Friday, September 28, 2018

9/28 Goat relo, salmon disaster, polluted orcas, CSIS spying, Colstrip, Mt Polley dam, Norwegian Bliss, EPA science

Goat relo [Ramon Compor, Associated Press, Seattle Times
First round of mountain goat relocations complete 
The first efforts to move mountain goats from the Olympics to the Cascades wrapped up this week, with 98 of the animals being released into their new homes.  Dozens of those goats were released on the outskirts of Skagit County, with some being taken to Tower Mountain between Diablo and Winthrop and others being taken to Stillaguamish Peak and other areas near Darrington. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Disasters Declared For Salmon Fisheries Along West Coast
Federal officials have determined that commercial fishery failures occurred for salmon in Washington, Oregon and California, making those fisheries eligible for federal disaster assistance. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Tuesday also announced a commercial fishery failure for the sardine fishery in California but not for the state’s red sea urchin fishery. The governors from Washington, Oregon and California and multiple Native American tribes had requested the determinations between July 2016 and March 2018. Their requests noted unusually warm and poor ocean conditions that affected fish. The disaster determinations make salmon and sardine fisheries eligible for some portion of $20 million in NOAA Fisheries fishery disaster assistance. The Commerce Department is figuring out how to allocate that money to eligible fisheries. (Associated Press)

Half the World's Orcas Could Soon Disappear—Here's Why
They live in chatty groups, and can hunt in teams—sometimes working in tandem to create waves that dump unlucky prey off floating ice. Savvy orcas, with their splotchy two-tone flesh and rich family lives, have survived mass slaughter, being captured with nets and lassos, and being trucked and airlifted to marine theme parks. But new research published Thursday in the journal Science suggests more than half of the world's killer whale populations could face complete collapse in 30 to 50 years, thanks to a suite of toxic chemicals the world has already banned. Long-lived polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, are organic compounds once used in capacitors, oil paints, and coolants, until they were deemed so dangerous that their manufacture was banned in the U.S. and other countries in the 1970s and 1980s. Yet today orcas across the northern hemisphere are among the most heavily contaminated animals on Earth. Even now, PCBs are believed to be altering orca behavior, damaging their immune systems, and harming reproduction so much that researchers suspect many families of killer whales (technically dolphins) may not survive the next few decades. Craig Welch reports. (National Geographic) See also: Pollution threatens the future of killer whales  Jonathan Amos and Victoria Gill report. (BBC)

CSIS spying on anti-pipeline activists? Feds try to pull cloak of secrecy over court case
Federal lawyers want closed-door hearings in a high-profile B.C. court case about allegations that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service spied on anti-pipeline activists. The civil liberties group that filed the complaints against CSIS opposes the federal secrecy request, saying it blatantly violates the principle that justice must be seen to be done. The matter was argued Thursday in an open session of the Federal Court of Canada. The judge’s decision, expected in about month, will determine how much the public gets to see and hear when the court considers whether Canada’s spy agency overstepped the law in monitoring environmental activists. Jim Bronskill reports. (Canadian Press)

Coal power plant that feeds Puget Sound Energy is back on line 
A Montana coal-fired power plant that provides electricity for Puget Sound Energy is once again operating at full strength after a summer complicated by pollution problems. The Colstrip power plant in southeast Montana has four generating units. The two largest, units 3 and 4, were forced offline in June after failing to comply with a particulate matter limit established by the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standard. Earlier this month, the plant was able to demonstrate compliance with that standard to regulators, according to a statement released by Talen Energy, the plant’s operators. Currently, all four units are “fully operational and will run as electric system conditions dictate,” according to the statement. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Mount Polley engineers headed for disciplinary hearings
B.C'.s professional association of engineers says it will hold disciplinary hearings next year for three engineers related to the Mount Polley tailings dam collapse. Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia is alleging negligence or unprofessional conduct by Laura Fidel, Stephen Rice and Todd Martin in the course of their professional activities They were involved in the design, construction and monitoring of the tailings storage facility at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine. t was the site of one of the largest spills in the province's history when the dam collapsed in August 2014, sending 24 million cubic metres of mine waste and sludge into nearby waterways. (Canadian Press)

The Norwegian Bliss will dock at Canada Place on Sunday for the first time
The largest cruise ship ever to visit Vancouver will arrive this weekend. The Norwegian Bliss is about the length of three football fields at 333 metres and is capable of carrying nearly 6,000 guests. The new ship will dock at Canada Place in Vancouver on Sunday for the first time and has several more scheduled stops in Vancouver for the 2019 cruise season. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority says in a news release that the Bliss will pick up 4,000 passengers for the final leg of a cruise that began and ends in Seattle and includes stops in Victoria and Alaska. (Canadian Press)

Controversial oyster pesticide ruled ‘too risky’ for Washington waters
An aquatic pesticide that has pitted shellfish growers against environmentalists has been ruled “too risky” for Washington’s waters, the state Department of Ecology said Thursday. The neonicotinoid pesticide imidacloprid has been linked to several environmental concerns, including that it can hurt fish and birds by killing their food sources. In 2017, shellfish growers in Willapa Bay (the bay formed by Washington’s Long Beach peninsula) and Grays Harbor asked the state for a permit to spray the pesticide on oyster and clam beds to control native burrowing shrimp. Craig Sailor reports (News Tribune of Tacoma)

E.P.A. to Eliminate Office That Advises Agency Chief on Science
The Environmental Protection Agency plans to dissolve its Office of the Science Advisor, a senior post that was created to counsel the E.P.A. administrator on the scientific research underpinning health and environmental regulations, according to a person familiar with the agency’s plans. The person spoke anonymously because the decision had not yet been made public. The science adviser works across the agency to ensure that the highest quality science is integrated into the agency’s policies and decisions, according to the E.P.A.’s website. The move is the latest among several steps taken by the Trump administration that appear to have diminished the role of scientific research in policymaking while the administration pursues an agenda of rolling back regulations. Asked about the E.P.A.’s plans, John Konkus, a spokesman for the agency, emailed a prepared statement from the science adviser, Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, in which she described the decision to dissolve the office as one that would “combine offices with similar functions” and “eliminate redundancies.” Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  245 AM PDT Fri Sep 28 2018   

TODAY  E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 4 ft  at 8 seconds. 

TONIGHT  E wind to 10 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 2 ft at 8 seconds. 

SAT  SE wind 15 to 20 kt easing to 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 2 ft at 8 seconds. 

SAT NIGHT  SE wind to 10 kt becoming NE after midnight. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 2 ft at 8 seconds. 

