Wednesday, January 31, 2018

1/31 Fish farm findings, orcas protection, BC pipe, BC plastics, BC beetles, fisher recovery

Super blue blood moon [Richard Vogel/AP]
Lunar Showstopper: 1st super blue blood moon in 35 years
The moon put on a rare cosmic show Wednesday: a red blue moon, super big and super bright. It’s the first time in 35 years a blue moon has synced up with a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse, or blood moon because of its red hue. Hawaii and Alaska had the best seats, along with the Canadian Yukon, Australia and Asia. The western U.S. also had good viewing, along with Russia. Marcia Dunn reports. (Associated Press)

Fish farm caused Atlantic salmon spill, state says, then tried to hide how bad it was
Cooke Aquaculture Pacific vastly underrepresented the scope of a catastrophic Atlantic salmon net-pen spill at its Cypress Island farm last August and misled the public and regulators about the cause, according to a new report by state investigators that blames the pen collapse on company negligence. The investigation found that Cooke lowballed the number of escaped fish by as much as half, and did not do essential maintenance at its farm, causing the escape. The company also misled agencies about the seriousness and cause of an earlier mishap at the farm in July; as a result, state agencies did not investigate Cooke’s operations sooner, investigators found. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Cooke fined $332,000 for salmon release  Phoung Le reports. (Associated Press)

'Stand with us:' B.C. First Nations meet cabinet ministers in bid to move fish farms out
A group of six  First Nations met with the provincial government Tuesday, hopeful for an end to open-pen fish farming in the Broughton Archipelago located between northern Vancouver Island and the  B.C. mainland. "It's time because the NDP and the federal government have said that they want to reconcile with First Nations people across the country," said Ernest Alfred, a traditional leader from the 'Namgis, Tlowitsis and Mamalilikulla First Nations…. Provincial cabinet ministers overseeing agriculture, environment, natural resources and Indigenous relations met with the First Nations chiefs at Canada Place in downtown Vancouver as supporters, including Alfred, rallied outside. Chad Pawson reports. (CBC)

Emergency protection for southern resident killer whales urged
Emergency action is needed under the Species at Risk Act to halt and reverse the decline of endangered, salmon-eating killer whales in B.C. waters, according to a coalition of conservation groups. The Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the David Suzuki Foundation and others are petitioning the federal government to curtail sport fishing and whale watching in feeding areas essential to the survival of the orcas and to restrict fishing on specific Chinook salmon populations that sustain the southern resident killer whales. Commercial shipping traffic should also be slowed down as the vessels pass critical feeding areas to limit acoustic interference that hampers the orcas’ ability to locate and catch prey, they say. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun) See also: Orca Protection Act aims to protect orcas  A state Senate bill would require the state to add greater protections for orcas, which are on the U.S. endangered species list. Alex Visser reports. (WNPA News)

B.C. creates more uncertainty for Trans Mountain with bitumen restriction
The British Columbia government is creating more uncertainty around Kinder Morgan Inc.'s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project with a proposal to restrict any increase in diluted bitumen shipments until it conducts more spill response studies. Provincial Environment Minister George Heyman says there needs to be more confidence in how well oil transporters are prepared to respond and mitigate the effects of a potential spill. (CBC) See also: Notley slams B.C. proposal to restrict shipments of diluted bitumen as unconstitutional  (CBC)

B.C. shoreline clean-up groups frustrated after feds propose 'no plastics' pledge to G7
Ocean clean-up groups along B.C.'s coast are frustrated with the lack of support from all levels of government to remove plastics and debris from Canada's shorelines. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked G7 nations to sign on to a "no plastics" pledge at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week with the intention of keeping plastic waste out of the ocean. The move has left local organizations unimpressed. Josh Temple, founder of Clayoquot Clean Up on Vancouver Island, said he was upset to hear Trudeau talk about a commitment to reducing plastic pollution internationally before addressing the problem here at home. Anna Dimoff reports. (CBC) See also: Plastic bag battle ignites as industry challenges Victoria ban  Jason Proctor reports. (CBC)

B.C. beetles are shrinking as habitat warms up, study finds
Some of B.C.'s beetles are getting smaller because their habitats are warming up, according to new research from the University of British Columbia. The study, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology on Tuesday, shows that climate change is having an affect on even the most "teeny tiny" organisms. A group of students on the study looked at eight species of beetles that were caught in the Okanagan and Lower Mainland over the past 100 years. They compared changes to the bugs' size to temperature data over the past century. In all, the researchers examined and photographed more than 6,500 insects for the project. (CBC)

Once-Vanished Fishers Are Making Their Comeback In Washington
Biologists released a handful of weasel-like animals called fishers into the Washington Cascades in 2015. Two years later, they returned to see if they were surviving and reproducing. Ken Christensen reports. (KSTW/EarthFix)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  310 AM PST Wed Jan 31 2018  
 S wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 11 ft  at 11 seconds. Showers likely in the morning then rain in the  afternoon.
 S wind 10 to 20 kt becoming SW to 10 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less after  midnight. W swell 8 ft at 10 seconds. Rain in the evening then  rain 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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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

1/30 Owl, Howe Sound, no oil terminal, BC pipe, more souls, James Is, herring, climate, ancient midden, bees

Western screech owl [Ann Nightingale/CBC]
More screeching
Yesterday's posting about the precipitous decline of Victoria's western screech owls brought the following note from author Tony Angell: "When I wrote The House of Owls, documenting the twenty plus years western screech owls occupied my nesting box, these birds were already suffering under the predatory habits of the growing numbers of barred owls.  The barred, upon until a little more than half a century ago, exclusively occupied the midwest and eastern portions of North America.  Once it made its way across the continent it quickly occupied the niche formerly occupied by the screech owls, killed and ate them.  Unlike their close relative, the eastern screech owl, our western birds did not co-evolve with the barreds so never developed any strategies for avoiding their aggressive and rapacious relative.  We know the barred owl has had a similar effect on the spotted owls for some of the same reasons.  By the way, in my experience, screech owls not only eat enormous numbers of mice and rats but having an eclectic diet they also consume great quantities of carpenter ants and termites -- something any home builder can appreciate. I'm convinced that only by removing the barred owls will the western screech owl populations recover and be sustained here.  Of course, sustaining the riparian habitat favored by these incredibly engaging smaller owls will also be a factor in their future."

If you like to watch: Howe Sound Ballet A must-see beautiful piece by Bob Turner.

