Monday, January 7, 2019

1/7 Warbler, saving orcas, humpbacks, oil pipe plan, BC LNG pipe, forest revenues, mystery bacteria

Cape May warbler [Nick Balachanoff/CBC]
Rare warbler sighting thrills birders and photographers in Abbotsford
It should be wintering somewhere in the West Indies with its bird brothers and bird sisters. But instead of spending time in Turks and Caicos or Barbados, a tiny yellow Cape May warbler has somehow ended up in Abbotsford, B.C. "We don't see this here," said bird photographer Nick Balachanoff. "To my understanding, it's the first identified Cape May warbler in the Lower Mainland or Fraser Valley." The Cape May was spotted a few days ago by birder Neal Doan in Mill Lake Park. Doan put out the word to the local birding community, alerting Balachanoff, who was able to capture a number of beautiful photos. Karin Larson reports. (CBC)

In the great debate to save the orcas, the apex predator is missing
Danny Westneat writes: "It’s time to call it: We have decided, collectively though passively, to let the Puget Sound orcas go extinct. I say this because it should now be obvious to all that the whales are starving to death. The other day this newspaper ran before and after drone images of one whale, K25, that show it to be clearly wasting away. There also was a photo of another whale, J17, with a head misshapen from malnutrition. They simply need more food. Specifically, they need more chinook, or king, salmon. It’s an emergency, which means they need them now. Yet for all the political talk and the task forces, that one clear goal — giving the orcas more king salmon to eat immediately — is the one thing that’s not on the menu. That’s because those same fish are on our menus. (Seattle Times)

From the 2018 Orca Task Force Final Report to the Governor: "We align ourselves with the Recovery Plan for Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service (2008) and its goal of an average population growth rate of 2.3 percent per year for 28 years. Between now and 2022, our goal is to witness evidence of consistently well-nourished whales, more live births and the survival of several thriving young orcas. By 2028, our goals are to see the primary indicator of body condition of the whales (the ratio of head width to body length in adults) remain high and stable between seasons and across years and to see an increase in the population to 84 whales (10 more whales in 10 years)[Page 8]."

Health database for endangered orcas could help struggling Southern Resident population
The population of critically endangered orca whales seems to have reached a tipping point. Just 74 Southern Residents are left in the wild, a number that will likely drop this year after news broke this week of two more starving orcas.   A wildlife veterinarian on Orcas Island has one idea that could help: a comprehensive health database to enable intensive care to each and every member of the J, K and L pods. Joe Gaydos is chief scientist at Orcas Island-based SeaDoc Society. His organization has taken inspiration from a program that provides personalized veterinary care to endangered mountain gorillas in Africa. Using a database to closely track every animal, Gaydos says vets there have helped grow that population — to its highest level in nearly a century. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Humpback whale population surges off B.C.'s West Coast, says research group
While the endangered state of southern resident killer whales received plenty of attention in 2018, the humpback whale population has seen a resurgence. According to numbers collected for a year-end report by the Marine Education and Research Society — which conducts research into marine life — the humpback whale population off northeastern Vancouver Island, reached 86 in 2018, up from seven in 2004. "We are looking definitely at a huge increase," society researcher Jackie Hildering told On the Island guest host Khalil Acktar.  Laura Sciarpelletti reports. (CBC)

Ecology approves updated spill plan for Trans Mountain Pipeline
The state Department of Ecology has approved an oil spill response plan from the Canadian government for the 69-mile spur of the Trans Mountain Pipeline that runs through Whatcom and Skagit counties. Canada purchased the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder Morgan in 2018 and as the new owner was required by Washington state law to write a new oil spill response plan. In September, Ecology found Canada’s original proposed spill response plan inadequate. Ecology spokeswoman Sandy Howard said Canada submitted a revised plan, which Ecology has approved. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Hereditary chiefs in B.C. stand opposed to Coastal GasLink pipeline despite injunction
Hereditary chiefs and their supporters are standing their ground in a remote area of B.C., despite a court injunction saying they must move and grant access to a company trying to build a pipeline in the area. "We want them right off Wet'suwet'en territory," Chief Madeek said Sunday of the proposed Coastal GasLink project, which would carry natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to a plant near Kitimat. TransCanada has said it signed agreements with all First Nations along the proposed pipeline route to LNG Canada's $40-billion liquefied natural gas project on the coast. Chantelle Bellrichard reports. (CBC) See also: RCMP expected to break up northern B.C. First Nation’s check points  Jennifer Saltman reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Proposal Would Stabilize Payments for Forest-Dependent Counties
The program that was supposed to help rural counties weather declining timber sales revenue was fraught with uncertainty. A bipartisan bill would replace the Secure Rural Schools and Self Determination Act with a predictable and sustainable funding stream, proponents say. Bryce Oates reports. (Daily Yonder)

WSF: Mystery bacteria caused accelerated corrosion at Colman Dock
Washington State Ferries says an unidentified organism is responsible for accelerated corrosion on some of the new steel pilings that are being counted on to support the new ferry terminal at Colman Dock in Seattle for the next 75 years. During a routine monitoring process in June, workers observed “accelerated” bright orange corrosion on some of the steel piles at the waterline, said WSF spokesperson Broch Bender. Testing of the corrosion has indicated an unknown bacteria was to blame, but the specific organism has yet to be determined, Bender said. The agency is familiar with bacteria that cause corrosion in Puget Sound, but “this one is unknown,” Bender said. “We’re not sure what it was.” Nathan Pilling reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Now, your tug weather--West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  525 AM PST Mon Jan 7 2019   
 W wind 15 to 25 kt becoming NW to 10 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less. W  swell 8 ft at 10 seconds. A slight chance of showers in the  morning. 
 E wind 10 to 20 kt rising to 20 to 30 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft building to 3 to 5 ft after  midnight. W swell 5 ft at 11 seconds.

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