SUN  E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 2 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, September 27, 2018

9/27 Fauntleroy, dam petition, fish farming regs, bird kill, farm fish virus, Samish toxin, sei whales, Arctic plants

Fauntleroy, West Seattle
Fauntleroy Cove
The cove on Seattle's southwestern shore was named for love. In 1857, George Davidson of the U.S. Coast Survey was smitten with Eleanor Fauntleroy. To bolster his quest for her hand, he named his newly commissioned survey vessel for her father, Robert H.Fauntleroy, the cove for the brig (he claimed), the Olympic peaks-- Mt. Eleanor, Mt. Constance, The Brothers, all of which are visible from the cove-- for his finance, her sister, and her brothers, Arthur and Edward. Although he never bestowed a geographic honor on his mother-in-law, George and Eleanor were married in 1859. (Washington State Place Names)

500,000 sign petition to breach Snake River dams in effort to save orcas 
More than 500,000 people have signed a petition to breach the Lower Snake River dams in an effort to boost wild salmon recovery, putting pressure on state leaders to consider the controversial move. On Wednesday, the online petition titled, “Dammed to extinction, Southern Resident Orcas are starving. Time is running out!” had 548, 256 signatures. The lower Snake River dams are Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite. They’re the four lowest dams on the Snake River, a tributary to the Columbia River. Wildlife advocates say breaching the dams could boost the number of wild chinook salmon that orcas feed on. There are only 74 southern resident orcas left in the Puget Sound area. The petition was created by a group called the Southern Resident Killer Whale Chinook Salmon Initiative. The plan is to eventually deliver it to state leaders Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray. Brett Cihon and Simone Del Rosario report. (KCPQ)

Judge: NOAA can’t regulate fish farming under fisheries law
A federal judge in New Orleans has thrown out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s rules for fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico, saying the agency lacked authority to make them. Tuesday’s ruling halts a plan that would have allowed, “for the first time, industrial aquaculture offshore in U.S. federal waters,” according to the Center for Food Safety , which sued NOAA on behalf of what U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo described as “a bevy of special interest groups representing both food safety advocates and Gulf fishermen.” The government considers fish farming, including that on the open sea, to be “vital for supporting our nation’s seafood production, year-round jobs, rebuilding protected species and habitats, and enhancing coastal resilience.” Opponents say huge numbers of fish confined in nets out in the ocean could hurt ocean health and native fish stocks, and the farms would drive down prices and devastate commercial fishing communities. Janet McConnaughey reports. (Associated Press)

Mysterious bird kill in Delta solved, say wildlife experts
An evasive manoeuvre gone wrong may be to blame for the mysterious death of dozens of birds in Delta earlier this month. On Sept. 14, Kevin Beech witnessed what he called a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. He was heading to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal when he saw the birds crash to the roadway.... The Canadian Wildlife Service said in a statement that a witness came forward saying a much larger bird was chasing the flock of European starlings when they swooped toward the ground and then pulled back up. However, "the tail-end of the flock didn't pull up in time," the statement said. European starlings can form very large flocks and execute amazing swooping and whirling patterns—called a murmuration—to avoid a predatory bird, said the statement. (CBC)

Ottawa to test for risks of virus transfer from farmed to wild salmon
A science review to assess the risks associated with the transfer of a virus from farmed Atlantic salmon to wild salmon has been launched by the federal government. Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says the results of the assessment of the piscine reovirus will guide decisions on aquaculture in Canada, including in the area of the Discovery Islands and Broughton Archipelago off B.C.’s coast. The government says in a news release the review will include domestic and international scientific experts, with a final report made available by early next year. (Canadian Press)

Toxic algae closes Samish Bay shellfish harvest
All recreational shellfish harvesting and all commercial oyster harvesting were closed Tuesday in Samish Bay after a biotoxin was found in regularly obtained samples. A biotoxin that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning was found in one oyster from the bay in high enough concentrations to make consumers sick, the state Department of Health’s marine biotoxin lead Jerry Borchert said. The state agency monitors year-round for several biotoxins, which are produced by algae in the water, including that which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

5 sei whales seen swimming in pod of fin whales after scientists heard their calls
For a handful of researchers surveying marine life off British Columbia's coast — it was a whale of a tale. This summer, a group of biologists and Canadian Coast Guard members became the first people to report seeing endangered sei whales in Canadian waters in more than half a century.... The sei whale, one of the fastest marine mammals in the world, is part of the same family as blue and fin whales. At one point, there were more than 60,000 sei whales in the North Pacific, but the population collapsed after whalers started targeting them. There hadn't been a single reported sighting of a sei whale in Canadian waters since before whaling was banned in the 1960s. Mia Rabson reports. (Canadian Press)

Taller plants moving into warmer Arctic
The low-lying shrubs, grasses and other plants growing in the Arctic are getting taller. The finding comes from scientists who have analysed three decades of measurements. This data, gathered across Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia, indicates that a warming climate is driving the change. The team of 180 researchers says the increase in height could ultimately work to push up temperatures further. The international group reports its work in the journal Nature.  Jonathan Amos reports. (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  242 AM PDT Thu Sep 27 2018   

TODAY  E wind 5 to 15 kt becoming to 10 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 8 seconds. 

TONIGHT  Light wind becoming E to 10 kt after midnight. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 8 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, September 26, 2018

9/26 Sword fern, sick & pregnant orcas, saving whales, BC pipe, oil train rules, plastics, stink bugs

Sword fern [Corinne Kennedy]
Sword Fern Polystichum minimum
Sword fern leaves were used by Northwest coast peoples as a protective layer in traditional pit ovens, between food in storage boxes and baskets and on berry-drying racks. The leaves were also used as flooring and bedding. The large rhizomes were dug in the spring and eaten as a starvation food by the Auileute, Makah, Klallam, Squamish, Sechelt, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw and Haida. The rhizomes were roasted over a fire or steamed in a traditional pit oven, then peeled and eaten. The Nuu-chah-nulth ate the cooked rhizomes, especially to cure diarrhea. Sword fern is known in a number of Vancouver Island and Puget Sound languages as 'pale-pale plant' because it was used in a traditional game known as 'pale-pale.' This game, played by children, involved seeing who could pull the most leaflets off a leaf in a single breath while saying 'papa' with each one. (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast)

Another southern resident orca is ailing — and at least three whales are pregnant
Another orca is ailing in the critically endangered family of southern resident killer whales. K25, a 27-year-old male, documented in aerial photographs since 2008, is thinner right now than in previous years, scientists who regularly track the whales with drone photography have reported. The trouble for K25 likely started with the loss of his mother, K13, in 2017, said John Durban, biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in a news release.... On a more hopeful note for the southern residents, aerial images collected this week also show K27, K25’s sister, to be heavily pregnant, along with a number of other females in J, K and L pods, which make up the southern residents. Whales carry their baby weight below the rib cage, just like humans, Durban said, enabling later-term pregnancies to be reliably documented from aerial images of body shape. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Another Puget Sound orca is in bad shape. Three others are pregnant  John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