Washington governor rejects permit for oil-by-rail terminal
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday rejected a permit for a massive oil-by-rail terminal proposed along the Columbia River, saying the risks and impacts outweighed the need for and potential benefits of the project. Inslee said he agreed with the recommendation of a state energy panel, which unanimously voted in November to recommend that the Vancouver Energy project in southwest Washington be denied. The joint venture of Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies proposed to receive about 360,000 barrels of North American crude oil a day by trains at the port of Vancouver. Oil would temporarily be stored on site and then loaded onto tankers and ships bound for West Coast refineries. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

'I want the whole thing scrapped': NEB hearings on Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline route resume
David Huntley isn't picking up any good vibrations. The 81-year-old is one of more than a dozen speakers who are raising concerns about the proposed route of Kinder Morgan's Transmountain Pipeline Expansion project at ongoing hearings in front of the National Energy Board. The hearings are set to resume Tuesday — but Huntley says he's been chasing down the oil company for answers since he found out the proposed route would run just metres away from his home on Burnaby Mountain. (CBC)

Seattle region will grow by 1.8 million people by 2050
Our region’s population hit 4 million people just over a year ago. Now, there’s a prediction that it will reach nearly 6 million by 2050. It’s the latest growth projection from The Puget Sound Regional Council. The numbers are expected to hold even though our big jobs engine, Amazon, plans to grow elsewhere. The Puget Sound Regional Council says we’ll continue to expand as a tech hub, gaining 1.2 million jobs by mid-century. That will bring an average of 55,000 people a year, which is actually slow growth compared to the last few years. Carolyn Adolph reports. (KUOW)

First Nation lawsuit claims private island worth a cool $54 million
A First Nation near Victoria is claiming ownership rights to the most valuable private island in British Columbia.  The Tsawout First Nation filed a civil lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court this month seeking title to James Island, a 400-acre property just off Island View Beach near Victoria. James Island, which is owned by Seattle Billionaire Craig McCaw's company, JI Properties, was assessed at a value of $54.4 million in 2017, according to the B.C. Assessment Authority. It features a main residence, about six guest homes, an 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus and a private airstrip. Deborah Wilson reports. (CBC)

Dispatches: Herring rescue
Tessa Francis writes: “Two days into the New Year I got a text at lunch from Vashon Island Nature Center staff with a picture of dozens of fish in a pool: ‘Wondering if you could tell what kind of fish these are? They seem to be trapped.’ They were in a tidal creek that had become isolated from the main Puget Sound at low tide. The staff was worried the tributary wouldn’t be reconnected at the next high tide, and were planning to manually move the small fish back to the open water. After seeing a close-up picture (and after confirming my ID with a WA Department of Fish and Wildlife colleague – better safe than sorry!), I told them they had Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) on their hands, probably 2-year olds, given the size. Historically, herring have spawned annually on Vashon Island, all along the shores of the Quartermaster Harbor bay, but their numbers have been very low in recent years. Work from a group I am co-chairing as part of the Ocean Modeling Forum suggests that when populations of herring are on average young (like these 2-year olds), they have a more difficult time finding their way back to their spawning grounds. In any case, it is just about the window of time when the Quartermaster herring start their spawning, and while it is not exactly clear whether these fish would be spawning this year (only about 1/2 of 2-year olds are mature), it was interesting to see them hanging around the island. The volunteers then moved 120 fish by hand, aiding them on their journey. If indeed these fish were making their way to the Quartermaster spawning site, they still had the circumnavigation of Maury Island ahead of them! Puget Sound Institute)

In climate change, heat extremes tell a bigger story than average temps
News reports about climate change often focus on how the average global temperature is rising, but perhaps more attention should be paid to some alarming trends in extreme temperatures — the conditions that are more likely to kill people and push species toward extinction. A new study published last week revealed that temperatures across the Earth’s surface went up an average of 0.19 degrees C (.34° F) each decade over the past 30 years, whereas the highest temperature recorded each year has gone up even more — an average of 0.25 degrees C (0.45° F) per decade. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Ancient midden found after Semiahmoo Nation pressed for archeological assessment
An ancient shell midden has been found on the site of a White Rock park expansion after the Semiahmoo First Nation pressed the city to assess the area for evidence of archeological significance. The ancient garbage heap discovered last week contains “shell, charcoal, and animal bones” — indications of long-term food processing on the site in Memorial Park. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Honeybees Help Farmers, But They Don't Help The Environment
Honeybees are amazing and adorable, and they suffer when people spray pesticides or mow down wildflowers. We've heard plenty in recent years about collapsing bee colonies. So Jonas Geldmann, at the University of Cambridge, says he understands how the honeybee became a symbol of environmental conservation. But he still doesn't like it…. When flowers are abundant, there is plenty of pollen for both honeybees and their wild cousins. But in many landscapes, or when an orchard stops blooming, farmed honeybees can compete with wild bees for food, making it harder for wild species to survive. Basically, a healthy environment needs bees — but not honeybees, Geldmann says. This week, he published a commentary in the journal Science trying to spread the word to a wider audience. "The way we're managing honeybees, in these hives, has nothing to do with nature conservation," he says. Dan Charles reports. (NPR)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  241 AM PST Tue Jan 30 2018  

 SW wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 15 ft  at 14 seconds. Showers likely.
TONIGHT  W wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 1 to 2 ft after  midnight. W swell 13 ft at 13 seconds. Showers likely.

"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, January 29, 2018

1/29 Rain, belly rub, FishViews, seafood fraud, screech owls, water rule, First Cr, Pebble Mine, Fairyslipper Forest, rare plants, SEALs, Eagle Spirit Energy, BC hunters, halibut, blue moon

Hat Island [Joel Rogers]
Hat Island (Skagit County)
Hat Island is one of the eastern most islands in the San Juan group, located in Padilla Bay between Anacortes and Bayview. Douglas fir, Pacific madrone and Pacific yew are the dominant tree species. Passers-by view grass headlands of sloping terraces composed of blue wildrye, red fescue, camas and clover. This 91 acre Hat Island Natural Resources Conservation Area provides habitat for bald eagles, seabirds and shorebirds. (WDNR) [Note: Gedney Island aka Hat Island is a private island in Possession Sound between the city of Everett, Washington, and the southern part of Whidbey Island.]

Sick of rain? Sorry, there's more in the pipeline
Another atmospheric river is headed for Western Washington, bringing warmer temperatures and heavy rain and threatening to raise some rivers close to flood level. The soggy system is expected to smack the region Sunday afternoon, with the brunt of the moisture initially headed north to Vancouver Island. By Monday, though, the fire hose could swing south and drench communities north of Seattle, according to the National Weather Service. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Threat Of Landslides High: Special Weather Statement   A special weather statement from the National Weather Service warns of increased landslide risk across all of Puget Sound this week. A serious rainstorm will dump up to 1-1/2 inches across the area through Monday afternoon, which will destabilize already saturated soil. Neal McNamara reports. (Patch)

If you like to watch: Orca belly rubbing off Sunshine Coast beach thrills onlookers
A beach-goer near Sechelt B.C. has captured a rare sight on video: killer whales rubbing their bodies along a pebbly shoreline. On Saturday, Martin Michael managed to film a group of seven of the mammals, ranging in size from two to eight metres in a few metres of water or less. Chad Pawson reports. (CBC)

If you like to watch: “FishViews” Mapping Tool Provides Virtual Tours Of Local Rivers
Many people are familiar with Google Street View, the online map that allows you to take a virtual walk or ride through a neighborhood. Now there’s a similar tool that lets you float down local rivers and waterways.  FishViews has just finished mapping its sixth Northwest river, the Stillaguamish. Other tours include Lake Washington, Lake Union, Shilshole Bay and the Locks. They’re all enabled for virtual reality headsets and you can cruise along at your preferred speed, or zoom around the panoramic images with your cursor, like you might on Google. You can even take a peek underwater. There’s definitely a “gee whiz” factor. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

DNA barcoding reveals widespread seafood fraud in Metro Vancouver
UBC researchers are developing new techniques to identify the seafood sold in Metro Vancouver and they say their findings, released Friday, point to widespread seafood fraud. By using a technique called DNA barcoding, researchers were able to identify the genes of fish from a survey of 300 samples in Metro Vancouver from both sushi restaurants and grocery stores. The barcoding method compared all the data with an extensive library of fish DNA constructed by researchers at the University of Guelph, who have been growing their database for a decade. Dr. Xiaonan Lu, UBC associate professor of food science, said the most commonly mislabelled fish sold on the market is red snapper. Anna Dimoff reports. (CBC)

