Monday, February 18, 2019

2/18 Race Rocks, BC pipe, BC LNG, US 'waters,' Lake Erie rights, David Lopeman, orca rules, Octo Week, Edith Iglauer

Race Rocks light [Wikipedia]
Race Rocks Light
Race Rocks Light is one of the first two lighthouses that were built on the west coast of Canada, financed by the British Government and illuminated in 1860. It is the only lighthouse on that coast built of rock, (granite) purportedly quarried in Scotland, and topped with sandstone quarried on Gabriola Island. The Islands of Race Rocks are located just off the southern tip of Vancouver Island, about 16 km (10 mi) southwest of Victoria, British Columbia. Race Rocks Ecological Reserve is also a designated Marine Protected Area  managed by the staff and students at Pearson College, and is available as a resource for research and education. (Wikipedia)

Federal cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline
Canada’s energy regulator will tell the federal government this week whether it still thinks the Trans Mountain pipeline should be expanded, but cabinet’s final say on the project’s future is still several months away. The National Energy Board is reconsidering the project’s impact on marine life, including highly endangered southern resident killer whales, after the Federal Court of Appeal ruled last year that the NEB’s 2016 approval failed to properly take into account how the whales would be affected by having additional oil tankers in their waters. The report’s delivery will start the clock on a 90-day deadline for cabinet to decide whether the controversial project will proceed, a deadline officials are already signalling could be pushed back. Mia Rabson reports. (Canadian Press)

Steelhead LNG halts work on Kwispaa LNG project
In a letter posted to the Huu-ay-aht First Nations website, the First Nation says they’ve received notification that Steelhead LNG has stopped work on the Kwispaa LNG Project. The letter dated February 15, 2019, says “We are deeply disappointed, and over the coming weeks your government will evaluate the implications  of this decision by Steelhead LNG, identify all go‐forward options, and assess how best to advance the interests of our citizens.” The letter doesn’t say why the project has been halted, and Steelhead LNG has not released any information about the announcement. Steelhead LNG was supposed to source natural gas for the LNG facility from various producers in northeastern British Columbia and northwestern Alberta. Steelhead was supposed to build a pipeline from the Chetwynd area to Williams Lake area, southwest to Powell River, then across the Salish Sea to the Kwispaa LNG facility on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Adam Reaburn reports. (Energeticcity)

Work suspended on pipeline after ancient First Nation tools found
Coastal GasLink says it has suspended pipeline work south of Houston, B.C., while claims of the discovery of Indigenous artifacts on the site are investigated. The company says it has cordoned off the area, requested that a qualified archeologist visit the site and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission will conduct another site visit to investigate the claims. It says an archeological impact assessment for the site was approved in 2016, but the company and its archeologists were not able to conduct on-site fieldwork during the regulatory and permitting process due to road access issues. (Canadian Press)

'Waters of the United States redefinition' notice
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) propose to establish a revised definition of the term ‘waters of the United States’. Comments must be received by 15 April. 84 Fed. Reg. 4154 (2/14/19) Federal Register Notice.

Legal Rights for Lake Erie? Voters in Ohio City Will Decide
The failing health of Lake Erie, the world’s 11th largest lake, is at the heart of one of the most unusual questions to appear on an American ballot: Should a body of water be given rights normally associated with those granted to a person? Voters in Toledo, Ohio, will be asked this month to decide whether Lake Erie, which supports the economies of four states, one Canadian province and the cities of Toledo, Cleveland and Buffalo, has the legal right “to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve.” The peculiar ballot question comes amid a string of environmental calamities at the lake — poisonous algal blooms in summer, runoff containing fertilizer and animal manure, and a constant threat from invasive fish. But this special election is not merely symbolic. It is legal strategy: If the lake gets legal rights, the theory goes, people can sue polluters on its behalf. Timothy Williams reports. (NY Times)

Longtime Squaxin Island Tribal Chairman David E. Lopeman remembered for 'leadership and will' 
David E. Lopeman, longtime chairman of the Squaxin Island Tribe, is remembered as a staunch supporter of the tribe’s sovereignty and a champion of much of its business development. Mr. Lopeman, 75, died in his sleep at his home in Kamilche on Jan. 9, according to the tribe. He served on the Squaxin Island Tribal Council for 30 years — 24 as chairman — and those who knew him say he had a hand in everything. Asia Fields reports. (Seattle Times)

Lawmakers propose new watercraft restrictions to save southern resident orcas
Lawmakers, whale watchers and environmentalists reached a rare consensus at a hearing on a proposed speed limit for boats operating near Puget Sound’s endangered southern resident orcas this week. However, they were less successful when it came to measures that would restrict commercial and other whale watching activities in the area. Senate Bill 5577 would make it illegal for a person to operate a vessel over seven knots in speed within a half nautical mile of southern resident orcas. It would also be unlawful for any whale watch vessel to approach within 650 yards of the orcas until Jan. 1, 2023. Current regulations prohibit vessels from approaching within 200 yards of a southern resident orca or positioning themselves within 400 yards of the expected path of the animals. Sean Harding reports. (Bainbridge Reporter)

Killer whales eat dolphins. So why are these dolphins tempting fate?
Killer whales are the only predators that regularly kill and devour Pacific white-sided dolphins off the B.C. and Washington coasts. So researchers were surprised when drone footage showed such dolphins playing within a few fin-spans of killer whales' toothy jaws.... It turns out the dolphins have nothing to fear from these particular killer whales, also known as orcas. Southern resident killer whales are nearly physically identical to, very genetically similar to, and officially the same species as dolphin-eating Bigg's killer whales that roam the same waters. But it just so happens that southern resident killer whales are strict pescatarians that avoid all red meat, although they eat fish. Somehow, the dolphins can tell the difference. Emily Chung reports. (CBC)

Raise your hands if you like octopus 
The Seattle Aquarium kicked off Octopus Week on Saturday, Feb. 16, with the release of a 65-pound giant Pacific octopus named Dash into Puget Sound. The cephalopod celebration continues through Sunday, Feb. 24. For a schedule of events, see: Alan Berner reports. (Seattle Times)

Writer Edith Iglauer's legacy on the B.C. fishing village she made home
Iglauer, 101, passed away on Feb. 13, 2019 in Sechelt, B.C.... Iglauer travelled to the Arctic, writing about Inuit-run co-operatives and the ice road network. She wrote memorable profiles of prominent Canadians like Vancouver architect Arthur Erickson, artist Bill Reid, and Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Then, for a story on West Coast commercial fishing, Iglauer came to Pender Harbour on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast. It was an assignment that would change the trajectory of her life. Iglauer, who had since divorced her first husband in 1966, met commercial salmon-trawler John Daly. The unconventional couple fell in love, married and she moved to the area where she would spend the rest of her life.  Roshini Nair reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  317 AM PST Mon Feb 18 2019   
 SE wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft  at 15 seconds. 
 Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 5 ft at  14 seconds.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

2/15 Red sponge nudibranch, salmon research, blueback closure, oil train wrecks, shot seal recovery

Red sponge nudibranch [Dave Cowles]
Red sponge nudibranch Rostanga pulchra
This species feeds on, and is often found on, red sponges such as Acarnus, Esperiopsis, Ophlitaspongia, and Plocamia.  It lays its eggs in a tight orange circle on the sponges March to October (photo).  The larvae are planktonic for 30-45 days, then settle.  An encounter with at least one prey sponge, Ophlitaspongia pennata, can induce larvae to settle.  It is believed that its orange pigment comes from the sponge.  Adults can locate and navigate to distant Ophlitaspongia sponges by smell.  Some individuals seem to stay quite close to one area while others range for distant sponges.  Predators may include the flatworm Notoplana acticola.  The cephalaspidean predatory nudibranch Navanax inermis is repelled by secretions from Rostanga. (Walla Walla University)

