Finding the Mother Tree: ecologist Suzanne Simard offers solutions to B.C.’s forest woes – The Narwhale

An interesting interview with one of the scientists who early on figured out the differences between a “forest” and a “tree farm”.


From eating dirt as a child to discovering the mycorrhizal network below the forest floor, Simard has spent her entire career trying to find answers about how forests work; now, armed with those answers, she’s calling for change. Matt Simmons report. (The Narwhal)

Finding the Mother Tree: ecologist Suzanne Simard offers solutions to B.C.’s forest woes

How healthy is the Salish Sea? Canada-U.S. study tracks ecosystem decline – Coast Reporter

We hear from our Puget Sound Partnership that things are doing “better” from their indicators. However, this new study sheds another perspective on the issue. I’m wondering after the recent heat wave, whether shellfish are going to remain a “positive” indicator.


A joint Canada-U.S. report on the health of the Salish Sea has found either an overwhelming decline or stable trend in nine out of 10 environmental indicators tracked by researchers. The only positive? Shellfish. Stefan Labbe reports. (Coast Reporter)

How healthy is the Salish Sea? Canada-U.S. study tracks ecosystem decline

and read the whole EPA report here:
Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report | US EPA

Can biologists estimate the massive loss of shellfish caused by low tides, high temps? PSI

We are just beginning to understand the incredible loss of shellfish from the latest heat wave.


The putrid smell of rotting shellfish on some beaches in Puget Sound and elsewhere along the West Coast were a clear sign that large numbers of clams, mussels, oysters and other intertidal creatures were killed from exposure to extreme low tides, record-breaking temperatures and a blazing hot sun. The total losses of shellfish that perished late last month may be difficult to estimate, but experts are beginning to piece together evidence from shoreline residents, state and tribal biologists, and commercial shellfish growers. Their goal is to describe what took place during the record-breaking temperatures of June 25-29 during some of the lowest tides of the past century. Christopher Dunagan reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

Can biologists estimate the massive loss of shellfish caused by low tides, high temps?

Researchers identify shellfish-killing phytoplankton behind massive summer die-offs in Puget Sound -KNKX

Why continuing scientific research on the Salish Sea is so important to continue funding. 

In July of 2018 and 2019, large numbers of oysters, cockles and clams died on beaches all around Puget Sound. No one knew why. It was a particularly bad couple of years, but summer mortality events with mass die-offs of shellfish happen regularly. They’ve been recorded by researchers in western Washington as far back as the 1930s. The source has remained a mystery. Now, scientists have pinpointed the cause: two species of toxic algae that don’t threaten people much — but can wreak havoc on the ecosystem. Beginning to figure out what’s killing so many shellfish is a breakthrough for growers and communities who live near the beaches. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

https://www.knkx.org/post/researchers-identify-shellfish-killing-phytoplankton-behind-massive-summer-die-offs-puget-sound

Response from Alexandra Morton on yesterday’s article

Yesterday, I published an article here about new research findings of the spread of Picene Orthoreovirus from farmed salmon to wild stocks. In it, I described some of the work that Alexandra Morton had done to bring this to the attention of the world. After reading the article, a local radio host has reached out to her to have her on and discuss her work. During the email exchange, Alexandra talked about the history of the attacks by the salmon farming industry on her, which I had mentioned happening in our local Marine Resources Committee. Here is an excerpt of her response. Unfortunately my blog entry does not allow me to publish PDFs, so I am posting a link to the folder on my web site to download and view the documents if you are interested. 

From Alexandra: “Yes, they like to say I am not a scientist, and yet I was the first to publish that the PRV in British Columbia was a match for PRV in Lofoten Norway (attached), and now 8 years later it would appear I was right.  I have also published on the spread of the virus into wild salmon…  The trouble with these claims is that I am published in some of the top scientific journals in the world, and despite their efforts to get my papers retracted, they have failed.

They have been completely silent about my new book wherein I detail internal DFO/industry communications.”

 

The link to the files is here. I’ll leave it up for 14 days, and then if you want it contact me directly. The radio interview will come out later this month or next. I’ll post when it does. 

https://mountainstoneconsulting-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/p/alb/Eq-IeJs3chpCj8Yfjm_uR1wB84-GXNSLL7D4LgWy7pF54A?e=2eQO35

Scientists seek to understand increase in grey whale deaths on West Coast – CBC

The latest whale die-off on our coast continues with no end in sight. Malnourishment seems to be the root cause, but it is still unclear. 

