A free 2017 calendar, published by the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, features winning artwork in a contest
that focuses on the problem of trash in the ocean, otherwise known
as marine debris.
More than 700 students from around the country participated in
the contest, and one of the 13 winners was a seventh grader from
Washington state named Sallie S. Neither her full name nor hometown
was disclosed, and I never received a response to an email sent to
her on my behalf by NOAA officials.
Sallie’s statement on the back of the calendar: “Marine debris
impacts our oceans and Great Lakes, because the plastic and other
garbage could badly injure or kill the sea animals. What I will do
to keep our ocean debris free is to not litter. Not littering is
very important, because if you litter the debris can go into
drains, then it can go into the lake or the sea. Then once it goes
in the sea, ocean organisms could then die.”
The contest has just reopened to take entries for the 2018
calendar, which will be published next year. The contest is open to
any student from kindergarten through eighth grade. The deadline
for submissions is Nov. 30. One can obtain an entry form and
detailed rules from the contest
In 2013, I was pleased to write in
Water Ways about a picture drawn by Araminta “Minty” Little, a
seventh grader at Fairview Junior High School in Central Kitsap.
Her picture shows an octopus grasping trash that has been thrown
into the ocean, a picture now used in promotional materials for the
marine debris art contest.
The 2017 calendar is available for download, and a limited
number of printed calendars may be ordered. Pictures on this page
are featured in that calendar. For details, visit the website
“Keep the seas free of debris.”
“Our oceans are filled with items that do not belong there,”
states NOAA’s “Discover the
Issue” webpage. “Huge amounts of consumer plastics, metals,
rubber, paper, textiles, derelict fishing gear, vessels, and other
lost or discarded items enter the marine environment every day,
making marine debris one of the most widespread pollution problems
facing the world’s oceans and waterways.
“Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material that
is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly,
intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the
marine environment or the Great Lakes,” the website continues. “It
is a global problem, and it is an everyday problem. There is no
part of the world left untouched by debris and its impacts. Marine
debris is a threat to our environment, navigation safety, the
economy and human health.”
It’s always nice when I can report a little good news for Puget
Sound recovery. For the second year in row, we’ve seen more
shoreline bulkheads ripped out than new ones put in.
After officials with the Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife completed their compilation of permit data for 2015, I can
say that 3,097 feet of old armoring were removed, while 2,231 feet
Scientific evidence is mounting that bulkheads cause
considerable harm to the shoreline environment, affecting salmon
and many other species integral to the Puget Sound food web.
As I pointed out in a story published this week in the Encyclopedia of
Puget Sound, we cannot say whether the armoring removed has
restored more valuable habitat than what was destroyed by new
structures. But we can hope that’s the case, since state and
federal governments have targeted restoration funding toward high
priority habitats. They include shorelines used by forage fish,
such as surf smelt and sand lance, as well as feeder bluffs, which
deliver sands and gravels needed for healthy beaches.
One problem with the data, which officials hope to improve in
the future, is that we don’t know whether the new bulkheads being
built are the standard concrete or rock bulkheads or the
less-damaging “soft-shore” projects. Unlike hard armor, soft-shore
projects are designed to absorb wave energy by sloping the beach
and placing large rocks and logs in strategic locations. It’s not a
perfect solution, but it is a reasonable compromise where armoring
is truly needed.
Dave Price, restoration division manager for WDFW, said he was
encouraged by the amount of bulkhead removal versus construction,
but he acknowledged that a lot more work is needed. The answer is
to convince waterfront property owners that the problem is real and
to enlist their help in boosting habitat over time. The Shore Friendly program is part
of the effort.
“Some shorelines are armored right in front of bluffs that have
no houses or the houses are set way back,” Dave told me. “I see
that all over the place. A little sediment coming off these
hillsides can be a very good thing for fish, and I don’t think they
are a problem for landowners.”
Sheida Sahandy, executive director of the Puget Sound
Partnership, said the issue is not about government requiring these
changes but about people deciding that they want more natural
conditions where possible.
“We should frame this so that people see the possibility of
having a nice beach, a place where you can walk down and put your
feet in,” she said, adding that people who have installed
soft-shore protections often rave about their easier access to the
Mike Anderson, chairman of the Skokomish Watershed Action Team,
and Thom Johnson, a leading expert in the recovery of Hood Canal
summer chum salmon, have been named recipients of this year’s Hood
Canal Environmental Awards.