BC-led international expedition to probe ailing Pacific salmon stocks
An unprecedented international collaboration could revolutionize salmon science and fisheries management, return forecasting and even hatchery output. Nineteen scientists from Russia, Canada, the United States, Japan and South Korea are set to probe the secret lives of five Pacific salmon species with a four-week grid search and test fishery across the Gulf of Alaska. The expedition begins next week aboard the Russian research ship MV Professor Kaganovsky. “We know virtually nothing about what happens to salmon once they leave near-shore waters in the Salish Sea,” said expedition organizer Dick Beamish. The project was developed as a research element of the 2019 International Year of the Salmon celebration, organized by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and its partners. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Blueback closure latest in Quinault climate change impacts
The decision to close commercial fishing for Quinault River blueback (sockeye) salmon for conservation purposes this year is part of the ongoing effort by the Quinault Indian Nation to deal with the very tangible costs of climate change. After announcing the blueback closure on the river last week for 2019, Quinault President Fawn Sharp traveled to Washington, D.C. with a message for Congress about how the entire Quinault ecosystem from the glacier to the ocean is being harmed by climate conditions that have major impacts, economically as well as environmentally. Angelo Bruscas reports. (North Coast News)

Feds requiring regional response teams to oil train wrecks 
Federal transportation officials are requiring railroads to establish regional response teams along oil train routes following a series of fiery derailments. The new rule announced Thursday is aimed at having crews and equipment ready in the event of an accident. It applies to oil trains in continuous blocks of 20 or more loaded tank cars and those having 35 loaded tank cars. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued the rule in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration. The pipeline safety agency said a review identified challenges that occurred during previous responses to derailments. John Raby reports. (Associated Press)

If you want to watch: Pregnant seal shot in Puget Sound recovers, ready for release
A pregnant seal shot in Puget Sound is in recovery. Hear what happened, and why her caretakers are looking forward to this weekend. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  303 AM PST Fri Feb 15 2019   
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 8 to  10 ft building to 12 ft at 15 seconds. A chance of showers. 
 S wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 10 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2  to 4 ft subsiding to 1 or 2 ft. W swell 10 to 12 ft at 14  seconds. A chance of showers. 
 W wind 10 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 or 2 ft. W swell 9 ft at  12 seconds. A chance of showers. 
 Variable wind to 10 kt becoming E 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 3 to 5 ft after  midnight. W swell 9 ft at 10 seconds. 
 E wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 7 ft at  10 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, February 14, 2019

2/14 Lovebird, Gamble Bay freeze, road salt, indigenous people rights, Methow mining, Great Gray Owl, sperm test

Grey-headed lovebird [Tony Austin/Flickr]
Lovebird Agapornis
A lovebird is the common name of Agapornis (Greek: αγάπη agape 'love'; όρνις ornis 'bird'), a small genus of parrot. Eight species are native to the African continent, with the grey-headed lovebird being native to Madagascar. Social and affectionate, the name comes from the parrots' strong, monogamous pair bonding and the long periods which paired birds spend sitting together. (Wikipedia)

It's been that cold: Gamble Bay partially freezes over during cold snap
It's a very rare sight to see any kind of large body of water freeze around here, but that was the case earlier this week with Gamble Bay over on the Kitsap Peninsula. Frigid temperatures combined with snow run off to bring the surface of the water below freezing, even though the bay itself is salt water. It's not exactly as captivating as a perfectly spinning circle of ice, but it's still quite the rare treat to see in the Northwest. "Obviously one of the most used phrases over the past 10 days has been 'I have never seen anything like this,' " life-long Puget Sound resident Greg Johnson wrote in a blog entry. "This qualifies as a story about something I have never seen before." Scott Sistek reports. (KOMO)

Salt. Seattle's go-to deicer, despite its downsides
One of the main tools that road crews have been fighting the Seattle area’s snowpocalypse with is salt—despite salt’s many well-known downsides. “There’s quite a long list,” engineering professor Xianming Shi with Washington State University said. “The salt on the road is an enormous problem on your car,” Darlene Feikema of Shoreline said while out shoveling her driveway. “It doesn’t show up immediately, but it corrodes the car, rusts it out.”.... Veterinarians recommend wiping or rinsing off dogs’ paws after they walk near salt-treated roads. Road salt also pollutes waterways and groundwater and shortens the lifespan of asphalt and concrete infrastructure. Still, Seattle officials have been touting how much, not how little, salt road crews have been applying. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

B.C. commits to being 1st province in Canada to put UNDRIP into legislation
The B.C. government says it will introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), among plans announced in Tuesday's throne speech. The goal is to table legislation sometime this year. If passed, it will make B.C. the first province in Canada to legislate its endorsement of the declaration. Premier John Horgan told reporters on Tuesday he's unsure what implementation will look like — if a single bill will do the job or if several pieces of legislation will need to be rewritten. He said legislative councils are working on the details and will be reporting back with their findings. Chantelle Bellrichard reports. (CBC)

In Methow Valley, locals hope D.C. lawmakers will stop a copper mine
A bird could fly the distance between the general store in Mazama and a proposed 531-square-mile strip-mining operation in about 10 minutes, a journey that includes traversing a vertical mile. Owned and operated by Ric and Missy LeDucs, the store serves the Okanogan County town’s population of maybe 200 in Washington’s northern Cascades, about 2,000 feet above sea level. Just north of the hamlet is 7,000-foot Goat Peak.... On the opposite side of the ridge and Flagg Mountain is the site currently targeted by Blue River Resources, a Vancouver, B.C., mining company that has had its eye on the land since 2013. The company sees potential to extract copper, up to 1 billion pounds, or 500,000 tons, according to its website.... DeLuc and other residents in the valley opposed to the operation are looking to Washington, D.C., where a bill by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., was tucked inside a package of roughly 110 natural resource bills bound together by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Cantwell. The Senate passed that package 87-7 on Tuesday. John Stang reports. (Crosscut)

Half Mystery, Half Magic: In Search Of Great Grey Owls
Nicknamed the "ghosts of the forest," great grey owls are elusive. Photographer Ken Shults is on a quest to find and photograph these elegant owls. Ian McCluskey reports. (OPB)

Yesterday's pre-Valentine's Day story [Nothing says Valentine’s quite like mucus, semen and crunchy sea urchins] prompted Rick Haley of Skagit County to write: "Did you know that if you inject sea urchins (and sand dollars) with KCl [potassium chloride], they will start spawning immediately? In my previous life conducting aquatic toxicology tests with paper mill effluents, we did a lot of sea urchin sperm testing.  One of the pioneers of that test was our very own Dr. Paul Dinnel.  The idea was to expose the sperm to effluent dilutions, then add eggs to see if they could still do the job.  Echinoid [sea urchin] eggs, once fertilized, form a very distinct fertilization ring that’s easy to count.  What we found was that pulp mill effluent was way more “toxic” to sea urchin sperm than to freshwater organisms like trout and Ceriodaphnia [daphnids].  We did all kinds of stats trying to relate the known toxicants in the effluent to the effects we were seeing, and got nowhere.  Eventually we arrived at the determination that it wasn’t the chlorinated organics, it was high molecular mass compounds that were from the wood itself.  The best correlation was with tannin levels.  I tested the theory by brewing a really strong cup of tea, and we found that was extremely “toxic” to the sperm cells.  I put toxic in parenthesis because it was probably more a physical effect interfering with the acrosome reaction than a traditional chemical toxicity.  I should stress that this info is at least 20 years old and pulp mill effluent toxicology could have changed markedly since then."

