Time-lapse photography can add a new dimension to the way we see
things. When done well, these speeded-up videos not only help us
see things in a new way but also call us to remember feelings about
special places and natural wonders.
On their first visit to Olympic National Park, brothers Will and
Jim Pattiz captured images from various park locations for what
would become a captivating video for the series “More Than Just Parks.”
They traveled to some prime locations that many of us have visited,
but their careful use of time-lapse equipment create a new sense of
inspiration for familiar places.
So find a quiet moment, sit back and enjoy their video
full-screen on your computer if not your TV.
If you’d like to learn more about the video project and what the
brothers learned about Olympic National Park, read the interview on
Exotic Hikes website, or check out the background on “More Than Just
One of my all-time favorite time-lapse videos was shot in
Yellowstone National Park, where photographer Christopher Cauble
captured the rhythms of nature in a place where geysers, streams,
clouds and even the animals move with a natural fluidity. I
especially like the sections where the video slows down to remind
us about the normal pace of events — something not seen in most
The last video on this page shows Mount Rainier in a time-lapse
video by West Coast
Time Lapse, a company of Nate Wetterauer and Chase Jensen. Like
the Olympic National Park video, this one about Mount Rainier was
posted within the past year.
Brown bears are still actively fishing at Brooks Falls in
Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve. I wish I had more time
to sit and watch them, as there is almost always something going on
at this time of year — although the salmon run is expected to
decline soon. See live video from three cameras on
The looping video on this page was captured from one of the live
cameras by national park staff, who posted the action with this
note: “Wow, fishing gets intense! Bear brawl!”
For this and other live wildlife cams from across the country,
check out my “Amusing Monday” blog post in
Water Ways from June 29.
It’s an interesting time for researchers to begin writing a blog
about ocean conditions off Oregon and Washington, an area
undergoing some fascinating changes in oceanography and
Scientists from NOAA Fisheries and Oregon State University
launched their new website,
“Newporter Blog,” last week. It’s named after the Newport Line,
an area of study off the Oregon Coast where researchers have
monitored changes for the past 20 years.
“This year, the ocean has been very different,” wrote blogger
Jennifer Fisher in the blog’s first post on June 23. “Anomalously
warm surface water dubbed the ‘warm blog’ moved onto the
continental shelf off Newport in September 2014. A very large
harmful algal bloom (HAB) spanning from British Columbia to
California is occurring off the coast right now. El Niño conditions
are occurring at the equator, and NOAA is forecasting a 90-percent
chance that an El Niño will persist through the Fall.”
The next blog post last Thursday was by researcher Cheryl Morgan
from the Canadian fishing vessel FV Frosti “somewhere off the coast
of the Pacific Northwest,” where researchers are looking to see how
juvenile salmon are doing. They were taking note of anything picked
up in their nets in the upper 60 feet of water.
“Watching the trawl come in is like the anticipation of opening
a Christmas gift,” Cheryl wrote. “What could be in there? How many?
How big? Have we ever caught any of them in the net?
“We always hope for some juvenile salmon, since that is the main
point of the survey, but we also like to see something different,
strange, or unusual to spice things up,” she continued.
The next post on Monday revealed that fish being caught were of
a kind seen in Northwest waters only when the temperatures rise.
They included pompano and jack mackerel. The researchers were
especially surprised to find bottom-dwelling flatfish in their net
some several hundred feet off the bottom.
“What is a fish that lives on the bottom, one side down, doing
in the water column?” she asked. “Perhaps they are lost, could not
find the bottom or they are chasing some dinner. Most strange,
however, was the catch of nearly 3,330 Pacific sanddabs … in ONE
trawl. That was a first for even the fishing crew.”
The team also brought up a juvenile red octopus, a species
normally found among rocks on the bottom — “another creature that
is a long way from home.”
The research fishing will continue from Newport to the upper
corner of Washington state. The scientists are taking note of any
birds preying on fish before they begin their daily trawl. Plankton
also are scooped up to see what the fish might be eating and to
provide new data about the harmful algal bloom.
The work is being funded by NOAA and Bonneville Power
The researchers/bloggers said they would share their findings as
they go along. I, for one, look forward to learning about ocean
conditions and how the warm water is affecting all sorts of sealife
along the West Coast.
The beautiful and powerful brown bears have arrived at Brooks
Falls in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, and everyone
in the world can enjoy the convenience of watching these giant
bears and other amazing wildlife live from the comfort and safety
of their home.