Conservationists sound alarm over Victoria's western screech owls
Conservationists in Victoria are asking the public to keep an ear open for the distinctive call of the western screech owl as they aim to bring the bird back from the brink. Threatened by habitat loss from logging and development, and at risk from predators such as cats and the much larger barred owl, the western screech owl population has plummeted by 90 per cent over the past decade. Paige Erickson-McGee, a stewardship coordinator with the Habitat Acquisition Trust in Victoria, says there are just 20 left in the Victoria area. (CBC)

Skagit County not included in new water legislation
While the rest of Washington’s rural communities celebrated the Legislature’s new law on water rights, Skagit County residents waiting for water won’t be seeing relief. Senate Bill 6091, signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on Jan. 19, will let rural property owners in Washington’s other 38 counties dig new wells for residential use as a variety of groups spend the next several years developing plans for governing water use. But the new law leaves out Skagit County, saying “additional requirements” apply to water here. State legislators and the state Department of Ecology, which oversees water policy, understand this to mean the law does not apply to Skagit County…. in Skagit County, there has been a moratorium on new wells since a 2013 Supreme Court case, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Department of Ecology, affirmed a 2001 instream flow rule that essentially cut off the Skagit River basin to new water rights in order to preserve stream flows. Brandon Stone reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Vancouver creek to be restored, connecting Kitsilano park to ocean
The Vancouver Park Board plans to restore a waterway that once connected Tatlow Park to English Bay. Kitsilano was once home to First Creek, a salmon-filled stream that ran north through Volunteer Park, across what is now Point Grey Road, and into the ocean. The park board received a $700,000 donation from a community member to pursue the restoration. Clare Hennig reports. (CBC)

EPA halts plans to lift proposed mine restrictions in Alaska
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday halted plans to withdraw proposed restrictions on mining activity near a major Alaska salmon fishery, drawing praise from opponents of the Pebble Mine project. Last year, in settling a legal dispute with the Pebble Limited Partnership, which wants to build a copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, the EPA agreed to initiate a process to withdraw restrictions proposed during the Obama administration. But in a release Friday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said based on comments the agency has received, “it is my judgment at this time that any mining projects in the region likely pose a risk to the abundant natural resources that exist there.” Becky Bohrer reports. (Associated Press)

Fairyslipper Forest permanently protected as Thetis Island’s first publicly accessible nature reserve
Fairyslipper Forest on Thetis Island is now permanently protected as a nature reserve. The new 16-hectare (40 acre) nature reserve on lower Burchell Hill is the result of a partnership between the Islands Trust Fund, the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy and the Cowichan Community Land Trust, and named after the delicate calypso ‘fairyslipper’ orchids that bloom on the hill each spring. The property is Thetis Island’s first publicly accessible nature reserve, offering residents and visitors opportunities for walking and hiking on nature trails through the forest. To maintain the natural features of the land, only low-impact and First Nations traditional use activities will be permitted. (Chemanius Valley Courier)

Rare plant communities in B.C. not being protected from logging: Forest Practices Board
A Forest Practices Board report into a B.C. Timber Sales operation on the Sunshine Coast has revealed that rare plant communities are not receiving adequate protection from logging in B.C. The report, based on a complaint by environmental group Elphinstone Logging Focus, found that two cutblocks totalling 18.3 hectares of mature timber on the southwest slope of Mount Elphinstone contained plant communities considered at risk by B.C.’s Conservation Data Centre — red-listed (meaning threatened or endangered) western red cedar/sword fern, and blue-listed (of special concern) western hemlock/flat moss. Despite those conservation concerns, B.C. Timber Sales had no legal obligation to protect the two ecosystems because neither of the two plant communities had been designated as a species-at-risk or regionally important wildlife under the Forest and Range Practices Act, the report found. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Navy seeks to expand special operations training in region
Curious onlookers might soon spot gear-laden warriors scaling the towering cliffs at Deception Pass State Park or a drone hovering above one of Naval Base Kitsap's installations as the Navy seeks to expand the scope of special operations training in the region. The Navy has conducted SEAL training in the Northwest for the past 30 years, and the growing demand for special operation missions "has triggered the need for an increase in the training tempo," said Navy Region Northwest spokeswoman Sheila Murray. The Navy initially released a proposal in April 2017 with a plan to expand operations. After accepting comments on that proposal and refining it, the Navy released an updated draft environmental assessment on Jan. 23 that called for ramping up training in the region even further. Julianne Stanford reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Indigenous-led energy company plans GoFundMe to legally challenge federal tanker moratorium
Over the past several years, Indigenous groups have gone to court to try to stop energy projects, arguing they were not adequately consulted. But this week, an Indigenous-led energy company announced it will sue the federal government for the opposite reason. Eagle Spirit Energy wants to build a pipeline from Alberta to northern B.C. — with backing from the Vancouver-based Aquilini Investment group — but says a federal oil tanker ban, Bill C-48, is getting in the way. Eagle Spirit Energy has also launched a GoFundMe account to raise funds for the legal effort, said Calvin Helin, chairman and president of the company. ​ (CBC)

B.C. releases documents revealing hunting culture among conservation
After repeatedly denying the existence of such documents, the B.C. government has finally complied with a freedom-of-information request revealing a strong hunting culture within the conservation officer service. The person who successfully navigated the bureaucracy where others couldn’t and who refused to take no for an answer is Bryce Casavant, the former conservation officer who gained international attention and support when he refused a superior’s order to kill two young bear cubs on Vancouver Island in 2015. The FOI documents reveal that 75 of 106 mainly uniform and patrol officers — 70 per cent — have hunting records and that 48 specifically purchased hunting licences last year. Four officers unsuccessfully applied for limited-entry grizzly bear hunts, which have since been banned by the NDP government except for First Nations for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Names of the officers aren’t included in the documents. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

U.S., Canada fail to agree on cuts to annual halibut harvest
U.S. and Canadian members of the International Pacific Halibut Commission adjourned their annual meeting in Portland on Friday without reaching agreement on how to make conservation cuts in the annual harvest. It was a rare failure of negotiations by the six-person commission that regulates the catch of the prized flatfish pursued by sport, commercial and tribal fishermen in waters off California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. Surveys indicate downturns in the numbers of young halibut that represent the future of the fishery. Both U.S. and Canadian commissioners believe that harvest cuts are required, but sparred over where the catch reductions should be made. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Snohomish brings out its bullfrog, hoping for sign of spring
For a bullfrog, he is revered by his town. He was paraded down the street on Saturday, escorted by Snohomish High School athletes in letterman jackets and dark sunglasses. People lined up to give the frog a kiss. Every year, he is the bearer of important news. People wait outside in the cold and wind in anticipation. They listen for a croak or a ribbit, meaning spring is on the way. Caitlin Tompkins reports. (Everett Herald)

How to watch the 'blue moon' lunar eclipse
If you live on the west coast, you're in for a rare treat in the wee hours of Jan. 31: a "blue moon" lunar eclipse. We've come to expect a full moon every month. While that is mostly true, sometimes we get two in one month, something that is referred to as a "blue moon." …January's second full moon occurs on Jan. 31 — which also happens to be the day of the first lunar eclipse of the year. On top of that, the moon will be just two days past its perigee, which is the time in which the moon is closest to earth in its monthly orbit. In popular culture, people have recently adopted the name "super moon" for the time when a full moon is at its perigee. So, some people are calling the coming lunar display a "super blue blood moon." Nicole Mortillaro reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  256 AM PST Mon Jan 29 2018  
 S wind 15 to 25 kt becoming SW by midday. Wind waves 2  to 4 ft. W swell building to 13 ft at 12 seconds during the  morning. Rain.
 SW wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 13 ft at 12 seconds. Rain  in the evening then 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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Friday, January 26, 2018

