Friday, May 24, 2019

5/24 Pika, Delta port, oil spill drill, bitumen limit, Navy tests. BC drought, methane conversion, Kimberly-Clark, Pomeroy Park

American pika [WikiMedia]
American pika Ochotona princeps
The American pika, known in the 19th century as the "little chief hare," is found in the mountains of western North America from central British Columbia and Alberta in Canada to the US states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California and New Mexico.They live in boulder fields at or above the tree line. They are herbivorous, smaller relatives of rabbits and hares. (Wikipedia)

Whales vs. trade: Environmentalists push back against proposed port terminal in Delta
A proposed new marine container terminal in Delta, B.C., is facing pushback from environmentalists who believe the project will threaten whales and the salmon they depend on for survival. The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project would create 108 hectares of new industrial land and build a new terminal with up to three berths for container ships. According to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the project will generate 1,500 terminal jobs. An independent federal review panel is currently considering arguments from industry and environmentalists. Margot Venton, a lawyer with Ecojustice, an environmental law firm fighting the case on behalf of environmental groups, said "the relationship between salmon and whales is hitting a critical point" and the project will exacerbate the problems already facing killer whales in the Salish Sea. Bridgette Watson reports. (CBC)

Canadian, U.S Coast Guards practice working together in case of cross border oil spill
Adequate oil spill response is paramount to maintain the health of the oceans. That’s why both the U.S and Canadian Coast guard, along with their spill response partners, were practising their joint response during a two-day simulated drill. They started in Port Angeles on Wednesday and then on Thursday, they were in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.... More than 5,000 deep sea vessels travel through the Salish Sea in designated shipping lanes each year on both sides of the border. Luisa Alvarez reports. (CHEK)

Trans Mountain: court to rule if B.C. can limit bitumen
A British Columbia court is set to rule Friday whether the province can restrict shipments of diluted bitumen through its borders, in what will be a crucial decision for the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The province filed a reference question to the B.C. Court of Appeal that asked whether it had the constitutional authority to create a permitting regime for companies that want to increase their flow of oilsands crude. B.C. argued the law is aimed at protecting its lands, rivers and lakes from hazardous substances, but Alberta and the federal government have said the goal is to delay or block the pipeline expansion. Laura Kane reports. (National)

Thousands of marine animals at risk in Pacific Northwest from Navy tech tests, documents show
The Navy’s latest testing and training proposal in the Northwest reveals the secretive military branch’s futuristic technology and planned war-game maneuvers. It also outlines how Navy sonar and explosives could harm marine animals. The nearly 1,800-page document, two volumes of Navy bureaucratese, details proposals to test the Navy’s rail-gun system (it can fire projectiles at up to seven times the speed of sound), pilot mine-detecting underwater drones and fly its airborne surveillance drone at 50,000 feet. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times)

Drought: low snowpack, dry weather a concern across B.C., prairies
Drought forecasts from Agriculture Canada show most of British Columbia is abnormally dry or enduring some level of drought, similar to dry conditions that are being experienced across a swath of Western Canada. Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016 and the B.C. River Forecast Centre says they are among the lowest in the last 40 years. It also says diminished snowpacks and early snow melt due to a warm spring increase the likelihood of low flows in rivers and streams across the province this summer. (Canadian Press)

Stanford researchers outline vision for profitable climate change solution
A relatively simple process could help turn the tide of climate change while also turning a healthy profit. That’s one of the hopeful visions outlined in a new Stanford-led paper that highlights a seemingly counterintuitive solution: converting one greenhouse gas into another.
A conceptual drawing of an industrial array for converting methane (CH4) to carbon dioxide (CO2) using catalytic materials called zeolites (CUII and FEIV). The study, published in Nature Sustainability on May 20, describes a potential process for converting the extremely potent greenhouse gas methane into carbon dioxide, which is a much less potent driver of global warming. The idea of intentionally releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere may seem surprising, but the authors argue that swapping methane for carbon dioxide is a significant net benefit for the climate. Rob Jordan reports. (Stanford News)

Port questions two companies’ deal to buy Kimberly-Clark site 
Two maritime companies have announced a deal to buy most of Kimberly-Clark’s former mill property, even as the Port of Everett considers condemning the land for public use. Representatives for Pacific Stevedoring and Glacier Fish Co. said Thursday they plan to buy 58 acres of the waterfront site for headquarters and operations. A cold storage warehouse, facilities to prepare food for resale, and office space would bring as many as 1,200 jobs to the waterfront, Pacific Stevedoring owner Andrew Murphy and Glacier President Jim Johnson said. Plans also include a working wharf. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

No-contact advisory issued for Pomeroy Park beach
A popular Puget Sound swimming beach is off limits ahead of the holiday weekend because of high levels of bacteria in the water. The Kitsap Public Health District issued a no-contact advisory on Thursday for Pomeroy Park swimming beach in Manchester because of high levels of a bacteria called Enterococci, according to a press release... Enterococci bacteria indicate the presence of fecal pollution in the water, according to the health district, but specific sources of such pollution have not yet been identified. (Kitsap Sun)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  250 AM PDT Fri May 24 2019   
 W wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 8 ft  at 9 seconds. 
 W wind 10 to 20 kt becoming S 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 9 ft at 10 seconds. 
 W wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 2 ft or less in the afternoon.  W swell 10 ft at 11 seconds subsiding to 7 ft at 10 seconds in  the afternoon. A chance of showers in the afternoon. 
 W wind to 10 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 10 seconds. 
 NW wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at  9 seconds. 
 W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 9 seconds. 
 W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. SW swell 4 ft.

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

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

5/23 Kelp poacher, whale watch, oil lovers, coast guard ships, Tacoma LNG, Leque Is

Juvenile kelp poacher [Clinton Bauder]
Kelp poacher Agonomalus mozinoi
The kelp poacher is a fish in the family Agonidae (poachers). It was described by Norman Joseph Wilimovsky and Donald Edward Wilson in 1979, originally under the genus Hypsagonus. It is a marine, temperate water-dwelling fish which is known from northern British Columbia, Canada to central California, USA, in the eastern Pacific Ocean. (Wikipedia)

Battle over orca whale-watch restrictions heats up in San Juan County
An initiative has been filed to increase the distance whale-watch boats must keep from endangered southern-resident orcas — followed immediately by a lawsuit earlier this week from several whale-watch companies to keep the measure off the ballot. The initiative is to voters in San Juan County, and aimed for the November ballot to impose a new restriction on whale-watch boats and other vessels effective Jan. 1. The initiative would create a 650-yard vessel-free protected area around endangered southern-resident orcas while the whales are in San Juan County waters, with exemptions for law enforcement, research and treaty fishing boats. Backers have until July 8 to get the 1,635 signatures they need to get on the ballot. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Canada’s oil-loving Conservatives bet on climate change indifference
On the issue of climate change, Canada’s Conservatives comprise three factions of skeptics. First are those who dismiss all talk of global warming as mere left-wing alarmism, and therefore something that barely matters at all. Second are those willing to concede the issue matters in some abstract sense but who believe “addressing” it will extract too high a cost on Canada’s economy. Third are those who think it’s worth addressing but are skeptical the policies offered by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal administration in particular will work.  J.J. McCullough reports. (Washington Post)