The recent sighting of an emaciated grey whale off Vancouver Island and the discovery of a dead whale washed up on a B.C. beach highlights concerns that the marine mammals are dying in increasing numbers…Officials have not released a cause of death, but they say dead grey whales on the West Coast of Canada have been increasing in number since 2018. (CBC)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/increase-grey-whale-deaths-west-coast-1.6019051

The Good News: Puget Sound Herring

Good primer and update on herring stocks in the Salish Sea. By my friends at the Rainshadow Journal.

Weather or Not from Al Latham

Our monthly report from Al Latham here in Jefferson County. Always a fun and interesting read! 

_______________________________________

Greetings and happy La Nina spring from http://www.cocorahs.org station WA-JF-1 located 5.1 miles south of the Chimacum metropolis.

As Mark Twain said “In spring I have counted 136
kinds of weather inside of 24 hours”…   That pretty well describes the past March.

We recorded 2.42″ rain here with 3.8″ average.
For the water year so far we accumulated 23.84″ with 25.2″ being our average.

La Nina means cooler/wetter winter/spring.  It has
definitely been cooler around here but we haven’t experience more
rainfall – except for January of course, but that’s ancient history.

According to http://www.cliffmass.blogspot.com “Most of western Washington, Oregon, California, and the southwest states were more than 2F cooler than normal.   Chilling statistics”.
NOAA Climate Prediction Center is forecasting cooler
temps for the next 3 months but they are on the fence about weather it will be wetter, drier or normal rain wise.
So that’s it for now – enjoy whatever weather we get, but don’t put those tomatoes out too soon!  Al
 
“April’s air stirs in
Willow leaves…a butterfly
Floats and balances”         Basho
 
What do you call it when you get mugged on the vernal equinox?
The first robbin of spring!
 
When all the world appears to be in tumult, and
nature itself is feeling the assault of climate change, the seasons
retain their essential rhythm.
Yes, fall gives us a premonition of winter,
but the, winter, will be forced to relent,
once again
to the new beginnings of soft greens, longer light, and the sweet air of spring!      Madeline M. Kunin

NW scientist taps into personalities, diets to help sunflower sea stars shine again – KNKX

In December, sunflower sea stars were declared critically endangered by an international union of scientists…But there is hope. Pockets of healthy populations of sunflower sea stars still exist in parts of the Salish Sea. And a scientist working at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island is pioneering new techniques to breed them in captivity. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Endangered predators and endangered prey: Seasonal diet of Southern Resident killer whales – PLOS One

New research out regarding Southern Resident killer whales and their needs for chinook. Very good research here, based on scat samples over long periods of time.

Abstract

Understanding diet is critical for conservation of endangered predators. Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) (Orcinus orca) are an endangered population occurring primarily along the outer coast and inland waters of Washington and British Columbia. Insufficient prey has been identified as a factor limiting their recovery, so a clear understanding of their seasonal diet is a high conservation priority. Previous studies have shown that their summer diet in inland waters consists primarily of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), despite that species’ rarity compared to some other salmonids. During other times of the year, when occurrence patterns include other portions of their range, their diet remains largely unknown. To address this data gap, we collected feces and prey remains from October to May 2004–2017 in both the Salish Sea and outer coast waters. Using visual and genetic species identification for prey remains and genetic approaches for fecal samples, we characterized the diet of the SRKWs in fall, winter, and spring. Chinook salmon were identified as an important prey item year-round, averaging ~50% of their diet in the fall, increasing to 70–80% in the mid-winter/early spring, and increasing to nearly 100% in the spring. Other salmon species and non-salmonid fishes, also made substantial dietary contributions. The relatively high species diversity in winter suggested a possible lack of Chinook salmon, probably due to seasonally lower densities, based on SRKW’s proclivity to selectively consume this species in other seasons. A wide diversity of Chinook salmon stocks were consumed, many of which are also at risk. Although outer coast Chinook samples included 14 stocks, four rivers systems accounted for over 90% of samples, predominantly the Columbia River. Increasing the abundance of Chinook salmon stocks that inhabit the whales’ winter range may be an effective conservation strategy for this population.

Read the whole research paper here.