Other recipients of the awards, which are sponsored by Hood
Canal Coordinating Council, are Shore Friendly Mason and Shore
Friendly Kitsap, two programs that actively enlist waterfront
property owners in the protection and restoration of their
I learned this afternoon that the awards ceremony on Nov. 4 will
be dedicated to Rich Geiger, the longtime district engineer for
Mason Conservation District. Rich, who died unexpectedly on Sept.
22, held the “technical vision” for the restoration of the
Skokomish River watershed, according to Mike Anderson. (See
Water Ways, Oct. 8.)
Rich had already been honored with a Hood Canal Environmental
Award, but a lot of people have been asking that he receive some
special recognition at this year’s ceremony, said Scott Brewer,
executive director of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council.
“Rich was instrumental in working in the Skokomish watershed,
but he certainly left his mark on other watersheds around Hood
Canal,” Scott told the coordinating council, which is made up of
county commissioners in Kitsap, Mason and Jefferson counties along
with tribal leaders for the Skokomish and Port Gamble S’Klallam
tribes. The council endorsed the special recognition for Rich
The awards ceremony will recognize individuals and groups whose
actions have improved the Hood Canal environment and community. The
event will be at Kitsap Conference Center at Bremerton Harborside
on Friday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Guest speakers include Sarah Spaeth of Jefferson Land Trust, who
will talk on “Fish, Farms and Forests of the Chimacum Watershed,”
and Lissa James of Hama Hama Company, whose talk is titled “Natural
Resources and the Sustainability of Place in the Northwest.”
Anyone may attend. Reservations should be made by Oct. 31 by
contacting Robin Lawlis, firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-394-0046. For
information, check the website of the
Hood Canal Coordinating Council.
Winner of the Hood Canal Environmental Awards “embody the spirit
of fostering cooperation, collaboration and lasting relationships
to achieve a healthy Hood Canal,” according to organizers. Winners
will have time to talk about their experiences during the
Mike Anderson, who has been with the Wilderness
Society since 1985, has been coordinating the Skokomish
Watershed Action Team since its inception 10 years ago. Mike’s
energy and collaborative skills have kept this team of diverse
interests moving forward toward the ultimate restoration of the
Skokomish River watershed. A major accomplishment was the recent
congressional approval of a $19-million restoration project by the
Army Corps of Engineers, but that is just the latest of many
projects involving the U.S. Forest Service, Skokomish Tribe, state
agencies, Green Diamond Resource Company, Tacoma Public Utilities
Thom Johnson, environmental program manager for
the Point No Point Treaty Council, has been a longtime leader in
the recovery of salmon, most notably Hood Canal summer chum. He got
his start on the summer chum project in the 1990s, when he worked
for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Thom also has
been a key participant in recovery efforts, including the Lead
Entity Citizens Group and the Technical Advisory Group for the Hood
Canal Coordinating Council. Through the years, he has been a
valuable adviser to council members on many issues.
Shore Friendly Kitsap and Shore
Friendly Mason each involve numerous organizations working
together under an umbrella program organized by the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural
Resources and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Local groups
include Mason Conservation District, WSU Kitsap County Extension,
Washington Sea Grant, Futurewise and QWG Applied Geology.
Shore Friendly has
helped people understand how they can improve their shorelines,
including the removal of bulkheads and restoration of natural
shoreline features, including native plants. The program also
provides financial incentives and assists people with permits to
restore functioning shoreline habitat. See
Shore Friendly Kitsap and Shore Friendly
Honorable mentions in this year’s Hood Canal Environmental
Jay and Susie Allen for their years of
restoration efforts and stewardship on their land in the Tahuya
River watershed. It has been said that whenever the Allens are
approached about a project or idea, their only question is how they
Roma Call ensures that cleanup, restoration and
important environmental regulations and protections are established
to conserve valuable resources and ecosystems for the Port Gamble
S’Klallam Tribe. Roma’s collaborative efforts gain the support of
Clear Creek Elementary Student Garden Project
sponsored by Barbara Bromley, a fourth-grade teacher. This project
began with a pitch at an ECO Net meeting of environmental
educators. It grew with the help of a grant from the Department of
Defense Education Activity with local support from the USS Michigan
crew, Spectra Laboratories and The Brothers Nursery.