A plan emerges to help Puget Sound’s embattled orcas  The team assigned to rescue local orcas recommends measures that could grow the population by 10 whales over the next 10 years. John Stang reports. (Crosscut) and First Report From Gov. Inslee’s Orca Task Force Is Out For Public Comment  Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca recovery task force has issued a draft report with possible recommendations. It's 53 pages long and contains about 50 detailed potential actions. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

How orcas make it difficult for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to proceed
The federal fisheries minister said Tuesday it will be more difficult for cabinet to give another green light to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion if — or more likely when — the National Energy Board’s new environmental review determines the project is going to harm killer whales. Jonathan Wilkinson said such a finding wouldn’t mean cabinet will reject the project — but ministers will have to be convinced there are appropriate measures in place to protect the extremely endangered Southern resident killer whales. (Canadian Press)

Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Safety Rules For Oil Trains
The Trump administration has finalized a roll back of Obama-era regulations for oil trains. The rules, which date back to 2015, required railroads carrying crude oil or other flammable liquids to outfit their trains with more responsive electronic braking systems. The rules came in response to concerns about explosions and spills from mile-long trains of crude and ethanol. In the Northwest, those trains move along the Columbia River and through cities to coastal refineries. The U.S. Department of Transportation, which has been working on rescinding the rules since last December, said in statement this week that its analysis showed the cost of requiring railroads to equip trains with the new brakes outweighed the potential benefits. Tony Schick reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

There's a big difference between bio-based and biodegradable, Love-Ese Chile says
A Vancouver-based plastics expert is pushing for more public education about the different types of plastics following Ottawa's plans to eliminate the use of single-use plastics in government operations. Love-Ese Chile, a bioplastics specialist and consultant, argues not all plastics are the same and it's crucial to understand their differences when creating public policy.... In fact, Chile said, there are three major categories when it comes to sustainable plastics: those that are bio-based, those that are biodegradable and those that are both. "One of the biggest problems is that they are all called bioplastics, and that gets really confusing," Chile said. Bio-based plastics are made from biological resources — like polylactic acid, a polyester created by plant sources such as corn starch — whereas biodegradable refers to its ability to decompose. Not all bio-based plastics are biodegradable, and vice versa, Chile emphasized, which is why she is pushing to clarify the terminology of bioplastics. Clare Hennig reports. (CBC)

Brown marmorated stink bug a destructive agricultural pest that can cause millions in dollars of damage
Stink bugs are munching their way through the Okanagan Valley and researchers are hoping a tiny wasp can help contain the pests before they hit B.C.'s orchards en masse. Last summer, more than a thousand brown marmorated stink bugs were counted in Kelowna's downtown core. A provincial study was launched to research the invasive species. "We started trapping them last year," said Susanna Acheampong, an entomologist with the Ministry of Agriculture.... The species caused $37 million dollars in damage to the mid-Atlantic U.S. apple industry in 2010, for example. That's why researchers are desperate to find a way to contain the pests as soon as possible and turning to biological control agents as a possibility. "In Asia, they have this tiny wasp that's the size of a sesame seed -— they are called samurai wasps," Acheampong said. "The wasp will attack the eggs of marmorated stink bugs." Clare Hennig reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  244 AM PDT Wed Sep 26 2018   

TODAY  E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft  at 9 seconds. 

TONIGHT  E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5  ft at 8 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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Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

9/25 Steller sea lion, orca report, Whatcom oil pipe, BC big pipe, BC LNG, I-90 wildlife bridge

Steller Sea Lion [NOAA]
Steller Sea Lion Eumetopias jubatus
The Steller (or northern) sea lion is the largest member of the family Otariidae, the “eared seals,” which includes all sea lions and fur seals. Steller sea lions are named for Georg Wilhelm Steller, the German surgeon and naturalist on the Bering expedition who first described and wrote about the species in 1742. While they are the only living member of their genus, they share parts of their range with a smaller related species, California sea lions. Steller sea lions' impressive low-frequency vocalizations sound more like roars than California sea lions’ barks. They also share parts of their range with another otariid: northern fur seal. Historically, Steller sea lions were highly abundant throughout many parts of the North Pacific. Indigenous peoples and other settlers hunted them for their meat, hides, oil, and other products. In addition, they were killed for predator control and commercial harvests, causing their numbers to decrease.  Steller sea lions were first listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. In 1997 NOAA Fisheries recognized two populations, classifying the eastern population as threatened and the western population as endangered. The eastern population has since recovered and is no longer listed, which is a significant achievement under the ESA. The western population remains endangered. (NOAA)

Gov. Jay Inslee's orca task force draft report out for public comment
A governor’s task force on orca recovery has released its draft report on potential recommendations to save the southern resident killer whale from extinction. The 53-page report is a kitchen sink of possible fixes, touching on everything from dam removal on the Lower Snake River to changes in hatchery policy, habitat spending and environmental cleanup actions. The task force will take public comment on the potential recommendations until midnight Oct. 7. The task force has not agreed on the recommendations, or even ranked them by preference. The task force will consider the public’s comments on the possible recommendations at its next meeting on Oct. 17 and 18 in the Tacoma area. The venue has not yet been announced. The final report to the task force is due to Gov. Jay Inslee on Nov. 16. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Governor’s task force releases draft plan to save southern resident orcas Simone Del Rosario and Brett Cihon report. (KCPQ)

State demands spill response details for Whatcom portion of Trans Mountain Pipeline
State officials are not satisfied with the oil spill contingency plan for the Trans Mountain Pipeline that partly operates in Washington. The state Department of Ecology has asked the Canadian government to add more details for the 64-mile expanse that goes through northern Whatcom County, providing crude oil to the refineries in Ferndale and Anacortes. According to a news release from Ecology, more details are needed on how the Canadian government would respond, including the initial steps after a spill is discovered and if the oil were to spill into the ocean and sink to the seafloor. Ecology also wants details on what impact oil spills would have on orca whales, salmon and other natural resources. Robert Mittendorf reports. (Bellingham Herald)

First Nations leader suggests moving Trans Mountain pipeline terminal to Delta
The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations says the federal government would find it easier to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built if it moves the route and the marine shipping terminal to avoid Indigenous communities that are oppose the project. Perry Bellegarde said many Indigenous communities believe in the need to diversify export markets for Canadian resources through work to transition to a clean energy economy. However, he acknowledged there are some communities along the coast, notably the Squamish First Nation and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, that will never support the pipeline, which in its current format affects a marine terminal in the traditional territory of the Tsleil-Waututh, and would bring additional oil tankers through traditional waters of the Squamish. “So why not move (the terminal)? Why don’t you move it to Tsawwassen?” Bellegarde said in a wide-ranging interview Monday with The Canadian Press. (Canadian Press)