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  314 AM PST Thu Feb 14 2019   
 E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. S swell 6 ft  at 12 seconds. A chance of rain in the morning then rain likely  in the afternoon. 
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. S swell  6 ft at 15 seconds building to W swell 8 ft at 16 seconds after  midnight. Rain in the evening then showers likely 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, February 13, 2019

2/13 Creeping jenny, park funds, Valentine gifts, Green New Deal, climate where you live

Creeping jenny
Creeping jenny Lysimachia nummularia
Creeping jenny is a garden escapee that has become established occasional from southwestern B.C. south to the Willamette Valley. The common name comes from a translation of the Latin lysimachia, which earns 'ending strife' or 'loosening strife.' This plant apparently deters gnats and flies, which may be why it was used to quiet 'quarrelsome beasts such as horses and oxen at the plough' (stopping their strife). Loosestrife also used to be burned inside the house to drive out serpents, flies and gnats. Pliny says that it was named after the Thracian king Lysimachus (ca. 360-281 BC), a companion of Alexander. (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast)

North Cascades National Park projects awarded $400,000
Washington’s National Park Fund announced this week it has given $1.6 million to the state’s three national parks, including the North Cascades National Park Service Complex that includes land in east Skagit County. It is the largest annual distribution in the organization’s history, according to a news release.... The North Cascades National Park received about $400,000 for 10 projects including wildlife research, electric vehicle improvements, internships and law enforcement equipment. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Nothing says Valentine’s quite like mucus, semen and crunchy sea urchins
This year, nothing may say love better than whale snot. Yeah. Really. But, if you don’t think your beloved will thrill to your passion celebrated by a drone-flying researcher collecting droplet samples from a humpback’s big blow (at a very affordable $22), why not a $14 frog fertility test? A couple of Canadian species are on the brink of extinction, and identifying the biggest and best studs at the Vancouver Aquarium could help bring them back. Then again, if that all seems a bit too real (and frankly a bit yucky), you can always punctuate your warm, fuzzy feelings for him or her by providing tasty, spiky and live sea urchin as food for the adorable sea otters. That sea urchin snack could even prove a 10-buck balm to the bereft. If you’re lovelorn, there’s a chance that the aquarium folks might be willing to name the urchin after an ex. It’s that kind of revenge offering from the El Paso zoo in Texas that went viral a few days ago. Daphne Bramham reports. (Vancouver Sun)

McConnell Plans To Bring Green New Deal To Senate Vote
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Tuesday that he wants the Senate to vote on a massive plan to fight climate change. “I’ve noted with great interest the Green New Deal, and we’re going to be voting on that in the Senate,” McConnell said at a Senate Republican news conference. “I’ll give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., unveiled the “Green New Deal” framework last week. The legislation is a nonbinding resolution that is meant to outline a plan to massively curtail carbon emissions while undertaking sweeping economic changes to boost jobs and worker rights. It also immediately provoked controversy. While some environmental advocates applauded the plan’s grand scope, experts said the plan’s aim to get to net-zero carbon emissions in 10 years seemed unrealistic. Critics also pounced on a blog post from Ocasio-Cortez’s office — now taken down — that said the policy assures “economic security to all who are unable or unwilling to work.” In addition, the bill lays out some lofty goals that could require massive, difficult-to-administer new programs, like a job guarantee and a plan to upgrade every building in the country for energy efficiency.  Danielle Kurtzleben reports. (NPR)

Contemporary climatic analogs for 540 North American urban areas in the late 21st century
Researchers Matthew C. Fitzpatrick and Robert R. Dunn write of their project: "A major challenge in articulating human dimensions of climate change lies in translating global climate forecasts into impact assessments that are intuitive to the public. Climate-analog mapping involves matching the expected future climate at a location (e.g., a person’s city of residence) with current climate of another, potentially familiar, location - thereby providing a more relatable, place-based assessment of climate change. For 540 North American urban areas, we used climate-analog mapping to identify the location that has a contemporary climate most similar to each urban area’s expected 2080’s climate. We show that climate of most urban areas will shift considerably and become either more akin to contemporary climates hundreds of kilometers away and mainly to the south or will have no modern equivalent. Combined with an interactive web application, we provide an intuitive means of raising public awareness of the implications of climate change for 250 million urban residents." (Nature Communications)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  249 AM PST Wed Feb 13 2019   
 E wind 5 to 15 kt becoming 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 8 ft at 12 seconds. 
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. W swell 7 ft  at 12 seconds subsiding to 5 ft at 11 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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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

2/12 C-O sole, Skagit chum, BC pals, New Carissa, EPA chemicals, wall rules, public-lands bill, Bernhardt's buddy, Hawaii carbon, Columbia paddle

C-O sole [Herb Gruenhagen/divebums]
C-O sole Pleuronichthys coenosus
Abundant in wide variety of habitats. Adults found at depths below 60 feet; juvenile in shallower water in summer. Feeds on spoons, amphipods, worms and small clams. Southeastern Alaska to northern Baja California. Raised eyes, so close set they almost touch. Dark sickle an dot on rounded tail fin (especially in juveniles) give species the name C-O. Grows to 14 inches. (Marine Life of Puget Sound, the San Juans, and the Strait of Georgia)

Skagit River chum returns continue to decline
The number of chum salmon in the Skagit River watershed continues to reach new lows since monitoring began in the 1960s. The most recent tally is in from the state Department of Fish & Wildlife and area treaty tribes that co-manage the salmon, and the numbers don’t look good. Fish & Wildlife regional fish biologist Brett Barkdull said the preliminary estimated return for this winter is 18,514 fish. “I’m disappointed in this number,” he said. “We forecast 44,000, and we obviously didn’t even get half of that.” Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

A peek into the friendship between B.C.’s killer whales and dolphins
Local dolphins like to spend time in close quarters with B.C.’s fish-eating killer whales, according to newly released drone images and video from the Marine Mammal Research Program at the Coastal Ocean Research Institute. Pacific white-sided dolphins can be observed foraging with northern and southern resident killer whales, who appear to accept their companionship for the most part. The orcas can get irritated when they are “mobbed” by their smaller counterparts, the researchers say. Or they could be studying the whales out of a desire for self-preservation. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

New blog: Remembering the New Carissa 
Oil spill veteran Don Norman tells his story about what he was doing 20 years ago along the Oregon coast. "When the call came to help on the New Carissa, it was a real winter infusion of adventure (and some paying work for a winter with no work)."

