Thursday, February 25, 2010

Clean Water Campaign for Washington

House Bill 3181 and Senate Bill 6851 would immediately clean up polluted waterways across the state and create thousands of good paying construction jobs to improve clean water infrastructure. The Working for Clean Water campaign needs everyone to email the legislature in support of these bills. Your email must be received by tomorrow (I know short notice!). But please let your legislator know how important clean water is to our environment.

To email the legislature, click here:

Plastic Pollution in the Salish Sea Conference

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center will hold a conference on May 14-15 to discuss their research on Plastic Pollution in the Salish Sea. All volunteers (and coordinators!) are invited to join free of charge! They will provide excellent lectures and sessions, as well as meals and accommodations at Fort Worden. Registration will be in early March. Check their website:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Should Dolphins be Considered "Non-Human Persons?"

Recently at the American Association for the Advancement of Science symposium in San Diego a group of scientists discussed whether dolphins, because of their intelligence, should be considered "non-human persons" and, therefore, no longer be kept in aquariums. To read more of the discussion, see:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Comments on NOAA's Proposed Boating Regulations On Line

If you are interested in reading all the comments submitted to the NOAA Fisheries on the proposed boating regulations and the Southern Residents, they can be viewed at

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Friday Harbor Monitoring Project Update

On February 11, Russel led a group of volunteers on a walk on the Port docks to find and identify additional marine species. As a result, Russel and Anne Harmann took some great photos for our field guide. Monitoring will begin in March. If you have not already signed up, please email Dennis Linden at or give him a call at 370-5464. Dennis will be contacting those volunteers soon to talk about their monitoring assignments. Anne Harmann is our "chief gear builder" and will be assisting those to have volunteered to build the various bioindicator boxes and the bait and light traps we will use.

Other news -- Dennis has also volunteered to write the project brochure, and Russel said our project logo would soon be completed. Your help is also needed in the areas of public outreach and compiling the field guide. If you have an interest in these areas, please contact Andrea Wieland at or phone 378-3899.

Looking forward to seeing you all "on the docks."

PVC Pipe 'pull' at Crescent Beach

The San Juan County Land Bank, Beach Watchers, and friends pulled PVC pipe and re-bar out of the ground on Crescent Beach. It was a gorgeous day and we worked for 3 hours cleaning up the beach. There is another work day this Saturday, February 20th at 1:00. Please come join us.

Target Stores Do the Right Thing to Help Our Salmon

Target recently has eliminated all farmed salmon from its fresh, frozen, and smoked seafood offerings in its stores across the United States, because of farm salmon environmental impact on native salmon. If only more large and local stores would do the same. To understand more about the problems with farmed salmon, follow this link:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Indian Island Night Time Beach Walk

Russel and Madrona hosted another night time beach walk around Indian Island on January 29th, it was a Wolf Moon (first full moon of the year) and a Perigee Moon(closest full moon to the earth for the year). Unfortunately it was raining and we couldn't see the moon, but the marine life was unbelievably fascinating.

A great article about the Indian Island Project!!

One fish at a time

By COLLEEN ARMSTRONGIslands Sounder Web site editor, Editor Jan 27 2010, 10:02 AM ·

Local partners unite to study Indian Island
Octopi. Sea slugs. Emerald green pipe fish. Grunt sculpins. Porcelain crabs. Until recently, scientists wouldn’t have guessed that these creatures call Indian Island home. “People weren’t aware of how cool the island is,” said Russel Barsh of the research group Kwiaht. “There is this dynamic ecosystem right along the town’s waterfront. No one had a clue, really, about what was out there, except for the clams.”
Kwiaht is part of a consortium of local partners who have been working together to protect the Eastsound marine environment through research and education. The Indian Island Marine Health Observatory began after the federal Bureau of Land Management (owners of the island) enlisted the help of local Beach Watchers to take care of the property, which is most easily accessed when the tide is low and visitors can walk out into Fishing Bay.
The Beach Watchers mobilized volunteers to help with clean-up and restoration, and the Lopez-based Kwiaht came on board to do scientific monitoring. Orcas students even jumped in on the action, helping out with field work and toxicity studies. Salmonberry Elementary, Orcas Christian School, and Orcas middle and high school kids have all participated.
Over the past two years, Kwiaht’s baseline survey has discovered some fascinating creatures, including grunt sculpins, one of the most brightly colored fish in Western Washington, known for an unusual habit: walking on its fins.
“They are pretty rare and patchily distributed, and we think this is the biggest concentration in the county,” Barsh said.
Another find is the pipe fish, the only member of the seahorse family in the Northwest. They are widely found in the county, but are becoming scarce because they are entirely dependent on native eel grass. The pipe fish extends to its full length of more than a foot and attaches to the grass, moving fluidly and blending in to catch food. Barsh wonders if this species is losing its foothold in Fishing Bay.
Kwiaht also found octopi, sea slugs, and porcelain crabs. The crab diversity is abundant; Kwakiutl has identified 14 species, many of which aren’t commonly seen in the county.
During the surveys, Barsh and his researchers tried to find out what role Indian Island plays in these species’ lives. For the porcelain crab, it is a spot to reproduce.
“Many species reproduce on Indian Island, like the porcelain crab,” Barsh said. “For one month a year, the island is crawling with them – and then they’re gone.”
The next step in the project is public education to help reduce discharge of toxic chemicals into Fishing Bay, silt accumulation in the eel grass meadow from stormwater runoff, and the impact of human recreation.
“There has never been this kind of grassroots effort on Indian Island,” said Beach Watcher Marcia Spees, who is particularly enthusiastic about teaching tide pool ethics. “This will be a project that will go on for years.”
Volunteers have developed a brochure explaining how to be a conscientious visitor to the island, available in the spring, and in March, they will give presentations to Eastsound businesses on how to reduce runoff and discharge.
“We’ve joined the chamber and we will work closely with businesses to educate the public,” Barsh said.
The community is invited to participate in the spring and summer field research trips during low-tide. Barsh says they will be working on the beach, with sandwich-board interpretive signs and Beach Watchers on-hand to answer questions from the public. Look for dates and times later in the year.
There is also a night walk scheduled for Friday, Jan. 29 starting at 8:30 p.m. Meet at the county park, wear tall rubber boots, and bring a headlamp or small flashlight.
“This will be a minus 2.3 tide, low enough to see sea cucumbers, anemones, and some unusual crabs and sea slugs. Night time walks are a great time to sea creatures who are shy,” Barsh said. “The lowest tide of the year will be on June 13, and that’s a day we will make a major educational opportunity for the community and visitors.”
To contact
Orcas Beach Watcher Barbara Bentley is project leader for the Indian Island Marine Health Observatory. For more information, email or call 376-5980
Watch upcoming editions for profiles on some of Indian Island’s coolest creatures, courtesy of Marta Branch’s marine science class.