1/26 Climate action, fishfarm nets, WA chinook plan, EPA air rules, offshore drilling, boat mooring, tsunami alerts

China rockfish (Wikipedia)
China rockfish Sebastes nebulosus
China rockfish are found from Kechemak Bay, Cook Inlet, Alaska, to San Nicolas Island in southern California. They are found at water depths between 3 and 128 m (10-420 ft).  This is a solitary species inhabiting high-energy, high-relief rocky outcrops with numerous crevices.  They are very territorial and rarely move less than 10 m (33 ft) from their home site. Commonly caught by recreational harvesters off the northern Washington coast.  Recreational harvest within Puget Sound has been closed. (WDFW)

100% for Climate: Threading the Legislative Needle
The tag line the environmental community is using to spur climate legislation is  “100% for climate action”. It's one gaining support from a variety of stakeholders - business leaders and city council members from central Washington. They may not agree on the exact language in bills making their way through the legislature, but their show of support for carbon pricing could thread the legislative needle. Martha Baskin reports. (PRX)

State investigators focus on nets plugged with mussels in Atlantic salmon net-pen failure
Investigators probing the collapse of an Atlantic salmon farm that sent 160,000 invasive fish into the Salish Sea last summer are examining mussels and other sea life coating the nets as a cause. Photographs obtained by The Seattle Times under a public records request show portions of the nets at Cooke’s farm were so fouled with kelp, algae and especially mussels that the net was no longer visible. Mussels rained down on the dock as the nets were lifted with a crane for disposal, photos show. Heaps of mussels on the dock were so high, they had to be scooped up with a front-end loader. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

WDFW Commission advises state fishery managers on chinook plan
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission advised state fishery managers to strike a better balance between conservation and harvest opportunities as they work with tribal co-managers to revise a proposed plan for managing chinook harvest in Puget Sound. During a conference call Tuesday, the commission – a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife – instructed state fishery managers to explore a variety of options as they revisit catch rates and other pieces of the updated Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan…. “Ultimately, we would all like to see salmon runs restored in Puget Sound, but severely restricting fisheries isn’t the only path to achieving that goal,” said Brad Smith, chair of the commission. “For that reason, we advised WDFW staff to explore other salmon recovery options, including improvements to habitat and hatchery operations.” (WA Fish & Wildlife Commission)

U.S. EPA reverses policy on 'major sources' of pollution
 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday it was withdrawing a provision of the Clean Air Act that requires a major source of pollution like a power plant to always be treated as a major source, even if it makes changes to reduce emissions. The decision to withdraw the “once-in always-in” policy is part of President Donald Trump’s effort to roll back federal regulations and was sought by utilities, the petroleum industry and others. Sources of air pollution previously classified as “major sources” may be reclassified as “area” sources when the facility limits its emissions below “major source” thresholds, the EPA said. Area sources are subject to less strict pollution control standards than major sources. Eric Beech reports. (Reuters)

What Are The Chances Of Offshore Oil And Gas Drilling In The Northwest?
Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced plans to reopen the West Coast to offshore oil and gas leasing. It’s a dramatic reversal of Obama-era policies that blocked offshore drilling, and it’s drawn fierce opposition from all three West Coast governors. The plans offer up a chance to drill for oil and gas off the coasts of Oregon and Washington for the first time in more than 50 years. But with strong opposition and unproven oil and gas reserves, it’s unclear whether anyone will take that chance. Cassandra Profita and Tony Schick report. (OPB/EarthFix)

Frustration mounts over 'Wild West' of boat mooring in Vancouver Island bay 
People who live along Cadboro Bay in Saanich, B.C., are frustrated by the number of boats that continue to break free and crash ashore during the frequent storms that batter the coast. Several more vessels washed up during high winds earlier this week. Two large sailboats were towed off the sand and refloated on Wednesday after their owners came forward…. The owners of both sailboats covered the cost of getting them back into the water…. But that's not always the case, said Eric Dahli with the Cadboro Bay Residents Association. "If the ownership can't be determined, then we through the Registrar of Wreck will take ownership and dispose of it," he said. "Eventually it comes as a cost to all of the taxpayers." Megan Thomas reports. (CBC)

B.C.’s tsunami that wasn’t: Why scientists know when a wave will hit – but not its size
An array of underwater sensors off Vancouver Island's west coast measured the progress of a tsunami approaching British Columbia's seaside communities of Tofino and Ucluelet early Tuesday morning. It turned out the tsunami amounted to a barely visible ripple, just a few centimetres in height. Based on the data from the sensors, instantly transmitted to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, scientists quickly knew the earthquake off Alaska's coast, 10 kilometres under the sea, was a big one. But the estimation of how big the tsunami would be was far less precise. Wendy Stueck and Justine Hunter report. (Globe and Mail) See also: DNR: State’s forecasts for tsunamis are outdated and incomplete  Chad Sokol reports. (Spokesman-Review)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  249 AM PST Fri Jan 26 2018  
 SW wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 10 ft at 12 seconds.  Showers in the morning then a chance of showers in the afternoon.
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt becoming E 30 to 40 kt after  midnight. Combined seas 9 to 11 ft with a dominant period of  11 seconds. Rain likely in the evening then rain after midnight.
 SE wind 20 to 30 kt becoming W 15 to 25 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 8 ft at 11 seconds  building to SW 11 ft at 10 seconds in the afternoon. Rain in the  morning then a chance of showers in the afternoon.
 SW wind 5 to 15 kt becoming SE 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft after  midnight. SW swell 10 ft at 11 seconds subsiding to 8 ft at  10 seconds after midnight.
SUN  SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. SW swell 8 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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Thursday, January 25, 2018

1/25 Blue dasher, Tacoma LNG, Blue Carbon, WDFW heads, feeding orcas, poop spill, Pinky Vargas, concrete, Site C dam, Park Service

Blue Dasher [R.A. Nonenmacher]
Dating back 300 million years, dragonflies are one of the first winged insects ever found. Fossils of these ancient aquatic insects show wingspans of up to 24 inches compared with the 2- to 5-inch spans of contemporary dragonflies. Scientists have discovered more than 5,000 species of dragonflies worldwide, including 450 in North America alone. Dragonflies belong to the insect order called Odonata, which also includes damselflies. Odonata is a Greek word meaning toothed one. It refers to the serrated teeth located on the insect's chewing mouth parts (mandibles). Myths about dragonflies warned children to keep quiet or else the dragonfly's "darning needles" would sew the child's mouth shut. (Pacific NW Laboratory)

Tacoma LNG plant faces delay as clean air agency orders extra scrutiny
Environmental activists and the Puyallup Tribe are chalking up a win in their fight against the Puget Sound Energy liquefied natural gas plant being built on Tacoma’s Tideflats. On Wednesday, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency announced it would hire a consultant to do an in-depth analysis of the life cycle of greenhouse-gas emissions that would be caused by the proposed 8-million gallon plant. That study would need to be completed before PSE could get a required air permit for the project. The additional review, called a supplemental environmental impact statement, will delay the permit by several months and could potentially change the outcome of the permit application. Candace Ruud reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

If you like to watch: Blue Carbon – A Story from the Snohomish Estuary
“Blue Carbon” is a story of how coastal wetlands mitigate climate change and reduce carbon pollution to benefit all people. This video, filmed in the Snohomish Estuary in Puget Sound, Washington is presented by EarthCorps and Restore America’s Estuaries.

