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.

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