Kitsap Forest & Bay Coalition for work with
Kitsap County to create a stewardship plan for the new 535-acre
Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park on Port Gamble Bay, which includes
several projects involving hundreds of volunteers, community groups
Michelle Myers with the Hood Canal Salmon
Enhancement Group, who works tirelessly across multiple dimensions
to develop adult outreach programs and youth educational
activities. Efforts involve restoring habitat, pursuing stakeholder
engagement and supporting Hood Canal Watershed Education Network
When I was a young child, we didn’t have to worry about wildlife
getting strangled by six-pack rings, because these plastic binders
for cans had not been invented yet. I was 9 years old in 1961 when
this simple, convenient form of packaging was invented, so I
clearly remember the transition. (See Hi-Cone
At the time, nobody predicted the conservation consternation
that would be created by such a simple piece of plastic. During the
1970s and up to present, pictures of entrapped birds and other sea
creatures became common, suggesting that we at least cut the
plastic to save the animals. The first video provides a story of
Before the invention of six-pack rings, people bought soft
drinks and beer in cardboard packages, which sort of wrapped around
the cans. Pabst Blue Ribbon may have been the first beer sold in
cardboard cartons (second video), although Coca Cola may have
started the phase. The Coke
company claims to be the first to take its bottles out of
wooden crates and begin offering cardboard packaging for consumers
as early as 1923.
So we went from reusable wooden crates to biodegradable
cardboard to ever-lasting plastic six-pack rings, officially called
“yokes” in the industry. Concern about wildlife entrapment
eventually forced manufacturers of the plastic rings to use a
material that would degrade when exposed to light, but degradation
can be slow in a marine environment.
What really prompted me to write this piece about six-pack rings
was a new invention — edible six-pack rings made of wheat and
barley, the byproducts of brewing. It’s a product that “feeds
animals instead of killing them,” according to a promotional video
(third on this page).
Saltwater Brewing, a 3-year-old microbrewery in Delray Beach,
Fla., came up with the concept and is now waiting for patent
approval, according to the company website.
Nowhere does the company suggest throwing these things out for the
birds, but the company implies that it would not be a bad
I don’t know enough about marketing to know if there is any
chance of this gaining widespread acceptance. Initial reports say
these new rings could raise the cost of a six pack by 10 or 15
cents, but mass production could eventually bring down the
I also don’t know how these edible rings taste, and I’m not sure
I want to know. But, as one the commenters said on the YouTube website,
“Sweet, but if I’m REALLY hammered, can I eat it? Or will my head
get stuck in the plastic like what happens to sea turtles?”
Are people really worried about six-pack rings? My wife Sue
insists that I cut up any ringlike attachment devices, including
those used for all sorts of juices and other products sold at
Costco. I do it, knowing full well that I am going to put this
plastic thing into a kitchen trash bag, which will go into a larger
trash bag, which will go into a dumpster, which will eventually go
into a landfill in Oregon. Not much chance to entrap a seagull.
The story would be different if I was going to take a six pack
to the beach, but we normally pull the cans apart and put them into
a cooler before we leave the house.
Maybe these new grain-based rings would be worthwhile for those
who throw their trash at the beach. Maybe they would save the poor
animals that might get trapped or eat the plastic. I’m thinking of
Peanut, the turtle that grew up with a plastic ring crimping her
shell. As described by Stephen Messenger of
“The Dodo,” Peanut became a poster child for Missouri’s
No More Trash
As an example of problems caused by plastic trash getting into
the oceans, the six-pack ring may remain Public Enemy Number 1. But
I tend to agree with Cecil Adams of
“The Straight Dope” that a much more productive effort would be
for everyone to pick up any plastic trash they see at the beach —
or anywhere else — before it gets into the water. That is the same
message delivered by Seattle scuba diver Laura James following our
local rain and wind storms over the past week. (See video
Thanks go to Kitsap Sun reporter Tristan Baurick,
who offered the idea for this blog post.
Chum salmon are beginning to make their way into Central and
South Puget Sound, which means the orcas are likely to follow.
Given this year’s dismal reports of chinook salmon in the San
Juan Islands, we can hope that a decent number of chum traveling to
streams farther south will keep the killer whales occupied through
the fall. But anything can happen.