Canada to spend $15.7B on new coast guard ships, Trudeau says
Canada plans to build up to 18 new coast guard ships at a cost of $15.7 billion in an effort to renew Canada's Coast Guard fleet,  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday. Up to 16 of the ships will be constructed in a fleet renewal project anchored in Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards. Two others — Arctic patrol ships that will be modified for the Canadian Coast Guard — will be built at Irving Shipyards in Nova Scotia. Peter Zimonjic and Andrew Davidson report. (CBC)

Groups to push back against plans for Tacoma gas plant
The fight over fracking is coming to Olympia Wednesday when the public plans to push back against plans for a gas plant in Tacoma. Governor Inslee used to support the plant, but he announced earlier this month that he would oppose the liquefied natural gas plant, and he's apparently not alone in the fight. The Puget Sound Energy “listening session” on the plant is slated for 4:30 p.m., and groups such as the Sierra Club are calling on the public to rally and pack the room to voice opposition to the 8-million-gallon storage plant. (KIRO) See also: 'Deceptive solution' or bridge fuel? Fight over half-built LNG project continues in Tacoma.  Bellamy Pailthorp and Kari Plog report. (KNKX)

Restoration work to continue on Leque Island
The state Department of Fish & Wildlife is preparing to begin the second phase of restoration work this summer at its Leque Island property near Stanwood. The island sits between Skagit Bay and Port Susan along a side channel of the Stillaguamish River. Fish & Wildlife is working on a restoration project to reopen estuary habitat, where freshwater and saltwater mix. The first phase of the work was completed in the fall of 2017. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PDT Thu May 23 2019   
 Light wind becoming NW 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves less than 1 ft becoming 2 ft or less in the afternoon. W  swell 7 ft at 9 seconds. 
 W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming SW after midnight. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 9 seconds building to 8 ft at  9 seconds after midnight.

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

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

5/22 Saving bees, WA budget, feeding orcas, BC gas, reef-net fishing

Bee in action [Laurie MacBride]
Taking Action for Bees
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "Today, May 20, is World Bee Day, which is why I’m sharing an image of some of these industrious pollinators hard at work in my garden. The flower is Papaver somniferum, a poppy species which self-sows freely each summer, thanks to the effort of the many bees that visit our garden throughout the growing season. World Bee Day was first proposed on the international stage by Slovenia, and after three years of work by that nation and the world’s beekeepers, it was proclaimed unanimously by the United Nations – giving bees and other pollinators the recognition they deserve. You can learn more about the initiative here ...."

Inslee signs $52.4 billion budget decried by Republicans 
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday signed into law a $52.4 billion, two-year state budget that he said "rises to the needs of our time," but that minority Republicans quickly criticized as a "tax-and-spend home run."  To help fund the budget, Inslee also put his signature to a tax package worth at least $830 million over the next two years. It will raise taxes on big banks and other businesses, as well as end point-of-sale tax-free shopping in Washington for Oregon residents. The tax and spending bills were among dozens of pieces of legislation Inslee signed Tuesday during a final round of bill signing ceremonies at the Capitol following the 2019 legislative session. Austin Jenkins reports. (NW News Network) See also: Inslee signs budget, tax bills and orders $175M more to help salmon  Gov. Jay Inslee, determined to put more money toward helping salmon survival, on Tuesday directed the state to boost funding for court-ordered culvert repairs by $175 million over the next two years. Joseph O'Sullivan reports. (Seattle Times)

Lummi Nation wants to feed endangered southern resident orcas
Following news that two more southern resident orcas are struggling, one Washington tribe is calling on the federal government to help physically feed them. Lummi Nation calls the southern resident orcas qwe 'lhol mechen, which means our relatives under the water. They say they have a sacred obligation to take care of them and feed them like they would any other member of their family. Simone Del Rosario reports. (KCPQ)

Regulator investigating high gas prices in B.C. has power to examine gouging
British Columbia's independent energy regulator will have the power to call oil company representatives as witnesses into an investigation of high gasoline prices in the province. Premier John Horgan has tasked the B.C. Utilities Commission to examine the market factors that affect wholesale and retail gas prices, and he wants a report by Aug. 30. Gas prices hovering around $1.70 per litre in the Metro Vancouver area have been the highest in Canada for several months. (Canadian Press)

Reviving an outlawed fishery: 'the backbone of our Nation'
It was daybreak on a clear summer day. Nick Claxton stood at the boat launch with other members of the WSÁNEĆ Nation. They were on Pender Island, BC, at a W̱SÁNEĆ hereditary fishing location. The winds were calm, recalled Claxton. "A perfect day for fishing." Their ocean-going canoes were setting out onto the Salish Sea. They were ready to drop a full-size reef net, for the first time in a century. Claxton, who is from the Tsawout Band and is an assistant professor at the University of Victoria, had been thinking about this moment for almost a decade. Zoe Tennant reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  244 AM PDT Wed May 22 2019   
 W wind to 10 kt becoming NW in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 8 ft at 11 seconds. 
 W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming SW to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 7 ft at 9 seconds.

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

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

5/21 Buttercup, drought, sea rise, EPA math, Mukilteo ferry dock, Manke Lumber

Creeping buttercup Ranunculus repens
The creeping buttercup, is a flowering plant in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, native to Europe, Asia and northwestern Africa. It is also called creeping crowfoot and (along with restharrow) sitfast. Like most buttercups, Ranunculus repens is poisonous, although when dried with hay these poisons are lost. The taste of buttercups is acrid, so cattle avoid eating them. The plants then take advantage of the cropped ground around it to spread their stolons. (Wikipedia)

Low snowpack, hot spring lead to drought declaration for nearly half of Washington state 
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared drought Monday for nearly half of Washington watersheds, as the mountain snowpack that churns through hydropower dams, irrigates our state’s orchards and provides for fish continues to dwindle well below normal. Twenty days into May, “our statewide snowpack is the fourth-lowest it’s been over the past 30 years,” said Jeff Marti, the drought coordinator for the Washington Department of Ecology. Winter left many areas of the state with lower-than-normal snowpack. A hot, dry spring quickly zapped much of the snow that did accumulate. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Nooksack expected to be 25 percent below average. Here’s how the state is responding  A total of 24 Washington river watersheds — including the Nooksack, the Upper Skagit, and the Lower Skagit-Samish — were included in the order, which could spell trouble for farmers and residential users as well as the salmon that require a constant supply of cold, clear water through summer.  Robert Mittendorf reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Rise in global sea levels could have 'profound consequences'
Scientists believe that global sea levels could rise far more than predicted, due to accelerating melting in Greenland and Antarctica. The long-held view has been that the world's seas would rise by a maximum of just under a metre by 2100. This new study, based on expert opinions, projects that the real level may be around double that figure. This could lead to the displacement of hundreds of millions of people, the authors say.  Matt McGrath reports. (BBC)

