A few random thoughts about reporting and environmental science – Chris Dunagan

Chris shares his thoughts on 35 years of environmental reporting. I know that he has been an inspiration to my work on this blog since I started it in 2007.

Christopher Dunagan, who retired from daily reporting at the Kitsap Sun and now blogs, wrote of his 35 years of reporting: … “I grew up believing that science was a particular set of facts that explained the workings of nature. For the longest time, I failed to see that the most important thing about science was formulating the right questions about things we don’t know….While there is much work to do, we’re at a point where we can expect Puget Sound residents to limit their damage to the ecosystem and become part of the restoration effort.” (Watching Our Water Ways)

http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2015/07/25/a-few-random-thoughts-about-reporting-and-environmental-science/

Studies of bottom fish help fill in key portions of Puget Sound food web – Watching Our Waterways

Chris Dunagan has an excellent new video by WDFW, and also points the reader to a series of other articles on bottom fish over the last few years. Good update, and worth viewing if you want to see how a scientific trawl is done. Great overview for that budding marine scientist in your family.

In a new video, Dayv Lowry of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife does a great job explaining how scientific trawling provides information about the kinds of creatures that hang out on the bottom of Puget Sound. The video shows a big net being brought to the surface filled with crabs and all sorts of strange creatures, which are then sorted and measured right on the deck of the Chasina. This research, which has been going on for years, provides information about how populations of marine species are changing over time. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2015/07/10/studies-of-bottom-fish-help-fill-in-key-portions-of-puget-sound-food-web/

Stealing Fish To Study Seabirds- Earthfix

As anyone who has bird watched around these parts in the last 20 years can tell, it’s pretty clear we have lost seabird populations. Now some new scientific data has come out on the problem.

Seabird populations in Puget Sound have declined since the 1970s and scientists believe pollution is partially to blame. But how do you prove that? Study what the seabirds are eating. A new paper [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X14004226] published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin found that seabirds in Puget Sound are eating fish that are two to four times more contaminated than fish on Washington’s outer coast. Ashley Ahearn reports. (EarthFix)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/stealing-fish-to-study-seabirds/

Article on GMO Controversy shows difficulty finding ‘Truth’ in the debate – NY Times

One of the most hotly discussed issues of the last election in our county and state was the issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) and it’s use in our foods. The NY Times takes an indepth front page look at one small county’s battle to ban them, and the issues that it raises. This issue is not so black and white as the supporters of either side would like.  I post it here to help people understand the complexity of this issue and fact that sometimes things are neither all good nor bad, but various shades of gray.  Do you think that we should not save the Papaya if we can genetically engineer it to avoid disease? And is the science people are relying on really proven or just extrapolation of data to prove a point that one side or the other wants to arrive at? There is an old saying that caution us that ” To Assume is to make an Ass of U and Me”. It’s wise to remember that in this context.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/us/on-hawaii-a-lonely-quest-for-facts-about-gmos.html?hp&_r=0

Tracking An Alpine Frog That Chuckles And Beeps For Climate Change Research – Earthfix

Maureen Ryan scales rocky trails at 5,000 feet elevation as nimbly as the mountain goats that wandered through camp earlier this morning. The amphibian researcher leads her team of scientists down off a ridge line in the Seven Lakes Basin of Olympic National Park to her “lab”, you might call it. It’s a series of pothole wetlands cupped in the folds of these green, snow-studded mountains – perfect habitat for Cascades frogs (Rana cascadae). Ryan, a researcher with the University of Washington, is an expert on alpine amphibians. She’s also part of a group of scientists from around the region, coordinated by the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative at the USGS, who are trying to understand and project how the warming climate will affect these frogs’ ability to feed, mate, and ultimately, survive. Ashley Ahearn reports.

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/tracking-an-alpine-frog-that-chuckles-and-beeps-fo/

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose to designate critical habitat for three species of rockfish in Puget Sound & Strait

Big news. The Federal Government is proposing designating critical habitat for certain rockfish. Public comment now open. Comments on this proposed rule must be received by 5 p.m. P.S.T. on November 4, 2013. Requests for public hearings must be made in writing by September 20, 2013. Comments close on 11/04/2013. The Feds say “Puget Sound” but actually are also including some areas of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. To them, it’s apparently all the same. They delineate it deeper in the document.  From the people I’ve talked to close to this decision, this has been studied a great deal and a lot of meetings have been held getting to this decision.  It likely will raise some objections, likely intense. But the stocks are in such critical shape in many places,  this appears to be needed. It’s not a new issue, the fact that the Feds have finally moved on it is. Hopefully (and apparently) we still have time to save some of them.  As you may or may not know, rockfish do not migrate. They hang out in their habitat, and can live  a long long time. They are often bycatch of other fisheries, and if you bring them up from a great depth, they end up often getting ‘the bends’ (barimetric poisoning) and die.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose to designate critical habitat for three species of rockfish listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including the threatened Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus), the threatened DPS of canary rockfish (S. pinniger), and the endangered DPS of bocaccio (S. paucispinus) (listed rockfish). The specific areas proposed for designation for canary rockfish and bocaccio include approximately 1,184.75 sq mi (3,068.5 sq km) of marine habitat in Puget Sound, Washington. The specific areas proposed for designation for yelloweye rockfish include approximately 574.75 sq mi (1,488.6 sq km) of marine habitat in Puget Sound, Washington. We propose to exclude some particular areas from designation because the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion and exclusion of those areas will not result in the extinction of the species.

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/08/06/2013-18832/endangered-and-threatened-species-designation-of-critical-habitat-for-yelloweye-rockfish-canary

 

And more from Mike Satos’ blog:

The National Marine Fisheries Service proposes to designate almost 1,200 square miles of Puget Sound as critical habitat for three species of endangered rockfish. The habitat protection follows the 2010 decision to list yelloweye, canary and bocaccio rockfish under the Endangered Species Act. The Fisheries Service says the rockfish are vulnerable to overfishing because they have long lives and mature slowly with sporadic reproduction. Tuesday’s designation will require federal agencies to make sure their actions don’t harm rockfish habitat. The protected area in Puget Sound overlaps existing critical habitat for Puget Sound Chinook and Hood Canal summer-run chum, bull trout and Southern Resident killer whales. Critical habitat listed for Puget Sound rockfish http://kplu.org/post/critical-habitat-listed-puget-sound-rockfish Also, if they haven’t erected a paywall, Chris Dunagan reports: Habitat protection proposed for endangered rockfish in Puget Sound http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2013/aug/06/habitat-protection-proposed-for-endangered-in/#axzz2bGUhM000

 

Event:”Ocean acidification in WA State” June 15th in Port Townsend

“Ocean acidification in WA State: An exploration of its chemical, biological, and societal impacts”
PTMSC presents this lecture by NOAA Research Ecologist Shallin Busch. Busch helped develop NOAA’s Northwest Center state-of-the-art lab for studying the impacts of ocean acidification, hypoxia, and temperature change on coastal marine organisms. She conducts experiments on economically and ecologically important species and uses this research to explore potential impacts of ocean acidification on entire food webs and fisheries. In 2012, Busch served as a member of the WA State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. The lecture is this Saturday, June 15th at 4pm in the Fort Worden State Park JFK Building.  No park pass necessary (note: PTMSC is paying in advance so audience doesn’t have to buy a pass, but if you already have one, please bring and display it on your dash). Admission is $7 adults/$5 adult members/$3 youth/$2 youth members
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