On Oct. 2, orcas from J and K pods — two of the three Southern
Resident pods — passed through Admiralty Inlet and proceeded to
Point No Point in North Kitsap, according to reports from Orca
Network. The whales continued south the following day and made
it all the way to Vashon Island, according to observers.
On Tuesday of this week, more reports of orcas came in from
Saratoga Passage, the waterway between Whidbey and Camano islands.
See the video by Alisa Lemire Brooks at the bottom of this page. By
yesterday, some members of J pod were reported back of the west
side of San Juan Island.
The movement of chum salmon into Central Puget Sound began in
earnest this week, as a test fishery off Kingston caught just a few
chum last week, jumping to nearly 1,000 this week. Still, the peak
of the run is a few weeks away.
The predicted chum run for Central and South Puget Sound this
year is about 526,000 fish, up from last year’s count of 503,000,
according to Aaron Default, fish program biologist with the
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The average annual
return over the past 10 years has been about 640,000 chum, boosted
by a couple of exceptionally high years. (See chart.)
For Puget Sound as a whole, the forecast is for 1.2 million
chum, compared to a 10-year average of about 1.5 million.
It is yet to be seen how the orcas will respond to the schools
of chum coming south, but their fall travels could offer the
opportunity for a lot of people to watch the whales from shore
without disturbing them at all.
This year, Orca Network trained 45 new volunteers as
observers/naturalists. They live in Island, Snohomish, King,
Kitsap, Pierce, Thurston and Whatcom counties and will be on hand
at many of the observation locations, said Alisa. of Orca
“Our volunteers are provided with up to date ID guides and
information to share with others while viewing whales from the
shoreline, to educate about the orcas, their habitat, and prey,”
said Alisa, coordinator of Orca Network’s whale-sighting program,
in a news
Last November, Alisa was watching the whales from shore with
another volunteer, Sara Hysong-Shimazu, when they spotted a newborn
orca off Alki Point in Seattle. They took photographs of the calf,
and the Center for Whale Research later confirmed that it was the
first baby born to L-103, a 13-year-old mom named Lapis. The baby
was named Lazuli.
Observers should carry binoculars or another viewing scope to
get a better view from shore. If you have a decent camera and can
get a picture of one or more dorsal fins, orca researchers might be
able to use your pictures. Orca Network would like to be alerted
immediately to any whale sightings. Whale reports may be called in
to the toll-free number, 1-866-ORCANET; emailed to
email@example.com, or posted on the Orca Network Facebook
Whale sightings reported to Orca Network will be provided to
researchers studying the Southern Residents, which are listed as
endangered under the Endangered Species Act. If possible, observers
are asked to note the location, time, direction of travel and
approximate number of whales, as well as any specific behaviors,
such as breaching, spy-hopping or feeding.
Observers who choose to go out in boats must follow federal and
state regulations for whale watching as outlined on the Be Whale Wise website.
“We are very fortunate to live in a place where we can look out
from nearby shorelines and see those majestic black fins parting
the waters,” said Howard Garrett of Orca Network. “We are thankful
for the hundreds of citizens who report sightings each year,
providing valuable data to help in recovery efforts for the
endangered Southern Resident orcas.”
The similar properties of water and glass are explored in more
than 50 pieces of artwork in an exhibit called “Into the Deep” at
Tacoma’s Museum of Glass.
The art captures the movements, shapes and colors of creatures
and objects in the beautiful underwater world. For a closer look,
click on the images on this page.
“By creating artwork inspired by the ocean, each artist has
captured both the fragile beauty of the marine environment and the
delicate nature of glass,” Katie Buckingham, exhibit curator, said
in a statement
on the exhibit’s webpage.
Buckingham said she hopes visitors will not only enjoy the art
but also feel inspired to celebrate and protect the natural
environment. The 16 national and international artists featured in
the exhibit include Alfredo Barbini, Dale Chihuly, Shayna Leib,
Kelly O’Dell, Kait Rhoads, Raven Skyriver, and Hiroshi Yamano.
Fifteen of the pieces were produced in the workshop at the
Museum of Glass, including some produced by apprentices.
The exhibit opened on Sept. 24 and will remain through September
2017. Visitors will be able to access information linked to each
piece of art by using a cell phone and scanning the STQRY QR codes.
Three virtual tours are available, one with scientific information,
one about the creation of the sculptures and one on the artists.
Bonnie Becker, a biologist at the University of Washington-Tacoma,
wrote the scientific narrative.