Mammoth LNG Canada project unaffected by Trans Mountain pipeline problems: CEO
The debacle over Canada’s oil pipeline nationalization and trade tensions with the U.S. won’t affect the final investment decision on Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s $40 billion (US$31 billion) liquefied natural gas project, according to the head of the venture. Shell-led LNG Canada proposes to export as much as 26 million tons per year to Asia, making it potentially the nation’s largest-ever infrastructure project and one that could transform Canada’s energy fortunes. Shell and its four partners — Mitsubishi Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd., PetroChina Co. and Korea Gas Corp. — are set decide whether to build the complex by the end of this year. (Bloomberg News)

'It's a long time coming': $6.2 million wildlife bridge over I-90 nears completion
It’s just a patch of barren earth not much wider than a basketball court, but conservationists, government workers and construction managers are pretty fired up about it. “This is going to be really amazing,” said Patty Garvey-Darda, a wildlife biologist in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. “It’s a long time coming.” The dirt surface spans a bridge structure across Interstate 90 near milepost 61 called an animal overcrossing. For decades, animals have had to contend with heavy traffic on I-90 that has squashed plenty of creatures and cleaved entire populations in two. No longer. The new $6.2 million overcrossing, which is still under construction near Price Creek, will soon provide safe passage for elk, bears and maybe even mountain goats, as part of an ambitious overhaul of I-90 to reconnect wildlife habitats in the north and south Cascades. Cars pass through two concrete archways underneath. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  345 AM PDT Tue Sep 25 2018   

TODAY  E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft  at 11 seconds. 

TONIGHT  Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 5 ft at  10 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Monday, September 24, 2018

9/24 Coot, Fraser chinook, Snake dams, whale watching, BC pipe, baby salmon, Laurel Pt cleanup, forest fires, tyres

American Coot [Christoph Moning]
American Coot Fulica americana
Coots are tough, adaptable waterbirds. Although they are related to the secretive rails, they swim in the open like ducks and walk about on shore, making themselves at home on golf courses and city park ponds. Usually in flocks, they are aggressive and noisy, making a wide variety of calls by day or night. They have strong legs and big feet with lobed toes, and coots fighting over territorial boundaries will rear up and attack each other with their feet. Often seen walking on open ground near ponds. In taking flight they must patter across the water, flapping their wings furiously, before becoming airborne. (Audubon Field Guide)

Dismal returns for chinook salmon on B.C.’s Fraser River reveal latest threat to endangered orcas
A test fishery for chinook salmon on the Fraser River this year is reporting dismal returns, raising new concerns for the endangered southern resident killer whales who rely heavily on these fish for their survival. The federal government announced in May a reduction in harvest of chinook by roughly one-third and closures in some key whale foraging areas after declaring the southern resident killer whales are facing an imminent threat to their survival. The federal government acknowledges that lack of prey is one of the critical factors affecting the whales’ recovery. But Misty MacDuffee, wild salmon program director for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, said the daily results from the Albion test fishery on the Fraser had already demonstrated the need for a complete closure of both marine commercial and sport fisheries on chinook, in order to leave prey for the whales. Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

Controversy heats up over removal of Lower Snake River dams as orcas suffer losses 
Orca champions have joined forces with dam busters, bringing new energy to an old fight to take down the Lower Snake River dams. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Whale watching boats still disturbing endangered killer whales despite efforts  Simone Del Rosario and Brett Cihon report. (KCPQ) See also: One way to watch orcas without endangering them? On land  John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

Cool reception from B.C. opponents on order to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline
The Trudeau government’s announcement on Friday that the National Energy Board will be reconsidering the Trans Mountain expansion project to take into account marine traffic and its effect on killer whales was met with both caution and outright hostility on Friday by B.C. First Nations and environmentalists.... Living Oceans executive director Karen Wristen said she saw no way the NEB would have a chance of mitigating the effects of the project on killer whales without hearing new evidence. And that process — for example, her organization hiring an expert to investigate and write a submission — would take longer than 22 weeks, said Wristen, whose organization was one of the federal court challengers.... The Tsleil-Waututh welcomed the federal government’s recognition of its position that marine shipping should have been included in the NEB’s assessment, but warned that additional review and two-way dialogue on these issues will take more than 22 weeks. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Baby salmon are afraid of the dark, so Seattle built glass sidewalks
From a kayak under Pier 66 in downtown Seattle, the new seawall and pier don't look like what you would expect. For one, it’s not dark under the pier. The sidewalk that covers Pier 66 is now made of opaque glass, and light floods down onto the water. The design is supposed to be friendlier for fish. Down here on the waterfront, the Alaska Way Viaduct is months from being torn down. The city is also redesigning this area for migrating salmon, making it more like the shoreline that was here before there was a city. Eilis O'Neill reports. (KUOW)

Former paint-factory site at Laurel Point to get $17-million cleanup
Transport Canada has awarded a more-than-$17-million contract to remove contaminated soil from Laurel Point Park, a former industrial site used to manufacture paint. QM/JJM Contracting JV will remove contaminants from the park and harbour, according to an announcement made Saturday by Joyce Murray, Liberal MP for Vancouver-Quadra, on behalf of Transport Minister Mark Garneau. The remediation work is expected to start in early October and take 12 to 18 months. In May, the City of Victoria announced it will contribute $3.1 million to Transport Canada’s planned cleanup of its lands that flank the park. The massive undertaking is estimated to cost $20 million to $25 million. Lousie Dickson reports. (Times Colonist)

B.C.'s 2018 wildfires fuelled by forests ravaged by pine beetles a decade ago
Clearing or burning beetle ravaged forests may be costly but could mitigate against the kind of massive wildfires that have been seen in British Columbia the last two summers, say researchers. They say a large proportion of the forests that burned this year were affected by the mountain pine beetle about a decade ago. The mountain pine beetle epidemic affected more than 180,000 square kilometres. By comparison, the wildfires burned about 12,000 square kilometres last year and 13,000 square kilometres this year. (Canadian Press)

France removes toxic tyres from failed reef project
Teams of divers are painstakingly lifting an artificial reef made of tens of thousands of old car tyres from the seafloor south of France, after it was found to spread pollution from toxic chemicals. The operation is costing well over a million euros ($1.1m; £898,000) and is part-funded by the tyre manufacturer Michelin as well as the French state. The divers are supported by a boat with lifting equipment. Fish had been avoiding the area. (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  231 AM PDT Mon Sep 24 2018   

TODAY  W wind to 10 kt becoming NW in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 14 seconds. 

TONIGHT  W wind to 10 kt becoming SE after midnight. Wind waves  1 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.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter. 

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Friday, September 21, 2018

9/21 Elwha, northern orcas, Big Oil $, BC pipe, tire chemicals, BC bird deaths, US ESA changes

Elwha nearshore 9/18/18 [Tom Roorda/CWI]
Elwha Nearshore, September 18, 2018
Anne Shaffer of Coastal Watershed Institute writes: "The Elwha is quiet and clear and we all wait for fall rains to bring in  coho, and later, chum. The outline of the new delta is a familiar site now, while the subtle, but critical, work of rebuilding the ecosystems of the sediment starved and degraded nearshore delta and shoreline continues. This is what hope looks like."

