Monday, April 30, 2018

4/30 Dandelion, sea star, orca recovery, dead whale, norovirus, open-pen farms, Forterra, BC pipe, Columbia treaty, ocean acid

Dandelion [GrowForageCookFerment]
Dandelion, Taraxacum officianale
The young leaves of common dandelion were eaten raw or cooked in recent times by the Halq'emeylem, Nlaka'paumux and some indigenous people of Alaska. It was imported to North America on early sailing ships. The young leaves make a good vegetable green. The cooked roots can be eaten as a vegetable or dried and ground for use as a coffee substitute. The flowers can be used to make dandelion wine and the whole plant can be brewed to make beer.  (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast) The name "dandelion" comes from the French "dent de lion"-- lion's tooth, which refers to the serrated leaves. (Just Fun Facts)

Sunflower sea stars remain hard to find in B.C. waters four years after massive die-off
Reports that sea stars may be recovering after a massive die-off four years ago may be premature, experts say. “We want simple solutions. People see a few of them, and they assume they’re back,” said Port McNeill diver and scientist Jackie Hildering. “But they’re not.” While the number of ochre stars is reportedly on the rise, the iconic sunflower star remains elusive on the B.C. coast. “There is very little evidence of recovery (among sunflower stars),” confirmed Peter Raimondi, marine ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Tracking the wasting disease that killed millions of sea stars from Alaska to Baja California in 2013 and 2014 is difficult because so little work has been done on the species. It is unclear how many sea stars melted away during the outbreak — and how many are left. Glenda Luymes reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Governor-Led Orca Recovery Effort to Hold First Meeting
An orca conservation team convened by Gov. Jay Inslee is holding its first meeting on Tuesday. The Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery Task Force will focus on ways to help the Northwest's iconic species. Southern Resident Orca numbers in the Salish Sea have been in serious decline, reaching a high of 98 in 1995 and numbering only 76 today. It is the only killer whale population protected under the Endangered Species Act, but the state believes more conservation efforts are needed. Stephanie Solien, who is co-chairing the Task Force, says many of the remaining orcas are in bad shape. She says the Task Force will focus on three of the well-known threats to the whales. "There's a lack of adult chinook salmon abundance," she says. "There's persistent toxic pollutants that are both in our Puget Sound and in the waters all the way up to Canada. And underwater noise and disturbance from both commercial and recreational vessels." Eric Tegethoff reports. (Public News Service)

Orca found at Copper Bay was a northern resident: DFO
A newborn killer whale found dead on a Copper Bay beach in early March was part of the threatened northern resident population. A tissue analysis and final report may take another month to complete, but a DNA study recently confirmed that the young killer whale was a northern resident — a genetically unique population of fewer than 200 animals. “She was separated from her mom just after birth,” said Kelly Aitken, a local fisheries officer with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Nearly half of all killer whales die between birth and six months of age. Andrew Hudson reports. (Northern View)

4 B.C. shellfish farms closed after being linked to norovirus in raw oysters
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says four shellfish farms have been closed after being linked to the outbreak of noroviruses associated with raw B.C. oysters. As of April 26 the outbreak includes 132 cases of illness in B.C., a decrease from last week, according to a release. An investigation by the BCCDC found that most people were infected after consuming oysters harvested in south and central Baynes Sound. (CBC)

Coalition calls for end to open-pen salmon farming in B.C. by 2025
Wild First describes itself as a coalition of business leaders, independent scientists, First Nations leaders and others focused on the preservation of wild Pacific salmon species. The group released a video on Thursday which highlights the rare glass sponge reefs discovered in B.C. waters, then claims to show the seabed beneath a Cermaq salmon farm in coastal B.C., with lifeless reefs covered in residue. The video was shot by the same videographer, Tavish Campbell, who released an anti-salmon-farming video last year that led to a provincial review of fish processing plants. Wild First wants transition to land-based aquaculture. Rafferty Baker reports. (CBC)

Forterra founder Gene Duvernoy steps down as president 
 Gene Duvernoy has stepped down from the helm of Forterra, a regional sustainability nonprofit corporation that is changing the definition of what it means to be a land trust. Forterra long ago outgrew its original name, Cascade Land Conservancy, both literally and figuratively. Today, Forterra dedicates itself to using real-estate deals to preserve and sustain communities, both human and natural, all over Washington.... Grown to 50 employees, Forterra has come a long way from the two-person office in the attic of his house where Duvernoy, 66, first launched the land trust nearly 30 years ago. He leaves Forterra having helped the organization complete 450 transactions in 83 Washington communities, conserving more than 275,000 acres of land. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

7 arrested as faith leaders protest Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Burnaby
Leaders from a broad spectrum of religious faiths stood with Indigenous people at a Kinder Morgan work site in Burnaby, B.C., on Saturday to protest the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Unitarians, two choirs, members of 10 Christian denominations, and interfaith groups all participated by singing and chanting but also fixing prayers, rosaries and flags to the gates of Kinder Morgan's site at Shellmont Street and Underhill Avenue.... Seven people were arrested by Burnaby RCMP officers for breaching a court-ordered injunction that prevents people from obstructing or impeding access to Kinder Morgan facilities in Burnaby. Chad Pawson reports. (CBC)

NDP case against Trans Mountain pipeline may be hurt by previous legal arguments
British Columbia's court case over the flow of heavy oil through the province could be damaged by the NDP government's previous positions against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, says a legal expert. The provincial government filed a reference case Thursday in the B.C. Court of Appeal asking whether amendments it is proposing to the Environmental Management Act are valid and if they give the province the authority to control the shipment of heavy oils based on the impact spills could have on the environment, human health or communities. The province is also asking the court whether the amendments are over-ridden by federal law. Nigel Bankes, chair of natural resources law at the University of Calgary, said he believes the province will lose on the validity question because it is targeting a federally approved project, even though the legislation covers broad environmental concerns. (CBC)

Northwest Tribes Noticeably Absent in Columbia River Treaty Renegotiations
Federal officials were in Spokane Wednesday night to talk about the future of the Columbia River Treaty, an agreement between the U.S. and Canada that dates back to 1964. It governs hydropower and flood control measures along the upper reaches of the 1,200 mile Columbia River. A six-member panel will represent the U.S. in negotiations to update the treaty-- four men and two women. Noticeably absent were members of any of the numerous Native American tribes along the Columbia, which have been pushing to expand the treaty to include more emphasis on the environmental protections.... The panel includes representatives from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Army Corp of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bonneville Power Administration. Emily Schwing reports. (KNKX)

Yacht In Global Race Gathering Data on Ocean's Health
The world's oceans are getting more acidic and it's hurting the whole aquatic food chain. Scientists are racing to learn more about ocean acidification and now they're getting help from an actual race boat. The Clipper "Round the World" yacht race has joined forces with researchers in Washington. On the next leg from Seattle to New York City, the yacht "Visit Seattle" will have a pH sensor attached to it. It will take readings throughout the journey. Ocean acidification is a change in ocean chemistry resulting from the absorption of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, threatening aquatic ecosystems in particular because it makes it difficult for shellfish to grow shells. Tiny organisms called pteropods are hit quite hard. They are at the base of the food chain and important food for herring and salmon. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

An orca out of water
It’s hard to miss the 30-foot orca that has landed on the east side of North Beach Road. The killer whale, which weighs somewhere between 2,000–3,000 pounds now resides outside of the recently relocated Orcas Wild and Outer Island Excursions office at 414 North Beach Road. “The whale was originally made with a government grant to build a life-like killer whale decoy to scare sea lions away from key salmon habitat,” said Outer Island owner Beau Brandow. “This idea was a failure, but we were left with a very anatomically correct model and the opportunity to spread education and awareness about killer whales in a way that people can connect with.” According to Brandow, the whale cost approximately $100,000 to construct and spent several years in Bellingham’s Squalicum Harbor until its owner passed away. He said he acquired the mannequin mammal by promising to give it “an appropriate home with positive intentions.” Brandow is asking for the public’s help in naming the latest resident of downtown Eastsound. Mandi Johnson reports. (Islands Sounder)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PDT Mon Apr 30 2018   

TODAY  SW wind to 10 kt becoming NW 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft. W swell 6 ft at 9  seconds. 