Lots of people have been going out to falls this year to watch
the bears from nearby viewing platforms, but I get the feeling that
far more people have been watching them from home via the
live webcams. I say that because of the number of
comments generated on the website. More than a few commenters
seem to know the area well and even call the bears by their
nicknames. (Park biologists use a numbering system, identifying
each bear by coat and claw colors, scars, body size and shape, ear
size and shape, sex, facial features and disposition.)
Brooks Falls is one of the first streams in the region where the
bears have easy access to bright salmon soon after they leave the
saltwater and before spawning. The falls provide a partial barrier
to their travels, making fishing easier for the bears. By sometime
in August, the fish runs will dwindle and the bears will be
Operators of the multiple live webcams do a good job of zooming
in when something interesting happens. Occasionally, so much is
going on that they don’t know what to show. Other times, we wait
and watch the beautiful scenery, which is especially dramatic at
sunrise and sunset.
When the bears are actively fishing for salmon, I find it hard
to break away and get back to daily life. One video trick I’ve
learned: If you don’t see anything interesting in the live view,
you can use your cursor to scan across the timeline to see what has
happened for the past few hours and watch that instead.
Park officials have identified the various fishing methods used
by the bears in an interesting
Q&A section on the national park’s website.
Birds and marine mammal cams
Besides watching bears, it’s a good time of year to watch other
wildlife as well via live webcam. Birds are typically active on
their nests, raising their young.
Chesapeake Conservancy is featuring the osprey couple,
Tom and Audrey, who perennially nest on Kent Island in
Maryland. Audrey has taken up with a new “Tom” this year and
produced three babies. They also received two foster chicks from
nearby Poplar Island, according to information on the website.
Another good osprey cam was installed this year in Belwood Lake
Conservation Area near the Great Lakes in Ontario, Canada. Three
eggs reportedly hatched, but I see only two chicks in the nest.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also has an osprey
cam that updates still photos every 12 seconds.
cam at Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge in Maine shows a
fuzzy chick tucked into a burrow where its mother comes and goes to
feed her baby. Other views shows puffins on a ledge where they
often hang out. Wildlife biologists are trying to establish a new
colony at this location after hunters wiped out the puffins in the
If you would like to see a colony
of walruses, (also in video player below) check out the live
camera installed on Round Island, Alaska. Sometimes only a few of
the large mammals can be seen. Other times, like this morning,
large numbers were pushing and shoving each other for space. The
comments are often entertaining.
These are the days of near-perfect growing conditions for plants
in Western Washington. If you are battling noxious weeds, it might
seem as if the weather is working against you, favoring these
destructive invaders along with other plants.
But one team of weed warriors, hoping to eradicate an invasive
plant called spartina, sees this growing season another way.
Instead of hindering the eradication effort, this rapid growth of
spartina — also known as cordgrass — makes it easier to locate and
eliminate the last of the invaders.
“The bad thing is you get a lot more plants than you expect,”
said Chad Phillips, spartina coordinator for the Washington State
Department of Agriculture. “The good thing is that a lot of the
plants you might not have seen (in a normal year) have germinated,
so you can get rid of them.”
Over the past 12 years, the total estimated acreage occupied by
spartina in Washington state has been reduced from 9,000 acres to
just eight acres. It has been a coordinated effort involving local,
state and federal agencies; tribal governments; universities;
private landowners; and many volunteers.
The search-and-destroy mission will continue, because the plants
have a way of coming back, sometimes showing up in new
Left unchecked, spartina spreads rapidly, crowding out native
vegetation while converting ecologically important mudflats into
meadows choked with a hardy marsh grass. Besides wrecking shellfish
beds, spartina wipes out shoreline habitat for shorebirds and
waterfowl while increasing the risk of flooding, experts say.
Those involved in the spartina effort this year are expected to
look for spartina plants — and eliminate any they find — over more
than 80,000 acres of saltwater estuaries and 1,000 miles of
shoreline in 12 counties.
After working for years in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor,
spartina crews turned their focus last year to Puget Sound, where
about 90 percent of the remaining spartina-infested acreage can be
found. The map on this page uses black triangles to depict areas
where spartina has been eradicated.
When crews go into an area, they remove all the plants they can
find. Individual plants or clusters of plants can be dug by hand,
whereas larger infestations may be treated with herbicide.
Crews typically return to a given site twice in a year. A site
is considered eradicated if no plants are seen for at least three
years with a minimum of six surveys. After that, they will
typically return once a year to make sure the plants don’t come
The crews are scheduled to visit every shoreline at least once
every five years to look for any new infestations of spartina.