As southern resident killer whales dwindle, more food options mean northern population is thriving
As concern grows over the decline of the southern resident killer whale population following the presumed death of the young female J50, the story off B.C.'s north and central coast is much different. The most recent count of the northern resident group of orcas reported 309 whales, more than four times the number of southern residents. "The northern killer whale population is doing much better… [and] doesn't seem to be going through the same slow decline," said Lance Barrett-Lenard, head of the cetacean research program at the Vancouver Aquarium. Both populations feed on chinook salmon as their primary prey but Barrett-Lenard said the northern whales have less competition and more options to choose from, with fish returning to the Skeena River, Nass River and Owikeno Lake. Anna Dimoff reports. (CBC)

Oil company money keeps rolling in to campaign to defeat Washington state carbon fee
The oil company Phillips 66 has contributed an additional $3.5 million to defeat a statewide ballot measure, Initiative 1631, that would impose a carbon-pollution fee on fossil -fuel emissions. That brings the corporation’s total contributions to the opposition campaign to $7.2 million — almost half of the No on 1631 fundraising that on Wednesday totaled $16 million.... Other major contributors to the opposition campaign include Chevron, BP, Andeavor and the trade association American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, according to documents filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission. (Seattle Times)

Ottawa gives pipeline regulator 22 weeks to review Trans Mountain expansion project
The Liberal government is instructing the federal pipeline regulator to review the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to consider the project's impact on the marine environment. Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said Friday the National Energy Board will have 22 weeks to hear from Canadians.... The minister said the government will outline plans for further consultation with Indigenous people in due course.... Sohi said the review will consider the impact of increased tanker traffic on the resident killer whale population. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the government is committed to building the pipeline the "right way" to satisfy the court's demands. Kathleen Harris reports. (CBC)

Chemicals from automobile tires suspected in coho deaths
Chemicals linked to automobile tires have been found in stormwater associated with the widespread deaths of coho salmon in Puget Sound. The findings were presented this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology and elevate tires as a suspect in “urban runoff mortality syndrome,” a condition that has been endangering coho salmon runs in the region.... While the authors caution that the findings do not show a definitive link between tires and coho deaths, they report that “the results indicate that [tire wear particles] are an under-appreciated contaminant source in urban watersheds.” They argue that the assessment of tires as a potential source of toxic contaminants should be a research priority. Jeff Rice reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

Dozens of birds fall out of the sky in mysterious 'mortality event'
The Canadian Wildlife Service is investigating a "mortality event" in which dozens of birds literally fell from the sky on a road near Tsawwassen, B.C. People were shocked to witness the birds, believed to be starlings, plunge to the ground near the BC Ferries terminal on Sept. 14. It is unclear whether they were dead before hitting the ground. Joan Marshall reports. (CBC)

Local Zoos Gathering Thousands Of Signatures In Defense Of U.S. Endangered Species Act
Monday is the deadline for comments on proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act. Conservation advocates gathered Wednesday at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo to voice their concerns. They say the federal law is under attack and that the proposed changes would gut it.  Standing in front of the zoo’s lush Grizzly Bear exhibit, Woodland Park President and CEO Alejandro Grajal gave the example of possibly adding economic impact studies to the analysis required when listing species.  He said bringing these additional values into evaluations of proposed listings would be a mistake.... UW College of the Environment Dean and Woodland Park Zoo Board Member Lisa Graumlich joined him, voicing concern about a provision that would leave climate science out of the equation when listing new species for protection. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  329 AM PDT Fri Sep 21 2018   


TODAY  S wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 5 ft  at 8 seconds. A chance of rain in the morning then rain in the  afternoon. 

TONIGHT  S wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 6 ft  at 8 seconds. Rain. 

SAT  W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 7 ft  at 9 seconds. A chance of showers. 

SAT NIGHT  W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 8 seconds. 

SUN  Light wind. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at  8 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, September 20, 2018

9/20 Sand lance, Seattle U, methane leaks, green crab, Arctic sea ice, Cooper Island, Kitsap shellfish, levee fix

Pacific sand lance [Mandy Lindeberg/NOAA]
Pacific Sand Lance Ammodytes personatus
Pacific Sand Lance range from California to the Aleutian Islands and the southeastern Bering Sea. They are found schooling in depths that range from the surface to 80 m (262 ft) in Puget Sound, and off the coast to perhaps 272 m (892 ft).  Pacific Sand Lances have two very distinct behaviors.  During the day they are mostly found in large schools in the water column and during the night they are mostly found buried in the sand to avoid predation. They generally spawn in sandy intertidal areas, with eggs often taking on a coat of attached sand grains, making them nearly invisible. The young-of-the-year Pacific Sand Lances settle in shallow waters and occupy shallow eelgrass and algae beds, but also live over sand, cobble and bedrock.  Pacific Sand Lances feed primarily on small, pelagic organisms, although occasionally on benthic invertebrates.  This species is prey to multitudes of fish, birds, and marine mammals. A recent analysis of sand lances throughout the Pacific Ocean led to a renaming of the species found in Washington from A. hexapterus to A. personatus. (WDFW)

Seattle University says it will become first college in state to divest from fossil fuels 
Seattle University will become the first university in Washington state to divest its endowment from fossil fuels over the next five years. The action means that by 2023, Seattle University will no longer invest any of its $230 million endowment in the funds and securities of fossil-fuel companies. The university estimates that 6.7 percent, or $13.6 million, of its endowment has “exposure to securities of fossil-fuel companies, as defined by ownership of fossil-fuel reserves.” The university will work to achieve a 50 percent reduction by Dec. 31, 2020, and expects to be fully divested by June 30, 2023. Katherine Long reports. (Seattle Times)

Trump Administration Eases Regulation Of Methane Leaks On Public Lands
The Trump administration is proposing to roll back another Obama-era energy regulation, this time one that aimed to curb methane leaks from oil and gas operations on tribal and public lands. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, even more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term, that contributes to climate change. The Obama administration said that large amounts of methane are lost into the atmosphere through through leaks, as well as intentional venting and flaring at energy production sites. It moved to limit that by requiring oil and gas companies to capture leaking and vented methane at existing sites, to gradually update their technology and to make plans for monitoring escaping gas. The Government Accountability Office says as much as $23 million of potential royalty revenue from those gases is lost annually. But in a statement, the Department of the Interior said that rule was “unnecessarily burdensome on the private sector.” Jennifer Ludden reports. (NPR)

