Wednesday, September 26, 2018

9/26 Sword fern, sick & pregnant orcas, saving whales, BC pipe, oil train rules, plastics, stink bugs

Sword fern [Corinne Kennedy]
Sword Fern Polystichum minimum
Sword fern leaves were used by Northwest coast peoples as a protective layer in traditional pit ovens, between food in storage boxes and baskets and on berry-drying racks. The leaves were also used as flooring and bedding. The large rhizomes were dug in the spring and eaten as a starvation food by the Auileute, Makah, Klallam, Squamish, Sechelt, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw and Haida. The rhizomes were roasted over a fire or steamed in a traditional pit oven, then peeled and eaten. The Nuu-chah-nulth ate the cooked rhizomes, especially to cure diarrhea. Sword fern is known in a number of Vancouver Island and Puget Sound languages as 'pale-pale plant' because it was used in a traditional game known as 'pale-pale.' This game, played by children, involved seeing who could pull the most leaflets off a leaf in a single breath while saying 'papa' with each one. (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast)

Another southern resident orca is ailing — and at least three whales are pregnant
Another orca is ailing in the critically endangered family of southern resident killer whales. K25, a 27-year-old male, documented in aerial photographs since 2008, is thinner right now than in previous years, scientists who regularly track the whales with drone photography have reported. The trouble for K25 likely started with the loss of his mother, K13, in 2017, said John Durban, biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in a news release.... On a more hopeful note for the southern residents, aerial images collected this week also show K27, K25’s sister, to be heavily pregnant, along with a number of other females in J, K and L pods, which make up the southern residents. Whales carry their baby weight below the rib cage, just like humans, Durban said, enabling later-term pregnancies to be reliably documented from aerial images of body shape. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Another Puget Sound orca is in bad shape. Three others are pregnant  John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

A plan emerges to help Puget Sound’s embattled orcas  The team assigned to rescue local orcas recommends measures that could grow the population by 10 whales over the next 10 years. John Stang reports. (Crosscut) and First Report From Gov. Inslee’s Orca Task Force Is Out For Public Comment  Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca recovery task force has issued a draft report with possible recommendations. It's 53 pages long and contains about 50 detailed potential actions. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

How orcas make it difficult for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to proceed
The federal fisheries minister said Tuesday it will be more difficult for cabinet to give another green light to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion if — or more likely when — the National Energy Board’s new environmental review determines the project is going to harm killer whales. Jonathan Wilkinson said such a finding wouldn’t mean cabinet will reject the project — but ministers will have to be convinced there are appropriate measures in place to protect the extremely endangered Southern resident killer whales. (Canadian Press)

Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Safety Rules For Oil Trains
The Trump administration has finalized a roll back of Obama-era regulations for oil trains. The rules, which date back to 2015, required railroads carrying crude oil or other flammable liquids to outfit their trains with more responsive electronic braking systems. The rules came in response to concerns about explosions and spills from mile-long trains of crude and ethanol. In the Northwest, those trains move along the Columbia River and through cities to coastal refineries. The U.S. Department of Transportation, which has been working on rescinding the rules since last December, said in statement this week that its analysis showed the cost of requiring railroads to equip trains with the new brakes outweighed the potential benefits. Tony Schick reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

There's a big difference between bio-based and biodegradable, Love-Ese Chile says
A Vancouver-based plastics expert is pushing for more public education about the different types of plastics following Ottawa's plans to eliminate the use of single-use plastics in government operations. Love-Ese Chile, a bioplastics specialist and consultant, argues not all plastics are the same and it's crucial to understand their differences when creating public policy.... In fact, Chile said, there are three major categories when it comes to sustainable plastics: those that are bio-based, those that are biodegradable and those that are both. "One of the biggest problems is that they are all called bioplastics, and that gets really confusing," Chile said. Bio-based plastics are made from biological resources — like polylactic acid, a polyester created by plant sources such as corn starch — whereas biodegradable refers to its ability to decompose. Not all bio-based plastics are biodegradable, and vice versa, Chile emphasized, which is why she is pushing to clarify the terminology of bioplastics. Clare Hennig reports. (CBC)

Brown marmorated stink bug a destructive agricultural pest that can cause millions in dollars of damage
Stink bugs are munching their way through the Okanagan Valley and researchers are hoping a tiny wasp can help contain the pests before they hit B.C.'s orchards en masse. Last summer, more than a thousand brown marmorated stink bugs were counted in Kelowna's downtown core. A provincial study was launched to research the invasive species. "We started trapping them last year," said Susanna Acheampong, an entomologist with the Ministry of Agriculture.... The species caused $37 million dollars in damage to the mid-Atlantic U.S. apple industry in 2010, for example. That's why researchers are desperate to find a way to contain the pests as soon as possible and turning to biological control agents as a possibility. "In Asia, they have this tiny wasp that's the size of a sesame seed -— they are called samurai wasps," Acheampong said. "The wasp will attack the eggs of marmorated stink bugs." Clare Hennig reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  244 AM PDT Wed Sep 26 2018   

TODAY  E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft  at 9 seconds. 

TONIGHT  E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5  ft at 8 seconds.

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