Washington Fish And Wildlife Director To Resign
Washington Department and Fish and Wildlife Director Jim Unsworth is resigning next month after three years on the job. He presided over a tumultuous time at the department…. Unsworth came to Washington from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Since then he’s dealt with numerous high profile issues including: controversial wolf hunts and the shutdown of salmon fishing on Puget Sound because of disagreements with tribes. He also had to deal with the fallout from two outside investigations into workplace culture at Fish and Wildlife—one of which found an “extremely sexualized culture” at a fish hatchery on the Columbia River. Four employees were fired and Fish and Wildlife lost its contract to operate that hatchery for a local public utility district. Austin Jenkins reports. (NW News Network) See also: Former Fish And Wildlife Deputy Director Convicted Of Rape, Burglary  Austin Jenkins reports. (NW News Network)

Endangered Orcas Are Starving. Should We Start Feeding Them?
Washington state officials have proposed a new tack to save the Pacific Northwest's critically endangered orca population. Their idea is to boost salmon hatchery production by 10 to 20 million more fish per year to provide more food for the iconic killer whales. No one wants to see orcas starve, but reliance on fish hatcheries leaves some whale advocacy groups uneasy. There are just 76 orcas left in the pods that call the inland waters of the Northwest home. That's the lowest number in more than three decades. Numerous factors take the blame for the dwindling population, but one of the biggest according to biologists is lack of prey. Chinook salmon are the preferred food for these orcas. Sport fisherman Greg King can relate. "The science is there. They're dying,” he said. “We're on a world stage here right now. The whole world is watching us. Are we going to let these orca whales die and have that blood on our hands? I don't think we want that." Tom Banse reports. (NW News Network)

Navy sewage spill forces oyster recall
A three-day delay in reporting a sewage spill at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor last week forced the recall of more than 2,000 oysters harvested at a tribal shellfish farm in Dyes Inlet, according to the state Department of Health. Mark Toy with the department said a recall was required for 2,040 oysters grown at a Suquamish Seafoods facility in Chico, which were harvested between the time the spill occurred on Jan. 18 and 19, and when public health officials were notified of the spill Monday. Suquamish Seafoods and the Department of Health confirmed all the recalled oysters were accounted for and none reached consumers.  Kitsap Public Health District issued an advisory Monday warning residents to avoid contact with portions of Clear Creek and Dyes Inlet downstream from the spill. On Wednesday, health officials were still trying to untangle the miscommunication that caused the delay in notification.  Tad Sooter reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Pinky Vargas will pursue Ericksen’s seat
 Bellingham City Council member Pinky Vargas announced last weekend she will be a candidate for state Senate in the 42nd Legislative District, a position held by Doug Ericksen of Ferndale. The announcement was made on the one-year anniversary of the Bellingham Women’s March, at which Vargas spoke. Vargas currently serves as a member of the Bellingham City Council from Ward 4, having been elected in 2013 and 2017. In 2016 she was chosen by her colleagues to preside at council meetings. (Lynden Tribune)

What do you do when a major polluter is holding Seattle together?
Yet another building with 400 offices, first-floor retail space, and underground parking is going up in Seattle’s South Lake Union. One of the primary ingredients for the building is concrete. As each concrete truck empties its contents into the site, a new one pulls up: that’s a truckload of concrete every five minutes. As the Pacific Northwest booms, it’s using a lot of concrete to build buildings, roads and other infrastructure — and making all that concrete is a big part of our carbon footprint…. The only cement plant in Washington is in South Seattle: Ash Grove. It makes one third of all the cement used in Washington. Its kilns dominate the skyline by the Port of Seattle. And it also contributes an out-sized chunk to Seattle’s carbon footprint: the plant accounts for ten percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Eilís O'Neill reports. (KUOW)

B.C. auditor general set to scrutinize Site C dam project
B.C.'s auditor general has set her sights on the Site C dam in northeast B.C., although she isn't yet sure which aspect of the mega-project her team will be scrutinizing. "It's such a complex project," said Carol Bellringer, who released her 2018-19 priorities plan Wednesday. Bellringer said many of the questions her office had about Site C were answered in the B.C. Utilities Commission analysis released last year, but she believes the dam's construction still requires outside oversight. Andrew Kurjata reports. (CBC)

Official Who Allowed Tree Cutting By Redskins Owner Is Named National Parks Director
The new acting director of the National Park Service is a former parks official who was reprimanded 12 years ago for pressuring employees to allow the owner of the Washington Redskins to cut down trees for a better view of the Potomac River. Interior Department Sec. Ryan Zinke announced the promotion of Paul Daniel Smith on Wednesday. From 2004 to 2015, Smith was superintendent of Colonial National Historical Park…. A 2006 investigation by the Interior’s inspector general’s office found that Smith “inappropriately used his position to apply pressure and circumvent NPS procedures” on behalf of Dan Snyder, the owner of the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Snyder subsequently cut down more than 130 trees on federally protected land between his house and the C&O Canal. Laurel Wamsley reports. (NPR)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  259 AM PST Thu Jan 25 2018  
 S wind 10 to 20 kt then becoming 5 to 15 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. SW swell 8 ft at 10 seconds.  Showers.
 SW wind 5 to 15 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft after  midnight. W swell 10 ft at 13 seconds. 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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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

1/24 Urchin, orca protection, shellfish upgrade, PFAS, farm stink, no ocean drilling, Sanchi oil, military land use, Skagit eagles

Red sea urchin (Wikipedia)
Red Sea Urchin Strongylocentrotus franciscanus
The Red Sea Urchin is a Sea Urchin found in the Pacific ocean, from Alaska to Baja California. It lives in shallow waters from the low-tide line to 90 m deep, and is typically found on rocky shores that are sheltered from extreme wave action. The animals have a mouth with special jaws (Aristotle's Lantern) located on the bottom (oral) surface. Their preferred diet is seaweeds, kelp and algae, which they scrape off and tear up from the sea floor. During larval development, urchins use bands of cilia to capture food from the water column. Sea Urchins are often found living in clumps from five to ten. They have the ability to regenerate lost spines. Lifespan often exceeds 30 years, and scientists have found some specimens to be over 200 years old. (Puget Sound Wiki)

Mind Your Boat Speed, Leave Drone At Home Around Endangered Killer Whales
In Olympia, state lawmakers are considering stronger protections for the critically endangered population of resident killer whales. A proposal to require boaters to slow down to no more than seven knots within 400 yards of orcas drew universal praise during an initial public hearing Tuesday. Democratic Senator Kevin Ranker, the bill’s prime sponsor, said slower boats equal quieter boats…. Ranker's proposal would also forbid recreational aircraft and drones from approaching closer than 200 yards to an endangered orca. That's the same standoff distance required of whale watching boats. The state Senate bill also proposes to increase spending on marine patrols to enforce the distance and speed limits. Tom Banse reports. (NW News Network)