TONIGHT  W wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 5 ft at 10 seconds.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

4/27 Elwha, BC pipe, Pruitt's EPA, seaweeds, shorelines, fish hook, shrimp, rising seas, saving bees

Elwha nearshore 4/25/18 [Tom Roorda/CWI]
B.C. looks to enact new rules for companies bringing more oil through province
B.C. is asking its highest court to decide if the government has the right to bring in stricter rules for companies looking to ferry more heavy oil — like diluted bitumen — through the province. That would include crude flowing by way of an expanded pipeline, such as Kinder Morgan's expanded project. As part of its reference case filed Thursday morning, the province put draft legislation before the court that would amend the Environmental Protection Act with the new regulations. Rhianna Schmunk reports. (CBC) See also: B.C. submits court reference to regulate oil flow from Trans Mountain pipeline  Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun) And also: Tankers aside, B.C.'s environmental tool box to be tested in court  Vaughn Palmer writes. (Vancouver Sun)

Sunlight reduces effectiveness of dispersants used to clean up oil spills
A new study shows that sunlight transforms oil spills on the ocean surface more quickly and significantly than previously thought, limiting the effectiveness of chemical dispersants that break up floating oil. A research team funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that sunlight chemically alters crude oil floating on the sea surface within days or hours. The team reported that sunlight changes oil into different compounds that dispersants cannot easily break up. The findings, published today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, could affect how responders decide when, where and how to use dispersants. (NSF News Release)

EPA chief gets congressional scolding over ethical lapses
Lawmakers are harshly criticizing Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt for the ethics and spending scandals that have prompted bipartisan calls for his ouster. On the defensive, the EPA chief blamed “half truths” and “twisted” allegations, an effort to undermine the Trump administration’s anti-regulatory agenda. The public grilling at a House hearing Thursday came as support has eroded for Pruitt among fellow Republicans after a nearly month of negative headlines about outsized security spending, first-class flights and a sweetheart condo lease. Even Republicans who support Pruitt’s policy agenda said his apparent lapses could not be ignored. Michael Biesecker and Ellen Knickmeyer reports. (Associated Press)

60 Minutes reports on seaweed farming and its surprising possibilities
It's nutritious. It keeps the ocean healthy. It's good for the environment. There's very little not to like about seaweed, a commodity that offers healthy solutions to some of the Earth's most vexing problems. Lesley Stahl reports on a new type of farming, "ocean farming," including an interview with a fisherman-turned-seaweed-farmer, on the next edition of 60 Minutes, Sunday, April 29 at 7:00 p.m., ET/PT on CBS. Seaweeds, sometimes called "sea greens," have some advantages over their land-based cousins. They don't use fertilizer or pesticides that are costly and can harm the environment. They don't require fresh water, and they grow very fast. Plus, they are rich in calcium, iron, antioxidants, and are a good source of fiber.  (CBS)

A Closer Look at Shorelines
For some people, shorelines are places to sit and admire a sunset. For others, they are fascinating ecological or geological zones. For Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and July Hazard, shorelines are all of this and more.... Hazard and Woelfle-Erskine, assistant professor of equity and environmental justice in the School of Marine & Environmental Affairs (SMEA), have turned their fascination with shorelines into a UW course, Ecopoetics Along Shorelines. Offered this spring by SMEA, CHID, and the Honors Program, the course has attracted a diverse group of students, from freshmen to PhD students in fields ranging from creative writing to physics to environmental affairs. The course began over spring break with a field intensive on Washington’s San Juan Island, and continues spring quarter with a weekly seminar on the Seattle campus. During the field intensive, Hazard and Woelfle-Erskine helped students gain an understanding of historical and ecological dynamics of the landscape through careful observation. “We wanted to train them in the practices of seeing and observing, to read the landscape in a way that students might be more familiar with reading a text,” says Woelfle-Erskine. Nancy Joseph reports.

An ancient fish hook could solve a big, modern problem
As the sun rose above Neah Bay one foggy morning three years ago, a group of anglers headed out to the Pacific Ocean to fish for halibut — something their Makah ancestors were doing thousands of years ago.... The fishing trip wasn't for fun or food. It was for science. The anglers were volunteers in an experiment. They were testing whether an ancient Makah technology could solve a troubling modern-day problem: how to harvest food from the ocean without harming endangered species. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

All you need to know about shrimp
ALL SEVEN SHRIMP species commonly harvested by sport shrimpers typically undergo a sex change in their life cycles at the bottom of the Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca. Shrimp in the family Pandalidae have a unique reproductive cycle, maturing first as males, then changing sex in later years to reproduce as females.File this under things you learn when you speak to a shellfish biologist. More on this trivial, but crucial tidbit later. Recreational shrimping will open Saturday, May 5 in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca under seasons announced this week by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Michael Carman reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

The military paid for a study on sea level rise. The results were scary.
More than a thousand low-lying tropical islands risk becoming “uninhabitable” by the middle of the century — or possibly sooner — because of rising sea levels, upending the populations of some island nations and endangering key U.S. military assets, according to new research published Wednesday. The threats to the islands are twofold. In the long term, the rising seas threaten to inundate the islands entirely. More immediately, as seas rise, the islands will more frequently deal with large waves that crash farther onto the shore, contaminating their drinkable water supplies with ocean saltwater, according to the research. Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis report. (Washington Post)

EU member states to vote on near-total neonicotinoids ban
Member states will vote on Friday on an almost complete ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides across the EU. Scientific studies have linked their use to the decline of honeybees, wild bees and other pollinators. The move would represent a major extension of existing restrictions, in place since 2013. Matt McGrath reports. (BBC) See also: Nonprofits Abuzz With Efforts to Support Northwest Bees  Tom Banse reports. (NW News Network)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  205 AM PDT Fri Apr 27 2018   
 W wind to 10 kt becoming NW 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 13 seconds. 
 W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming S after midnight. Wind waves 2  ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 13 seconds. A chance of showers in the  evening then showers likely after midnight. 
 SW wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at  13 seconds. Showers. 
 W wind to 10 kt becoming SW 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 13 seconds. 
 S wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 11  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, April 26, 2018