The workers obtain permission from property owners before
removing or killing plants. But often the neighbors are unaware of
what they are doing. Chad said it is not unusual for neighbors to
approach crew members to ask why they are there. Sometimes, the
crews are suspected of being shellfish poachers.
“If you see us working, feel free to come over and say ‘hi,’”
Chad said. “We’ll be on a beach in knee boots with a shovel.”
In Kitsap County, the largest infestation has been at
Doe-Kag-Wats, an estuary on the Port Madison Indian Reservation
north of Indianola in North Kitsap. After years of removing
truckloads of vegetation, the total infestation there was down to
61 square feet last year.
Another infested area has been Foulweather Bluff near Hansville,
where 24 square feet of spartina were removed.
Areas considered active because of recent infestations but where
no plants were found last year are Manzanita Bay on Bainbridge
Island and Coon Bay near Manchester.
Mason and Thurston are the only counties that have never had an
infestation, but beaches in those counties remain part of the
ongoing five-year survey cycle.
In Puget Sound, most of the spartina found has been identified
as the species Spartina anglica, or common cordgrass. This
species was introduced to Snohomish County in 1961. The largest
infestation in the state today is an area in South Skagit Bay and
Port Susan near Stanwood.
Bays on the Pacific Ocean contain primarily Spartina
alterniflora, known as smooth cordgrass or saltmarsh
cordgrass. It was introduced to Willapa Bay in the late 1800s,
eventually spreading to 8,500 acres. Since 2003, about 99.9 percent
of that spartina acreage has been killed or removed, making it one
of the largest eradications of an invasive species anywhere in the
Spartina patens, known as saltmeadow cordgrass or salt
marsh hay, is a native of the Atlantic Coast. It was discovered in
the 1990s at Dosewallips State Park on Hood Canal. Dosewallips held
the only known infestation of S. patens in Washington
state until 2013, when a survey crew found the plant on Navy
property on the Toandos Peninsula across from the Bangor submarine
base. After receiving permission, the site was treated in 2014.
Ongoing efforts will be necessary, as the invasive plant blends in
well with native marsh plants.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a a new deep-sea observatory
being built off the West Coast. I noted that Washington and Oregon
researchers are thrilled to monitor the eruption of an underwater
volcano called Axial Seamount.
Soon, new equipment and a fiber optics cable will allow these
researchers to widely share discoveries involving the unique
geology and unusual plants and animals living at the bottom of the
ocean. People will be able to watch in real time via the Internet.
Water Ways, May 6.
Now, a new lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity
has me thinking about the commercial value of the deep ocean. Can
society safely mine the seafloor for valuable minerals used in a
wide variety of consumer products? Can huge mining equipment
operate in water two or three miles deep without destroying the
unique ecosystem at the bottom of the ocean?
For decades, researchers have been aware of high concentrations
of minerals lying on and beneath the sea floor. But nobody was
worried about the environmental damage of mining, because the costs
of commercial recovery were too great.
The high profitability of mining sector companies;
A decline in the tonnage and grade of land-based nickel, copper
and cobalt sulphide deposits; and
Technological advances in deep seabed mining and
The new technology involves giant robotic machines that either
excavate the seafloor or scoop up clumps of polymetallic nodules.
Over the past few years, 26 permits have been issued to mining
corporations, mostly for operations in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone
of the Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and Mexico.
“Deep-sea mining is an emerging threat to our oceans that has
the potential to irreparably harm underwater ecosystems before we
even have a chance to fully study its impacts,” declares the
Center for Biological Diversity, adding:
“Life on the deep ocean floor is still a mysterious realm that
scientists have only just begun to fully understand and inventory…
What mountaintop-removal coal mining has done in Appalachia,
deep-sea mining has the potential to do in the Pacific Ocean,
affecting the ecosystem and food web in ways that scientists say
they don’t yet fully understand.”
Last week, the environmental group filed a
lawsuit (PDF 162 kb) against the U.S. government for issuing
exploratory permits without the requisite environmental studies.
Said Emily Jeffers, the attorney who filed the case:
“Deep-sea mining should be stopped, and this lawsuit aims to
compel the government to look at the environmental risks before it
leaps into this new frontier. We need to protect the ocean wildlife
and habitat, and the United States should provide leadership for
other nations to follow before more projects get underway.”
The lawsuit, filed in Washington, D.C., challenges two
exploratory permits issued to OMCO Seabed Exploration, LLC, a
subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, the defense contractor. The original
permits for work in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone expired in 2004.