These Birch Bay shellfish beds have been closed for 10 years. Here’s why they’re reopening
 The state has reopened 129 acres in Birch Bay to shellfish harvesting after years of work to clean up fecal coliform pollution. Harvesting in the water around the mouth of Terrell Creek had been closed to shellfish harvesting since 2008 because of high counts of the bacteria in the creek, according to the Whatcom County Public Works Department. Years of cleanup effort led the Washington state Department of Health to allow shellfish harvesting to once again occur year-round. The agency upgraded the shellfish beds on Jan. 16. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Washington Lawmakers Propose Banning Controversial Class Of Chemicals
The Washington state House Environment Committee hosted public hearings Tuesday on two bills that would restrict a class of chemicals found in everything from firefighting retardant to food wrappers. Perflourinated (PFAS) chemicals have been linked to numerous health problems, from endocrine disruption to cancer. For decades, PFAS chemicals have been used in firefighting foams on military air strips nationwide. One bill before legislators would ban the use of those chemicals in firefighting activities. Emily Schwing reports. (KNKX)

Farm blamed for sickening stink repeatedly violated environmental orders
A South Surrey farm at the centre of controversy over a mysterious odour has violated repeated orders under B.C.'s Environmental Management Act, according to the province. Infractions have been piling up against Border Feedlot Co. going back 20 years when the owners were first fined with polluting a nearby river. Since then, the Ministry of Environment has issued multiple warning letters to the operation on 172 Street and Eighth Avenue. Neighbours believe the pervasive odour permeating the community is harming their health and, in a complaint, say foul-smelling "diarrhea-coloured" effluent is hurting Little Campbell River. Tanya Fletcher reports. (CBC)

Council unanimously opposes coastal oil and gas drilling
The Ocean Shores City Council on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution that opposes offshore oil and gas activities off the coast in response to a pending Trump administration proposal to permit drilling in most U.S. continental-shelf waters. “Our Washington coast is one of the most wonderful places in this entire world,” said Ocean Shores Mayor Crystal Dingler. “We need to be the protectors of our coast. We need the ones who pay attention because others may or may not do that.” Of particular concern is the use of so-called seismic airgun blasting in exploration. Angelo Bruscas reports. North Coast News)

The World Has Never Seen an Oil Spill Like This
Over the last two weeks, the maritime world has watched with horror as a tragedy has unfolded in the East China Sea. A massive Iranian tanker, the Sanchi, collided with a Chinese freighter carrying grain. Damaged and adrift, the tanker caught on fire, burned for more than a week, and sank. All 32 crew members are presumed dead. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities and environmental groups have been trying to understand the environmental threat posed by the million barrels of hydrocarbons that the tanker was carrying. Because the Sanchi was not carrying crude oil, but rather condensate, a liquid by-product of natural gas and some kinds of oil production. According to Alex Hunt, a technical manager at the London-based International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation, which assists with oil spills across the world, there has never been a condensate spill like this. Alexis C. Madrigal reports. (The Atlantic)

Jefferson commissioners worry over military, land-use bills
Jefferson County commissioners expressed concern Monday over state legislation they said would allow commanders of military bases to veto county and city land-use decisions…. The bills — House Bill 2341 and its companion, Senate Bill 6456 — apply to “lands where development may interfere with the installation’s ability to carry out its current or future mission requirements.” The House bill’s primary sponsor is Rep. Kristine Reeves, D-Federal Way. State Sen. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma, is sponsoring the Senate bill. Jesse Major reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Though downsized, Skagit River bald eagle survey continues
Carrying maps, binoculars and data sheets, the U.S. Forest Service’s Tanya Kitterman and Phyllis Reed drove Friday along a scenic stretch of the Skagit River, making several stops to scan the trees for bald eagles….
The eagles are drawn to the Skagit and other area rivers in pursuit of chum salmon that swim upstream during the winter to spawn and die. Eagles are scavengers that pick the dead fish off the riverbanks. In recent years, the number of chum returning to the Skagit River to spawn has been low, and some floods early in the spawning season have washed the dead fish downstream. Forest Service and National Park Service staff said that’s why the past few winters more of the eagles have been found on the Nooksack River to the north and in the lower reaches of the Skagit River watershed. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  258 AM PST Wed Jan 24 2018  
 SW wind 15 to 25 kt in the morning becoming 5 to 15 kt.  Wind waves 2 to 4 ft in the morning becoming 2 ft or less. SW  swell 9 ft at 10 seconds. Rain in the morning then a chance of  showers in the afternoon.
 SE wind to 10 kt becoming S 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft after  midnight. SW swell 8 ft at 10 seconds. 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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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

1/23 Tony Angell, Zinke, TransMtn, quake, sewage spill, solar panels, logging slopes, old worms, tech crows

Tony Angell working on model of "Redhawk"
"You Don't know What You've Got Till It's Gone"
Artist and environmental educator Tony Angell writes: "A song echoes in my mind these days as I read the news about the condition of our natural environments here in the Pacific Northwest. Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi includes the refrain, "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?  Pave paradise, put up a parking lot." (read more)

The Mad King Flies His Flag
This monarch has control over the crown jewels of America's public land. They are not in safe hands. Tim Egan on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. (NY Times)

Opponents of $7.9-billion Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion speak out
Private land owners and the municipalities of Burnaby and Coquitlam started National Energy Board hearings this week on their opposition of the planned route of the $7.9-billion expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline. Final approval of the route is a key remaining hurdle that the Houston-Tx.-based Kinder Morgan must overcome before construction can begin on portions of the mega-project where the route is disputed. About 40 per cent of the planned route is approved already. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Are you ready? Here comes a deluge of rain, snow across Western Washington  (Seattle Times) After stormy weekend, more snow on the way for B.C. ski hills  (CBC)

Tsunami Alert Is Downgraded Along Alaska's Coast After Powerful Quake
A powerful magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska late Monday night, initially prompting a tsunami warning for a large section of the state’s coast and parts of Canada. As more data came in, the U.S. Tsunami Warning System downgraded the threat to an advisory for Alaska’s Chignik Bay. Several smaller aftershocks were also felt after the quake, whose epicenter was located about 6 miles below the surface and 175 miles southeast of Kodiak, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Bill Chappell and Scott Neuman report. (NPR)

Bangor sewage spill affects Clear Creek, Dyes Inlet
A power failure last week at a lift station at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor caused sewage to spill into a tributary of Clear Creek, prompting a warning from health officials.  Kitsap Public Health District issued a no-contact advisory Monday for much of Clear Creek and the north end of Dyes Inlet after it was notified of the spill by the Navy. The advisory will remain effect at least through Friday. Navy Region Northwest spokesman Sean Hughes said the spill occurred during a 22-hour period spanning Thursday and Friday last week. Hughes said sewage backed up in the system during a power outage, causing a pipe to leak. The volume of the spill was unknown. (Kitsap Sun)

Trump Approves 30 Percent Tariff On Imported Solar Panels
President Trump has approved a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels in a decision that could both help and hurt the U.S. solar industry. The tariff approval, announced Monday by a U.S. trade representative, is expected to help U.S. solar manufacturers including Hillsboro-based SolarWorld — but many argue it will hurt the rest of the U.S. solar industry by raising the price of solar panels. The president approved a set of tariffs that would start at 30 percent and drop to 15 percent over the next four years. In each of those years, the first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar panels would be exempt from the tariff. Cassandra Profita reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Washington DNR Wants More Time to Decide About Logging Unstable Slopes
In the wake of the Oso landslide and the current situation unfolding at Rattlesnake Ridge, Washington state public lands commissioner Hilary Franz is asking the Legislature for more time to review proposals from timber companies to log potentially unstable slopes. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) currently has 30 days to evaluate timber harvest applications for landslide risk. Franz says giving DNR 60 days instead of 30 would give agency geologists “enough time to make sure we have all the materials, we’ve reviewed the science, we’ve gotten on the ground and been able to ensure that the public will be safe pursuant to any logging activities,” Franz explains.   Eilis O'Neill reports. (KUOW)