4/26 Goldfinch, BirdNote, Snake dams, BC pipe, grizzlies, caribou, Chesapeake grass, sea tales, orca feed, Orca Talk

Willow (American) Goldfinch [Dan Dzurisin/Flickr]
Willow (American) goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)
Washington designated the willow goldfinch as the official state bird in 1951. Also called American goldfinch or wild canary, the male willow goldfinch has a bright yellow body with black wings and tail, and black on top of his head. The female's plumage is more muted with an olive-yellow body and dark brown tail and wings (the male goldfinch also displays this same dull plumage in the winter months). Active and acrobatic little birds, goldfinches fly with a bouncy, undulating pattern The diet of the goldfinch consists mainly of seeds. (State Symbols USA)

BirdNote - Streamed Live!
On Thursday, April 26, 7:30-9:00 pm PDT, BirdNote will be live-streamed as a webcast by presenting partner Town Hall Seattle. Tune in for a fun evening of conversation about birds, celebrating the ways they connect us to nature and to each other — with special guests Dr. J. Drew Lanham and Barbara Earl Thomas-- and hosted by narrators Mary McCann and Michael Stein.

Bill Protecting Lower Snake River Dams Passes US House
The U.S. House approved a bill Wednesday that would circumvent a federal judge’s order for dams on the lower Snake River to spill more water and protect current dam operations through the next four years. The additional spilled water is meant to help migrating salmon, meaning it would not be available for generating electricity. H.R. 3144 aims to keep dams in place and prevent any changes in operation until 2022. It’s sponsored by Washington Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse. Tony Schick reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Canada to Seattle Environmentalists: We Stand Behind the Kinder Morgan Pipeline
Last Friday, Canadian diplomats met with a coalition of Seattle environmentalists to discuss their concerns about a tar sands pipeline expansion that has roiled politics north of the border, and will increase tanker traffic in the shared Salish Sea.... he project backers estimate that the project would add 348 tankers in the Salish Sea annually, and the Sightline Institute, a local environmental thinktank, believes that this would increase the risk of spills in local waters dramatically. Canadian consuls told to local activists on Friday that they dispute the idea the project will increase the risk of damage to local waters. When Kinder Morgan announced one week ago that it would stop nonessential pipeline spending in the face of opposition from the local British Columbian government (and unmentioned First Nations activism), the federal Canadian government announced it would be looking at funding the pipeline itself. Sydney Brownstone reports. (The Stranger)

Grizzly bears could make a return to WA — for real this time
He said it. He really did. To everyone's surprise, on March 23, at the North Cascades National Park headquarters in Sedro-Woolley, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke — the same Ryan Zinke who had recommended shrinking Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and who had announced last June that Yellowstone's grizzlies would be dropped from the endangered species list — declared that he was all for restoring grizzly bears to the North Cascades.  Daniel Jack Chasan reports. (Crosscut)

'Ecosystems are unravelling': Another B.C. caribou herd could be lost forever
Another caribou herd in British Columbia is on the edge of dying out and conservation groups are calling for more protections for the animals. The South Purcell herd, which ranges north of Kimberley, is down to four animals. Biologists flew over the herd last week and counted just three bulls and a cow. (CBC)

Scientists: Record abundance of underwater grasses shows Chesapeake Bay initiatives are working
Underwater grasses that provide vital places for fish and crabs to live and hide from predators covered more than 100,000 acres of the Chesapeake Bay in 2017 — the most ever recorded in a 34-year-old aerial survey, scientists said Tuesday. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science found 104,843 acres of grasses across the estuary, the first time since it began its survey in 1984 that vegetative coverage surpassed the 100,000-acre threshold. It was a third straight year that grass acreage grew, gaining by 5 percent from 2016 to 2017. Scott Dance reports. (Baltimore Sun)

Powerful Stories About Ocean Sustainability
When a northern Puget Sound fish farm sustained damage last August, more than 250,000 farmed Atlantic salmon spilled into the Salish Sea.  Lummi fishermen rushed to the area with nets, desperate to capture the farmed salmon before they mixed with the area’s wild salmon, their most precious resource. The Lummi fishermen’s story is one of many featured on Ocean Link Northwest, a website that sheds light on humans’ dependence on the ocean. The site was developed by students in the Communication Leadership program (Comm Lead), a professional master’s program in the Department of Communication, in collaboration with the Nippon Foundation Nereus Program, an innovative, interdisciplinary ocean research group. Nancy Joseph reports. (Perspectives Newsletter/UW)

500K Chinook smolt released into Salish Sea to help feed killer whales 
Half a million healthy juvenile Chinook salmon were released into the Salish Sea as part of the South Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition (SVIAC) and the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA)'s "Feeding Our Endangered Orcas Initiative." The fish were delivered to Sooke, B.C.  This multi-year program is intended to significantly increase large adult Chinook salmon in the Juan de Fuca Strait during the key pre-winter feeding time of local killer whales. The Southern Resident Killer Whales - J, K and L pods are endangered. Lack of food is one of the issues believed responsible for their declining numbers. Pollutants and noise from vessels are other top reasons for their decline according to NOAA. Last year 225,000 healthy Chinook salmon smolts were successfully released from their temporary holding enclosure in the Sooke Basin and are expected to return as large adults in 2020.  (San Juan Islander)

Orca Talk: "Current Research to Support Recovery Actions for Southern Resident Killer Whales"
With just 76 orcas in J, K and L pods, the Southern Resident Killer Whale population is nearing its all time low of 71 individuals. Is the population still viable - can they be saved? What have we learned over the past year that will help these orcas recover, and what are the most pressing questions still to be addressed? NOAA's Brad Hansen talks about current research to support recovery actions for Southern Resident killer whales. May 1, 7 PM, C&P Coffee Company, 5612 California Ave SW, Brown Paper Tickets. Presented by The Whale Trail.

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PDT Thu Apr 26 2018   
 E wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 2 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 11  seconds. 
 SW wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft  at 13 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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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

4/25 Rainbow trout, EPA science, Suzuki degree, shellfish permit, WA ferries, restored wetland

Rainbow trout [Tennessee Aquarium]
Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Rainbow trout are the most common and hence most popular species of trout in Washington.  There are thousands of wild populations statewide but the main reason for their popularity is that the Washington Department of fish and Wildlife stocks millions of rainbow trout in hundreds of waters annually across the state for the specific purpose of providing recreational angling opportunity.  Rainbow trout are an excellent game fish reputed for their willingness to bite bait and lures, scrappy nature when on the end of a fishing line and the fact that they are excellent table fare. Rainbow trout can be identified by their bluish-green back, silver sides and belly, and black spots on the body and on the caudal, dorsal, and adipose fins.  Another characteristic of rainbow trout, and a characteristic that it gets its name from is the presence of a reddish stripe along its sides that is often, but not always present. (WDFW)

E.P.A. Announces a New Rule. One Likely Effect: Less Science in Policymaking.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced a new regulation Tuesday that would restrict the kinds of scientific studies the agency can use when it develops policies, a move critics say will permanently weaken the agency’s ability to protect public health. Under the measure, the E.P.A. will require that the underlying data for all scientific studies used by the agency to formulate air and water regulations be publicly available. That would sharply limit the number of studies available for consideration because much research relies on confidential health data from study subjects. Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, announced the proposed regulation this afternoon at agency headquarters, flanked by Republican lawmakers who sponsored legislation designed to achieve the same ends as the new regulation. Lisa Friedman reports. (NY Times)

U of A stands by Suzuki honorary degree as donors withdraw, Albertans protest
Backlash toward the University of Alberta is escalating, with donors pulling funding and rallies being planned, but the school's president says he won't compromise academic independence by reversing a decision to award David Suzuki an honorary degree. Although some of the school's own faculty staff have spoken out against the decision, U of A president David Turpin confirmed Tuesday the university will go forward in awarding the controversial environmentalist an honorary doctor of science degree this spring. "Universities must not be afraid of controversy. Instead, we must be its champion," Turpin said in a statement posted on the university's website. Andrea Ross reports. (CBC)

Penn Cove Shellfish first to go through new shoreline plan
A proposal by Penn Cove Shellfish, LLC to add nine raft clusters to 15 existing raft clusters at its mussel farm in Quilcene Bay is the first floating aquaculture project to be reviewed under the new Shoreline Master Program. Anna Bausher, project planner for Jefferson County Department of Community Development, explained that under the previous Shoreline Master Program, the proposal would have been allowed outright without review by the county. Under the current shoreline rules, the project requires a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit application and is subject to State Environmental Policy Act review. The proposal also is subject to approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Natural Resources. A comment period for the project ends May 11. Allison Arthur reports. (Pt Townsend Leader)

Half of Washington State Ferries vessels slated for retirement by 2042
As many retirees are wont to do, the ferry Evergreen State – 65 years old and now renamed “The Dream” – will soon head to Florida for its later years. In Pensacola, it’ll take up retired life as an event center with space for fine dining. The 51-year-old “baby ferry" Hiyu is living out its retirement years as a floating event venue on Lake Union and Lake Washington. Thirteen more vessels will likely join those two most recent retired vessels from Washington State Ferries service over the next two-and-a-half decades. Currently, WSF plans to get about 60 years of service out of its vessels. Those 13 vessels, out of the fleet's total of 23, will hit that age between now and 2042. Nathan Pilling reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Retired zoology prof restores a wetland wonder
When Dr. Sievert Rohwer moved to Whidbey Island in the early 1980s, he remembered seeing large migrations of salamanders trying to cross Cultus Bay Road. Most didn’t make it.... Rohwer, a retired University of Washington zoology professor, takes an active interest in such matters. As an owner of a forest and wetland near Cultus Bay, he realized he could restore wildlife diversity to the natural world around him. That started Rohwer on a mission to improve wildlife habitat on his property in hopes all creatures would benefit, particularly amphibians and waterfowl. He recently led a small group of Whidbey Camano Land Trust members on a tour of his land, showing the progress he and his family have made on their 34 acres. (South Whidbey Record)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  151 AM PDT Wed Apr 25 2018   
 E wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 6 ft  at 13 seconds. 
 E wind 5 to 15 kt becoming 10 to 20 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 5 ft at 12 second
"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, April 24, 2018

4/24 Dead-nettle, Earth Day, kids for Salish Sea, Snake R dams, Vancouver parks, pyrosomes, oil $

Purple Dead-nettle [WikiMedia]
Purple Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)
Purple Dead-nettle and Common or Henbit Dead-nettle (Lamium amplexicaule) have similar ranges and habitat preferences; both are weedy introductions from Eurasia. These nettle-like plants are 'dead' in the sense that they don't sting when touched. The name 'henbit' comes from the fact that hens like to nibble at its leaves. Lamium is from the Greek laimos ('throat'), because of the constricted throat of petal tube. (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast)

America Before Earth Day: Smog and Disasters Spurred the Laws Trump Wants to Undo
A huge oil spill. A river catching fire. Lakes so polluted they were too dangerous for fishing or swimming. Air so thick with smog it was impossible to see the horizon. That was the environmental state of the nation 50 years ago.  But pollution and disasters prompted action. On April 22, 1970, millions of people throughout the country demonstrated on the inaugural Earth Day, calling for air, water and land in the country to be cleaned up and protected. And that year, in a bipartisan effort, the Environmental Protection Agency was created and key legislation — the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act — came into force. Now, the Trump administration has made eliminating federal regulations a priority, and an increasing number of environmental rules are under threat. Livia Albeck-Ripka and Kendra Pierre-Louis report. (NY Times)

New Kids Book Aims To Encourage Next Generation To Protect The Salish Sea
A new book is out that will likely be of interest to anyone who has just moved to the region and maybe even to some old-timers.   Explore The Salish Sea is a nature guide for kids. It’s about the unique marine ecosystem that connects Puget Sound with Canada. It’s aimed at fifth and sixth graders and based on a previous edition made for adults. Both books use lots of colorful photos and facts to showcase the abundant life that depends on the Salish Sea. Joe Gaydos from Orcas Island is co-author of the books and Chief Scientist at the nonprofit SeaDoc Society. Their first book came out of a paper he wrote with a colleague that attempted to catalog the hundreds of species in the Salish Sea. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Taking out the trash checked off Earth Day list of chores for divers in Commencement Bay
If there was a message in all the glass bottles divers brought up from the waters off Tacoma’s waterfront Saturday it might be this: Stop using Puget Sound as a garbage dump. The volunteer scuba divers divers brought up 47 pounds of garbage from the waters of Commencement Bay just off of Ruston Way. Most of that consisted of bottles. They also retrieved discarded fishing lines and hooks from the area near Les Davis Pier. Craig Sailor reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Vote Expected Soon On Bill To Protect Snake River Dams
Some Eastern Washington lawmakers want the Snake River Dams to stay in place. They’ve crafted a bill to leave the dams as they are  — in response to a federal judge’s order to consider removing the dams to protect salmon. The bill, H.R. 3144, is expected to be voted on by the U.S. House this week. “Our legislation will keep in place the current collaborative framework that fosters fish recovery efforts while balancing the many economic contributions of our dams,” said Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse in a joint statement. Courtney Flatt reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Ongoing work to 'rewild' Vancouver parks bring people close to nature
Driving through Stanley Park one morning, Vancouver park board biologist Nick Page came across a bizarre scene. Cars were abandoned haphazardly along the roadside as a crowd of people ran toward the seawall.... n fact, a grey whale had been spotted in the water near Siwash Rock. The incident confirmed an idea the park board had been working on, said Page. Parks shouldn’t only be about sports fields and recreation facilities, they should also be a place where people can experience nature.... In 2014, the park board began work to “rewild” parks and green spaces, identifying 28 biodiversity spots that should be protected, and educating people about their importance. The main goal of the plan was to encourage ecological literacy, said Page. Glenda Luymes reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Oregon Coast Pyrosomes Continue To Multiply
They’re back. A lot of them. And they’re reproducing. The invasion of the pyrosomes, gelatinous, translucent tube-like creatures ranging in size from less than an inch to a foot or more, continues in force off the coast of Oregon for a second year, baffling scientists. The creatures, made up of individual zooids — small, multicellular organisms — normally reside in warmer waters, like the tropics, and usually don’t travel farther north than the waters off southern California. But last spring, scientists pulled pyrosomes out of the Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Oregon and Washington by the tens of thousands. The pyrosomes also wreaked havoc with the nets of commercial anglers, and they washed ashore by the millions, littering beaches. Steve Benham reports. (Associated Press)