E.P.A. Plans to Get Thousands of Deaths Off the Books by Changing Its Math
The Environmental Protection Agency plans to change the way it calculates the health risks of air pollution, a shift that would make it easier to roll back a key climate change rule because it would result in far fewer predicted deaths from pollution, according to five people with knowledge of the agency’s plans. The E.P.A. had originally forecast that eliminating the Obama-era rule, the Clean Power Plan, and replacing it with a new measure would have resulted in an additional 1,400 premature deaths per year. The new analytical model would significantly reduce that number and would most likely be used by the Trump administration to defend further rollbacks of air pollution rules if it is formally adopted. Lisa Friedman reports. (NYTimes)

It’s a go! Ferries awards $26.4 million for marine contract 
The new Mukilteo ferry terminal is finally getting its feet wet. Washington State Ferries on Monday awarded a $26.4 million contract to Seattle-based Manson Construction to build the marine structures for the new terminal. These include the vehicle transfer bridge, overhead pedestrian walkway and other components. It also covers demolishing the old terminal and nearby fishing pier, and building a new fishing pier closer to the ferry action. Andrea Brown reports. (Everett Herald)

A lumber company accused of polluting a Tacoma waterway has agreed to settle, EPA says
Manke Lumber has agreed to settle allegations it violated the Clean Water Act at its Tacoma Tideflats facility, the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday. Manke will pay a $320,000 penalty and build a treatment system to fix water quality violations, the EPA said. The company will also invest in a project that will designate 38 acres of undeveloped land for conservation and recreation in Mason County. That includes 1,500 feet of Goldsborough Creek, 580 feet of a tributary and a 20-acre riparian corridor. Alexis Krell reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  241 AM PDT Tue May 21 2019   
 W wind to 10 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft in the afternoon.  SW swell 6 ft at 12 seconds building to W 10 ft at 14 seconds in  the afternoon. 
 W wind 15 to 25 kt becoming SW 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 2 ft or less after  midnight. W swell 9 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 (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

5/20 Mount St. Helens, J17, underwater noise, grey whales, cetacean ban, Nooksack dam, Sound funding, Skagit dam, enviro rules, Hood Canal, ghost nets, gas war

Mount St. Helens [USGS/KING]
Mount St. Helens: Remembering the deadliest U.S. eruption 39 years later
The deadliest volcanic eruption in U.S. history happened in Washington state on May 18, 1980 when Mount St. Helens blew her top. (USA Today/KING)

Southern resident orca matriarch J17 continues to decline, new photos show 
Concern is heightened for the survival of J17, an endangered southern resident orca who is continuing to decline, new photos show. Researcher John Durban, of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in his spring survey of the southern residents detected further emaciation in J17 since his last survey in fall 2018. The survey was conducted in conjunction with Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research. The whale, a matriarch in her clan, now has a pronounced “peanut head.” The condition indicates severe loss of body fat, such that the whale’s neck shows. Her daughter, J53, also has deteriorated since last fall, according to the body condition survey, which is done non-invasively, by drone photography. Lynda Makes reports. (Seattle Times)

Hostile Waters,Part 4: How our noise is hurting orcas’ search for salmon
Booming ships, boats and other traffic interfere with orcas' search for food. Calls and echolocation clicks are drowned out, making all their other problems worse. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Grey whale deaths on West Coast linked to warmer Arctic waters
Dozens of grey whales have been found dead along the West Coast in recent weeks and some scientists believe the cause lies in the heated-up Arctic waters off Alaska. Fifty-eight grey whales have been found stranded and dead so far this year in sites stretching from California to Alaska, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The latest discovery announced on Wednesday by NOAA was a dead grey whale in Turnagain Arm, a narrow glacier-fed channel off Anchorage where grey whales rarely venture. (Reuters/CBC)

Vancouver Aquarium sues city, park board over cetacean ban
The Vancouver Aquarium is suing the city of Vancouver and the Vancouver Park Board over the 2017 cetacean ban, claiming it resulted in millions of dollars in lost revenue, and constituted a breach of contract. In May 2017, the Vancouver Park Board voted to amend a bylaw that would ban bringing cetaceans into city parks, and prohibit shows and performances involving cetaceans. The board also voted to ban the keeping of cetaceans in city parks, with the exception of cetaceans already present in the aquarium. Michelle Ghoussoub reports.(CBC)

‘Removing the Middle Fork Nooksack dam is one of the most important salmon restoration projects’
A small dam that channels Nooksack River water into Lake Whatcom will be removed next year in an effort to help endangered salmon and, by extension, southern resident killer whales, proponents said. The city of Bellingham’s dam has been diverting water from the Nooksack’s Middle Fork since 1962 to supplement its main source of water, which is Lake Whatcom — the drinking water source for nearly 100,000 residents of Bellingham and Whatcom County. The diversion is intermittent and occurs primarily during winter and spring, the city of Bellingham said on the project website. Located about 20 miles east of Bellingham, the dam will be history in 2020. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Lawmakers hopeful for Puget Sound funding from Congress
Optimism, as related to a possible increase in funding for Puget Sound recovery, permeated discussions last week, when 80 officials from the region met with lawmakers in the nation’s capitol. “It’s the first time in several years that we’ve actually been in a position to direct more money to Puget Sound programs,” said U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, during one of many “Puget Sound Day on the Hill” meetings. With Democrats now in control of the House, they can draft a budget that fits their priorities for a host of projects — from civil rights legislation to funding for climate change. Of course, the challenge will be to get their issues through the Senate. Chris Dunagan reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

Opposition grows for proposed mining in Skagit River headwaters 
A Canadian company has proposed exploratory mining for gold and copper in the headwaters of the Skagit River in British Columbia. Some officials, tribes and conservation groups on both sides of the border say the proposal threatens the environment of the Skagit River watershed and that it violates an agreement — the High Ross Treaty — that has been in place between the United States and Canada for 35 years. In the latest show of opposition, a letter was sent Thursday to an official in British Columbia’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. The letter was signed by officials and nonprofits. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

