidbey Island. For information: Orca Network

Dominant, multi-million sockeye run nearing Fraser River
 A mass migration of wild sockeye salmon is expected to pass by Steveston over the next two months. About 14 million sockeye are expected to enter the Fraser River, according to early estimates from the Pacific Salmon Commission. But hot weather and a warm river could imperil the fish and hamper what could otherwise be a large fisheries opening, said the commission’s chief biologist Mike Lapointe....  This year could see as many as 22.9 million sockeye come up the Fraser (a 25 per cent chance) or as few as 5.2 million (a 10 per cent chance), said Lapointe. These are the babies of the 19.8 million sockeye that arrived in 2014. Graeme Wood reports. (Richmond News)

Northern B.C. resident launches jurisdictional challenge of LNG pipeline
A Smithers resident has launched a jurisdictional challenge of a gas pipeline that would supply the proposed $40-billion LNG Canada project in Kitimat. Michael Sawyer, who spent two decades as an environmental consultant in the oil and gas sector in Alberta, argues TransCanada’s $4.7-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline should have faced a federal environmental review instead of a provincial one. The National Energy Board rejected a similar challenge by Sawyer against another LNG pipeline, TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline. But in a major legal win last year, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled the NEB had erred and must consider whether the pipeline fell under federal jurisdiction. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)   

Andrew Wheeler, New E.P.A. Chief, Details His Energy Lobbying Past
The acting chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, has come under scrutiny for his years spent as a powerful energy lobbyist. He has represented an electric utility, a uranium producer, and, most significantly, a coal magnate who paid Mr. Wheeler’s former lobbying firm more than $2.7 million over eight years. Mr. Wheeler is now in a position to act upon issues he once raised on behalf of his clients. And he is expected to be grilled on his relationships in the Senate on Wednesday, when he makes a regular appearance before the Committee on Environment and Public Works. It will be his first testimony in Congress since assuming leadership of the agency in July, when Scott Pruitt resigned as E.P.A. administrator. Lisa Friedman reports. (NY Times)

The world is losing the war against climate change
EARTH is smouldering. From Seattle to Siberia this summer, flames have consumed swathes of the northern hemisphere. One of 18 wildfires sweeping through California, among the worst in the state’s history, is generating such heat that it created its own weather. Fires that raged through a coastal area near Athens last week killed 91 (see article). Elsewhere people are suffocating in the heat. Roughly 125 have died in Japan as the result of a heatwave that pushed temperatures in Tokyo above 40°C for the first time. Such calamities, once considered freakish, are now commonplace. (Economist)

Plastic pollution: How one woman found a new source of warming gases hidden in waste
Young researcher Sarah-Jeanne Royer set out to measure methane gas coming from biological activity in sea water. Instead, in a "happy accident" she found that the plastic bottles holding the samples were a bigger source of this powerful warming molecule than the bugs in the water. Now she's published further details in a study into the potential warming impact of gases seeping from plastic waste.... Dr Royer found that the most widely-used plastic, the stuff used to make shopping bags, is the one that produces the greatest amount of these warming gases. At the end of the study, after 212 days in the sun, this plastic emitted 176 times more methane than at the start of the experiment.... Solar radiation acts on the surface of plastic waste. As it breaks down, becomes cracked and pitted, these defects increase the surface area of plastic available to sunlight which accelerates gas production. Even in the dark, the gas continues to seep out. Matt McGrath reports. (BBC)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  305 AM PDT Fri Aug 3 2018   

TODAY  W wind to 10 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 12 seconds. A slight  chance of showers in the afternoon. 

TONIGHT  W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 3  ft at 11 seconds. A slight chance of showers. 

SAT  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 3 ft at 12 seconds. 

SAT NIGHT  W wind 10 to 20 kt easing to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 4 ft at 9 seconds. 

SUN  W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 10 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 10 seconds.

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