Hood Canal residents still troubled by oyster washup

Evidence continues to point toward the USS Port Royal as the cause of massive numbers of oysters washing up on beaches near Seabeck as well as along Dabob Bay on the opposite side of Hood Canal.

A Navy investigator visited affected residents on Misery Point yesterday, though it remains unclear when a report may be issued. According to folks along the beach, the investigator was able to smell the stench of rotting oysters still drifting about in that area.

I’m afraid there was some initial confusion about the timing, because some people discovered the washed-up oysters on Friday, Aug. 13, and I believe they assumed the event had occurred on Thursday, Aug. 12. Witnesses on both sides of Hood Canal have now confirmed that the Port Royal was speeding up and down Dabob Bay on Wednesday, Aug. 11.

One witness who documented the event is Gary Jackson, who owns property on Dabob Bay. In a letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire, he said his small unoccupied boat and two others were swamped by the wake. (Click here to download his letter (PDF 36 kb), and check out the video above.)

The letter includes this:

“Although the swamping of the boats was a concern, my greatest concern was the possible impact to the shoreline and shellfish. The rolling action of the waves was like a washing machine constantly churning the shoreline and tossing all marine life in the tidal zone. I feel that this turbulence that went on for hours stressed the oysters to the point that they are now struggling to survive. The oysters are in their spawning phase now and are in a more delicate period than normal. So it isn’t just the fact that they are being out of the water for long periods of time, they were too damaged to survive. That is only my opinion and the experts may or may not agree….

“As a Navy veteran from a family that has served this country at sea for four generations, I completely understand the Navy’s need for vigorous training and real world practices. I am alive today as the result of the excellent training that was provided to me and my ship mates when I was trapped in a ship board inferno that resulted when the ship that I was on collided with another Navy vessel. It was the training and readiness that saved my life as well as the lives of my shipmates. So I do understand the Navy’s need and right to use Dabob Bay to ensure that our ships and crews are prepared.

“I am asking that the State perform a thorough analysis of the ecological and economic impact of this event. I would also hope that the Navy will review the activities that occurred that day and possible ways to prevent or reduce this type of problem.”

Gary concludes by expressing concerns about the fragile nature of Hood Canal and the potential effects of the ship’s action on the sealife.

In a later attachment, he reports that volunteers were able to save some oysters on Dabab Bay, but many more were lost:

“There are miles and miles of shoreline along Dabob Bay that may have been affected. The marine life that was churned up and destroyed that day was not only oysters but other species vital to the ecosystem such as juvenile crab and the eel grass beds. The State should have put more resources on site throughout the Dabob Bay area immediately after being notified about the problem so that a timely analysis could have been done by professional.”

In addition to the video on this page, Gary Jackson offers these videos he posted on YouTube.

Hope It Doesn’t Happen Again
Between the Waves
Saturday, Aug. 21

As for news reports, my previous post on Water Ways contains links to the first stories. Kitsap Sun reporter Derek Sheppard wrote a story and posted a video about the cleanup at Scenic Beach State Park last Friday. The cleanup at the park was completed on Monday. See Kitsap Sun story.

2 thoughts on “Hood Canal residents still troubled by oyster washup

  1. I am convinced by the video that the USS Port Royal was the cause, The Video was date stamped the 11th and the ship could be seen in the background. Did you see how the waves moved that little row boat? Those were some powerful waves. Of course the Navy will deny it, they always do, until evidence like this comes out, it would be hard to deny it any longer. Admit to it, US Navy!

  2. Suquamish wrote, “Of course the Navy will deny it, they always do”. Really? Have any previous examples to offer up? Probably not.

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