States aren’t waiting for the Trump administration on environmental protections
More than a dozen states are moving to strengthen environmental protections to combat a range of issues from climate change to water pollution, opening a widening rift between stringent state policies and the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda.... The growing patchwork of regulations is creating uncertainty for American businesses as state lawmakers vie to change rules that, in past administrations, were more likely to be set at the federal level. Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin report. (Washington Post)

Hood Canal preservation gets another bump from Legislature
Thousands of pristine acres of timberland along Hood Canal have been earmarked for preservation, thanks to $6.3 million from the Legislature.  The Dabob Bay natural area's latest expansion spreads some 4,000 acres east and south onto the Toandos Peninsula. The Legislature's purchase guarantees 900 of those acres will be transferred out of the state Department of Natural Resources' timber trust and into conservation. The state will begin to pursue other properties within the acreage, which spans from Dabob to Thorndyke Creek, according to Peter Bahls, director of the Northwest Watershed Institute that has fought to preserve the area since 2002. Josh Farley reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Ghost-net busters are entering a new era of hunting and removal 
Chris Dunagan in Watching Our Water Ways writes: "My mind is unable to grasp, in any meaningful way, how much death and destruction was caused by fishing nets that were lost and abandoned through the years. Nearly 6,000 of these so-called “ghost nets” have been pulled from the waters of Puget Sound over the past 17 years. Until removed, they keep on catching fish, crabs and many more animals to one degree or another...."

Environmentalists say Alberta government war room threat “amateur hour” 
Environmental groups targeted by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney are shrugging off the new government’s promised $30-million “war room” to fight criticisms of the province’s energy industry. “The war room makes for good theatre, but the people who follow this closely are going to look at this as amateur hour,” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace. Bob Weber reports. (National Post)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  250 AM PDT Mon May 20 2019   
 W wind to 10 kt becoming NW in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 11 seconds. A chance of showers. 
 NW wind 5 to 15 kt in the evening becoming light. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 11 seconds. A chance of  showers.

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

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Friday, May 17, 2019

5/17 Priest Point Park, plankton,Skagit water, Salish Sea

Ellis Cove, Priest Point Park [Tori Sloane]
Priest Point Park
Priest Point Park is a 314-acre regional nature park on Budd Inlet in Olympia. The land upon which Priest Point Park sits has been used for generations by the Indigenous peoples of our region, which include the Squaxin, Nisqually, Quinault, Puyallup, Chehalis, Suquamish, and Duwamish. Priest Point Park is named for a small group of Catholic missionaries, the Oblate Fathers, who came to the area in 1848. They cleared the land, planted a large garden, built a chapel, and established the St. Joseph d’Olympia mission. The Squaxin, Nisqually, Puyallup, and Snoqualmie tribes used the mission as a trading center during this time. (City of Olympia) Priest Point, a rocky point at the northern entrance to the Snohomish River, was called Schuh-tlahks, meaning "stony nose," by the Indians. The present name refers to a Catholic mission established on the site in 1959. (Washington State Place Names)

Tiny Plankton, Big Threat To Puget Sound Food Chain
A tomato soup-colored plankton bloom going on now in Puget Sound will have repercussions reaching up to salmon and orcas, ecologists say. Neal McNamara reports. (Patch)

Seattle City Light agrees to provide water to mitigate wells
An agreement between Seattle City Light and the state Department of Ecology will remove legal uncertainty over water use for hundreds of homes in portions of Skagit and Snohomish counties. The electric utility and state agency announced the agreement this week. Through the agreement, Ecology is purchasing some of Seattle City Light’s senior water rights, Ecology Water Resources Program Regional Supervisor Rita Berns said. Seattle City Light will then continuously release 0.5 cubic feet of water per second from Gorge Dam — the lowest of three hydroelectric dams on the Skagit River — specifically to offset the impact on the river by the use of area wells. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Where On Earth Is the Salish Sea?
Less than half of the people in Washington and British Columbia have heard of the Salish Sea, even though they live alongside it. That’s according to a recent report  from The SeaDoc Society, a program of the University of California, Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine, and Oregon State University. The study reveals that only 5 percent of people in Washington and 14 percent of British Columbians can identify the Salish Sea—the marine ecosystem that spans the United States-Canada border and includes both Seattle and Vancouver. Ustin Cox reports. (UC Davis)

Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  247 AM PDT Fri May 17 2019   
 W wind 10 to 20 kt becoming SW 5 to 15 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 5 ft at 12 seconds. A  chance of showers in the morning then a slight chance of showers  in the afternoon. 
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. SW swell  4 ft at 12 seconds. A chance of showers. 
 E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. SW swell 5 ft  at 11 seconds building to 7 ft at 14 seconds in the afternoon. A  chance of showers. 
 SE wind 15 to 20 kt becoming E to 10 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less after  midnight. W swell 8 ft at 13 seconds. 
 NE wind to 10 kt becoming SW in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 7 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 (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

5/16 Goby, tanker ban, Roberts Bank, living harbor, oil rig reserves, gas prices, Tramp Harbor, 'nudges

Blackeye goby [Scott Gilmore]
Blackeye Goby Rhinogobiops nicholsii
Found in harems on sandy bottoms close to rocks and holes for shelter, in shallow to deep areas of the reefs. They feed on crustaceans and invertebrates. True Gobies are found in oceans and some rivers and lakes, usually in burrows or holes and can be territorial. They are able to rapidly change colour when socialising or feel threatened. (What's That Fish)

Senators defeat Ottawa’s oil tanker ban bill in rare move, putting legislation on life suppor
In a rare legislative move on Wednesday, the Senate transport committee voted to defeat the Liberal government’s moratorium on oil tankers in northern B.C., putting the controversial bill on life support after years of political wrangling. A vote against the bill by Independent Sen. Paula Simons, along with the five other Conservative senators on the committee, swayed a final decision in favour of recommending that the senate nix Bill C-48, which effectively bars any oil tankers from entering northern B.C. waters. The move does not immediately kill the oil tanker moratorium, but a vote by the senate to adopt the committee recommendations would stop the legislation in its tracks. A vote on the report is expected in coming days. Jesse Snyder reports. (National Post)