Oil at $75 as Iran sanction fears mount
Oil prices hit $75 on Tuesday, the highest level in nearly three and a half years, as fears mounted over the prospect of new US sanctions on Iran. Brent crude jumped for the sixth consecutive day, trading as high as $75.27 before falling back slightly. The US will decide by 12 May whether to abandon a nuclear deal with Iran and re-impose sanctions. Such a move on the third-biggest oil producer in the Opec cartel threatens to further tighten global supplies. Oil prices have been rising since the 14 nations in Opec, as well as other producers including Russia, decided to restrict output last year. (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  144 AM PDT Tue Apr 24 2018   
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 10 to 20 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 8 ft at 15 seconds. 
 E wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 7 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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Monday, April 23, 2018

4/23 Contest, Dogfish Cr, spill recovery, Woodway condos, pipe spill, BC pipe, Pruitt pre-EPA, whale ID

Kelp [Peter Naylor/SeaDoc Society]
Salish Sea in Focus
The SeaDoc Society has launched its first Salish Sea in Focus photography contest to showcase the Salish Sea marine ecosystem and will be accepting photo submissions from now until June 4th. The competition offers more than $6,000 in cash prizes including a $1,000 overall grand prize. The top 100 photos will be featured on an IMAX screen at a gala at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle on October 4. The contest is open to photographers of all skill levels. The contest will be judged by three of the region’s most celebrated photographers, Amy Gulick, Cristina Mittermeier and Kevin Shafer. For details, Salish Sea In Focus Photo Contest.

People and pets advised to stay out of Dogfish Creek in Poulsbo after sewage spill
People and their pets are being asked to stay out of the water of Dogfish Creek in Poulsbo through Monday after about 2,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled out of a manhole. The no-contact advisory for the creek, which runs through Poulsbo’s Fish Park, was issued Friday by the Kitsap Public Health District. The advisory lasts for three days and extends for the area between Highway 305 and Liberty Bay. The advisory recommends against swimming, wading or any activity that could result in water entering the mouth, nose or eyes. If the water contacts skin, the district recommends immediately washing with soap and water. Andrew Binion reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Years after oil spills, money still owed to Vancouver, aquarium and Heiltsuk Nation
Despite "polluter pay" laws in Canada, local governments and agencies are still waiting to recover costs incurred during two significant fuel spills off B.C.'s coast. The City of Vancouver and Vancouver Aquarium are collectively waiting on nearly $700,000 in losses related to a 2015 leak of bunker fuel, while the Heiltsuk Nation in Bella Bellla, B.C., continues negotiating over $200,000 in repayments for its response to a tugboat that ran aground in 2016. (Canadian Press)

County planners seek denial of Woodway-area luxury condos
Building height and traffic are among the reasons Snohomish County planners have asked that a project with 3,081-unit waterfront condos at Point Wells be denied. If the hearing examiner agrees during a scheduled May 16 meeting, that would end seven years of work by developer BSRE Point Wells and the county. Much of that time has been spent in a back-and-forth of reviews and recommendations. The proposal’s progress stalled in February, when the county signaled its intent to ask the examiner to deny the proposal. This week’s recommendation follows through. Ben Watanabe reports. (Everett Herald)

Pipeline Spills 76,000 Gallons of Crude Oil Emulsion in Northern Alberta
A pipeline owned by Paramount Resources Ltd. released an estimated 100,000 liters (approximately 26,000 gallons) of crude oil and 190,000 liters (approximately 50,000 gallons) of produced water near Zama City, in northwest Alberta, according to an April 11 incident report filed with the Alberta Energy Regulator. The release was discovered after company personnel looked into a low-pressure alarm from the company's leak detection system, the incident report states. The emergency status of the spill ended April 16. The report says that although "the release was initially believed to be minor," further investigation shows the spill to be around 290,000 liters and has impacted an area of 200 meters (approximately 656 feet) by 200 meters. Carol Linnitt reports. (EcoWatch)

400 B.C. businesses sign letter opposing Trans Mountain expansion
While many in the B.C. business community have thrown their support behind Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, others in the technology, green tech and tourism industries are less enthusiastic. Representatives from 400 businesses signed an open letter to Premier John Horgan this week asking him to continue his opposition to the project. Signees say the pipeline, if built, will prove disastrous for businesses in B.C. that rely on a clean, protected environment. (CBC)

Scott Pruitt Before the E.P.A.: Fancy Homes, a Shell Company and Friends With Money
.... At the E.P.A., Mr. Pruitt is under investigation for allegations of unchecked spending, ethics lapses and other issues, including his interactions with lobbyists. An examination of Mr. Pruitt’s political career in Oklahoma reveals that many of the pitfalls he has encountered in Washington have echoes in his past. Steve Eder and Hiroko Tabuchi report. (NY Times)

Researchers ID Whales By Genetic Bread Crumbs Left Behind
Researchers at Oregon State University have worked out a way to detect and identify whales long after they move on – just by sampling the water.  When whales swim they leave behind a plume of genetic material in the environment: skin, poop and bodily fluids. If you know what to look for, you can use that DNA to figure out what kind of whale went by. Scott Baker is associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. His research team tested this idea on orcas in the Salish Sea, collecting and testing water samples in their wake.... The research was published Friday in the journal Frontiers. Jes Burns reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Vancouverites are good at recycling — just not when it comes to plastic bags
Over 2 million plastic bags are thrown in the garbage every week in Vancouver. Vancouver has one of the lowest rates of contaminated recycling in the country — but residents are still struggling to figure out where to put their plastic bags, according to the managing director of Recycling B.C. Vancouver boasts a contamination rate of just 4.6 per cent, a small figure when compared to cities like Toronto, at 26 per cent, and Edmonton, at 24 per cent, according to data obtained by CBC News. But the low number still falls short of provincial targets. Jon Hernandez reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  243 AM PDT Mon Apr 23 2018   

TODAY  SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. W swell 5 ft  at 12 seconds. 