EPA decision soon on chemical compounds tied to health risks
The chemical compounds are all around you. They’re on many fabrics, rugs and carpets, cooking pots and pans, outdoor gear, shampoo, shaving cream, makeup and even dental floss. Increasing numbers of states have found them seeping into water supplies. There’s growing evidence that long-term exposure to the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, can be dangerous, even in tiny amounts. The Environmental Protection Agency is looking at how to respond to a public push for stricter regulation of the chemicals, in production since the 1940s. A decision is expected soon. Ellen Knickmeyer, Michael Casey and John Flesher report. (Associated Press)

Government Can Waive Environmental Laws To Build Border Wall Prototypes, Court Rules 
The Trump administration was within its rights to waive dozens of environmental laws to fast track some border construction projects in southern California, a federal appeals court has ruled. The Department of Homeland Security said in 2017 it would bypass various environmental regulations — including the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, and Endangered Species Act — to quickly construct barriers and roads near the U.S.-Mexico border, NPR reported. By granting itself the waiver, the government avoided the requirement to complete environmental impact studies. Environmental advocacy groups and the state of California quickly challenged the waiver in court, arguing the agency overstepped its authority. The court ruled Monday that the agency has “a broad grant of authority” to waive environmental statutes if the director finds it necessary to quickly complete security projects. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 explicitly gave the government that power, the court said. Matthew S. Schwartz reports. (NPR)

Here's what the massive public-lands bill means for conservation, climate change in Washington state
The U.S. Senate this week is expected to consider a sprawling public-lands bill containing everything from a measure to give Seattle’s Nordic Museum a national designation to one that authorizes a multibillion-dollar Yakima Valley water project politicians here have coveted for years. Sens. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington state, and Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, together introduced the bipartisan bill, which tallies more than 660 pages, promises to reshape public lands across the country and lines up politicians’ favored projects for federal support.The bill would permanently preserve a pillar of conservation, the recently lapsed Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and also make changes that Cantwell said will help the Northwest, and the rest of the country, prepare for climate change. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times)

Top Leader at Interior Dept. Pushes a Policy Favoring His Former Client
As a lobbyist and lawyer, David Bernhardt fought for years on behalf of a group of California farmers to weaken Endangered Species Act protections for a finger-size fish, the delta smelt, to gain access to irrigation water. As a top official since 2017 at the Interior Department, Mr. Bernhardt has been finishing the job: He is working to strip away the rules the farmers had hired him to oppose. Last week President Trump said he would nominate Mr. Bernhardt to lead the Interior Department, making him the latest in a line of officials now regulating industries that once paid them to work as lobbyists. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Should Hawaii Tax Carbon Emissions To Combat Climate Change?
As the effects of climate change become more real, Hawaii lawmakers are considering steps to persuade businesses and individuals to cut back on their greenhouse gas emissions. A carbon tax is the essential policy to financially incentivize a carbon dioxide reduction that’s big enough and quick enough to matter, according to a growing number of state, federal and international agencies. Nathan Eagle reports. (Civil Beat)

Paddling Into The Heart Of Northwest History On The Columbia River Trail
The Columbia is the river everyone seems to know about but doesn’t really "know." The Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership would like to change that — with a water trail you can paddle. Danika Sanchez reports. (OPB)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  259 AM PST Tue Feb 12 2019   
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 10 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less in the afternoon.  SW swell 6 ft at 9 seconds building to W 8 ft at 15 seconds in  the afternoon. Rain likely in the morning then showers likely in  the afternoon. 
 S wind to 10 kt becoming SE 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 8 ft at 13 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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Monday, February 11, 2019

2/11 Hummingbirds, fishers, Whidbey water suit, Sound sewage, Sewell's Marina, wind turbines, declining insects

Anna's hummingbird [Mike Hamilton/BirdNote]
Anna's Hummingbirds Winter in the North
Most hummingbirds retreat south in autumn, but Anna's Hummingbirds are found in northern latitudes throughout the year. Since 1960, they've moved their year-round limit north from California to British Columbia. They're taking advantage of flowering plants and shrubs, as well as hummingbird feeders. But how do they survive the northern cold? They suspend their high rate of metabolism by entering a state of torpor – a sort of nightly hibernation, where heart rate and body temperature are reduced to a bare minimum. Many hummingbirds, including those in the high Andes, rely on the same strategy. (BirdNote) See also: The Hummingbird as Warrior: Evolution of a Fierce and Furious Beak  James Gorman reports. (NY Times)

More fishers released in North Cascades
Another six fishers scurried into the forest Wednesday near the base of the North Cascades east of Darrington after being released from wooden crates. The release brings the total number of fishers — carnivores related to weasels — released into the North Cascades region to 24 since the first group bounded into the woods near Newhalem on Dec. 5. Fourteen females and 10 males are now settling into area forests. The fishers were brought from Alberta, Canada, with help from the Calgary Zoo and were surgically implanted with radio transmitters to keep wildlife biologists apprised of their whereabouts. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Whidbey Island resident files lawsuit over water contamination
An Oak Harbor resident who says her well was contaminated with chemicals from firefighting foam used at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. The lawsuit accuses five companies involved in the manufacture, marketing, sales and delivery of the firefighting foam of knowingly putting the water — and therefore the environment and public health — at risk in areas around NAS Whidbey Island and hundreds of other military bases.... The lawsuit was filed Tuesday as a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Court Appeal Filed to Protect Puget Sound
NWEA [Northwest Environmental Advocates] sued the Washington Department of Ecology in Thurston County Superior Court today [2/8] in its bid to modernize pollution removal at Puget Sound sewage treatment plants.  The appeal challenges Ecology’s January refusal to update its rules that allow dischargers to use 100-year-old pollution control technology while Puget Sound faces emergency levels of toxic and nutrient pollution. (NWEA News Release)
Long cleanup expected as crews work to fix Horseshoe Bay marina
Crews are busy cleaning up in West Vancouver, B.C., after severe winds tore through a marina on Saturday and sunk a barge. The Sewell's Marina in Horseshoe Bay is littered with debris and is being monitored for pollution. Some residents are calling the damage catastrophic....On Saturday, winds blew up to 90 km/h across the Howe Sound. Large waves crashed into Sewell's Marina, sinking an entire barge. Equipment and heavy machinery, including a forklift, tumbled into the water. (CBC)

Wind turbines to be running this year on Thurston county line
The energy company behind the 38-turbine wind energy project along the Lewis-Thurston county line is nearing the construction phase as the environmental permitting process wraps up. “As long as we can get the (final environmental impact statement) on the street, published by mid-next week, I think we’ll be OK,” said Sean Bell, senior development manager with RES-Americas. Bell said construction on the Skookumchuck Wind Energy Project is slated to begin in April, with the turbines up and running at the end of December. Those timelines remain on track, despite some frustrations with the permitting process. Alex Brown reports. (Centralia Chronicle)

Global insect decline may see 'plague of pests'
A scientific review of insect numbers suggests that 40% of species are undergoing "dramatic rates of decline" around the world. The study says that bees, ants and beetles are disappearing eight times faster than mammals, birds or reptiles. But researchers say that some species, such as houseflies and cockroaches, are likely to boom. The general insect decline is being caused by intensive agriculture, pesticides and climate change. Matt McGrath reports. (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  252 AM PST Mon Feb 11 2019   
 E wind 15 to 25 kt rising to 20 to 30 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 6 ft at 9 seconds. A  slight chance of rain in the morning then snow likely in the  afternoon. 
 E wind 20 to 30 kt easing to 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 5 ft at 9 seconds. Snow  in the evening then 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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Friday, February 8, 2019

2/8 Periwinkle, snow storm, MV Marathassa, BC pipe, PRV risk, Skookum Cr., Green New Deal, saving whales, shooting sea lions, SeaDoc film