Public environmental assessment hearings underway on proposed Roberts Bank container terminal
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has kicked off the public hearing process on the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority's proposed $2 billion to $3 billion Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project. The hearings, which started Tuesday in Tsawwassen with motions on procedural matters, are scheduled to last until June 24 in communities like Delta, Vancouver, Victoria, Duncan and Port Renfrew. General hearings in Tsawwassen began on Wednesday and will last until Saturday.... Brad Armstrong, the lawyer representing the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, reiterated that the port authority does not project the number of vessels to increase from the new terminal, citing an increase in vessel size that will soak up the extra capacity of containers at Terminal 2: "The number of vessels should stay relatively the same." Opponents were less optimistic, noting Roberts Bank's growth of about 3.5% in the last decade has been largely built on shipping U.S. containers, contradicting the port's mandate as a catalyst for the Canadian economy. Other opponents noted that a project like Terminal 2 that would install a large man-made island at the mouth of the Fraser River - "the crucible of the Fraser estuary" - should receive the widest-possible spectrum of review possible, including options at DP World's Fairview terminal in Prince Rupert. Chuck Chiang reports. (Business in Vancouver) See also: Prince Rupert port plans to quadruple capacity  The port of Prince Rupert plans to double its container capacity by 2020 and ultimately quadruple its capacity, sending a bold message as fellow British Columbia port Vancouver grapples with its own plan to inject much-needed handling capacity into its terminals. Bill Mongelluzzo reports. (JOC)

Fish Below Your Feet and Other Solutions for a Living Harbor
In Seattle, Singapore, and other waterfront cities around the world, engineers are creating life-enhancing designs to encourage marine biodiversity. Tyee Bridge reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Retired oil rigs off the California coast could find new lives as artificial reefs
Offshore oil and gas drilling has been a contentious issue in California for 50 years, ever since a rig ruptured and spilled 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude oil off Santa Barbara in 1969. Today it's spurring a new debate: whether to completely dismantle 27 oil and gas platforms scattered along the southern California coast as they end their working lives, or convert the underwater sections into permanent artificial reefs for marine life. (

No simple answers for high B.C. gas prices or impact of pipeline, NEB says
There's no easy explanation for why B.C.'s gas prices are so much higher than the rest of Canada, or what will happen to them if the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion goes ahead, according to the National Energy Board's chief economist. The NEB released a snapshot of the issue Wednesday, breaking down the elements that have driven up the price at the pumps in B.C. "It's a combination of numerous factors," chief economist Jean-Denis Charlebois told CBC. "One factor is that we're approaching the summer driving season. This means demand is increasing." Bethany Lindsay reports. (CBC)

County considers island shellfish operation proposal
Some islanders contend that Tramp Harbor is not a suitable location to operate a proposed commercial shellfish enterprise because the area is both beloved for its natural beauty and recognized as an important natural habitat. An application for the project, at 6 acres in size, was filed in November by island produce farmer Nick Provo and is still under review by the Department Of Local Services Permitting Division as part of the SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) process. The bid will need further appraisal from the county before a decision is made to issue a permit and allow the development to proceed. Paul Rowley reports. But before that happens, county officials will need to determine if further action will be required to mitigate potential issues at the location. (Vashon Beachcomber)

Green Energy Nudges Come With a Hidden Cost
All across the United States, many households receive energy bills comparing their use to that of similar neighbors to remind them to use less energy. At most companies, employees are automatically enrolled in 401(k) plans unless they choose to opt-out, helping employees easily save for retirement. Such policies aim to "nudge" people toward making better choices, both for their future selves and for others. Nudges like these have become popular among policymakers, because they are virtually costless to implement. However, a new study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon, Fordham and Harvard universities finds that these nudges have an unexplored cost: they can decrease support for policies with far greater impact. "Although nudges can effectively change behavior, most have too small an impact to address societal problems on their own," said David Hagmann, a recent graduate of CMU's Department of Social and Decision Sciences, and now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. "It appears that many people view them as substitutes for economic policies like a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme, instead of the complements they were always intended to be." (Carnegie Mellon University)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  250 AM PDT Thu May 16 2019   
 E wind to 10 kt becoming NW in the afternoon. Wind waves  2 ft or less. SW swell 4 ft at 14 seconds. A slight chance of  showers in the morning then a chance of showers in the afternoon. 
 W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming 10 to 20 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 4 ft at 10 seconds. A slight chance  of showers 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 (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

5/15 Loon, tanker ban, dying cedars, Blanchard Mtn., Green R dam, plankton bloom, Arctic heat, toxic lake

Pacific loon [Greg Lasley]
Pacific loon Gavia pacifica
This loon is hardly "Pacific" in summer -- its breeding range extends across northern Canada as far east as Hudson Bay and Baffin Island. However, the great majority of these birds head west to the Pacific Coast to spend the winter. Its diet includes fish, crustaceans, insects. Diet varies with place and season. Apparently eats mostly small fish when these are available, especially in winter and on ocean. Also eats crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic insects, and some plant material, especially during breeding season. (Audubon)

Garneau says he's open to amendments as opposition to B.C. tanker ban bill mounts
Transport Minister Marc Garneau told the Senate committee studying the Liberal government's B.C. oil tanker ban bill today that he is open to amendments to Bill C-48 as long as they preserve the bill's stated purpose: to stop virtually all crude oil shipments from ports along B.C.'s northern coast. Faced with criticism from industry, First Nations and provincial leaders, Garneau did not rule out accepting amendments from committee members — including a proposal that would demand a mandatory review of the ban every 3, 5 and 10 years and a proposed change that would tie the bill's enactment to completing the Trans Mountain expansion project. As written, the legislation bans the vast majority of crude oil shipments from the region indefinitely. John Paul Tasker reports. (CBC)

Western red cedars die off as extended dry spells continue, say experts
Some Western red cedars are struggling after repeated periods of drought and experts say the tree could vanish for good in spots with shallow, dry, rocky soil if current climate patterns continue. When Nick Page started posting pictures of dead Western red cedars that had turned from verdant green to rust red he was overwhelmed by how many people chimed in or sent more disturbing images. Page, a biologist, says this has been long warned and predictions seem to be coming true in many parts of the Lower Mainland. Trees on sunny slopes with poor soil are the first to go. Yvette Brend reports. (CBC)

Inslee signs bill to protect Blanchard Mountain core
With Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature last week, a plan to permanently conserve recreation lands in the state forest on Blanchard Mountain is one step closer to being realized. The plan is to transfer the trust fund status of forests on Blanchard to forests in other areas of Skagit County. This would ensure the local beneficiaries of those Blanchard trust lands don’t lose timber revenue. Trust lands managed by Natural Resources on Blanchard Mountain benefit local taxing districts, including the Burlington-Edison School District, Skagit County Emergency Medical Services and cemetery districts. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Puget Sound dam jeopardizing salmon, endangered orcas
The Green River is cut in half by two dams that keep adult salmon from going upstream to spawn and juveniles from migrating down to the ocean. The current state of one of the dams is threatening three endangered species. The first dam has been blocking fish habitat for about a century. Tacoma Headworks Diversion Dam east of Ravensdale is how the City of Tacoma gets its water. Tacoma Water was tasked with building an upstream trap-and-haul facility and finished construction in 2005. The facility should allow Tacoma Water to transport adult salmon above its dam and Howard A. Hanson Dam, which is three miles upstream. To this day, that hasn't happened because the Howard Hanson dam is incomplete. Simone Del Rosario reports. (KCPQ)