Jeffers says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
should have considered the environmental effects of the mining plan
before renewing the permits in 2012.
“If we aren’t careful, this new gold rush could do irreparable
harm to the basic building blocks of life. The federal government
has a moral duty, as well as a legal one, to understand the full
environmental impacts before the mining industry scrapes away our
Besides tearing up the sea floor, mining operations can stir up
sediment, which can smother organisms living on the bottom,
according to the lawsuit. Cloudy water can reduce productivity, and
clouds of sediment may contain toxic metals that reduce
reproductive success of sea life. Light and noise from ships and
vessels can disrupt seabird behavior and affect whales and other
marine mammals, the suit claims.
Other permits have been issued to various countries in Europe
and Asia by the International
Seabed Authority, which hopes to approve environmental
standards by the end of next year. The U.S. is not subject to those
rules and cannot demand compliance from other countries, because
the U.S. has not ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Law
of the Sea, a treaty that establishes the International Seabed
Cameron Teller of Seattle, a former Kitsap County resident, is
the Grand Prize winner in the
“Share the Experience” photo contest — which means his touching
photo of a polar bear and her cub will receive prominent display on
next year’s annual pass for entrance into national parks and other
Cameron’s photo was among 22,000 images submitted last year in
the annual contest, which provides a $10,000 prize to the
Cameron snapped the shot from a boat a good distance away, just
as the cub reached its mother. The amateur photographer had gone
out on the boat as part of a six-person tour to Alaska’s remote
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where the group was focused on
seeing polar bears and Northern Lights.
“I love going on trips to faraway places and taking
photographs,” Cameron told me.
The group had flown from Fairbanks to Deadhorse, Alaska, then
onto Kaktovik, the only village inside the wildlife refuge. A guide
took them out on a fishing boat, where they spent the day
photographing wildlife and scenery.
“The captain was a local resident,” Cameron said. “We went out
early in the morning. It was awfully foggy that morning, then it
started clearing up. The sun came out and it was a great day for
The trip occurred at the beginning of winter last year, just as
the sea ice was freezing up. In fact, he said, the ice had grown so
thick around the dock where the group departed that the captain had
to choose a different landing site to get the group back to
Cameron said there is nothing like seeing mothers and their
babies, and it was a special moment when the polar bear cub walked
over and reached up to its mother.
“I still can’t quite believe I won,” Cameron told me. “There
were some amazing photos that were entered. I think one of the
reasons this appealed to the judges is the whole topic of global
warming and protection of the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge.”
Of course, polar bears have become a symbol of the melting ice
caps in the polar regions, where the bears are threatened with
extinction because of declining habitat.
Cameron moved to Bremerton from Kansas City about 13 years ago
to work for Parametrix, an engineering firm with an office on
Kitsap Way. He lived in Manette a short time before moving to
Bainbridge Island, where he resided for 11 years. For the past two
years, he has lived in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood.
Cameron said the $10,000 prize will help fund his ongoing
adventures. He visited Kenya about two years ago and plans to
travel to Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido next January.
It has been a good year for Cameron, who also won “Outdoor
“American Landscape Contest” with a photo of El Capitan, a
vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park.
The polar bear photo will be featured on next year’s America the
Beautiful pass, an annual pass that gets visitors into more than
2,000 public recreation sites on federal land. About 300,000 people
purchase the pass each year.
The annual “Share
the Experience” contest is sponsored by the National Park
Foundation, Active Network, and Celestron in partnership with the
National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of
Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S.
Photographs are now being accepted for next year’s contest,
which requires pictures to be taken during 2015 and submitted by
the end of the year. Winners will be announced by May 1, 2016.
Weekly winners are recognized.
Other winners announced last week in the “Share the Experience”
contest include Eric DaBreo of Chico, Calif., second place for his
photo of the Golden Gate Bridge taken at sunset from Marshall
Beach, and Jordan Moore of San Marcos, Texas, for his photo of a
bison at the edge of Yellowstone Lake.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said she hopes the
contest helps inspire people to enjoy the country’s “unrivaled
public lands and waters” and share the feeling with others.
“Taking pictures is one of the many ways to enjoy the splendor
of our nation’s stunning landscapes and share those treasured
moments with friends and family, as well as inspire others who may
have never visited to get out and explore their public lands,” she
said in a
I recently discovered a series of 58 fascinating videos that
capture the highlights of the diverse national parks in the United
The five-minute videos, by photographer Dennis Burkhardt
of Oregon, take us on trips into some of the most amazing
wilderness areas in the world. The scenic photography and
accompanying narration make me yearn to visit every park to see
them for myself.