More than 500 fossils of new ancient worm species found in B.C.
Roughly 508 million years ago, this bristly worm roamed the waters of what is now British Columbia. Now, the newly identified species of ancient worm is helping researchers unravel an ancient mystery. Meet Kootenayscolex barbarensis, a new species of bristle worm. It worm belongs to a richly diverse group of animals called annelids. Today, the group contains leeches and earthworms, but also some of the most beautiful marine worms, like the orange fireworm found in coral reefs and around hydrothermal vents in oceans around the world. Nicole Mortillaro reports. (CBC)

New Caledonian crows show how technology evolves
Tool-making crows have allowed us to see the first foundations of a technological breakthrough. New Caledonian crows spontaneously make hooks out of plant material, using them to "fish" for grubs and spiders. Experiments have now revealed that these hooked tools are 10 times faster at retrieving a snack than the alternative tool - a simple twig. Measuring the hooks' effectiveness tells scientists something about what drove this tool-use to evolve. Beyond that, the scientists say the insight has provided them a first glimpse of the "evolution of a new technology" in the animal kingdom. The findings are published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.   Victoria Gill reports. (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  250 AM PST Tue Jan 23 2018  
 E wind 25 to 35 kt easing to 15 to 25 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 4 to 6 ft. W swell 8 ft at 11 seconds  building to SW 10 ft at 10 seconds in the afternoon. Rain.
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. SW swell  10 ft at 10 seconds. Rain.

"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, January 22, 2018

1/22 TransMtn pipe, Keystone XL, coal dust, urchin poacher, climate news, VanAqua battles, bird survey, Curley Cr.

[PHOTO: Laurie MacBride]
A Lot to Bite Off
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "At a marina near Desolation Sound last summer, a school of small fish were busily swarming a jellyfish, biting off and eating bits of it, right beside the dock. I’d never seen a fish (or any animal, for that matter) eating a jellyfish, and nor had the other people who stopped to watch. Murphy’s Law prevailed, so by the time I’d fetched my camera from our boat, the fish had darted off, leaving one lone individual whose resolve seemed to have vanished along with his buddies. So you’ll have to take my word for it: the large chunk missing from the jellyfish in the photo above was removed by a school of fish that included this little guy. Since then I have learned that very few creatures eat jellyfish: the Leatherback turtle (a reptile), the Northern fulmar (a bird) and the Ocean sunfish (a fish, but a large one) are among the only known “medusivores”. I’ve been unable to find any mention of small fish in the Pacific Ocean eating jellyfish…." (more)

B.C. considering appeal of NEB dispute process for permitting of Trans Mountain pipeline
The B.C. government says it may appeal a decision by the National Energy Board that has established a process for the national regulator to adjudicate permitting disputes between Kinder Morgan and provinces and municipalities over the $7.9-billion Trans Mountain expansion. The decision, released Thursday, came after Kinder Morgan had put a motion forward over its complaints that permits were being unnecessarily delayed for the oil-pipeline project, pointing to issues in Burnaby, a municipality that opposes the project. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun) Metro Vancouver cities, residents to oppose Trans Mountain route at hearings  Laura Kane reports. (CBC)

TransCanada says it has secured enough customers to proceed with Keystone XL pipeline
The Canadian pipeline company that set out a decade ago to build the $8-billion Keystone XL oil pipeline across the Great Plains said Thursday it had secured enough shipping orders to proceed with construction. A statement released by TransCanada stopped short of making a commitment to construct the 1,189-mile pipeline from Hardisty, Canada, to Steele City, Neb. Jane Kleeb, the founder and president of Bold Nebraska, the activist group leading the opposition to the Keystone XL project, said TransCanada faced significant regulatory and state court challenges and the company’s announcement changed little about the prospects that the pipeline would be built. Keith Schneider reports. (LA Times)

Concern about coal dust from passing trains prompts B.C. petition
A resident of Salmon Arm, B.C., is fighting to get an additional safeguard in place for Interior communities affected by oily, black dust spread by passing coal trains. Canadian Pacific Railway already has two spray stations in B.C. — facilities which spray coal with a glue-like polymer in order to prevent residue from escaping… But Marijke Dake has been concerned about the lack of facilities east of Salmon Arm ever since she noticed coal dust escaping a passing train last summer.  Jaimie Kehler reports. (CBC)

This poacher got busted with 1,088 sea urchins. Their sex organs sell for $100 per pound
Sea urchins — those spiny creatures beach goers carefully avoid stepping on — are a hot commodity. Sometimes too hot. A sea urchin poacher was caught Jan. 7 when he pulled into Tacoma’s Breakwater Marina, just east of Point Defiance Park. Officer Jake Greshock with the state Fish and Wildlife Department’s Central Sound Marine Detachment was watching the commercial diver from shore as he harvested green sea urchins north of the Tacoma Narrows bridges. Craig Sailor reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

A further search for truth among stories about climate change
Chris Dunagan in Watching Our Water Ways writes: "When it comes to reports of climate change, I cannot escape “fake news,” which I define as wholly made up with little basis in fact. More often than not, however, what I observe are news stories in which the reporters exaggerate or simply misunderstand the results of scientific studies. In a confusing landscape of climate news, it is not easy to know what to believe. That’s why we need news reporters who work hard to get things right by understanding the science and conveying information in a meaningful way…."

Behind scenes Vancouver Aquarium frustrations revealed in court battle
Documents filed in fight with Park Board detail tense meetings and unique legal arguments, Jason Proctor reports. (CBC)

New survey documents Fidalgo Bay birds
Armed with binoculars and spotting scopes Thursday, volunteers scanned the choppy waters of Fidalgo Bay, calling out the birds they saw. They ticked off their counts as part of a new survey to track what types of birds, and how many, are seen in the bay. The survey began in September at the recommendation of the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee — a group of volunteers working to ensure that efforts to restore and protect the bay are successful — and the Skagit Audubon Society. Kimberly Cauvel report. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Donation will aid salmon in South Kitsap stream
…. The chum spawning season was over, but a faint fishy odor still hung over Curley Creek, one of the county's most important salmon streams. The South Kitsap creek provides habitat not only for chum but also coho, chinook and steelhead, making it a priority for conservation.  The effort to protect the waterway took a leap forward this winter when landowner Steve Tyner donated 28 acres on the creek to the Great Peninsula Conservancy. The non-profit group had secured a state grant to purchase the property, but the funding was held up in the state's capital budget. Spontaneously, Tyner decided to gift the land instead. Tad Sooter reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  237 AM PST Mon Jan 22 2018  

 SW wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 5 to 15 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 1 to 2 ft in the  afternoon. W swell 14 ft at 13 seconds subsiding to 12 ft at  13 seconds in the afternoon. Showers in the morning then showers  likely in the afternoon.
 S wind to 10 kt becoming E 10 to 20 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft after midnight. W  swell 11 ft at 12 seconds subsiding to 9 ft at 11 seconds after  midnight. A chance of showers 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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Friday, January 19, 2018

1/19 Peanut worms, Van Aqua cetaceans, WA capital budget, MMPA, BC pipes, warmest year, farm fish escape, Brinnon resort, Trump's environment, Way of Whales