Endangered predators and endangered prey: Seasonal diet of Southern Resident killer whales (plos.org)

Winding down Puget Sound’s 2020 targets, as approved shellfish acreage keeps going up – PSI

A good look at the state of shellfish bed recovery over the last 10 years, as measured by the Puget Sound Partnership. This is one indicator that seems to be going in a positive direction. Of course, the goal of this is to promote the conversion of public beaches into industrial aquaculture, so it’s a mixed bag. Some day we’ll see a real discussion in the public sphere about how many acres we are going to convert to industrial aquaculture before they are all turned into off limit farms for the profit of a few large aquaculture organizations. Good reporting from the Puget Sound Institute. Worth reading.

Mission Blue and SR³ brings Hope Spot to Salish Sea

Interesting new marine hospital comes to the Pacific NW with the help of a number of non-profits from here. The head of this project appears to be Dr. Sylvia Earle one of the legends of Marine Science and environmental education. All good news.


For Immediate Release
SALISH SEA DECLARED A HOPE SPOT IN CELEBRATION OF NEW MARINE ANIMAL HOSPITAL

Executive Director and Veterinary Nurse Casey Mclean examines an elephant seal’s vital signs. NOAA Permit 18786

SEATTLE – February 17 – The Salish Sea has been declared a Hope Spot by international nonprofit Mission Blue in recognition of SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation, and Research (SR³) and their partners’ conservation goals to protect the local marine biodiversity. SR³ is kicking off their celebration as the Hope Spot Champions with the opening of a new marine animal hospital in Des Moines, Wash., coming soon.

Connecting the waters between Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada, the Salish Sea is bursting with iconic and beloved creatures like the endangered Southern Resident killer whales and humpback whales. As the original inhabitants of the sea, these mammals called the region home thousands of years before human beings walked to draw borders between countries, build ports, and develop commercial fishing to feed the rest of the two-legged world. Today, man’s impact on the ocean has created increasing threats for marine wildlife in the Pacific Northwest.



Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue, says, “The Salish Sea holds immensely important biodiversity. This body of water has provided the residents of Seattle up to Vancouver with vital natural resources for millennia. We must act now if we want to protect the ocean and its inhabitants from the destructive effects of human interference. I want to thank SR³ and their partners for their important work in marine animal research and rehabilitation – it’s so important that people are aware of the creatures that they share the ocean with. If the whales, seals and dolphins aren’t healthy, humans won’t be healthy, either.”

Casey Mclean, Hope Spot Champion and Executive Director of SR³, explains how marine animals serve as important indicators of ocean health and of environmental changes that can impact humans. She elaborates, “From warming ocean waters to entanglements, marine animals are increasingly suffering.” She continues, “Without a specialized marine wildlife hospital in the region, many sick and injured animals are left without hope for survival. It also limits our ability to gain insights that would drive protections for many more animals.”

From injured seals to entangled whales, SR³ works to ensure that struggling marine animals receive the expert help they need. Their SeaLife Rescue Center – the first marine wildlife specialty hospital in the Pacific Northwest – is opening soon. As a community-supported nonprofit, SR³ relies on donations from individuals who wish to invest in the health of their blue backyard.

The Salish Sea is home to some of the largest and longest-lived marine species on Earth, including the North Pacific giant octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini), the giant Pacific chiton (Cryptochiton stelleri), the largest barnacle (Balanus nubilus), plumose anemone (Metridium senile), the largest sea anemone, cabezon, lion’s mane jellyfish, and 25 species of rockfish that have life spans of 50-200 years.

Protecting the animals of the Salish Sea will benefit the entire ecosystem – regardless of human boundaries. New conservation policies and activities can draw attention to the many rivers and streams that feed into the sea that are in desperate need of habitat restoration and protection.

Cristina Mittermeier, internationally acclaimed wildlife photographer, Managing Director and Co-founder at SeaLegacy, describes SeaLegacy’s work as a Hope Spot partner. “If we want to live in a healthy and abundant Salish Sea, we must first imagine what that looks like. With images and stories, SeaLegacy is inviting us to imagine a different balance between business and nature. If we can ignite an imagined future in which orcas are thriving, fish populations are revered, coastal communities re-engineer their economies to sustain tourism instead of squandering our finite resources, and the knowledge and rights of the First Nations of this land are honored, then I am sure we can turn the hope encapsulated in the idea of this Hope Spot, into a reality we can gift the next generation.”


Mclean elaborates, “By teaching people how their everyday actions are connected to local marine health – and ultimately their own health – we can make the Pacific Northwest a safer and healthier home for marine animals – and for all of us!”
        