Plankton bloom spotted in Puget Sound between Tacoma and Edmonds
A large plankton bloom can be seen spread across Puget Sound from Tacoma to Edmonds, the Washington Department of Ecology said. They tweeted out photos taken from a helicopter over the non-toxic bloom. This bloom is earlier than usual, the department said, but last week's sunny weather provided the algae with a better environment to grow. (KING)

It was 84 degrees near the Arctic Ocean this weekend as carbon dioxide hit its highest level in human history
Over the weekend, the climate system sounded simultaneous alarms. Near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia, the temperature surged to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius). Meanwhile, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first time in human history. By themselves, these are just data points. But taken together with so many indicators of an altered atmosphere and rising temperatures, they blend into the unmistakable portrait of human-induced climate change. Saturday’s steamy 84-degree reading was posted in Arkhangelsk, Russia, where the average high temperature is around 54 this time of year. The city of 350,000 people sits next to the White Sea, which feeds into the Arctic Ocean’s Barents Sea. Jason Samenow reports. (Washington Post)

Dog dies after exposure to toxin at Anderson Lake
A dog that was exposed to a toxin in the water at Anderson Lake has died and its owner was exposed. The death Sunday was the third dog death recorded since 2006, when two died and forced weekly testing of the lake the following year. Clue, an Australian kelpie less than 2 years old, was on a leash on the trail system Sunday when she made contact with the water. Brian McLean reports.(Peninsula Daily News)

Port might invoke eminent domain over Kimberly-Clark site
The agency wants to expand maritime freight and ship maintenance, but it isn't the only interested party. Noah Haglund and Lizz Giordano report. (Everett Herald) [Paywall]

Dialing in the temperature is saving fish, gaining notice
After restoring five miles of habitat, the PUD needed to warm the Sultan River near a dam. Liz Giordano reports. (Everett Herald) [Paywall]

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  232 AM PDT Wed May 15 2019   
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. SW swell 4  ft at 15 seconds. A slight chance of rain in the afternoon. 
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. SW swell  4 ft at 14 seconds. Rain likely in the evening then a chance of  rain after midnight.

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

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

5/14 Strawberry, 'A Deadly Wind,' WA water standard, spill cleanup, eelgrass, Roundup, anemones

Woodland strawberry [Berkeley Perennials]
Woodland strawberry Fragaria vesca
Woodland strawberry is a perennial herbaceous plant in the Rose family that grows naturally throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, and that produces edible fruits.
It is a species of openings and open forests, at low to subalpine elevations south of about 55-degrees north. It is tolerant of a variety of moisture levels (except very wet or dry conditions). It can survive mild fires and/or establish itself after fires. (Wikipedia, Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast)

Salish Sea Communications- A Deadly Wind: The 1962 Columbus Day Storm
Floyd McKay reviews John Dodge's spellbinding book about the massive Columbus Day Storm in advance of John's talk in Bellingham on 5/21 at Heiner Center, Whatcom Community College.

Inslee, Ferguson denounce EPA move to ease water standards for Washington state
The Environmental Protection Agency proposes to ease Washington water-quality standards for chemicals discharged into state waterways, a move embraced by industry groups that sought the change and denounced as “illegal” by Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The action, disclosed Friday, reverses a 2016 decision by the EPA under the Obama administration that required the state to toughen the water-quality standard. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Millions to be spent on oil spill cleanup at Tumwater brewery
An effort to clean up an oil spill that originated in a damaged transformer at the former Tumwater brewery nearly two months ago has become too expensive for Tumwater Development LLC, the owner of the property. The state Department of Ecology announced late last week that the state would take over the clean up effort. It has cost the brewery owner an unspecified amount, although both a communications representative for the owner and ecology officials said the cost was in the millions of dollars. Ecology spokeswoman Sandy Howard said Monday the owner “has run out of funds at the moment.” However, she said the owner “showed good faith” and “accomplished a lot” before the state took over last week. Rolf Boone reports. (Olympian)

Science in the spotlight: Eelgrass recovery
The Washington Department of Natural Resources is studying new ways of increasing ecologically important eelgrass habitat in Puget Sound. It is part of the state's effort to boost eelgrass 20% Sound-wide by 2020. So far, the species has fallen short of that goal but transplanting efforts are showing promise. Eric Wagner reports. (Encyclopedia of Puget Sound)

California jury says Bayer must pay $2 billion to couple in Roundup cancer trial
A California jury on Monday awarded more than $2 billion to a couple who claimed Bayer AG’s glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused their cancer, marking the third consecutive U.S. jury verdict against the company in litigation over the chemical. The jury in San Francisco Superior Court in Oakland said the company was liable for plaintiffs Alva and Alberta Pilliod’s contracting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a spokeswoman for the couple said. It awarded $18 million in compensatory and $1 billion in punitive damages to Alva Pilliod and $37 million in compensatory and $1 billion in punitive damages to his wife, Alberta Pilliod. The jury found Roundup had been defectively designed, that the company failed to warn of the herbicide’s cancer risk and that the company acted negligently. Tina Bellon reports. (Reuters)

For Sea Anemones, Global Warming and Microplastics Have Teamed Up to Make Everything Worse
Climate change and plastic pollution are major threats to all marine life, from minuscule crustaceans to gigantic whales. Although many experiments have examined these threats, few have looked at what happens when they both strike at once. At least for the sea anemone, new research from a team at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California, suggests that the combined threat is worse than the sum of its parts.  Hannah Thomasy reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  227 AM PDT Tue May 14 2019   
 SE wind to 10 kt becoming S 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. SW swell 3 ft at 15 seconds. Rain in the  morning then showers in the afternoon. 
 SW wind 5 to 15 kt becoming W to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. SW swell 4 ft at 13 seconds. A chance of  showers in the evening.