Sitka periwinkle [Jenn Burt]
Periwinkles Family Littorinidae
Strictly high intertidal. Can survive long periods out of water and are thought to be ancestors of most land snails. Like land snails, they exude slime to help in gliding over rough surfaces. Periwinkles have fat shells with rounded openings. Good eyes and large tentacles. Sexes separate; male has large penis to the right of head. Use long radula, with up to 300 rows of minute teeth, to scrape microscopic algae off rocks. (Marine Wildlife of Puget Sound, the San Juans, and the Strait of Georgia)

'Absolutely classic' winter storm predicted to hit Puget Sound region Friday
Forecasts show a major winter storm heading for the Puget Sound, just days after a less severe one disrupted traffic, schools and other day-to-day activities Monday. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass predicts the latest system will be “absolutely classic,” with likely extraordinary snowfall. “There is going to be a major snow event over much of the Pacific Northwest starting late Friday and continuing into the weekend,” he said in a blog post Wednesday, adding that regional snowfall could range from 8 inches to more than a foot in some areas. “We are talking over a foot of snow in central Puget Sound. Two feet in some of the foothills locations. Unbelievable.” Kari Plog reports. (KNKX) See also: Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley prepping for snow, 'bitterly cold' winds  (CBC)

Cargo ship acquitted of all charges relating to 2015 oil spill
The cargo ship MV Marathassa has been acquitted of the last charges it faced relating to the April 8, 2015, spill that saw 2,700 litres of bunker fuel dumped into Vancouver's English Bay. On Thursday, Judge Kathryn Denhoff acquitted the ship of charges under the Canada Shipping Act, ruling that while the ship discharged a pollutant, she accepted the ship's defence that it used due diligence in the case. She found that the discharge came from shipbuilder defects which neither the owner nor crew could have discovered beforehand on the brand new vessel.  Tina Lovgreen and Paisley Woodward report. (CBC)

Governor says Washington will try to influence Trans Mountain 'every way' it can
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the state shares concerns with British Columbia about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and will try to influence the project every way it can under Canadian law. Inslee made the comments at a joint news conference in Seattle today with B.C. Premier John Horgan, who is visiting the state to discuss partnerships on endangered killer whales, clean energy and high-speed transportation. Inslee says Washington's Department of Ecology has made a vigorous, robust statement about its concerns about the pipeline project and he has exercised his right to speak publicly about his objections. (Canadian Press)

Scientific experts say fish virus poses low risk to Fraser River sockeye
Fisheries and Oceans Canada says the risk to British Columbia's Fraser River sockeye salmon posed by a potentially lethal virus is minimal, but there's still more to learn so the department will remain vigilant. Federal scientists were among 33 members of a peer review panel that looked at the data and risk assessment of piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV. Gilles Olivier, who co-chaired the review, says some knowledge gaps about the virus include how long it survives and its concentration in the water. He says while the virus is causing mortality in fish in Norway, it's not killing British Columbia's sockeye or Atlantic salmon even when it is injected in high doses. (Canadian Press)

Whatcom Land Trust spends $4 million to protect this wild Whatcom habitat for the future
Thousands of acres of forest and salmon habitat in Whatcom County will be protected through the Whatcom Land Trust’s $4 million purchase of what’s being called the Skookum Creek Conservation Corridor. The land trust announced the sale this week, saying it was one of the largest community campaigns in the land trust’s 35-year history. Nearly all of the money for the acquisition came from private sources, specifically more than 600 community members. Weyerhaeuser Co. sold the timberland to the land trust, making possible the permanent protection of 1,400 acres of riparian forest, land that’s adjacent to a river or other type of flowing water, and uplands, according to a news release that the land trust issued on Wednesday. The purchase includes 2.3 miles of the creek, which is the largest tributary of the South Fork of the Nooksack River. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Liberal Democrats Formally Call for a Green New Deal, Giving Substance to a Rallying Cry
Liberal Democrats put flesh on their “Green New Deal” slogan on Thursday with a sweeping resolution intended to redefine the national debate on climate change by calling for the United States to eliminate additional emissions of carbon by 2030. The measure, drafted by freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, is intended to answer the demand, by the party’s restive base, for a grand strategy that combats climate change, creates jobs and offers an affirmative response to the challenge to core party values posed by President Trump. The resolution has more breadth than detail and is so ambitious that Republicans greeted it with derision. Its legislative prospects are bleak in the foreseeable future; Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has no plan to bring it to the floor for a vote, according to a Democratic leadership aide with direct knowledge of her plans. But as a blueprint for liberal ambition, it was breathtaking. Lisa Friedman and Glenn Thrush report. (NY Times)

Wildlife rescues may inform orca strategies
Among all the endangered Great Apes in the world, only the mountain gorillas of Africa are in the midst of a population increase, and success has been largely attributed to a close connection with humans — allowing medical intervention when necessary. How gorillas were rescued from extinction could provide some ideas for saving the southern resident killer whales, according to Joe Gaydos, a veterinarian with the SeaDoc Society and a leader in the effort to develop medical records for the 75 endangered orcas. Chris Dunagan reports in Part 2 of the series. (Salish Sea Currents)

$20,000 reward offered for information about Puget Sound sea lion shootings
NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement is offering up to a $20,000 reward for information after more than 12 sea lions were found shot around West Seattle since September.... Anyone with information is asked to call 206-526-4300, or the 24/7 hotline for reporting marine resource violations at 1-800-853-1964. Sea lions are protected by the Marine Mammal Act. The fine for killing a sea lion can be up to a year in prison and penalties of up to $28,520. The illegal killings often have no witnesses, so it's rare anyone is prosecuted for the crime. (KING)

If you like to watch: Voyage to the Bottom of the Salish Sea
In this episode, Joe Gaydos and Team SeaDoc embark on a week of deep-sea exploration in the Salish Sea where they break a world record and make observations never before recorded by scientists. (Salish Sea Wild)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  317 AM PST Fri Feb 8 2019   
 SW wind to 10 kt becoming E 15 to 25 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft in the  afternoon. W swell 6 ft at 12 seconds. A chance of snow in the  morning then snow in the afternoon. 
 E wind 15 to 25 kt rising to 25 to 35 kt after  midnight. Combined seas 5 to 8 ft with a dominant period of  17 seconds. A chance of snow. 
 NE wind 25 to 35 kt becoming 30 to 40 kt in the afternoon.  Combined seas 8 to 9 ft with a dominant period of 19 seconds. A  chance of snow in the morning. 
 NE wind 25 to 35 kt. Combined seas 7 to 8 ft with a  dominant period of 19 seconds. 
 E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. W swell 5 ft at  17 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, February 7, 2019

2/7 Catshark, seal harvest, warm year, Green New Deal, wildfire smoke, tidal boundary suit, oyster pesticide, Columbia dams, whale watching rules, orca med care, NW Forest Plan, fish pen permit, seabird deaths, sewage spill

Brown catshark [NOAA Okeanos Explorer]
Brown Catshark Apristurus brunneus
The brown catshark ranges from British Columbia, Canada to northern Baja California, Mexico, and probably south to Panama, Ecuador, and Peru.  They are found on the outer continental shelf and upper slope over muddy or sandy bottoms in water depths from 33 to 950 m (108-3,116 ft). Caught incidentally in the commercial fishery off the outer Washington coast with otter and midwater trawls.  (WDFW)