I’ve posted on this page three of the videos, including the one
that describes our familiar Olympic National Park. The complete set
of can be viewed on the YouTube channel
“America’s 58 National Parks.” Be sure to go full-screen.
I’m sure every park has a story to tell, and these videos
briefly tantalize us with the possibilities of exploration. I
recall stumbling upon a rich history and some amazing tales while
researching a Kitsap Sun story for the 75th anniversary of Olympic
National Park. It is called
“At 75, Olympic National Park has grown amid push-pull of
In 1872, our first national park was born when President Ulysses
S. Grant signed a law creating Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone was followed by Mackinac in 1875, then Sequoia and
Yosemite in 1890. Mackinac was converted to a state park in 1895 —
seven national parks to go out of existence in the national
National parks are selected for their natural beauty, unique
geological formations, rare ecosystems and recreational
opportunities. In contrast, national monuments, also administered
by the National Park Service, are selected mainly for their
California has nine parks, the most of any state, followed by
Alaska with eight, Utah with five and Colorado with four.
Washington has three — with
North Cascades National Park created in 1968.
New parks are still being created, with Pinnacles National
Monument in Central California becoming a national park in 2013.
(Pinnacles is the 59th national park and is not included in the
list of videos.) The largest national park,
Wrangell-St. Elias in Alaska, is larger then nine entire
states. The smallest is
Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas.
A handy list of all the parks with links to more information can
be found on
I’m amused by this looping video, which shows a bear waiting for
a fish to appear. In the background, a wolf reaches down
nonchalantly, bites into a large salmon and carries it away.
Not long ago, it was widely believed that bears love salmon but
that wolves prefer deer, elk, moose and related animals whenever
they can find them. Now we know, from careful observations in
Alaska, that wolves will go after salmon when they get the
Researcher Dave Person of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game
says wolves will seek out tidally affected streams where they can
find salmon passing through shallow water and trapped in pools.
“They’re not as skillful as bears at fishing,” Person told Riley
Woodford, reporting for
Alaska Fish and Wildlife News. “Each year, they spend over a
month in estuary areas, with the pups. It’s right in middle of pink
and chum runs, and we watch them eat salmon all the time. There are
lots of places they could go; I think they go there for the
Based on the video, I would have to say that wolves are pretty
good at catching fish upstream as well.
Salmon may have gone unnoticed as a staple in the wolves’ diet,
because the entire salmon, bones and all, are digested by wolves,
leaving no signs of fish in their scat — unlike the bones and fur
discovered after they eat a deer or other mammal.
Another Alaskan biologist, Shelly Szepanski, has been studying
the stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in wolf bones to see
whether the bones are made of elements that come from the land or
the sea. She found that salmon appeared to make up as much as 20
percent of the diet of wolves living in coastal areas of Southeast
Alaska, compared to 10 percent of those living farther inland.
As I continued to look at the video of the bear and wolf fishing
for salmon, I wondered if they ever interacted and how things might
turn out in a head-to-head fight. I was able to find a video that
demonstrates that a bear might get the best of a wolf in a
one-on-one battle, but we can never forget that wolves often travel
in packs. If you watch to the end, you will see who takes charge of
the meal in question.
Speaking of fights, I am still amazed at the video below, which
shows a leopard swimming across a stretch of water, grabbing onto a
crocodile and dragging it back into the water. I never would have
guessed that a croc could be defeated in or around water like that
— but it looks like he never saw the cat coming until it was too
For the past 22 years, students from across the country have
been painting and drawing some amazing pictures of ducks, swans,
geese and related water birds.
Each year, the best pictures are printed up as Federal Junior
Duck Stamps, which can be purchased from participating post offices
and sporting good stores. With the deadline for the 2015 art
contest approaching, I thought it would be a good time to share
some of these great artworks.
The Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program is
sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The $5 junior duck
stamps are modeled on the $15 Federal Duck Stamps, purchased by
hunters and used by others as a pass for national wildlife
Proceeds from the junior duck stamps are used for conservation
education, including a national curriculum for students from
kindergarten through 12th grade. The national program involves
elements of science, art, math and technology.
The deadline for the art competition is March 15. At the state
level, students are judged in four groups by grade: K-3, 4-6, 7-9
and 10-12. Numerous awards are given in each group, and one “best
of show” from each state are entered into the national competition
in April. Participants are encouraged to include a conservation
message with their entries.