European Green Crab found at Kala Point Lagoon
Volunteers from the Washington Sea Grant Crab Team monitoring program discovered an invasive European Green Crab at Kala Point Lagoon on Sept. 8.  This was the first European Green Crab found at Kala Point after four years of monitoring the site. “We’ve done 21 sampling visits to this lagoon,” said Chris Jones, the leader of the Kala Point Lagoon crab team. “In 20.9 of those samplings, we didn’t see any green crab. And suddenly we pull this trap, and go, ‘What the heck is that?’”  The team was shocked, surprised and worried, as the European Green Crab has been known to have devastating effects on habitats. Lily Haight reports. (Pt. Townsend Leader)

Cruise Ships, Heavy Fuel Oil and Arctic Sea Ice
Arctic sea ice is at its lowest in September, when the ice stops melting and glaciers begin to accumulate again. The National Snow and Ice Data Center tracks ice and says the extent of sea ice this year is expected to be one of the lowest in the satellite record. Climate watchers in Seattle and Amsterdam are bringing attention to the issue by targeting cruise ships that burn heavy fuel oil, a practice amplifying the effects of climate change. Martha Baskin reports. (PRX)

On a related note: Four Decades of Change: An Arctic Seabird Struggles to Survive in a Warming World
George Divoky, who has conducted research on Mandt’s black guillemot on Cooper Island off the coast of northern Alaska for the last 40 years, presents this summer's research and ongoing climate change trends at the October 25 North Cascades Audubon Society meeting in Bellingham's Whatcom Museum at 7 PM. See also: Can These Seabirds Adapt Fast Enough to Survive a Melting Arctic?  (Audubon Magazine)

Shellfish harvesting closed along Kitsap's eastern shoreline
hellfish harvesting has been closed on the eastern shoreline of Kitsap County, from Point No Point in Hansville to Restoration Point on Bainbridge Island, after testing found high levels of the toxin paralytic shellfish poison, Kitsap Public Health announced Wednesday. Samples for this closure were collected on Monday and showed PSP concentrations of 172 micrograms of toxin per 100 grams of shellfish tissues, the health district said. Shellfish harvesting is closed when PSP toxin levels meet or exceed 80 micrograms per 100 grams of tissue, it noted. (Kitsap Sun)

Fir Island levee repairs underway
Repairs are underway on a section of levee along the south fork of the Skagit River. A 1,200-foot section of the levee near the end of Wiley Road on Fir Island was damaged during flooding in November. Skagit County Consolidated Diking Improvement District 22 and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are coordinating repairs, which are intended to protect surrounding lands before the next flood season, according to project documents. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  244 AM PDT Thu Sep 20 2018   

TODAY  Variable wind 5 to 15 kt becoming SE this afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 10 seconds. A slight  chance of showers in the morning then showers likely in the  afternoon. 

TONIGHT  E wind 10 to 20 kt becoming SE 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 3 ft at 10 seconds  building to 5 ft at 7 seconds after midnight. 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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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

9/19 Fidalgo Is., Nicomeki kill, Columbia closure, dilbit kills, ship impact, farm fish escape, Larry Pynn

View from Mt. Erie []
Fidalgo Island (Skagit County)
Separated from the mainland by a narrow slough, this island was named for Salvadore Fidalgo of Eliza's exploration fleet of 1790. The name was assigned by Kellett in 1847 as part of his campaign of preserving early Spanish names. The actual discovery that the area was an island rather than part of the mainland was made by the Wilkes Expedition. Wilkes named the island in honor of Oliver Hazard Perry and its highest point for the victory in the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812. Perry's Island is no more, but Mt. Erie still exists as a reminder of the man who cryptically announced his victory: "We have met the enemy and they are ours." (Washington State Place Names)

Huge fish kill on Surrey waterway another blow to conservation group
Volunteers with the Nicomekl Enhancement Society are sounding the alarm after discharge from a cement plant triggered a mass die-off of fish and crayfish in the Nicomekl River on Sept 14. "The kill was extensive," said NES president and biologist Jim Armstrong. "There were generation of crayfish that were killed off ... literally hundreds. And we went from hundreds of coho fry to zero coho fry." Armstrong said fisheries officials traced the deadly discharge to a cement plant that was expelling wastewater into a ditch that flowed directly into an upper tributary of the Nicomekl system. A test of the water showed the effluent caused the pH of the river to rise above eight, a level that is lethal to most aquatic life. Karin Larsen reports. (CBC)

Much Of Columbia River Closed To Salmon Fishing
The rare closure of most of the Columbia River to salmon fishing is largely the result of bad weather and bad ocean conditions in 2015. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on Thursday closed salmon fishing on the main stem of the Columbia River from Buoy 10 upstream to Highway 395 in Pasco. The Spokesman-Review says the count of fall chinook at Bonneville Dam last week was 105,795 fish. The count is normally about double that. (Associated Press)

Study: Impact of diluted bitumen on young sockeye salmon deadly
New research led by Sarah Alderman, a post-doctorate researcher at the University of Guelph's department of integrative biology has found that even short exposure to diluted bitumen (dilbit) can be deadly to young salmon. The new study added credence to a study published by Alderman last year that concluded tiny amounts of diluted bitumen weakens the chances of migrating salmon to make it back to the rivers and streams of their birth to spawn. The new study, published in the September Journal of Aquatic Toxicology, studied the effects of diluted bitumen on early life stages of sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka). Karen Graham reports. (Digital Journal)

Canada to Assess Shipping's Impact on Coastal Marine Ecosystems
Transport Canada has awarded a contract to ESSA Technologies to look at ways of assessing the cumulative impacts of marine shipping on coastal marine ecosystems. The $95,000 initiative will involve collecting data from six pilot sites: Northern British Columbia, Southern British Columbia, the St. Lawrence River (Quebec), the Bay of Fundy (New Brunswick), the South Coast of Newfoundland, and Cambridge Bay (Nunavut). In August, Canada's Minister of Transport Marc Garneau announced an investment of over $175 million in seven measures to help protect Arctic waters as part of the Oceans Protection Plan. (Marine Executive)

New Genetic Research Shows the Legacy of Fish Farm Escapees
Newfoundland’s great fish jailbreak took place on September 18, 2013, when a damaged sea pen, roiled by currents and tides, discharged 20,000 farmed Atlantic salmon into the frigid freedom of Hermitage Bay. Cooke Aquaculture, which owned the failed pen, swiftly set about controlling the damage in the media, if not the ocean. Seals and other predators would scarf up the rogue salmon, the company assured the CBC. The fish, it added, “pose[d] no threat to the environment.” A new genetic analysis, however, refutes that dubious claim. Researchers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have shown that the fish fled Hermitage Bay, fanning out and infiltrating many of southern Newfoundland’s rivers. There, the escapees interbred with their wild cousins—potentially weakening the gene pools of imperiled populations. Ben Goldfarb reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Larry Pynn's Swan Song
Reporter Larry Pynn retired in August from the environment beat at the Vancouver Sun after 41 years and left some mighty fine words relevant for those of us devoted to real news and to the environment of the Salish Sea. "In journalism, you're only as good as your last  story, so I'll try not to screw this up," Larry writes in farewell. Check it out.