Agassiz's Peanut Worm (Dave Cowles)
Critter of the Month - The Peanut Worms
These animals are commonly called “peanut worms” because some have the general shape of peanuts (although we think cashew worms would be more fitting)…. Peanut Worms belong to the phylum Sipuncula (sy-PUN-kyoo-lah), meaning "little tube or siphon.” Recent genetic work, however, suggests that they might actually belong within, or closely related to, annelids…. Sipunculans are exclusively marine, with most species living in shallow water (we have collected them from depths ranging from 2-270 meters). Our Puget Sound species grow to be just a few centimeters long, but some species can reach half a meter in length…. Although sipunculans probably don’t taste anything like peanuts, there are parts of the world where they are considered a delicacy. In the Philippines, sipunculans are cooked with vinegar and spices, and in the town of Xiamen in the Fujian province of China, peanut worms are harvested on beaches and made into a street food called “sea worm jelly.” (WA Dept. of Ecology)

Salish Sea Communications: Are You Worried About The Bomb? I Am.
If the debacle of last Saturday’s nuke attack alert false alarm in Hawaii had happened a week earlier, we’d have been on the way to the airport to fly back to the Northwest. Makes me think about what I’d have felt in the 38-minute interval before the alert was rescinded….

Vancouver Aquarium will no longer keep whales, dolphins in captivity
The Vancouver Aquarium is giving up its fight to keep whales and dolphins in captivity, saying the heated public debate on the issue is hindering its conservation work. Staff at the non-profit attraction learned Thursday morning of the decision to end the cetacean program, according to CEO John Nightingale. "We absolutely believe in the value of whales and dolphins in engaging people," he told CBC News. "But you also have to be realistic, and it has gotten to the point where the debate in the community, with the lawyers, with the politicians ... is debilitating our work on our mission." Bethany Lindsay reports. (CBC)

Lawmakers pass water bill, $4 billion in construction
The state Legislature approved more than $4 billion in construction projects across the state after reaching a deal on a contentious water issue that had stalled the capital budget for months. The Senate and the House passed legislation Thursday night aimed at addressing issues in the state Supreme Court decision known as Hirst involving the use of domestic wells in rural areas. Lawmakers also approved a $4.2 billion construction spending plan that includes money for major projects across the state, including affordable housing, K-12 school buildings, mental health beds and public work projects. Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the measures. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Study would explore changes to protections for seals and sea lions
As wildlife managers work to recover Puget Sound’s diminished Chinook population, a proposed white paper is expected to review the impacts of some of the salmon's chief predators. The study would include a section on potential management of seals and sea lions, prompting open discussion of a long taboo subject: Could officials seek to revise the Marine Mammal Protection Act — or even conduct lethal or non-lethal removal of seals and sea lions in some cases? Such actions are hypothetical, but we look at some of the ongoing discussions around the issue as prompted by a new resolution from the Puget Sound Leadership Council. Derrick Nunnally reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

New dispute resolution rules for Trans Mountain pipeline permits company to skirt local rules, says critic
An environmental lawyer says the National Energy Board's new process for resolving permitting issues gives Kinder Morgan the ability to circumvent local rules for its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.  The NEB said Thursday it has established a process to resolve future permitting issues between the builders of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project and provincial and municipal authorities. Lawyer Eugene Kung with West Coast Environmental Law described the announcement as disappointing, but said it fits into a pattern of the NEB accommodating Kinder Morgan's demands. Kung said the request for an expedited process shows the company is expecting difficulties in the future. Liam Britten reports. (CBC)

TransCanada forges ahead on B.C. gas pipeline, hits resistance
TransCanada is forging ahead with a revamped plan to build a $1.4-billion North Montney Mainline gas pipeline despite the death of the LNG project in northwest B.C. that had underpinned its construction. The pipeline project — now aimed at the North American market — enters National Energy Board hearings next week. Following the hearings in Calgary and Dawson Creek, scheduled to end on Feb. 1, the NEB can take about three months to make a decision. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

2017 'warmest year without El Niño' 
Manmade climate change is now dwarfing the influence of natural trends on the climate, scientists say. Last year was the second or third hottest year on record - after 2016 and on a par with 2015, the data shows. But those two years were affected by El Niño - the natural phenomenon centred on the tropical Pacific Ocean which works to boost temperatures worldwide. Take out this natural variability and 2017 would probably have been the warmest year yet, the researchers say.  Roger Harrabin reports. (BBC)

‘Fouling’ creatures are new suspects in great Atlantic salmon escape
Washington state officials are looking at some new suspects in the collapse of an Atlantic salmon farm: sea creatures clogging the floating structure’s nets. Nets from the fish farm off Cypress Island were heavy with marine life like mussels, sea anemones and algae, according to eyewitness accounts and underwater videos obtained by KUOW. Such “biofouling” can amplify the force of tidal currents as they push through the mesh of underwater net-pens. The salmon farm broke away from its moorings on two occasions in July after strong tidal currents swept past Cypress Island. It collapsed altogether in August, letting 160,000 Atlantic salmon escape into Puget Sound. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

Draft plan reviewed for proposed Brinnon resort
The Jefferson County commissioners and planning commissioners took a look at a draft developments agreement for the long-planned resort in Brinnon this week. The proposed Pleasant Harbor Resort, which would be on 252-acres on the Black Point Peninsula 2 miles south of Brinnon, has been controversial since it was first proposed in 2006. The plan has been reduced for environmental and cultural concerns, said Patricia Charnas, director of the county Department of Community Development. “The original Master Planned Resort shrunk from 1,200 [residential] units to the 890 you see,” she told commissioners Tuesday. “The golf course was reduced from 18 holes to nine.” Jesse Major reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

One year in, Trump's environmental agenda is already taking a measurable toll
…. One year into the Trump administration’s unrelenting push to dilute and disable clean air and water policies, the impact is being felt in communities across the country. Power plants have been given expanded license to pollute, the dirtiest trucks are being allowed to remain on the roads and punishment of the biggest environmental scofflaws is on the decline…. under EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the air and the water are already being affected as the administration tinkers with programs obscure to most Americans, with names like “Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for Steam Electric Power Plants” and “Air Quality Designations for Ozone.” Evan Halper reports. (LA Times)

Way of Whales Workshop 2018
Orca Network's annual Ways of Whales Workshop will be held this Saturday, 10:00 am until 4:30 pm at the Coupeville Middle School Performing Arts Center, 501 S. Main St, Coupeville, Whidbey Island, WA. On Sunday a special ‘Solutions to Captivity’ program will be held at Langley Whale Center 105 Anthes Avenue, from 11:00 to 12:30 pm. The event features Orca Network’s Howard Garrett who will discuss plans for Lolita/Tokitae’s retirement into a seapen; and Clive Martin from Orca Rescues Foundation, U.K. who will highlight developments with the Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary and the possible imminent release of captive dolphins to this project. Orca Network.

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  232 AM PST Fri Jan 19 2018  
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 19 ft  at 15 seconds subsiding to 15 ft at 14 seconds in the afternoon.  Showers.
 W wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell  15 ft at 14 seconds. Showers.
 SW wind 5 to 15 kt becoming SE 10 to 20 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 14 ft at 14 seconds  subsiding to 11 ft at 13 seconds in the afternoon. Showers  likely.
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell  9 ft at 12 seconds building to 13 ft at 11 seconds after  midnight.
 S wind 10 to 20 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. SW swell 14 ft at 11 seconds.

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