B.C. First Nations to harvest seals for toxin tests, build industry
If local harbour seals are fit to eat, they could soon find themselves on the menu in fancy restaurants from Montreal to Beijing and beyond. First Nations hunters and fishermen up and down B.C.’s coast are being asked to harvest seals for lab tests that will determine if they are safe for human consumption. The Pacific Balance Pinniped Society is asking for samples of liver, heart, flesh and blubber for laboratory testing with an eye to selling into markets hungry for seal and sea lion meat in North America, Europe and Asia. Many coastal First Nations are already entitled to hunt seals and sea lions under their Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy agreements with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said society director Thomas Sewid. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

It’s Official: 2018 Was the Fourth Warmest Year on Record 
NASA scientists announced Wednesday that the Earth’s average surface temperature in 2018 was the fourth highest in nearly 140 years of record-keeping and a continuation of an unmistakable warming trend. The data means that the five warmest years in recorded history have been the last five, and that 18 of the 19 warmest years ever recorded have occurred since 2001. The quickly rising temperatures over the past two decades cap a much longer warming trend documented by researchers and correspond with the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity. John Schwartz and Nadja Popovich report. (NY Times)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Releases Green New Deal Outline
Whether it’s a deadly cold snap or a hole in an Antarctic glacier or a terrifying new report, there seem to be constant reminders now of the dangers that climate change poses to humanity. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., think they have a start to a solution. Thursday they are introducing a framework defining what they call a “Green New Deal” — what they foresee as a massive policy package that would remake the U.S. economy and, they hope, eliminate all U.S. carbon emissions. That’s a really big — potentially impossibly big — undertaking. Danielle Kurtzleben reports. (NPR)

Expect every year to be 'awful': Experts weigh how to protect B.C. public from wildfire smoke
If the last few years are any indication, wildfire smoke is becoming a fact of life in B.C. — and with that comes the inevitable questions about how it's affecting our health. As it turns out, the experts still have nearly as many questions as average British Columbians. On Wednesday, scientists from across North America gathered in Vancouver at a workshop organized by the B.C. Lung Association to share what they've learned so far and what they still need to figure out. One message came out loud and clear — the changing climate means we can expect longer and more severe fire seasons in the future, and we need to do what we can to protect public health. Bethany Lindsay reports. (CBC)

Federal judge refuses to dismiss Puget Sound lawsuit against US Corps of Engineers
A federal judge on Tuesday rejected an attempt by the US Army Corps of Engineers to dismiss a lawsuit challenging their refusal to protect vulnerable shoreline along the Puget Sound. The lawsuit deals with tidal jurisdiction boundaries. A key aspect in this dispute is the measurement of high tide along the coast of the Puget Sound in Washington state. The Seattle District of the Corps uses the “mean higher high water” as a high tide line marker, but this level marker is alleged to be out of date according to more recent data. In fact, 25 percent of high tides exceed the current measure of high tide. Additionally, the use of this measurement is inconsistent with other West Coast Corps districts. The measure of high tide is relevant for the region because of ongoing shoreline armoring. According to the Clean Water Act, shoreline armoring projects require a permit if they are located below the high tide line. Due to the inaccurate tide measurement, armoring projects are being undertaken without proper review. Stephanie Sundier reports. (Jurist)

Environmental groups try to block pesticide use for oysters
Environmental and public health groups are again trying to block the spraying of a controversial pesticide on oyster and clam beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. The state Ecology Department has blocked the use of the neurotoxic pesticide imidacloprid on the beds, but shellfish growers have appealed that decision to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board. Meanwhile, three bills in the Legislature would allow the spraying. State and federal officials say that mounting evidence shows the pesticide poses too great a risk to the environment because it kills invertebrates, including Dungeness crab. The oyster growers say they need it to kill native burrowing shrimp that destroy the shellfish beds. The Center for Food Safety, Western Environmental Law Center, Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat and Center for Biological Diversity this week filed papers seeking to intervene in the appeal before the Pollution Control Hearings Board. (Associated Press)

EPA ices Washington state’s effort to regulate hot water in Columbia, Snake rivers
A move to initiate state regulation of salmon-killing hot water in the Columbia and Snake rivers has been iced by the Trump Administration — for now. The state Department of Ecology has initiated a public comment process on draft permits that would enable it to enforce state water-quality standards at federal dams, including temperature. But on Friday night the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wrote to the department to announce it is yanking the draft permits that were underview. That has the effect of stopping, at least for now, Ecology’s effort to for the first time initiate enforcement of its water quality standards at federal dams. Ecology was surprised by the move and is seeking more information — and not backing down. Lynda Makes reports. (Seattle Times)

Views clash as Legislature considers de facto ban on orca whale watching
A bill to shield endangered Puget Sound orca whales from noise and other disruptions caused by vessel traffic got a first hearing in Olympia on Tuesday. The most controversial piece of the proposed legislation would implement a temporary, de facto ban on Southern Resident whale watching.  Upon passage, House Bill 2580 would immediately double the distance all vessels must maintain from the southern residents, from 200 to 400 yards. It also would require a lower speed limit of 7 knots within half a nautical mile of the whales. It would establish a four-year restriction on commercial whale watch vessels, requiring that they stay at least 650 yards away — effectively banning whale watching of the Southern Residents until Jan. 1, 2023. Members of the Pacific Whale Watch Association are opposed to the bill. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX) See also: Whale watchers need to stay farther away from endangered orcas, legislators propose  John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

When should medical experts intervene to save a killer whale?
The death of a young female orca in September has sparked a discussion of how and whether scientists should step in with medical care for distressed animals in the wild. Medical intervention has become routine for some endangered mammals, but scientists say Puget Sound’s resident orcas present a series of unique challenges and ethical questions. In part one of our two-part series The Orca Docs we look at how scientists are preparing to treat endangered southern resident orcas that face starvation and risks of disease. Chris Dunagan reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

So Far, Northwest Forest Plan Falling Short Of Biodiversity Goals
The Northwest Forest Plan was a groundbreaking policy to ensure wildlife habitat would not be lost to intensive logging in the western parts of Oregon, Washington and California. Now 25 years in, a new study shows it’s still a good ways off from achieving those goals. The research out of Oregon State University and the U.S. Forest Service examined long-term data on bird species that use different forest types, like old growth and less mature, open-canopy areas referred to as “early seral” forests. Bird populations are closely tied to these specific habitats and can be used by scientists to gauge biodiversity. Unhealthy bird populations often mean overall biodiversity is suffering as well. With the Northwest Forest Plan’s (NWFP) focus on preserving and increasing the acreage of mature forests, researchers expected the birds that use these habitats to increase accordingly. But the data showed bird populations are still declining. Jes Burns reports. (OPB)

Locals weigh in on permits for Atlantic salmon farms
As the state works to finish new water quality permits for the remaining Atlantic salmon farms in area waters, a few locals took the opportunity this week to weigh in. About 15 community members attended a public hearing Tuesday in Anacortes, and state Department of Ecology water quality spokeswoman Colleen Keltz said three commented on the draft permits for fish farms near Hope Island and Bainbridge Island.... The state Department of Natural Resources revoked leases for the Cypress Island facility and another farm near Port Angeles, and the Legislature approved phasing out Atlantic salmon farms by 2022. Until the remaining farms close in 2022, Ecology is responsible for regulating water quality through the permits. The permits are open to public comment through Feb. 25. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Dutch mystery of '20,000 seabird deaths' on coast
Scientists are trying to find out why some 20,000 guillemots have died in recent weeks along the Dutch coast. The birds were all emaciated and there are fears they may have been victims of a spill from the MSC Zoe container ship, from which some 345 containers fell in the sea during a storm. "There's no smoking gun, but we're looking into it," says Mardik Leopold, who is investigating the deaths. (BBC)