Editor's note: Following up on the report about sword ferns' unexplained deaths in Kitsap County (Ferns are dying in Kitsap forests, and nobody knows why) and at Seward Park in Seattle, Jeff Marti reports that "I thought I would pass on that in early September I noticed that sword ferns in a nearby woods in SE Olympia were looking rather sad... They were essentially collapsing, with some fronds laying on the ground. I had noticed similar occurrences during 2015, which also was an extremely dry, warm summer. In fact, my recollection is that in 2015 the ferns looked even worse. They do seem to bounce back over the winter but it does make me wonder that even if drought isn’t the direct cause of mortality, then perhaps drought is at least weakening the plant’s ability to survive other stresses. But I’m certainly no botanist and I’m glad to see that the puzzle is being tackled by some more learned folks."

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  231 AM PDT Wed Sep 19 2018   

TODAY  SW wind to 10 kt becoming NW in the afternoon. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 12 seconds. A slight chance  of showers in the morning then a chance of showers in the  afternoon. 

TONIGHT  W wind to 10 kt in the evening becoming light. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 11 seconds. A slight chance  of showers.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

9/18 The Prince, international salmon plan, BC pipe, BC rainforest, dying ferns

The Prince [George Chernilevsky]
The Prince Agaricus augustus
One of the most desirable of edible mushrooms, meaty and of fine flavor. Found in rain seasons from June to October, in dry seasons beginning to fruit in August. If the place in which it appears is watered, successive crops will be produced. Often grows near compost heaps or in flower beds, on lawns, in orchards, sometimes near edges of roads, usually in the open. (The New Savory Wild Mushroom)

International 10-year salmon preservation plan advances
Canada and the U.S. states of Alaska, Oregon and Washington would all reduce their catch of fragile salmon species under the terms of an updated international agreement that, if approved, will spell out the next decade of cooperation between the U.S. and Canada to keep the migratory fish afloat in Pacific waters. Members of the Pacific Salmon Commission on Monday recommended a conservation plan that stretches to 2028 after two years of intense negotiations involving fishermen, tribes on both sides of the border and state and federal officials. It must be approved by both the U.S. and Canadian governments.... One of the most significant parts of the new treaty is reductions in the allowed harvest of chinook salmon, and particularly of chinook populations that are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said.... Alaska will reduce its catch by 7.5 percent in the southeast when poor chinook returns are expected. Canada will do so by 12.5 percent and Oregon and Washington will reduce their catch anywhere from 5 to 15 percent, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Gillian Flaccus reports. (Associated Press)

Ottawa looking for some high-level legal advice to get Trans Mountain project back on track
The federal government is shopping around for a retired federal judge to help guide a renewed consultation with Indigenous communities on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The Federal Court of Appeal last month quashed the approval given to the project, saying the consultation with Indigenous communities wasn't good enough and criticizing the lack of attention paid to the environmental impact of increased tanker traffic off the coast of British Columbia.... An official close to the plan told the Canadian Press one option being closely considered is hiring of a former senior judge, possibly a retired Supreme Court of Canada justice, to advise the government on what would constitute meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities to satisfy the conditions of the court. The Liberals intend to announce the next steps in their pipeline plan before the end of September. Mia Rabson reports. (Canadian Press)

Botanical bounty of 2,400 plant species discovered in B.C. rainforest
After trudging through swamps and bushwhacking through sub-alpine thicket, a team of scientists has found around 2,400 species of plants — some it believes may be previously undiscovered — in the Ancient Forest/Chun T'oh Whudujut Provincial Park, a rarely studied inland rainforest 115 kilometres east of Prince George. The three-year-long field study by scientists and students at the University of Northern B.C., alongside UBC botanists Trevor Goward and Curtis Björk, found species that weren't known to grow in this part of the province — or anywhere in Canada. Joel Ballard reports. (CBC)

Editor's note: Regarding yesterday's posting of the mysterious death of Kitsap County ferns (Ferns are dying in Kitsap forests, and nobody knows why ) reader Charlie Eaton notes that there's also the mystery of a large patch of sword fern which has died off at Seward Park in Seattle. This happening anywhere else?

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  255 AM PDT Tue Sep 18 2018   

TODAY  SW wind to 10 kt becoming N in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. SW swell 3 ft at 15 seconds. 

TONIGHT  W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  3 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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Monday, September 17, 2018

9/17 Termite, whale plight, Chinook food, dam hatcheries, PRV search, seal kill, dead ferns, BC LNG, car exhaust, carbon fee, marbled murrelet, dock fight

Termite [Marin Termite]
Dampwood Termite Zootermopsis angusticollis
The Pacific Dampwood Termite is one of the largest varieties of termites of the planet at 30mm with wings and are most often found in fallen trees and stumps in the forest and by creeks, streams, ponds, rivers and lakes. Termites dating back to the cretaceous period (125 million years ago) have been excavated, and well-preserved termites were found in amber (fossilized tree sap) in the Baltics. In entomology, termites belong to the Isoptera order and according to Cornell University; there are 2761 known species of termites. Termites are indigenous to warmer climates and depending of the specie, colonies can have millions of members and several queens with secondary colonies. Termites have a place in our ecosystem by braking down dead trees and returning them as carbon rich nutrients to the soil. Unfortunately termites don’t distinguish dead trees from lumber and are pests when they infest structures. The word “termite” comes from Latin "termes" and from Greek "tetranien", meaning "a worm eating wood". (Marin Termite Control) See also: What Termites Can Teach Us  Amia Srinivasan reports. (The New Yorker)

Angry at plight of southern-resident orcas, speakers rebuke NOAA in public meetings
Scores of local residents condemned the federal agency in charge of protecting local killer whales in two packed public meetings over the weekend, highlighting growing frustration after the deaths of three of the animals this summer. The endangered southern resident killer whales, of which just 74 remain, aren’t getting the help they need from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, speakers said at a Saturday meeting in Friday Harbor and another the following day in Seattle. The agency has also not been transparent in its efforts to bring the mammals back from the brink of extinction, they added. The public hearings were initially planned to discuss an emergency rescue plan for J50, a southern resident killer whale that was critically ill before being presumed dead on Thursday. Speakers demanded that NOAA take drastic steps to save the orcas, including shutting down fishing for Chinook, creating a whale sanctuary in known foraging areas so the orcas can hunt without vessel traffic, and breaching the Lower Snake River Dams to boost fish returns for the whales. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times) See also: And now, 6 tough questions about killer whale survival put to NOAA h Joshua McNichols writes. (KUOW)

In a five-person submarine, scientists in Friday Harbor unravel the mysteries of the Salish Sea
Marine scientists used a five-person submersible to learn more about the sand lance, a forage fish that is a staple of the chinook salmon diet. If the sand lance go away, the chinook will disappear, too. Katherine Long reports. (Seattle Times)