TONIGHT  E wind to 10 kt rising to 10 to 20 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft after midnight. W  swell 5 ft at 12 seconds building to 7 ft at 17 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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Friday, April 20, 2018

4/20 Abalone, culverts, Atlantic salmon, baby orca, dolphins, shellfish closures, BC pipe, marijuana

Pinto abalone [Jeff Bouma]
Pinto abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana)
Pinto abalone were once widely distributed throughout the waters of British Columbia and Washington state. In recent decades, populations have undergone sharp declines, likely in response to the combined stressors of overharvest, poaching, and sub-optimal environmental conditions (Campell 2000). Known for their large, muscular foot and their pearlescent oval shell, pinto abalone are slow-growing, long-lived marine snails and are typically found in nearshore rocky habitats in semi-exposed or exposed coastal regions. More than 60 abalone species are found worldwide but the pinto, or northern, abalone is the only species found in Washington State, where they range from Admiralty Inlet to the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and are typically found at depths to about 20 m (Bouma 2007). (Encyclopedia of Puget Sound)

Supreme Court justices skeptical of Washington state over salmon habitat
The Supreme Court seems unlikely to allow Washington state to get out from under a court order to restore salmon habitat by removing barriers that block fish migration. The justices heard arguments Wednesday in a long-running dispute that pits the state against Indian tribes and the federal government. At issue is whether Washington state must fix or replace hundreds of culverts. Those are large pipes that allow streams to pass beneath roads but can block migrating salmon if they become clogged or if they’re too steep to navigate. See also: U.S. Supreme Court justices raise questions about culvert damage   Chris Dunagan writes. (Watching Our Water Ways) And also: State And Feds Battle In Supreme Court Over How To Fix Culverts  Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

A Madrone Story
Rick Haley of Skagit County writes: "Once again I am compelled to comment on your excellent news service.  I am tickled to see in print the Oregon + California v. Washington v. BC split on Madrone/Madrona/Arubutus.  I have explained it exactly that way for years but I have no idea where I came up with it other than personal experience. When I was in eighth grade clear back when, we had a small group assignment in Social Studies to “Create a Utopia”.  How’s that for a 1970 assignment?  Our group decided on a Back to Nature utopia which gave us an excuse to go camping.  This is sort of pertinent because I spent a goodly portion of our time out in the woods carving fish hooks out of madrone wood, then angling in a (probably) fishless creek draining Spencer Butte south of Eugene, using snowberries for bait.  I was already a crazy-obsessed fly fisherman by then so I had no illusions about what I was doing, but it made for some good pictures for our report. We also ate dandelions.  I don’t recommend them."

Atlantic salmon, caught in Skagit 8 months after escape from pen, had eaten a fish
Upper Skagit tribal fishermen caught a lively Atlantic salmon more than 40 miles up the Skagit River Tuesday, eight months after Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic salmon net pen collapsed at Cypress Island and sent more than 300,000 Atlantics into the home waters of Washington’s Pacific salmon. The Atlantic caught Tuesday had bones in its stomach, indicating it had eaten some kind of fish. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Young orca spotted in Washington waters as new vessel guidelines Month-old orca calf spotted in Cowichan Bay, boaters urged to slow down
With boating season just around the corner, the Pacific Whale Watch Association is reminding people to go slow: there are children at play. The children of killer whales, that is. And to underscore the importance of keeping one’s distance when operating a vessel around whales, the PWWA has shared recently captured video footage of what’s at stake. A video taken by Ocean EcoVentures and videographer Tasli Shaw shows a young orca calf, probably less than a month old, making its way through the waters of Cowichan Bay. Harrison Mooney reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Bottlenose dolphins found off B.C. coast for first time, travelling with false killer whales
Common bottlenose dolphins, typically associated with tropical and warm-temperate waters, have been observed for the first time off Canada’s Pacific coast. About 200 of the dolphins were observed travelling with around 70 false killer whales on July 29 last year during a pelagic seabird and marine mammal survey from the Canadian Coast Guard research ship John P. Tully. The discovery, published Thursday in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records, occurred in waters that were 16.5 degrees Celsius, believed to be related to a period of warming in the eastern North Pacific. Biologist Luke Halpin, lead author of the paper, said it was “special and rare” to observe the two cetacean species travelling together in B.C. waters. A handful of northern right whale dolphins also swam close by. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Samish Bay again fails evaluation, won't get upgrade
Samish Bay has again failed the state evaluation for a shellfish harvest upgrade because of bacterial pollution in the Samish River. Pollution in the river exceeded state standards Tuesday following rain that brought a record-setting river flow that day, Skagit County Water Quality Analyst Rick Haley said. The incident is the second time since the evaluation began in March that shellfish harvest in the bay has been closed due to pollution. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald) See also: State may place shellfish harvest restrictions on Chico Bay
The state Department of Health plans to restrict shellfish harvests in a portion of Dyes Inlet this summer due to high bacteria levels recorded near the mouth of Chico Creek. Jean Frost with the department's shellfish program said a port reopened harvests in a large portion of Dyes Inlet in 2003. Tad Sooter reports. (Kitsap Sun) And also: Pollution forcing shellfish restrictions in Henderson Inlet and 3 regional sites  Poor water quality in portions of four counties in Washington Shellfish harvesting will be restricted in Thurston County's Henderson Inlet, portions of Grays Harbor County near the Elk River, at Chico Bay in Kitsap County's Dyes Inlet, in Pierce County's Burley Lagoon. Lauren Smith reports. (Olympian)

First Nations court challenges continue to hang over $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion
First Nations court challenges that allege inadequate consultation and seek to overturn federal and B.C. approval of the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion have been overshadowed by recent debate on federal and provincial powers to regulate oil transport. But legal experts say the First Nations cases have real implications that should not be overlooked or forgotten. When the Federal Court of Appeal in 2016 overturned approval of Enbridge’s $7.9-billion Northern Gateway oil pipeline, finding Ottawa had failed to properly consult First Nations, it all but signalled the end for the project. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Canada To Measure Marijuana Use By Testing Sewage
As a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana works its way through the Canadian Parliament, the government is gearing up to track cannabis consumption more closely than it has before. Statistics Canada has begun to do city-scale drug screening by monitoring what Canadians flush down the toilet. Six cities have agreed to contribute samples from the place where all drains congregate — their wastewater treatment plants. Toronto,Montreal, Edmonton, Alberta; Vancouver and Surrey in British Columbia; and Halifax, Nova Scotia, will participate. Ideally, Statistics Canada would like to estimate how much cannabis Canadians consume, in total, through the sewage measurements. It might be possible then to subtract legal sales and arrive at the amount of cannabis sold illegally...  But the route from a wastewater treatment plant to that kind of calculation gets really murky really fast. For starters, Peluso says, Statistics Canada has to consider some basic questions that get quite complex on a national scale: “The suburban users, are they peeing in the city but consuming in the suburbs?” Researchers say it’s relatively straightforward to detect marijuana traces, such as tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Tests pick it up even in dilute wastewater. But there’s something more difficult: using the THC concentration in sewage to extrapolate back to the amount of pot consumed. Menaka Wilhelm reports. (NPR)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  251 AM PDT Fri Apr 20 2018   

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM THIS EVENING THROUGH  SATURDAY AFTERNOO    TODAY  Light wind becoming SE to 10 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 13 seconds building to 7 ft  at 13 seconds in the afternoon. Rain likely in the afternoon. 

TONIGHT  SE wind 5 to 15 kt becoming SW 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft after  midnight. W swell 7 ft at 14 seconds. Rain. 

SAT  W wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 10 ft at  10 seconds. A chance of showers in the morning then a slight  chance of showers in the afternoon. 

SAT NIGHT  W wind 5 to 15 kt in the evening becoming light.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 8 ft at 11 seconds. 