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

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Monday, May 13, 2019

5/13 Anemone, BC orca sanctuaries, NW snowpack, border shift, wolf delist, BC spotted owl, oil train suit, Intalco, Staples-Bortner, helium, Mariana Trench plastic

Buried anemone [Mary Jo Adams]
Buried anemone Anthopleura artemisia
This species can be found in areas of muddy sand and also on rockier beaches where there are areas of gravel or shell fragments.  Normally only the oral disk and tentacles are visible with the column buried beneath the substrate.  The crown of tentacles may reach a diameter of 4 inches (10 cm.)with the tentacles colored pink, orange, green, blue, or brown and in our area often display banding.  When waters recede, the tentacles withdraw below the surface. (Sound Water Stewards)

Canada: Sanctuaries and food for our endangered killer whales
Canada has announced big-scale measures to safeguard and feed endangered killer whales in the Salish Sea, a day after Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law measures to protect endangered orcas on the U.S. side of the border. The Canadians, in measures announced Friday, put a lot of emphasis on slowing down ships, establishing vessel-free "sanctuary zones" and keeping all boats 400 meters (1,300-plus feet) away from the endangered whales.... Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is also undertaking to put food in the water for the southern residents. The orcas are an endangered species dependent on another endangered species -- chinook salmon. The DFO will release one million juvenile chinook salmon annually from its Chilliwack Hatchery along the Fraser River, for the next five years. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI) See also: Ships must keep 400 metres away from killer whales off B.C. coast
Laura Kane reports. (Canadian Press)
May heat shrinks Washington snowpack, raising risk for tight water flows for fish and farmers 
The Pacific Northwest is again experiencing surging spring heat that shattered temperatures this past week and prompted red-flag warnings for fire risks in lowland portions of Southwest Washington. Last year, intense May warmth brought a sudden melt of a big mountain snowpack, causing flooding in north central and northeast Washington as the Okanogan River reached its highest flood stage in four decades. This year, the statewide snowpack, as of Friday, averaged only 58 percent of the median amount for that date. So instead of being concerned about high water, state officials are preparing for summer drought, which can raise the potential for wildfires, reduce irrigation flows to farmers and make life difficult for salmon that depend on cool water to survive. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Canada-U.S. border transfers raise fear of delayed crossings
Hundreds of border agents from across the U.S. are being temporarily transferred south ahead of the busy summer tourism season, worrying those along the northern border who rely on cross-border commerce — including U.S. innkeepers, shop owners and restaurateurs who fear their Canadian customers could be caught in backups at border crossings. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says 731 northern border agents from land, sea and airports are in the process of being sent to the U.S.-Mexico border, where they will help their southern counterparts handle the influx of families and unaccompanied children from Central America. The move comes as businesses gear up for the summer season, when tens of thousands of Canadian tourists help buoy the economies of communities in border states and elsewhere deeper inside the United States. Since U.S.-Canada border security was ramped up shortly after the 9-11 attacks, local and state officials have worried heightened security could hurt trade and the free flow of people back and forth across the 5,525-mile (8,891-kilometre) border. Wilson Ring reports. (Canadian Press)

State official supports delisting wolves in all Washington
Wolves should be removed from the federal endangered species list throughout Washington state, Washington Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind wrote in a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released this week.... The federal government has already delisted wolves in the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, as well as in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Wolves were wiped out in Washington early in the last century, largely on behalf of livestock interests. The animals began moving back into the state about 20 years ago from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia. The state in 2018 counted a minimum of 126 wolves in 27 packs with 15 successful breeding pairs, defined as male and female adults that have raised at least two pups that survived through the end of the year. The latest census also for the first time recorded a wolf pack west of the Cascade Range, in Skagit County. Nicholas K. Geranios reports. (AP)

Environmentalists threaten legal action if B.C. spotted owls' habitat not protected
Conservationists are demanding Ottawa do more to protect the spotted owl, and are threatening legal action against the federal government if it doesn't take more steps to save one of the most endangered animals in Canada. Environmental advocate group Ecojustice says that there are an estimated six spotted owls left in the wild in Canada — all in B.C. — and the animals are at risk of being completely wiped out. Ecojustice and the Wilderness Committee want the federal government to come to the rescue of the birds by committing to a tougher plan for the spotted owl in southwestern B.C. Chad Pawson reports. (CBC) See also: Bird lovers get rare look at youngest member of one of the most endangered species in Canada  (Canadian Press)

North Dakota to sue Washington state over oil train standard
North Dakota is preparing to sue Washington state over a new Washington law requiring oil shipped by rail through that state to have more of its volatile gases removed, which supporters say would reduce the risk of explosive and potentially deadly derailments. North Dakota officials say the law will make Pacific Northwest refineries off-limits to the energy industry of North Dakota, which is the nation’s No. 2 crude producer. They are also reaching out to other oil-producing states to garner support for the lawsuit, which they expect to file within weeks in federal court. Blake Nicholson reports. (AP)

Alcoa’s Intalco smelter agrees to reduce pollution emissions. Here’s what that means
Alcoa’s aluminum smelter near Ferndale has agreed to a plan to install pollution equipment that will reduce sulfur dioxide releases. Washington State’s Department of Ecology announced last week that Alcoa Intalco Works has agreed to put in a wet scrubber to reduce emissions of the gas, which is known for its sharp smell that can cause breathing and other health issues. The cost of the scrubber installation project is estimated to be $15 million, and it is expected to be in place by the end of 2022, according to a news release from Alcoa. ave Gallagher reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Sandra Staples-Bortner to retire from Great Peninsula Conservancy
Sandra Staples-Bortner, executive director of the Great Peninsula Conservancy, will retire at the end of this month after 11 years on the job. Those involved in the regional land trust say she will leave the organization much larger and stronger than before her arrival. Great Peninsula Conservancy — which protects salmon streams, forests and shorelines — was formed in 2000 by the merger of four smaller land trusts: Kitsap, Hood Canal, Indianola and Peninsula Heritage land trusts. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Party City closing 45 stores as helium shortage hurts sales. Why is the gas scarce?
The CEO of Party City cited a global helium shortage as he announced on Thursday that the retail chain will close 45 of its 870 stores this year. But the scarcity of the important gas isn’t just a party-pooper: Helium is also essential in semiconductor manufacturing, scientific research and medical tools like MRIs, according to Sophia E. Hayes, a professor of chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. “We’ve heard that we have roughly a 200-year supply, at current consumption rates,” Hayes said in a statement released by the university last month. “That sounds pretty comforting, because 200 years sounds like a big window. But the demand for helium is also going up at 10 percent a year, roughly, worldwide — in part driven by the semiconductor industry out of Asia.” Jared Gilmour reports. (McClatchy)

Canada-geese numbers to increase despite limited control measures
The number of Canada geese are likely to grow incrementally this summer despite measures by the Vancouver park board to control their spread into city beaches and parks. There are about 2,500 Canada geese in Vancouver, according to Nick Page, biologist with the Vancouver park board. The main method of population control is sterilizing eggs by shaking a fertilized one and then replacing it with a frozen one to trick the mother to continue nesting. If all the Canada geese paired up, there could be as many as 1,250 nests around the city, but the park board has so far addled about 50 nests and 255 eggs. Kevin Griffin reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Mariana Trench: Deepest-ever sub dive finds plastic bag
An American explorer has found plastic waste on the seafloor while breaking the record for the deepest ever dive. Victor Vescovo descended nearly 11km (seven miles) to the deepest place in the ocean - the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. He spent four hours exploring the bottom of the trench in his submersible, built to withstand the immense pressure of the deep. He found sea creatures, but also found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers. Rebecca Morelle reports. (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  248 AM PDT Mon May 13 2019   
 W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 15 to 25 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft. W swell  3 ft at 9 seconds. 
 W wind 15 to 25 kt becoming SW 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 2 ft or less. W swell  3 ft at 9 seconds. A slight chance of showers.