Salmon runs return to Washington state river they’ve been denied access to for 92 years
Tacoma Power is now in the fish business. After a 92-year absence, spring chinook salmon are once again moving up and down the North Fork of the Skokomish River, thanks to a lot of human intervention and $62 million worth of state-of-the art facilities. Two new hatcheries, collection facilities and extensive monitoring of fish habitat have been put in place. In August, some of those first efforts returned to the North Fork in the form of spawning spring chinook.... The reversal of fortune for the fish came after years of negotiations with the Skokomish Indian Tribe and decades of increasing alarm over declining salmon populations. Craig Sailor reports. (News Tribune of Tacoma)

Biologists seek to prove that Rich Passage net pens have virus-infected fish
Alex Morton sits perched on the bow of the dinghy as it putters along, eyes combing the water for the little organic chunks she’s after. A stone’s throw away, Atlantic salmon bob and leap inside Cooke Aquaculture’s floating net pens in Rich Passage. She telescopes out a metal pole with a home aquarium net lashed to its end and begins dipping it in the water, scooping up white, fatty tissue that dots the waters outside the pens.... The pieces, believed to be chunks of the Atlantic salmon, go into small vials headed to a lab for testing. Morton, an independent biologist, is in Rich Passage looking for samples with environmental groups Sea Shepherd and the Wild Fish Conservancy. They suspect that the test results will show what previous testing by the conservancy has found in fish recovered after Cooke's net pen facility at Cypress Island collapsed last summer: piscine orthoreovirus (PRV). Nathan Pilling reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Deadly ghost net entangles, drowns Fraser River seals
The discovery of at least five seals that apparently died in a wayward fishing net on B.C.'s Fraser River has alarmed Vancouver Aquarium's chief veterinarian. The net and drowned seals were found by a CBC crew on Thursday, Sept. 6, while they were producing an unrelated story on the lower Fraser River near Steveston.... One conservation advocate described the material as a "ghost net," a term for lost or discarded fishing gear that harms wildlife. (Canadian Press)

Ferns are dying in Kitsap forests, and nobody knows why
The barren patch of ground stood out in the midst of the lush forest understory. All around, sword ferns crowded between tree trunks forming dense thickets of greenery, but in this spot, the ferns had been decimated. Slender dead leaves littered the ground and only bare stubs remained where clumps of healthy fronds recently flourished. "As far as I can recall, this was our ground zero," Camp Indianola director Darin Gemmer said, pausing on a hike along one of the camp's trails on Thursday. The barren spot was one of many fern die-off sites Gemmer and John O'Leary, a water resources program manager for the Suquamish Tribe, stopped to point out along the path. Over the past year, Gemmer, O'Leary and others have watched with alarm as large patches of sword fern — a ubiquitous plant in the Northwest — disappeared in North Kitsap forests. Tad Sooter reports. (Kitsap Sun)

TransCanada signs all elected First Nations along $4.7-billion gas pipeline route through B.C.
TransCanada has completed benefit agreements with all 20 elected First Nation bands along its Coastal GasLink pipeline route from Dawson Creek to Kitimat. The pipeline would feed the Shell-led LNG Canada gas plant should it go ahead, with TransCanada saying it’s ready to build. There has been heightened anticipation recently that LNG Canada is gearing up to make a final investment decision on the up-to $36-billion export terminal in Kitimat. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun) See also: Vaughn Palmer: Horgan confident hurdles will be cleared to build Kitimat LNG terminal  (Vancouver Sun)

Washington and 16 other states pledge to use $1.4B in VW settlement money to cut vehicle emissions
Washington and 16 other states intend to spend a total of $1.4 billion from the Volkswagen diesel-vehicle settlement on boosting zero-emission vehicles to fight climate change. The money is part of a pledge by the 17-state coalition known as the United States Climate Alliance to use the money to reduce transportation emissions. The state Department of Ecology previously declared that Washington’s approximately $113 million share of settlement funds would be put toward zero-emissions vehicles, vessels and infrastructure. Some of the money would go to electrifying part of Washington’s ferry fleet. Joseph O'Sullivan reports. (Seattle Times)

If Washington voters become the nation's first to OK a carbon-pollution fee, who will decide how to spend the money?
A carbon-pollution fee on fossil fuels — if approved by voters in November — would finance a multibillion dollar spending surge intended to cut Washington greenhouse-gas emissions. Initiative 1631 reflects the proponents’ faith that an activist government can play a key role in speeding up a transition to cleaner fuels and helping the state adjust to a century of climate change. The spending — roughly $1 billion annually by 2023 — would be funded by a carbon fee on fossil fuels that would rise each year. The statewide ballot measure was developed by a coalition of environmental, labor, tribal and social-justice groups. It vests a 15-person board — a mix of state officials and public members appointed by the governor — with the authority to develop an annual investment plan. The options could range from helping people buy electric cars to thinning fire-prone forests. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Agencies release updated marbled murrelet plan
The state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have released a revised study for managing the state’s coastal forests to protect a threatened bird species. The revised draft environmental impact statement, or EIS, for marbled murrelet conservation is open for public comment until 5 p.m. Nov. 6.... Over the past several decades, the bird’s population has declined along the Washington, Oregon and northern California coasts. The species is recognized as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and is recognized as endangered by the state Department of Fish & Wildlife. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald) Read the Revised DEIS and comment here.

Pender Harbour dock owners step up fight over Sechelt First Nation's restoration plan
Pender Harbour homeowners are ramping up their fight with the province and the Sechelt (shíshálh) First Nation over a plan that would see at least two dozen boat docks demolished and hundreds of others subject to environmental and archeological studies. At least 16 locals have put up a minimum of $500 each to pay for the services of former MP John Weston, now a lawyer in private practice specializing in Aboriginal law. “The plan leaves dock owners on the hook for studies we don’t see any need for and expensive new building practices,” said Leonard Lee, president of the Pender Harbour Chamber of Commerce, which is leading the fight. “They have prohibited docks in some areas for no reason that we can figure out.” ... The shíshálh deal could be a blueprint for other First Nations that hope to assert control over their traditional territories around the province, said Lee. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Getting a glimpse of Fidalgo Bay
Adults and children alike explored Fidalgo Bay’s marine life up close Saturday during Fidalgo Bay Day. From petting sea cucumbers in a touch tank to learning how orcas find their food, those who attended wound their way through interactive displays of the bay’s components at Fidalgo Bay Resort. Julia-Grace Sanders reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PDT Mon Sep 17 2018   

TODAY  W wind to 10 kt becoming NW in the afternoon. Wind waves 1  ft or less. SW swell 3 ft at 12 seconds. 

TONIGHT  W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. SW swell 3 ft  at 15 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter. 

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