Wednesday, August 8, 2018

8/8 Woodpeckers, J50 found, BC pipe $s, sewer fine, Samish Flower Farm, new fish farm design, Perseids, killifish

Northern Flicker [Joseph V Higbee/BirdNote]
Woodpeckers as Keystone Species
Woodpeckers - including this Northern Flicker - are master carpenters of the bird world. They're called "keystone species" for their crucial role in creating habitat suited to other woodland wildlife. Abandoned woodpecker nest-holes become nests or roosts for small owls, cavity-nesting ducks, swifts, bluebirds, swallows, wrens, and other birds, as well as many small mammals. (BirdNote)

J50 has been found. Now biologists must figure out how to save her
J50 is alive. The emaciated, 4-year-old orca had seemingly gone missing over the weekend, leading some biologists to worry that she may have died.... Michael Milstein, a spokesman for NOAA, confirmed that the 4-year old orca was found west of Vancouver at the Port Renfrew near the west entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.... Fisheries and Oceans Canada spotted the killer whale and her mother on Tuesday.... On whether they can approach the J-pod orcas yet, Millstein said, “We will now look for an opportunity to do the health screen, but the orca would need to be further inland in much calmer waters.” He noted they don’t know what direction the orcas are traveling or how long it might take before calmer waters are reached. Jill Jackson & Isolde Raftery report. (KUOW)

Cost to twin Trans Mountain pipeline could go $1.9B higher, Kinder Morgan says
Kinder Morgan Canada documents say expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline could cost the federal government an additional $1.9 billion beyond the company's original construction estimate, and will take another year to complete. The figure is included in documents Kinder Morgan Canada filed Tuesday with the United States Security and Exchange Commission related to the company's plan to sell the pipeline to the Canadian government for $4.5 billion. Kinder Morgan has long said it would cost $7.4 billion to build a second pipeline parallel to the first in order to triple its capacity, but the financial documents present a number of different construction cost scenarios, with the highest one being $9.3 billion. The documents also suggest construction won't be complete until December 2021 — a full year beyond its previous projection of December 2020. (Canadian Press)

King County fined $118,500 for sewer-overflow violations 
Decades-old sewer infrastructure cost King County $118,500 in fines after the Washington Department of Ecology found 27 cases in which wastewater discharge exceeded pollutant limits, five instances of unpermitted overflows and other permit issues. The violations, which occurred in 2016 and early 2017, come as King County is working to upgrade its wastewater system. Since 2013, both King County and the City of Seattle have been subject to consent decrees with the Environmental Protection Agency and state ecology department over sewage discharge, said Shawn McKone, of the ecology department. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times)

Land trust sets sights on former Samish Island tulip farm
The next property the Skagit Land Trust hopes to conserve is a site with lush forest, sandy beach and a rich history. The Samish Flower Farm is where Mary Brown Stewart pioneered tulip farming in the Skagit Valley.... Little did Stewart know she was planting a bulb that would bloom into a central part of the region’s farming industry and bring visitors from around the world to witness the beauty of the tulip fields. The about 38-acre property includes several acres of forest and 500 feet of Padilla Bay shoreline. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Marine Harvest pursuing radical new salmon farm designs
Marine Harvest is proposing to build radical new salmon farms that could answer nagging concerns about sea lice infestations, virus transfer and escapes from conventional Atlantic salmon farms. The farms will be built in Norway, and technology that proves useful can then be deployed in B.C. and around the world. Ocean-based closed containment and semi-closed farms would avoid the massive energy requirements of land-based systems, with a goal of eliminating contact between farmed and wild salmon. The company has applied to the Norwegian government for development licenses that would allow them to build the new farms to full scale without the expense of a commercial farm license, said Ola Helge Hjetland, a spokesman for Marine Harvest Group. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Here’s when Perseid meteor shower is likely to put on a show over Seattle
A new moon on August 11 means there’s a good chance to see the annual Perseid meteor shower as we head into the weekend, according to astronomers. As many as 100 meteors, or shooting stars, can be seen per hour during the shower’s peak between Saturday and Monday. In the Puget Sound region, the National Weather Service forecasts clear skies Thursday and Sunday, likely making those two days the best for viewing. Christine Clarridge reports. (Seattle Times)

Little Fish. In 14 Days You’ll Start Making Babies.
Killifish are a family of freshwater fish that have evolved to survive in the most difficult of situations. Here in the United States, for instance, the Atlantic killifish is known for having adapted to live in heavily polluted places like the Lower Passaic River. But in small murky puddles that come after heavy rains in parts of East Africa, another killifish, called Nothobranchius furzeri, or the African annual fish, has developed its own unique adaptations to its environment. Its embryos are able to enter a state of diapause, similar to hibernation in bears, when conditions aren’t right. It turns out that entering dormancy isn’t the only thing that’s unusual about this African killifish. In a paper published on Monday in Current Biology, a team of Czech researchers report that N. furzeri has the quickest known rate of sexual maturity of any vertebrate — approximately two weeks.  Bilal Choudhry reports. (NY Times)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  236 AM PDT Wed Aug 8 2018   

TODAY  Light wind becoming NW to 10 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 8 seconds. 

TONIGHT  W wind to 10 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 11 seconds.

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