Speaking of glass artwork, I am impressed with the intricate
salmon sculpture with the glass salmon eggs used to create a kiosk
at the east end of the new Bucklin Hill Bridge over the Clear Creek
estuary in Silverdale.
Driving across the bridge, one can see the bright orange salmon
eggs, more than 200 in all. A closer look reveals three salmon
figurines in a swimming posture above the eggs.
“I do believe that when you drive along and you have artwork
alongside the road, I think it lifts your spirits,” said Lisa
Stirrett, the designer of the kiosk, in a story written by
Christian Vosler for the
It is hard to imagine the restoration of the Skokomish River
ecosystem without the involvement of Rich Geiger, a longtime
engineer for Mason Conservation District. Rich had a way of
explaining technical aspects of environmental restoration, and he
was a tremendous help to me through the years.
Rich, who was 59 years old, died unexpectedly two weeks ago.
I got to know Rich in 2008 and 2009 while working on a series of
stories about the Skokomish River. My research involved interviews
with members of the Skokomish Tribe, farmers, loggers and longtime
residents of the area. For the final story, I talked to Rich about
what was wrong with the river and what needed to be done to reduce
the flooding and restore the ecosystem. He taught me a lot about
The Skokomish, if you didn’t know, is the largest river in Hood
Canal, and it exerts a great influence on the long, narrow waterway
with its amazing diversity of habitat.
“Something has bothered me about this river for a long time,”
Rich said, as quoted in my story for the
Kitsap Sun. “I have been doing a great deal of reading about
river systems and sediment transport,” he continued. “To boil it
down, the sediment is too heavy to be moved by the depths we think
are there in the Skokomish.”
Fast and deep water contains the force to move larger rocks, he
told me. Somehow the river was able to move large gravel out of the
mountains, but it never made it all the way to Hood Canal. Digging
into the gravel bars, Rich found layers of fine sediment wedged
between layers of larger rock — evidence that the energy of the
river had changed suddenly at various times.
Rich collaborated with engineers from the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation, U.S. Geological Survey and Army Corps of Engineers.
Eventually, they came to understand the river well enough to
develop a plan for restoration. Throughout the process, Rich was
willing to take time to help me understand every aspect of the
restoration alternatives. I will always be grateful for his
expertise and patience.
in January 2014, the plan was completed and accepted by ranking
officials in the Army Corps of Engineers. I called Rich for his
reaction to the important milestone.
“We are very glad to be at this point, because we are talking
about a physical project moving forward and not just more
planning,” he told me. “We asked the Corps to produce a single
integrated restoration plan, and they did.” To review a brief
summary of the plan, see
Water Ways Jan. 26, 2014.
The final plan by the Army Corps of Engineers became
incorporated into the Water Resources
Development Act, including $19 million proposed for the
Skokomish project. The bill was approved, first by the U.S. Senate
and then by the House. A few details still need to be worked out,
but after years and years of planning, the Skokomish project became
virtually assured of funding just a week after Rich died.
Mike Anderson, chairman of the Skokomish Watershed Action Team,
said Rich had always been the “brains of the collaborative.”
“Rich was the holder of the technical vision of the watershed
restoration,” Mike noted. “He understood how all the different
parts of the watershed — from the mountains down to the estuary and
beyond — work together.
“When we started out, he acknowledged that he did not know what
the answers would be for the valley. One of his great achievements
was getting the GI (general investigation) completed and the …
support for authorization. He felt rightly proud of completing that
“Mr. Speaker, Richard was not only an environmental advocate and
steward, he was also a leader in the community. He excelled at
fostering collaboration and consensus among diverse community
stakeholders, including private landowners, businesses, Native
American Tribes, and local, state, and federal agencies, to achieve
Rich was born April 12, 1957, and graduated from Billings Senior
High School. He attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, where he
became an ROTC Cadet and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil
engineering. After graduation, he served as a lieutenant in the
Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and advanced to rank of major.
In 1994, he took a job with Mason County Public Works
Department, where he held a variety of engineering positions. In
2001, he joined the Mason Conservation District as district
The family has suggested that memorials be made to the
Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, a non-profit
organization committed to alleviating the suffering caused by
mental illness. The foundation awards grants aimed at making
advances and breakthroughs in scientific research.
