UW gets NOAA grant to begin testing new forecast for toxic shellfish

Will be reporting on the waters off the Olympic Peninsula.

News and Information

A new NOAA-sponsored University of Washington project brings together academic, federal, state and tribal scientists to develop forecasts for toxic harmful algal blooms in the Pacific Northwest, like the massive bloom that closed Pacific Northwest beaches to shellfish harvesting in summer 2015.


S. Giddings UCSD


A UW-developed model simulates how toxic organisms at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca (red dots) can travel toward the Washington coast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in August has awarded a five-year, $1.3 million grant to start working on the forecasts. The new early warning system will transition to operation starting in 2017.

Once up and running, the forecasts will help coastal communities from Neah Bay, Washington, to Newport, Oregon, target their shellfish monitoring and fine-tune decisions about closing beaches to shellfish harvesting to have more advance warning and potentially avoid some beach closures.

“This will be a sort of weather forecast for Pacific Northwest harmful algal blooms,” said Parker MacCready, a UW professor of oceanography and member of the UW Coastal Modeling Group.

Forecasts will be produced by the UW’s LiveOcean model, which creates three-day forecasts for Washington and Oregon coastal waters. The model provides results for open-ocean beaches as well as complex protected waterways — including Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor — that are home to many of the region’s shellfish beds.

Up-to-date monitoring of offshore conditions will be provided by Vera Trainer, a biologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and members of the Makah Tribe. Starting this spring, they will collect samples by ship every two weeks in an eddy near the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which has been identified as a source of toxin-producing algae that can reach local beaches. The team will then analyze water samples within a day at the Makah Tribal lab in Neah Bay.

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Jimmy Come Lately Salmon Report

Also in from Al (and Cheri) Latham. For those of you not aware of Jimmycomelately creek, it is in Blyn near the Tribal Center for the Jamestown S’Klallam. The Tribe has done a great job of restoring the run at the creek, and maintains a fish trap to count the returning salmon each fall.

Dear Jimmycomelately Creek friends:

It does not look like we will be setting any records at for summer chum returns at Jimmycomelately Creek this year but this is a strong run.  The daily counts have been fluctuating  between 40 and 100 per day with no real change in stream flow – which remains very low.  The count now stands at 2,342 with three or so weeks to go.  Next week I will be able to tell you just how far upstream some of them went. We’ve had quite a few visitors this season and there is still time for more!


Chum Salmon Runs normal on Snow & Salmon Creeks

Just in from Al Latham. While not as big as some years, it seems statistically pretty normal

Salmon Creek chums are up to 1,667 and 262 Snow Creek chum have been passed upstream of the WDFW station.  It’s important to note that the Snow Creek graph doesn’t include all of the fish that spawn in the ¾ mile downstream between the trap and the bay.


Snow Creek chum are negotiating the new channel in the estuary just fine and there are some redds in that lowest stretch.


The upper reaches of  Salmon Creek chum territory are quieter than last year but the fish are still coming in at 60 -130 per day.

Here is a male that came through on Tuesday – my friend Renee Karlovich took the photo.


Divers clear lost crab pots from Puget Sound -KING

The good work being done by the NW Straits Foundation. These are the same folks that fund our Marine Resources Committees in the Northern Sound. They finished the work on derelict nets last summer, and now are onto clearing out the derelict crab pots under the Sound. This is what the advancements in high tech like side scan sonar, have allowed us to accomplish. What it points to are more innovative ways to solve our environmental problems. Ways that we haven’t even dreamed of yet. Support the work of the NW Straits Foundation and donate to them if you can. http://www.nwstraitsfoundation.org

Abandoned or lost crab pots are an annual environmental challenge, one that the Northwest [Straits] Foundation faced yet again Tuesday. Aboard a boat near Everett on a windy and choppy morning, computers guided divers to spots with derelict crab pots on the floor of Puget Sound. Northwest [Straits] Foundation estimates that about 12,000 crab pots are lost each year. Sometimes that number climbs to 14,000. The pots keep fishing after they’ve cut loose from holds. Crab continue to pile in but then run out of food and eventually die. Around 180,000 harvestable crabs are lost to derelict pots each year. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)


Port Townsend drinking water free of toxins despite algae growth, officials say – PDN

Another possible effect of global warming? The end of our water source for Port Townsend. This is a canary in the coal mine kind of event. It isn’t necessarily about to end, but if this becomes a normal event, which is likely as the planet warms, then we need to start working on finding an alternative source of water, or a way to make the water purified.

Although recent tests on Port Townsend’s reservoirs have discovered they contain blue-green algae, which can create toxins, the water is safe for drinking, city officials said. City Manager David Timmons said Wednesday that results of tests for toxins, which arrived Sept. 20, showed levels lower than the minimum detection level. Cydney McFarland reports. (Peninsula Daily News)


Bad news for crabs and birds: Puget Sound hotter than ever – KUOW

The notion of the Hood Canal changing as much as 7 Degrees Celsius in one year is just mind boggling. The story of the frog in the pan of boiling water comes to mind.So when do we reach the tipping point and find the Sound is dead? And what will help you come out to help? A good place to start is at our elections in a few weeks. Voting for the people listed on the front page of this blog, under the tab 2016 Elections, will help ensure that we have leadership that believes in global warming and is willing to work to fix this problem at all levels of city, county, state and national levels. We are running out of time.

There has been a significant change in the waters in Puget Sound, according to a new NOAA Fisheries report. In 2015, the temperatures rose more than any other year in recorded history. Stephanie Moore: “New maximum records were set just about everywhere in Puget Sound in terms of water temperatures.” Biological oceanographer Stephanie Moore headed up the 2015 report by NOAA Fisheries. She says across Puget Sound, shallow and deep water temperatures rose at a record pace above the 10 year mean. Most locations rose by 2 degrees Celsius. In southern Hood Canal it was even higher, 7 degrees. Paige Browning reports. (KUOW)


Dr. Pete Schroeder wins Eleanor Stopps Award

Dr. Pete Schroeder was awarded the Eleanor Stopps Award for Environmental Leadership this morning at the annual breakfast held by the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.


Dr. Schroeder is a Marine Mammal Veterinarian with the National Marine Mammal Foundation. Throughout his 50 year career studying marine mammals, Dr. Schroeder has improved the lives of these animal through direct veterinarian care, advocacy and education.

He has served as vice president and board member of the North Olympic Land Trust, Friends of the Fields and the North Olympic Salmon Coalition. Additionally, he is a member of the Clallam Conservation Commission, the Dungeness River Management Team, the Steering Committee to the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program and as a representative of the Lead Entity Advisory Group to the governor’s Monitoring Forum for salmon recovery and Habitat restoration.

In 2004, Dr. Schroeder was appointed to the Fish and Wildlife Commission by Governor Gary Locke. Dr. Schroeder is currently serving his second term as a member of the Farmland Protection Advisory Committee for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation’s Farmland Preservation Program. Dr. Schroeder led the response to the 2002 stranding of the orca “Hope”. He advised in the collection of the gray whale by the Marine Science Center in May 2016.

In 2013, I interviewed Dr. Schroeder for the video I produced for the Dungeness River Management Team and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, on restoration of the Dungeness River, called “Working for the River.” You can watch the film and listen to the work that Dr. Schroeder did on behalf of donating his own land into the land trust along the river, to protect habitat.


The 2016 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award recognizes significant contributions in the protection and stewardship of our North Olympic Peninsula natural environment. The award pays tribute to Eleanor Stopps whose vision, advocacy and determination exemplify the power and importance of citizen leadership. From the 1960s through the 1990s Eleanor Stopps was an active member of the NW conservation community. Eleanor founded the Admiralty Audubon Chapter and took over the work of Zella Schultz to protect the nesting habitat for 72,000 pairs of seabirds nesting on Protection Island. She was also a tireless educator working with groups of students and Girl Scouts to raise environmental awareness. Eleanor Stopps recognized the need to protect the uniquely important marine environment of the Salish Sea. With no special political base or powerful financial backers she formed a coalition of grassroots supporters who worked to get legislation and public support for protection of Protection Island and the surrounding marine waters. She was a primary driver behind the establishment of the Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge, one of the few established by an Act of Congress at that time. Today, it is a critical habitat link in the preservation of the whole Salish Sea region, providing breeding habitat for Pigeon Guillemots and Rhinoceros Auklets, Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons, Harbor Seals and Elephant Seals, and a myriad of other species.

The Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award is given annually to a citizen of the North Olympic Peninsula (Jefferson and Clallam counties) who has:

 Led a successful resource conservation effort that benefits the north Olympic Peninsula and its residents directly;

 Acted as a community catalyst for programs, initiatives or ventures that demonstrate a commitment to the future of the earth and its biodiversity;

 Become a model for future leaders in business and education; or has been an exemplary citizen or policy maker who has implemented decisions that, though they may entail risks, have helped our communities take the next step towards environmental sustainability.

Other nominees this year included Bob Campbell, Tim McNulty, Dr. Eloise Kailan, Ron Sikes and Dr. Schroeder. It was a very difficult decision for the nominating committee, as each of these individuals have been very successful in their careers here on the Peninsula. Nominations are allowed in subsequent years for any supporters of these nominees that wish to re-nominate.

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