19,400 gallons of wastewater spill into Puget Sound
Officials say about 19,400 of gallons of wastewater spilled into Puget Sound after the Richmond Beach Pump Station in Shoreline lost power. King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks says a winter storm-related power outage Monday morning at the pump station led to wastewater flowing into Puget Sound for about 20 minutes. A King County wastewater operator was able to reset pump operations. (Associated Press)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  311 AM PST Thu Feb 7 2019   
 E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. W swell 5 ft at  14 seconds. 
 E wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 6 ft  at 14 seconds. A slight 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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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

2/6 Antler, more snow, imidacloprid, Sheida Sahandy, Seattle Port big deal, Liz Lovelett, Nooksack water, Clallam climate

[PHOTO: Laurie MacBride]
The Antler’s Fingerprint
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "A couple of days after our oldest resident buck, QT, showed up missing his antlers, we found his right one beside our greenhouse. (We know it’s the right, because his left antler lacked the little pointed tine part way up from the base.) I thought it very considerate of him to drop the antler where we’d so easily find it. It’s the second time one of our bucks has done this: QT’s older brother Nibblet left one of his on our front lawn three years ago. Both occasions have given me a good chance to study and appreciate this simple yet complex headgear that is much more than just adornment...."

Weather alert: More snow in the forecast for B.C.’s South Coast
The hardest hit areas will be the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, and the Gulf Islands, according to a special weather statement posted Wednesday. Tiffany Crawford reports. (Vancouver Sun)    Seattle-area schools delay classes as ice lingers; officials warn ‘this is just round one’  The region could get another cold system with snow Friday and Saturday. Asia Fields reports. (Seattle Times)

Politics has science on the run -- and not just in the other Washington
Remember the too-crazy-to-be-true plan to spray pesticides on oyster beds out on the Washington coast? It’s back. And this time, it doesn’t want to answer any pesky scientific questions. New bipartisan bills in the state Legislature in Olympia not only order full speed ahead for the chemical spraying, by May of this year. They also would exempt the spraying from environmental review entirely. Danny Westneat reports. (Seattle Times)

News release: Puget Sound Partnership Executive Director stepping down
The Executive Director of the Puget Sound Partnership, Sheida Sahandy, has announced that she is resigning from the agency.... Director Sahandy’s last day at the Partnership will be Friday, May 3.  (Puget Sound Partnership)

Port finds a partner for major upgrade that would bring huge next-generation cargo ships to Terminal 5 
Port commissioners will soon vote on plans for a $500 million-plus upgrade that would allow Terminal 5 to handle a new class of megaships. Capable of carrying more than 18,000 containers, such vessels have disrupted global shipping and sharpened competition between terminals in Puget Sound and their Canadian rivals in Vancouver and Prince Rupert. Paul Roberts reports. (Seattle Times)

Lovelett appointed to replace Ranker
Anacortes City Councilwoman Liz Lovelett was appointed Tuesday to the state Senate, filling the seat vacated by former Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island. At a joint meeting of the governing boards of Skagit, Whatcom and San Juan counties, the members voted to support the two-term councilwoman to represent the 40th Legislative District.... ovelett was selected over former state Rep. Kristine Lytton and local labor leader Trevor Smith. The 40th District encompasses northwest Skagit County — including Anacortes — southwest Whatcom County and all of San Juan County. Brandon Stone reports (Skagit Valley Herald)

Ecology will take over planning for water use in the Nooksack River basin
State officials will take over planning for water use in the Nooksack River watershed after the Whatcom and Skagit county committees failed to agree on a solution, the Department of Ecology said Tuesday. Ecology said in a statement that a Nooksack River watershed plan was due Feb. 1, so, under state law, Ecology will develop that plan.“To accommodate rural growth and protect water needs for fish, the legislature adopted the streamflow restoration law last year. It requires local watershed planning groups to approve plans for offsetting future water consumption by new permit-exempt wells in their watersheds,” Ecology said in the email. Planning for water use is an offshoot of the state Supreme Court’s 2016 Hirst decision, which said Whatcom County had violated the Growth Management Act and wasn’t protecting its water resources when deciding whether to issue permits for wells that draw from groundwater in the Nooksack basin. Robert Mittendorf reports. (Bellingham Herald)

20 Years Ago: The Grounded Freighter That Never Reached its Destination
Twenty years ago, on Feb. 4, 1999, the 639 foot freighter New Carissa ran aground near Coos Bay, Oregon. The ship was destined to load wood chips to carry to Japan, but nature had another plan. The unladen freighter, riding high in the water (and therefore a huge sail area) dragged anchor. Attempts to get the vessel underway and back to sea failed and the swells and high winds drove the ship ashore. Doug Helton writes. (NOAA)

Clallam County commissioners discuss process for climate change talks
The Clallam County commissioners are getting closer to engaging the county in a week-long conversation about climate change. Commissioners discussed how to approach “Clallam County Climate Change Week” during its Monday work session. Commissioner Mark Ozias said it makes sense that Climate Change Week should be held the week of Earth Day, which is April 22, but no dates have actually been set....It’s an issue the commissioners unanimously agreed in June needed more attention. Jesse Major reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  209 AM PST Wed Feb 6 2019   
 E wind 15 to 20 kt easing to 5 to 15 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 6 ft at 15 seconds. 
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  6 ft at 14 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, February 5, 2019

2/5 Shrew, PRV testing, David Bernhardt, grebes, bluer oceans, glacier melt

Vagrant shrew [Drew Danin]
Vagrant shrew Sorex vagrans
Vagrant shrews are found in southern BC, south along the coast to central California, and east to Idaho and Montana. Vagrant Shrews are insectivores with an incredibly fast metabolism, eating frequently to stay alive. They are about 10 centimetres (4 inches) long including their tail. They use echolocation in order to navigate, emitting low-intensity sound when navigating. Shrews do not hibernate, and they are able to reduce their body mass, including bone mass, during winter to conserve energy. Their mating season happens once a year and lasts only a few hours. These shrews inhabit moist coastal forests and open grassy meadows like Garry Oak meadows and are preyed upon by raptors and herons. All shrews are at risk of predation  by domestic cats and should be protected from cat hunting. (Salt Spring Island Conservancy)

Federal Court orders DFO to make new farmed salmon transfer policy
The Federal Court has struck down a Department of Fisheries and Oceans policy on farmed salmon, after finding that the ministry was ignoring testing for a virus when issuing licences for the transfer or release of farmed salmon. Independent biologist and marine activist Alexandra Morton sued the ministry in September along with the 'Namgis First Nation, claiming that salmon being introduced to open pen facilities were not screened for piscine orthoreovirus (PRV), which can cause heart and muscle inflammation in infected fish. The judge agreed, ruling on Monday that the current practice is unlawful. (CBC)