When a 20-year-old killer whale named Nigel was found dead
floating off Vancouver Island at the end of March, experts
expressed immediate concern about the sharp barbs that remained
embedded in the whale’s dorsal fin. (See
Water Ways, April 14.)
This type of barb is commonly used to attach satellite
transmitters to all sorts of whales and dolphins, allowing the
animals to be tracked over long distances. The satellite tags are
designed to fall off completely — but that did not happen for
Nigel, designated L-95.
As the result of an investigation by the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, we now know that the barbs helped to
introduce a dangerous fungus into Nigel’s body. The fungus appears
to have spread to his lungs and other organs, ultimately
contributing to his death.
“After a thorough necropsy and investigation, including an
expert review of findings, there was sufficient evidence to
implicate the tag attachment site as a source of fungal infection
to the whale,” states a
report by an expert panel (PDF 209 kb). “This fungal infection
contributed to illness in the whale and played a contributory role
in its death.”
After Nigel was found dead near Nootka Island, NOAA suspended
the satellite-tracking program. As a result of these latest
findings, the agency announced today that it will continue to
prohibit satellite tagging, at least until new standards can be
developed through the International Whaling Commission.
After that, any further tagging would require a new review under
the Endangered Species Act. That’s because the Southern Residents —
the orcas that frequent Puget Sound — are listed as an endangered
The tagging program has provided much information about where
the whales go during winter months when they leave Puget Sound and
travel up and down the coast. That information is expected to help
NOAA Fisheries develop a new “critical habitat” designation for the
Southern Residents. Critical habitat in coastal areas might provide
the whales with protected areas where they could hunt for chinook
salmon, their primary prey.
For now, NOAA may need to use methods other than satellite
tagging to keep track of the whales during winter, said Richard
Merrick, chief scientist for NOAA Fisheries. Experts are reviewing
the existing data to see if they have enough information for
expanding critical habitat outside of Puget Sound.
A total of eight Southern Residents have been tagged using a
similar dart system since tagging began in 2012, according to a
report from Brad Hanson (PDF 972 kb) of NOAA’s Northwest
Fisheries Science Center. Nigel was the last, and all the other
whales are alive and have shed their darts, although one whale did
retain a dart for a while.
The fungus that contributed to Nigel’s death has been found in
the surface waters off Vancouver Island, experts say, and the
attached tag provides an entry point for infection. A couple of
factors may have made things worse for the orca. First, the tag was
dropped during handling and may have become contaminated with
seawater. Although it was sterilized with alcohol, protocols for
tag deployment call for the use of bleach as well.
It was a “human error,” said Merrick, adding that the NOAA
scientists involved are “dismayed” that any of their actions could
have contributed to the orca’s death.
The tag also went into a spot on the dorsal fin lower than
recommended. Although other whales have not had problems with this
location, the concern is the proximity to large blood vessels that
could allow the fungal organism to more easily enter the
final necropsy report (PDF 365 kb) provides evidence that Nigel
may have had some problems with his immune system, and this
particular fungus is known to attack people who are
immune-compromised. I have written about the added risks of disease
among killer whales because of their exposure to toxic chemicals.
You might want to check out my series in the Encyclopedia
of Puget Sound.
Because Nigel’s carcass was severely decomposed when it was
found, the actual cause of death may never be known. But
contributing factors are many.
Reached by phone today, Ken told me that he has given his best
information to government researchers through the years — not only
about the risks of tagging but about other issues as well.
“I get no communication back,” he said. “They just ignore
His greatest concerns today are focused on the lack of wild
salmon to feed the whales, he said. The high death rate and the low
birth rate in recent years largely results from a lack of food,
which compounds other problems that the orcas are facing. While
nine new orca calves since the end of 2014 is encouraging, he said,
the 82 Southern Residents are not in good shape as a
“They do have to eat,” Ken said. “This population requires a
certain quantity of fish, and they are not getting it. Recovery (of
the orcas) is not happening, and it won’t happen until the recovery
of natural fish populations happens.”
The removal of dams on the Snake River would help increase the
wild chinook population, Ken said, but better management of all
life stages of salmon is essential. That means better coordination
between the U.S. and Canada, he added.
The surf was running wild at this year’s Surf City Surf Dog
competition at Huntington Beach, Calif., where the boards were
flipping and the dogs were flying.
The dogs and their owners were more nervous than normal this
year during the three-day event that raises money for nonprofit
rescue groups. Crowds turned out in large numbers for the finals,
which took place a week ago yesterday.