SUN  Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 6 ft at  13 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, April 19, 2018

4/19 Madrone, inbreeding orcas, Vic pipe, Coast Seafood, ballast water, SEAL training, BC pipe

Pacific Madrone [The Wild Garden]
Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii)
Though it looks exotic, Pacific madrone—a beautiful broadleaf evergreen tree with a captivating and distinctive presence that transforms with the seasons—is endemic to the Pacific coast. Its exquisite characteristics of fragrant flower clusters, brilliant berries, glossy leaves, twisting branches, rounded crown, and rich cinnamon-red bark that peels from a satin-smooth trunk, please all of our senses. And for the wild ones attracted to this unique gem, its ecological gifts never disappoint. Madrona (after madroƱo, the Spanish name for a Mediterranean “strawberry tree”) is the name admirers in Washington give this member of the Ericaceae (heath) family, while those in California and Oregon call it madrone or Pacific madrone. British Columbians simply use the Latin genus name, Arbutus. (The epitaph, menziesii, is named after the naturalist Archibald Menzies, a naturalist for the Vancouver Expedition that explored the Puget Sound region in 1792.) (Real Gardens Grow Natives)

Southern-resident killer whales' inbreeding may devastate the population 
Just two male whales fathered more than half the calves born since 1990 in the population of southern-resident killer whales, a sign of inbreeding, scientists have learned. “It was a shocker to find out two guys are doing all of the work,” said Ken Balcomb, director of the Center for Whale Research and an author on a paper published this week in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Animal Conservation. The findings are based on a new genetic analysis of the whales that frequent Washington’s Salish Sea and Puget Sound. Already a small population of 76 animals, the southern residents are acting more like a population of only 20 or 30, with few animals breeding, said the lead author, Michael Ford, a conservation biologist at NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Onlookers watch sewer pipe being pulled through tunnel across harbour
People lined the security fences spread through James Bay on Tuesday as the process of moving a 940-metre sewer pipe into a subsea tunnel began. The tunnel for the pipe runs between Ogden Point and the sewage-treatment plant being built across Victoria Harbour at McLoughlin Point. Both are part of the region’s $765-million sewage-treatment project. Sections of the pipe, which was placed on rollers, were welded together over the past six weeks, with Niagara Street serving as the main staging area. Jeff Bell reports. (Times Colonist)

Coast Seafoods to appeal pollution suit
The Coast Seafoods Company is asking the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear a case in which the court sided with the Olympic Forest Coalition and remanded the case back to the U.S. District Court. The coalition is suing Coast Seafoods over its discharge of effluent from its oyster-growing facility into Quilcene Bay. On March 9, the 9th Circuit Court agreed with the U.S. District Court for Western Washington, Tacoma, which had concluded the seafood company needs to obtain a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit. That is what the Olympic Forest Coalition wants the company to do.... n its request, the company is arguing the court had ruled in another case that if an aquatic animal production facility does not meet the criteria to be classified as a concentrated aquatic animal production facility, it does not need a discharge permit. That is the crux of Coast Seafoods’ position – it does not need a NPDES permit. Allison Arthur reports. (Pt Townsend Leader)

Senate blocks bill to overhaul ballast discharge rules
Senators voted against advancing Coast Guard legislation this afternoon with a controversial provision to change the way ballast water discharges are regulated. The language was in S. 140, a package of measures related to Indian Country and authorizing the Coast Guard. The cloture vote, shortly after noon, was 56-42. The ballast provisions came from the "Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act," also known as "VIDA," S. 168, from Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). It would put the Coast Guard in charge of setting standards for ballast water discharge instead of EPA. Ballast water is common in the hulls of cargo ships and provides stability for vessels in rough conditions but can also carry invasive species like zebra mussels. Ariel Wittenberg and Manuel Quinones report. (E&E News)

Public comments lead Navy to tweak SEAL training proposal
The Navy is sifting through hundreds of emails and letters of public input on a proposal to expand special operations training in the Northwest a few weeks after an extended comments period concluded on March 23. The Navy's vision for increased training operations in the region, outlined in a draft environmental assessment released in January, calls for more training cycles per year with an increased number of trainees who would practice a broader range of skills at more locations across western Washington. The proposal's preferred alternative seeks to bring more training activities outside of the fence lines of Naval Base Kitsap installations to better prepare trainees with more real world-like scenarios, said Navy Region Northwest spokeswoman Sheila Murray. Julieanne Stanford reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Kinder Morgan begins negotiations with Ottawa to save pipeline project
Kinder Morgan's chief executive told investors on Wednesday afternoon that negotiations with the federal government are underway to strike a deal and salvage the Trans Mountain expansion project, which continues to face opposition from the B.C. government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Sunday that his government could offer financial assistance to the Texas-based company and use legislation that would give Ottawa total control over the $7.4-billion project, which would stretch from Edmonton to the Vancouver area.... Investors asked several questions about what kind of deal the company was pursuing, but executives were tight-lipped.... Currently, the company describes the proposed pipeline as "facing unquantifiable risk" because the B.C. government is "asserting broad jurisdiction and reiterating its intention to use that jurisdiction to stop the project." Kyle Bakx reports. (CBC)

Carr downplays tanker traffic risk, says federal legislation not developed yet
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr says the Trans Mountain pipeline will only increase tanker traffic off the coast of British Columbia by one ship a day, downplaying the risks raised by environmental critics of the project. The federal Liberal government hasn’t yet “landed” on its promised legislative option to push the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion forward, says Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr. Justin Trudeau’s government is “actively pursuing” legislation that will reassert Canada’s constitutional authority to build and expand pipelines, the prime minister promised Sunday after an emergency meeting with the feuding premiers of B.C. and Alberta. (Canadian Press)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  843 PM PDT Wed Apr 18 2018   

THU  Light wind becoming W 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 12 seconds.

THU NIGHT  W 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 5 ft at 11 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, April 18, 2018

4/18 Junco, culverts, BC pipe, sea cucumbers, stink bugs, plastic eaters, Sound tunnel, tangled whale

Dark-eyed Junco [Mike Hamilton/BirdNote]
Suburbs, Juncos, and Evolution
Birds have been living near humans for a long time. But only during the past 5,000 years have birds and humans shared space in cities and towns. “What we’ve done is create a new place where birds are under intense natural selection — from our activities,” says John Marzluff, Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington in Seattle. Marzluff says evolutionary changes can happen in just a few decades of living with humans. In his book, Welcome to Subirdia, he cites as evidence a study of Dark-eyed Juncos conducted by Pamela Yeh.