“We live, work and play near and in these waters and recognize that the region is on the brink of something incredible. We can achieve a resilient, sustainable, and healthy Salish Sea by bringing together diverse voices, building a movement around a shared ocean ethic, and by igniting hope,” said Dr. Erin Meyer, Director of Conservation Programs and Partnerships at the Seattle Aquarium. “Designating the Salish Sea as a Mission Blue Hope Spot connects us to communities around the world who are working together to catalyze positive change.” 
        
As SR3 delivers emergency response for sick, injured or entangled marine animals, they collect critical data in the process that helps drive broader protections. For instance, as they work to free entangled whales, responders also learn how they became entangled and work closely with fishermen and government agencies to develop ways to prevent entanglements in the future. Using drones to conduct scientific research, SR³ collects important health data that informs protections for dwindling populations such as the critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales.

SR³ and their partners believe that improving the health of the Salish Sea will require a hands-on approach from all angles. Their goals for the Hope Spot also include to deepen working relationships with local tribal entities, create a place of union between the many non-government organizations (NGOs) working to protect the life within the Salish Sea, and increasing public action for the support of legislation that impacts the Salish Sea and its inhabitants. In order to ignite the public’s response, they’re working to educate residents within the Salish Sea watershed about how its protection is critical for human health.

The Salish Sea Hope Spot partner organizations include Pacific Mammal ResearchWhale and Dolphin ConservationSeaLegacySeattle AquariumMarine Conservation InstituteOcean WiseEarth Law CenterSea SmartCoextinction FoundationPNW ProtectorsUnited and Free.

Despite the decimation of its species, the inundation of pollution from poorly planned development, and elimination of some critical habitats, the Salish Sea has survived. 

“All is not lost,” stresses Mclean. “This ecosystem is still alive. It is resilient, and we have the opportunity to restore it. Our lives and livelihoods depend on it.”


About SR³ – SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation, and Research (SR³) rescues and protects marine wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. With a marine wildlife ambulance, response vessel, and specialized veterinary staff, SR³ fills a unique role in the West Coast’s marine mammal stranding network. The organization’s expert first responders stand ready to deploy every day to ensure suffering marine animals receive the expert care they so urgently need. SR³ also works to address the root cause of marine animal health issues through scientific research projects. A major focus of this program is the endangered Southern Resident killer whales, using drones to collect health data that inform conservation actions important to their survival. The organization will open the region’s first marine wildlife specialty hospital early this year. www.sr3.org

About Mission Blue – Mission Blue inspires action to explore and protect the ocean. Led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas – Hope Spots. Under Dr. Earle’s leadership, the Mission Blue team implements communications campaigns that elevate Hope Spots to the world stage through documentaries, social media, traditional media and innovative tools like Esri ArcGIS. www.mission-blue.org

Please contact Casey Mclean, SR³ Executive Director at casey@sr3.org or (425) 346-9798 for high resolution images, interviews or more information.

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— 

 EMILY CRAWFORD Founder / LUMINOSITY PR
 Pronouns: she/her/hers 206.880.3977 / Emily@LuminosityPR.com
 www.LuminosityPR.com

SeaDoc Society welcomes new regional director – Islander

Good news here. SeaDoc is a critical scientific resource to our region and the world. Looks like they have hired a good one to fill this important role. Congratulations to Leigh Ann.

The SeaDoc Society has hired Leigh Ann Gilmer to fill its regional director position. She began on Feb. 1 and has hit the ground running.

Prior to joining SeaDoc, Gilmer served as executive director of Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds, Washington, and development director and chief operating officer at Conservation Northwest. In addition, she’s held key roles at the Museum of Pop Culture and Seattle University, where she completed her master’s degree while working full time in fund development.

SeaDoc Society welcomes new regional director | Islands’ Sounder

Gray whales learn daring feeding strategy in Puget Sound: Digging for ghost shrimp at high tide – Seattle Times

We continue to find out more about the wild life that lives just off our beaches. No need for looking for extra terrestrial life. It’s right here.


Every spring, a small group of about a dozen gray whales pauses along an epic migration from calving lagoons in Baja California to their feeding grounds in the Artic. They travel more than 170 miles off their coastal migration route, to stop off in northern Puget Sound. There, they linger from about March through May. Now scientists think they know why the Sounders, as this beloved group of regulars is known, likes to visit — and hang around. New research confirms these whales have figured out a brilliant feeding strategy. Lynda Mapes reports.