Trump Chooses David Bernhardt, a Former Oil Lobbyist, to Head the Interior Dept
President Trump on Monday announced he would nominate David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist and current deputy chief of the Interior Department, to succeed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who resigned amid allegations of ethical missteps.... While Mr. Zinke had been the public face of some of the largest rollbacks of public-land protections in the nation’s history, Mr. Bernhardt was the one quietly pulling the levers to carry them out, opening millions of acres of land and water to oil, gas and coal companies. He is described by allies and opponents alike as having played a crucial role in advancing what Mr. Trump has described as an “energy dominance” agenda for the country. Carol Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Once numerous in Vashon waters, Western grebes have headed south
In 1999, the first year of the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), Vashon Audubon volunteers counted 1,619 Western grebes floating in Quartermaster Harbor. There were no Western grebes found in Quartermaster Harbor during the most recent CBC held on Dec. 31, 2018. Western grebes are graceful, gregarious and charismatic marine birds. They are pursuit divers that plunge into dense schools of forage fish to spear herring, sardines and smelt with their long, yellow bills. Large rafts of grebes spend the winter months in protected saltwater harbors and bays. They summer inland, on freshwater lakes, where they lay their eggs on floating nests and carry newborns on their backs. Western grebes mate for life and are celebrated for a synchronized courtship dance that climaxes in a mad dash across the top of the water called rushing. It’s a must-see on YouTube. Though impressive, the numbers of Western grebes counted in 1999 was significantly lower than previous decades. Chris Woods reports. (Vashon Beachcomber)

Climate change: Blue planet will get even bluer as Earth warms
Rising temperatures will change the colour of the world's oceans, making them more blue in the coming decades say scientists. They found that increased heat will change the mixture of phytoplankton or tiny marine organisms in the seas, which absorb and reflect light. Scientists say there will be less of them in the waters in the decades to come. This will drive a colour change in more than 50% of the world's seas by 2100. Matt McGrath reports. (BBC)

Aerial photographs show Washington's dramatically receding glaciers
Mountains loom large in the Skagit River Valley. Visitors come from all over the world to spend time exploring the massive peaks of the North Cascades. But few people get the perspective on them enjoyed by two men who are documenting the response of Washington’s glaciers to climate change. Jon Riedel is a geologist with the U.S. National Park Service. And John Scurlock is a photographer and pilot who works with scientists like Riedel. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX) See also: Climate change: Warming threatens Himalayan glaciers  Climate change poses a growing threat to the glaciers found in the Hindu Kush and Himalayan mountain ranges, according to a new report. The study found that if CO2 emissions are not cut rapidly, two thirds of these giant ice fields could disappear. Matt McGrath reports. (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  710 AM PST Tue Feb 5 2019   
 E wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 6 ft at 15 seconds. 
 E wind to 10 kt rising to 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 15 seconds.

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Monday, February 4, 2019

2/4 Eulachon, BC coal port, fisher ESA, roe-herring fishery, Dewatto Bay, WA wolves, Ranker replacement, Intalco fine

Eulachon [Wikipedia]
Eulachon Thaleichthys pacificus
Eulachon are commonly known as smelt, candlefish, or hooligan. Eulachon are a small, anadromous fish (moving between freshwater and saltwater) and are found from northern California to southwest Alaska. The southern distinct population segment is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. (NOAA Fisheries) If you like to watch: Watch a Fish Transform From Animal to Candle  (National Geographic)

Proposed Surrey coal shipping terminal cancelled by port authority
A proposed Surrey coal shipping project that has drawn sharp criticism from environmentalists and some local governments has had its permit cancelled by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, effectively killing the project for now. According to the port authority, the  project — proposed by Fraser Surrey Docks — was required to meet 83 conditions, but failed to meet a key condition that it show substantial progress on construction had been made by Nov. 30, 2018. As a result, the port authority cancelled the permit. Rafferty Baker reports. (CBC)

Agency seeks input on giving fishers threatened species status
Cat-sized, furry carnivores called fishers were once common throughout the forests of the West Coast. About two months after several of the critters — which are related to weasels — were relocated from Alberta, Canada, to the North Cascades for the first time, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reopened a proposal to give the fisher protections under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Fish & Wildlife Service announced the start of a public comment period Thursday to relaunch an effort to determine whether the Pacific fisher found in Washington, Oregon and California should be listed as a threatened species. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

MP backs call for moratorium on roe-herring fishery in strait
Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns has added his voice to a growing chorus urging a moratorium on the roe-herring fishery in the Strait of Georgia.The NDP politician told the House of Commons that herring represent the prime food source for chinook salmon. The salmon, in turn, are the preferred prey of endangered southern resident killer whales, whose numbers have dwindled to 75. Federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson responded that government makes its decisions based on science and evidence, and that one of the five herring stocks on the B.C. coast is open to a commercial fishery “based on the abundance of the stock that exists there.” The other four stocks on the coast are considered too low to support commercial roe-herring fisheries, although limited spawn-on-kelp commercial fisheries are proposed on the Central Coast and in the Prince Rupert district.  Lindsay Kines reports. (Times Colonist)

Owners of Dewatto Bay tideland property take state to court
It was the start of a love affair. These are words that Marlene Iddings, 86, uses to describe the tideland property she and her late husband, Lloyd, purchased at Dewatto Bay in 1959.... The Iddings family has been entangled in a lawsuit with the state Department of Natural Resources since 2015, with both parties claiming ownership of more than 7 acres of tidelands.  The suit is set to go to trial in Mason County Superior Court this spring, though a Kitsap County judge will preside over the case since Mason County judges have recused themselves. Joining the Iddings are nearly 20 other landowners whose properties would be directly impacted by the outcome of the case, since the state has proposed leaving the Iddings with about a 3-acre slice of tidelands that would domino into their neighbors’ properties. The implications of the case extend beyond Dewatto Bay. In court filings, the state has noted that if the court finds that the Iddings have legal title to the tidelands, the state can still take them without compensating the Iddings, since for decades the public has harvested on those tidelands. Arla Shepherd Bull reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Researcher says Washington wolf population likely larger than estimates
The number of wolves in Washington state is likely much higher than previously thought, according to a University of Washington researcher who spent two years studying the animals using scat-sniffing dogs. Samuel Wasser said his dogs detected 95 wolves in one area of Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, in the rural northeast corner of the state, during the 2016-17 season. That approached the total number of wolves wildlife officials estimated for the entire state....Wasser told a state Senate committee recently that it’s possible the population of wolves is closer to 200 animals. State wolf managers also addressed the panel, saying Washington’s wolf population has grown on average 30 percent per year. Nicholas Geranios reports. (Associated Press)

Democrats pick finalists to replace Ranker
Democrats in the 40th Legislative District picked three finalists Saturday to replace former state Sen. Kevin Ranker of Orcas Island. Former state Rep. Kristine Lytton received a majority of votes from precinct committee officers from throughout the district. Anacortes City Councilwoman Liz Lovelett had the second-most votes, and Trevor Smith, a member of the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council, the third-most. Smith, who did not attend the meeting, said in a statement he is not seeking the appointment and supports the leading candidate. The finalists will appear for interviews Tuesday in front of the three county governing boards within the district. Those boards will appoint one to replace Ranker. Brandon Stone reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Ecology fines Intalco for air pollution at Ferndale aluminum smelter
Washington state officials fined Alcoa’s Intalco Works aluminum smelter $27,500 for exceeding its air permit several times over the past two years, it was announced Friday.... Ecology said Intalco’s fluoride and particulate emissions were above the legal limits but weren’t hazardous to people. Robert Mittendorf reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PST Mon Feb 4 2019   
 E wind 25 to 35 kt. Combined seas 7 to 10 ft with a  dominant period of 14 seconds. A chance of snow showers in the  morning. 
 E wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 10 to 20 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 4 ft. W swell 6 ft at 15 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.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told