Thursday, January 27, 2011

SeaDoc Society Lectures

The SeaDoc Society has a few lectures on the horizon. Please check their website for complete information -

Beaver, salmon and tidal marshes
Date & Time: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: YMCA Camp Orkila's Marine Salmon Center
Speaker: Greg Hood, Senior Scientist Skagit River System Cooperative

GO WILD: Coastal Foraging and Cuisine lecture with Jennifer Hahn
Date & Time: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Avenue

Missing marine birds: who's flown the coop?
Date & Time: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: YMCA Camp Orkila's Marine Salmon Center
Speaker: Ignacio Vilchis,
Postdoctoral fellow, The SeaDoc Society

Monday, January 24, 2011

San Juan Nature Institute Lecture Schedule

The San Juan Nature Institute lecture series continues with the following lectures all to be held at the Friday Harbor Labs Commons.

January 27, 2011, 7 pm
The ecomechanics of rocky intertidal organisms: the material world of mussels
Dr. Emily Carrington, UW Biology Department

February 10, 2011, 7 pm
Dr. Charley O’Kelly, UW Friday Harbor Labs

February 24, 2011, 7 pm
Decision-making in Blackbirds
Dr. Orians will explore the subtle decisions birds make when choosing where to live, what to eat and with whom to mate.
Dr. Gordon Orians, UW Biology Department


This particular article entitled "Bundle Up, It's Global Warming" may answer questions about how it can be so cold and yet the culprit is global warming.'s%20global%20warming&st=cse


While not the way most of us would likely deal with invasive species, this article entitled "A Diet for an Invaded Planet" does discuss an "alternative."


If you are interested in the CAO process in the county, San Juan County's website now has documents, maps and studies of the "Best Available Science," which will be used in the process of updating San Juan County's Critical Areas Ordinance. Here is the link:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Evening Low-Tide Walk at Indian Island

With a full moon rising over Fishing Bay last Wednesday evening, a group of Beach Watchers and other volunteers explored the area surrounding Indian Island at low tide with Russel Barsh. Here are just a few of the sea creatures they saw. How many can you identify!? Thanks to Nancy and Steve Alboucq for sharing these great photos!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shann Has Published a Book!

Our own Shann is a woman of many talents. In addition to her dedicated and very capable role as WSU Beach Watcher Co-ordinator, Shann recently published a book entitled "Curve of the Moon." We would not have been surprised if its subject had been some facet of the ecology of the Salish Sea, but no, this one is a "traditional romance." The book first took shape during a trip Shann and her husband Steve made to Ireland and Scotland a few years ago, and the setting for the story is in the Scottish highlands. Shann has continued to expand and refine the manuscript since that trip, and now it is in print and available from Hearty congratulations, Shann!

"Salmon-ation" Celebration

Lopezians assembled at the The Community Center on January 15 to celebrate and learn more about Kwiaht's ongoing research into the diets of the juvenile chinook salmon who spend their summers around our islands. With wonderful live guitar and mandolin music in the background and several tables full of yummy home-made food, residents spent the evening exchanging information about the environmental activities they are involved with, and then heard a presentation by Russel Barsh about the 2010 salmon-seining season. With more charts and statistics than we have room to quote here, Russel noted that the chinook diets include large quantities of insects and larval crab and other crustaceans, as well as sand lance when they are available. The percentages consumed vary according to timing and availability. The forage fish provide more "bang for the buck" in terms of nutritional value, but the insects and crustaceans are often more abundant.

Shann Weston spoke during the evening to let people know about the 2011 Beach Watchers class, and Charlie, Kay, