Friday, August 3, 2012

Dolphins May Form Elite Socities Just Like Humans

A twenty-two year study suggests that dolphins may form elite societies based on a learned cultural behavior that is shared with some but not all the dolphins in the pod.  They exhibited a tendency to associate with those most like themselves, which is, scientists believe, a “critical role in human (sub)cultures,” and “may be true for dolphin society as well.”

To read the full story:

Native Plant Walk at American Camp on Aug. 12

Join the San Juan Islands Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society and park staff in an exploration of the prairie landscape at American Camp on Sunday, August 12 from 1 to 3 p.m. Meet at the American Camp visitors’ center. Chief of Interpretation/Historian Mike Vouri and Chief of Resource Management Jerald Weaver will join the plant walk to discuss plans for restoring and managing the prairies at American Camp and Young Hill. The National Park Service is currently accepting public comments for their prairie stewardship plan. For more information on the San Juan Islands Chapter of the WNPS, or to coordinate carpooling, contact chapter secretary Madrona Murphy (360-468-2808, 

Are Dolphins the 2nd Smartest Animal?

Scientists doing research on dolphin brains have discovered similarities with human brains.  The new study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that certain genetic features have led to the convergent evolution of large brains and complex cognition in a handful of species, including dolphins and humans.

To read the complete article:

Visit San Juans Website

In case some of you don't know about this site, it is a great resource for you and your visitors.  It now has the "Scenic Byways" map, which can be downloaded or you can order a copy.

Protection of Southern Resident Orcas Challenged

The  Pacific Legal Foundation has challenged the endangered listing and protection of the Southern Resident pods saying that they are not genetically any different than any of the other thousands of orcas in the oceans and therefore do not deserve protection.  They believe the Southern Residents are an "unjustified subspecies" of orcas and believe that NOAA invented a subspecies for the Pacific Northwest.

Read the full story:

Death at Sea World

This article focuses on the author's view of what happened at Sea World in 2006 and 2010 when two orcas attacked their trainers killing one.  There is a 15 minute video of the 2006 event.  The orca had just been taken from her young calf and the calf was calling apparently greatly distressing the mother.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Crabbing Season Opens Today

Beachwatchers from the San Juan's were recently given an inservice by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Topics covered included recreational dungeness crab rules, ways to prevent crabs from being wasted and overfished and statistics on the rate of lost crab pots.  Beachwatchers were asked to educate the public about the use of  "rot cord" (which breaks down in the water and releases crabs when pots are lost), identification of male and female crabs (only males can be taken) and the legal keep size of 6 1/4 inches. The group was provided educational packages containing a pamplet, "Crabbing in Puget Sound" which  covers this information in more detail, a caliper to measure crabs and a sample of rot cord to distribute to the public.  The project is being well received by recreational crabbers.

Monday, May 21, 2012

‘The Ocean of Life’—And the Sorrow Beneath the Sea

This is an excellent article in the current Newsweek about the condition of our oceans and the species being lost.  The author Callam Roberts is a marine conservation biologist, oceanographer, author and research scholar at the University of York, England.  His work examines the impact of human activity on marine ecosystems.

 Here is the article:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Update on the Cause of Death of L112

Today NOAA released more information on the ongoing investigation of the cause of death of L112.  The most recent results can be found at:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pelicans, Boobies & Dolphins Die in Peru

Since January about 900 dolphins have died on Peru's beaches as well as 4,000 Pelicans and boobies.  Biologists believe the Pelicans starved to death, but as yet have not found a cause for the dolphin deaths.  To read more:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Herring Return to Eastsound

For the second year in a row herring have spawned on the Eastsound waterfront. Volunteers from the Indian Island Marine Health Observatory collected eggs over the Easter weekend. The herring are mainly spawnng on seaweed (sargassum) and dwarf eel grass both non-native species. Though not native to Fishing Bay these species are gradually creating dense thickets that herring find attractive. It is not known whether there is any adverse impact to native species. Russel Barsh, Kwiaht ecogolgist, told volunteers "that as the Eastsound herring appear to be recovering this is the time to go gentle with Fishing Bay and Indian Island in order to give the herring and vegetation that supports them the best chance possible".

Monday, April 30, 2012

NOAA Update on L112 and Other Projects

Below is some recent information on killer whales from NOAA Fisheries Northwest Region thought you might be interested in.     

Did you know?
A recent review of photos by DFO scientists have confirmed that Southern Resident killer whales were sighted in Chatham Strait, Southeast Alaska, back in June 2007. Southern Residents were previously thought to range as far north as the Queen Charlotte Islands, B. C. This sighting extends their known range about 200 miles to the north.

L112 stranding investigation progress report
The investigation into the death of Southern Resident killer whale L112 continues. We posted a progress report on our website at We’ll continue to provide updates as we get the results from outstanding analyses and generate a final report.

Update on satellite tagging projectThe Northwest Fisheries Science Center has updated website information on the three-day deployment of a tag on J26:

Canadian marine mammal regulations
As the federal department responsible for the protection of marine mammals, their habitats, and their migration routes in Canadian waters, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has finalized a set of proposed amendments to the Marine Mammal Regulations (MMR) of the Fisheries Act. The amendments are designed to provide enhanced protection for marine mammals against human disturbances.

The proposed regulatory amendments were published on March 24, 2012, in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The Canada Gazette is the official newspaper of the Government of Canada. See it online at: The public has 60 days from the publication date to provide comments on the proposed amendments.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Procession of the Species Photos

A large group of spectacularly-garbed islanders paraded through Lopez Village last Saturday afternoon to celebrate the Island's second annual "Procession of the Species."  From toddlers in strollers to septuagenarians, participants were clad in a wide range of imaginative costumes. The event, very ably-organized by Beach Watcher Charlie Behnke and Amanda Wedow, and sponsored by the Lopez Is. Conservation Corps and Lopez Is. Prevention Coalition, perpetuates a tradition begun over a decade ago in Olympia to honor our planet and all it's diverse species.   A young turtle, who scooted the entire route on his tummy on a skateboard, some very busy bumblebees from Orcas, three different owls, a dragon, and many other feathered and furred creatures walked the parade route, accompanied by an assorted dozen percussionists, and it was fun for everyone.  Pictured here are the huge owl (created and held up by Charlie and two helpers,) two very impressive Tufted Puffins, and a GMO ear of corn.  The best moment of the afternoon happened before the parade when an invasive black slug (a.k.a. Nick Teague,) was lounging on the lawn, and a three-year-old boy sat down in front of him and began to feed him grass!

Friday Harbor Labs Open House - May 19

The public is enthusiastically invited to participate in the 2012 FHL Open House on May 19. This event offers a splendid opportunity to meet scientists and students at the Labs and check out the research and teaching facilities. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Labs will be open for self-guided tours. Scientists and students will showcase their marine science research, answer questions and provide demonstrations. There will be posters, marine plants and animals, microscopes, plankton sampling and observations, and activities for visitors of all ages. Kids are particularly encouraged to attend.

For more information, see:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rare White Orca Seen Off Russia

Researchers just released photos of an all white male orca seen in Russian waters two years ago.  This is an excellent article from the Seattle Times.  Researchers will try to locate the pod and this whale again this year.

In addition, for more information on the Russian orcas, see