Seattle Times

Gray whales learn daring feeding strategy in Puget Sound: Digging for ghost shrimp at high tide

Sea charts and satellites: Mapping critical kelp beds along the Pacific Coast – National Observer

More good news on the kelp monitoring project. This is a key indicator species that the Northwest Straits Foundation, the State of Washington and the Marine Resource Committees have been helping monitor, and now it looks like we will get better satellite data on the whole coast.


An ambitious project to map and monitor sea kelp forests along the entire B.C. coast is afoot, and scientists are using seemly disparate tools — both ancient and modern — to do it. Researchers are using centuries-old British sea charts and advanced technology, such as camera drones and satellite images, to trace shifts in the abundance and distribution of kelp beds over time, said geographer Maycira Costa. Rochelle Baker reports. (National Observer)

Sea charts and satellites: Mapping critical kelp beds along the Pacific coast

REPAIRS OF BULKHEADS, DOCKS AND OTHER STRUCTURES NOW INVOLVE HABITAT ASSESSMENT – PSI

This is a huge change to the proposal, hopefully for the good. However, in reading this article I find that it may cause more problems than it solves. While I applaud the idea, the implementation seems problematic. I urge those of you interested in seeing this implemented or those seeing issues with the implementation to attend this meeting. Now is the time to tweak the process so that it helps people do the right thing.

NOAA Fisheries will hold online public workshops on Jan. 26 and Jan. 28 to explain the conservation calculator that the agency developed to assess the value of nearshore habitat. Both workshops will run from 9 to 11 a.m. Details will be posted on the webpage Puget Sound Nearshore Habitat Conservation Calculator.

Sea otter reintroduction to more of the Pacific Coast gets a nudge from Congress – KNKX

Some good environmental news! Tom Banse writes about the successful efforts to get money inserted into the newly passed budget to help continue the reintroduction of sea otters to the west coast. Info on Washington counts of sea otters also in this story.

“I’m very pleased. This is very timely,” Bailey said in an interview. “It will definitely help U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service develop a strategic approach for how best to conserve and protect sea otters on the Pacific Coast.”

https://www.knkx.org/post/sea-otter-reintroduction-more-pacific-coast-gets-nudge-congress

How Trump tried, but largely failed, to derail America’s top climate report – NY Times

More fallout of the destructive force of Hurricane Trump. In this instance, scientists managed to hold off his flunkies from essentially gutting the report. As he leaves we can only look forward to rebuilding this nation’s science credibility world wide. Why is this important? Because the output of this report guides decision making for years to come.

EPA Finalizes rule to limit science behind public health standards – WA Post

As the Trump Administration burns all it’s bridges behind them in a scorched earth environmental policy, the latest outrage is the long anticipated culling of real science behind future decisions to protect our food, water or air. Or perhaps you would rather ignore the findings of scientists that don’t agree with your company’s toxic product. Wonder how they will do it? Read the article referenced below. The Biden administration will have it’s work cut out for it reversing these disastrous acts.


The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a rule to limit what research it can use to craft public health protections, a move opponents argue is aimed at crippling the agency’s ability to more aggressively regulate the nation’s air and water. The “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rule, which the administration began pursuing early in President Trump’s term, would require researchers to disclose the raw data involved in their public health studies before the agency could rely upon their conclusions. It will apply this new set of standards to “dose-response studies,” which evaluate how much a person’s exposure to a substance increases the risk of harm. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report. (Washington Post)

EPA finalizes rule to limit science behind public health safeguards

Climate Action for Christmas? Omnibus bill includes biggest policy shift in years.

Good news being reported by NPR. This blog will check into the details and come back with a more comprehensive overview later.

“The massive spending package just passed by Congress includes the most significant climate legislation in more than a decade, along with significant changes in energy policy. It was easy to miss, nestled among pandemic relief payments, the annual spending bill, new Smithsonian museums and protection from surprise medical billing. But pull out the energy provisions alone, and the bill is remarkable: It includes $35 billion in funding for basic research, extensions of tax credits for renewable energy companies, and a long-delayed mandate to reduce the use of a particularly damaging greenhouse gas. The fact that Congress managed to pass climate legislation at all is noteworthy in and of itself. For years, thanks to gridlock and an administration actively hostile to climate action, legislators have struggled to set new climate policy, even on measures that enjoy widespread bipartisan support. Camila Domonoske & Jeff Brady report. (NPR)”


Climate Action For Christmas? Omnibus Bill Includes Biggest Policy Shift In Years

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