Supreme Court showdown: Washington's attorney general vs. tribes over salmon habitat
A 20-year battle over salmon-blocking road culverts lands in the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, in a historic showdown pitting the Washington state attorney general against the U.S. government and Washington tribes defending their treaty right to fish. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson — widely regarded as a liberal champion for his crusading lawsuits for immigration rights and other causes — will oppose the tribes in oral argument before the court. At issue is whether the state must replace road culverts that block salmon passage. Tribes insist, and courts have affirmed, that the tribes’ treaty right to fish also means the state must not destroy the habitat that healthy fish runs need. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Support for Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion grows in B.C.: new poll
The proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline has the support of more than half of British Columbians, but with plenty of caveats, including the minimal impact of threats from Alberta, according to a new poll. In an online survey conducted Monday and Tuesday of 2,125 Canadian adults — half from British Columbia — the Angus Reid Institute has found that support in B.C. for the project is up to 54 per cent, a considerable jump from the 48 per cent in a similar survey conducted in February. This support runs through all part of the province, with 50 per cent of Metro Vancouver in favour, 54 per cent on Vancouver Island and 60 per cent of respondents in the rest of B.C. Patrick Johnston reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Guilty Plea In Sea Cucumber Scam
The owner of a seafood processing company in Pierce County, Washington, has pleaded guilty in a case involving the illegal sale of sea cucumbers, leathery creatures that are considered a delicacy to eat in some cultures. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Hoon Namkoong ran Orient Seafood Production. He was charged with underreporting by a 250,000 pounds the amount of sea cucumbers he bought from tribal and non-tribal fishermen in Puget Sound. Austin Jenkins reports. (KNKX)

Stink Bugs Taking Over Puget Sound Area
Researchers for Washington State University are being deluged with reports of brown marmorated stink bugs, especially from western Washington. Entomologist Michael Bush says he has received 300 reports in three weeks about the smelly creatures. He says the majority of stink bug sightings are from King, Pierce and Thurston counties, with sporadic reports coming eastern Washington. Bush says the bugs move indoors during the winter months, and now are trying to get back outside. Marmorated stink bugs gorge on vegetables, fruit trees, nuts and ornamental plants. Grant McHill reports. (AP)

Plastic-eating enzyme could help fight pollution, scientists say
Scientists in Britain and the United States say they have engineered a plastic-eating enzyme that could in future help in the fight against pollution. The enzyme is able to digest polyethylene terephthalate, or PET — a form of plastic patented in the 1940s and now used in millions of tons of plastic bottles. PET plastics can persist for hundreds of years in the environment and currently pollute large areas of land and sea worldwide. Researchers from Britain's University of Portsmouth and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory made the discovery while examining the structure of a natural enzyme thought to have evolved in a waste recycling centre in Japan. (Thompson Reuters)

A vehicle tunnel from Seattle to Bainbridge? Retired civil engineer has a proposal
Bob Ortblad has a pet idea he’d like to see buried deep, hundreds of feet below the surface of Puget Sound. To dive into it: Ortblad, a retired civil engineer and Capitol Hill resident, sees a future in which instead of crossing on a ferry atop Puget Sound, commuters would cross underneath it, driving through a tunnel that would stretch from Seattle’s Smith Cove over to Highway 305 on Bainbridge Island. To stretch the idea even further, a parkway could cross the island and connect to a long-discussed bridge across to the Bremerton area. Nathan Pilling reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Gray whale tangled in fishing gear for days finally freed in Puget Sound  
A gray whale entangled in fishing gear swam in the Puget Sound for days until it was finally freed in an unusual chain of events, according to NOAA Fisheries. A Washington State Ferries captain north of Seattle first spotted the gray whale with fishing gear trailing behind it on Friday. (KIRO)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  842 PM PDT Tue Apr 17 2018   

WED  SE wind to 10 kt becoming E 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 11 seconds. A chance of  showers in the morning then a slight chance of showers in the  afternoon.
WED NIGHT  NW wind 5 to 15 kt becoming W to 10 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 13 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, April 17, 2018

4/17 Isopod, BC pipe, Navy jet noise, Zinke's land, J.T. Wilcox

Isopod [PHOTO: Pat McMahon]
Pat McMahon writes: "Several years ago while fishing in the Western Strait of Juan de Fuca I caught a three foot long Lingcod. After I returned to shore I noticed a large parasitic isopod on the back of the Lingcod. It was 1.5" long so I am guessing it was a female. The compound eyes and segmented antennae were especially interesting. The isopod was not visible when I caught the fish so it may have been attached under the operculum at the gills and crawled out reattaching on the back when I took the fish out of the water. Even parasites can be beautiful."

Alberta unveils bill that could wreak havoc on B.C. gas prices in trade war
Alberta's minister of energy will have sweeping discretionary powers to limit exports of crude, natural gas and gasoline to B.C. under much-anticipated legislation introduced Monday. Bill 12, titled Preserving Canada's Economic Prosperity Act, gives the Alberta government the ability to retaliate against the B.C. government for any delays to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, by driving up gas prices or slapping restrictions on shipments of other energy products. Michelle Bellefontaine reports. (CBC) See also: Legislation limiting Sask. energy exports to B.C. coming within days, says Premier Scott Moe  Adam Hunter reports. (CBC) See also: B.C. threatens to sue Alberta as all sides in Trans Mountain dispute dig in  (CBC)

Kinder Morgan delivers pipe after announced suspension of non-essential spending
Even as Kinder Morgan announced it had suspended all non-essential spending on the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion, pipe for the project was delivered to a staging area last week in New Westminster. Kinder Morgan’s suspension announcement a week ago Sunday was part of an ultimatum in which the Houston, Texas-based company said it needed certainty by May 31 that the project can be built or it will walk away. The environmental group Wilderness Committee snapped photos of the pipe delivery last Thursday, just four days after the ultimatum. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Navy Growler Noise Spurring Community Action Beyond Whidbey Island
Community groups are building coalitions region-wide, aiming to stop expansion plans by the U.S. Navy. Operating since 1942, the naval air station on Whidbey Island is not new. But the recent replacement of its electronic warfare aircraft has upset many residents in the area. They say the new Growler jets are too loud. And plans to add more of them to the fleet at NAS Whidbey have prompted legal action. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Ryan Zinke Is Opening Up Public Lands. Just Not at Home.
When Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was a state senator from this idyllic mountain town, he drove a Prius, sported a beard and pushed President Barack Obama to make clean energy a priority. Today, the beard and Prius are gone, and Mr. Zinke has emerged as a leading figure, along with Scott Pruitt of the Environmental Protection Agency, in the environmental rollbacks that have endeared President Trump to the fossil fuel industry and outraged conservationists. In the last year, Mr. Zinke has torn up Obama-era rules related to oil, gas and mineral extraction and overseen the largest reduction of federal land protection in the nation’s history, including an effort to slash the size of Bears Ears National Monument. Julie Turkewitz reports. (NY Times) See also: Ryan Zinke’s Great American Fire Sale  Carolyn Kormann reports. (New Yorker)

Politics and chicken farming: Meet the new GOP leader in Washington's state House
Between greeting a mob of murmuring chickens and sharing thoughts on ancient Greek history, state Rep. J.T. Wilcox compares the difficulties of legislating to running a family farm. For Wilcox, part-owner of a fourth-generation 1,500-acre farm, family business and legislative politics share some of the same challenges…. First elected to the House in 2010, Wilcox has helped shape the state GOP’s message in an era when Republicans and Democrats have fought fiercely over control of the closely divided Legislature. As minority leader he replaces Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, who announced his retirement in March. Kristiansen had a reputation as a mediator between the parties when tensions ran high in Olympia. Joseph O'Sullivan reports. (Seattle Times)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  222 AM PDT Tue Apr 17 2018   

 W wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 5 to 15 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 2 ft or less in the  afternoon. W swell 10 ft at 10 seconds subsiding to 7 ft at 9  seconds in the afternoon. A chance of showers in the morning then  showers likely in the afternoon. 

 SW wind 5 to 15 kt becoming S to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 9 seconds. Showers  likely.

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