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

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Friday, May 10, 2019

5/10 Eelpout, steelhead, underwater noise, green crab, Sequim marina, Ross Lake, I-5, Chambers Cr. resort, sea cucumber, cleaner Vancouver

Blackbelly eelpout [Janna Nichols]
Blackbelly eelpout Lycodopsis pacifica
Found in Eastern Pacific Gulf of Alaska to northern Baja California, Mexico, on silty or sandy bottoms. Moves into shallow water at night to feed on marine worms, crustaceans, small bivalves, and brittle stars. Few live over 5 years. If used live as bait, it attracts large rockfishes, greenlings or codfishes. Flesh considered good but not esteemed. (Discover Life)

Tracking endangered Steelhead producing answers and more questions about their long-term survival
With giant buckets of cold Nisqually River water and some smaller bins to hold fish, Megan Moore is assembling a field surgical ward outside of the small town of Yelm.,,, But Moore is no surgeon. She’s a research biologist with NOAA’s Fisheries Office in Seattle. This set up is a spring ritual along the fast moving and pristine river for more than a decade now. And her patients: endangered steelhead. Steelhead and salmon are not only big business in Washington State, many species are also in big trouble. But, each year scientists are starting to uncover clues to turning that trend around. Thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to our state economy hang in the balance. Tim Joyce reports. (KCPQ)

Underwater microphones show how noisy it is for orcas in Puget Sound
Southern Resident killer whales use clicks and sound to find their prey, the majority of which are Chinook salmon. The signal bounces of a fish's swim bladder like a radar, which helps the orcas know exactly where their prey is located. Sometimes those fish are hundreds of meters away.  The hunt gets even more challenging as Chinook salmon stocks continue to decline. Now, add in all the noisy vessels in between the whales and the few Chinook salmon that remain. Scott Viers is the coordinator of OrcaSound's hydrophone network. The underwater acoustic monitoring system records in real time the underwater noise around Puget Sound. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Can volunteer trappers halt the green crab invasion in Puget Sound?
The war against the invasive European green crab continues in Puget Sound, as this year’s Legislature offers increased financial support, and new trapping sites have been added in Samish and Port Gamble bays. In other parts of the country where green crabs have become established, the invaders have destroyed native shoreline habitat, diminished native species and cost shellfish growers millions of dollars in damages. See Environmental Protection Agency report (PDF 1.3 mb). In Puget Sound, it’s hard to know whether the crabs are being trapped and removed rapidly enough to defeat the invasion, but so far humans seem to be holding their own, according to Emily Grason, who manages the Crab Team volunteer trapping effort for Washington Sea Grant. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways) See also: ‘Raving mad crabs’ spotted at Esquimalt Lagoon  DFO laying traps for invasive European green crabs. Swikar Oli reports. (Victoria News)

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe eyes marina on Sequim Bay
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is exploring the purchase of John Wayne Marina from the Port of Port Angeles — if other options do not work out — Tribal Chairman Ron Allen said Thursday. The tribe now is working with the city of Sequim on a joint proposal to run the public, 300-slip facility under city ownership. Under the joint city-tribe proposal, the port would transfer the marina to the city “at no or very low cost,” according to an April 23, 2018, City Council resolution, and the tribe would manage it. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Low Ross Lake levels to impact summer recreation
As abnormally dry conditions continue, Skagit River water reserves are now forecast to reach uncharacteristic lows this summer. Seattle City Light, which operates three hydroelectric dams on the upper Skagit River, recently announced it anticipates its largest reservoir, Ross Lake, will see water levels 25 feet lower than normal this summer. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, which compiles state water supply outlook reports, water levels in the Skagit River may dip to about 77 percent of normal over the summer. Seattle City Light doesn’t anticipate impacts to the water supply. However, recreation around the man-made lake tucked in the North Cascades will be impacted, according to the utility and North Cascades National Park Service Complex. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

This Week Then: I-5 Turns 50
Fifty years ago this week, on May 14, 1969, the final segment of Interstate 5 in Washington opened for traffic between Marysville and Everett, allowing motorists to travel without interruption from the Canadian border to the California state line. The new freeway also helped boost the development of Washington cities along its route, including Bellingham, Mount Vernon, Arlington, Marysville, Everett, Lynnwood, Seattle, Federal Way, Tacoma, Olympia, Centralia, Chehalis, Longview, and Vancouver. Alan Stein writes. ( Magazine)

Chambers Creek resort lease approved by Pierce County Council
It was never going to be an easy vote. Five and a half hours after convening, the Pierce County Council voted 6-1 in favor of the county executive entering into a long-term ground lease with Chambers Bay Resort, LLC, for the development of a hotel and resort on a portion of Chambers Creek Properties. Council member Connie Ladenburg was the lone “no” vote. Before the vote, she offered a lengthy challenge to the measure, pointing to the council’s lack of information, particularly from the project’s financial standpoint, to make an adequate decision. She also offered survey results that showed an overwhelming negative response to the idea of people living in golf villas in the park. Debbie Cockrell reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Sea Cucumbers Keep Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’
It’s an odd line to hear, that the sea cucumbers “wouldn’t settle down.” But that curious observation, made in the lab of Memorial University of Newfoundland professor and biologist Annie Mercier, set the stage for the discovery of a wholly unexpected mode of locomotion in orange-footed sea cucumbers. These creatures, which look something like 20-centimeter-long footballs with a cluster of branch-like tentacles at one end, were long thought to live sedentary lives. However, Mercier’s new laboratory research shows that, when under duress, the orange-footed sea cucumber will release its grip from the ocean floor, pump itself full of water, and roll away. To make its great escape, the invertebrate absorbs water through both its mouth and anus. Doug Johnson reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Vancouver woman wants to clean up how people wash their cars 
Lydia Lee is petitioning the City of Vancouver to let people know how to legally wash cars. Rafferty Baker reports. (CBC) And: What to do about doggy doo-doo? Vancouver councillor has an idea  Motion from Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung aims to make disposing dog waste easier for owners, greener for city. Andrea Ross reports. (CBC)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  304 AM PDT Fri May 10 2019   
 E wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 4 ft  at 11 seconds. 
 W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  3 ft at 10 seconds. 
 W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming NW 15 to 25 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 2 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft in the  afternoon. W swell 3 ft at 9 seconds. 
 W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 8 seconds. 
 Light wind becoming W 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves less than 1 to 2 ft. W swell 5 ft at 9 seconds.

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