“It’s a crackup watching the dogs,” spectator Tom Baker told
Laylan Connelly, a reporter for the Orange
County Register. “The people think the dogs are enjoying it,
but I’m not so sure the dogs are enjoying it today. The surf was
Lifeguards were on hand to help with any problems, and they
advised dog owners when it was safe to go out. The contest had 68
dog entries, and many of them were longtime competitors in the
sport. As I watched the first video on this page, I was hoping that
the owners knew their dogs and their abilities, along with their
own abilities. No injuries were reported, and the images came out
more spectacular than ever.
In some ways, the still images are more thrilling than the
videos. See this great collection of photos posted by the
London Daily Mail.
Here is a highlights video by Mike Lukas and Jerome Mel on the
Surf Dog YouTube channel.
The waves were calmer in July at the annual Unleashed by Petco
Surf Dog Competition at Imperial Beach, Calif. The second video on
this page is a personal video posted by a couple on Tower
Padilla Bay, an extensive inlet east of Anacortes in North Puget
Sound, could become known as an early stronghold of the invasive
European Green crab, a species dreaded for the economic damage it
has brought to other regions of the country.
After one young green crab was found in Padilla Bay on Sept. 19
Ways, Sept. 24), three more crabs were found during an
extensive trapping effort this past week. All four crabs were
captured at different locations in the bay. These four live crabs
followed the finding of a single adult green crab in the San Juan
Islands — the first-ever finding of green crabs anywhere in Puget
Ways, Sept. 15).
With these new findings in Padilla Bay, the goal of containing
the crabs to one area has become a greater challenge. Emily Grason,
who coordinates a volunteer crab-surveillance program for
Washington Sea Grant, discusses the difficulty of putting out
enough traps to cover the entire bay. Read her report on the
fist day of trapping:
“Similar to our trip to San Juan Island, we are conducting
extensive trapping in an effort to learn more about whether there
are more green crabs in Padilla Bay. One difference, however, is
scale. Padilla Bay is massive, and it’s hard to know exactly where
to start. On San Juan Island, the muddy habitats where we thought
crabs would do well are well-defined, and relatively limited.
Padilla Bay, on the other hand, is one giant muddy habitat — well,
not all of it, but certainly a huge portion. We could trap for
weeks and still not cover all of the suitable habitat!”
In all, 192 traps were set up at 31 sites, covering about 20
miles of shoreline. The crab team was fortunate to work with the
expert staff at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research
Reserve, a group of folks who know the area well and had worked
with shoreline owners to get approval for access.
Three of the four green crabs caught in Padilla Bay were young,
probably washed into the bay during last winter’s warm currents,
Emily said in her wrap-up
report of the effort.
“All of the detections of European green crabs occurred on the
east portion of the bay,” she wrote. “Though the sites varied
somewhat in the type of habitat, all of the crabs were found
relatively high on the shore, in high salt marsh pools, or within a
few meters of the shore.
“Padilla Bay has about 20 miles of shoreline, and, at last count
in 2004, there were 143 acres of salt marsh habitat in the bay,”
she continued.”These numbers suggest that there are a lot of places
European green crabs could live in Padilla Bay, and protecting the
bay from this global invader will undoubtedly require a cooperative
Yesterday, the response team held a conference call to discuss
what to do next. Team members agreed that no more intensive
trapping would take place this year, Sean McDonald of the
University of Washington told me in an email.
Winter is a tough time to catch crabs. Low tides shift from
daytime hours to nighttime hours, making trapping more difficult.
Meanwhile, crabs tend to lose their appetite during winter months,
so they are less likely to go into the traps to get food, experts
Researchers, shellfish growers and beach walkers are being asked
to stay alert for the green crabs, not only in Padilla Bay but also
in nearby Samish and Fidalgo bays.
The Legislature will need to provide funding to continue the
citizen science volunteer monitoring program, which provided an
early warning that green crabs had invaded Puget Sound. Whether the
crabs will survive and in what numbers is something that demands
more study and perhaps a major eradication effort.
Meanwhile, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would like
to expand its overall Aquatic Invasive Species Program with
additional efforts to prevent invaders from coming into Puget
Sound. For information, check out my story on invasive species in
of Puget Sound — specifically the section titled “Biofouling
still mostly unregulated.”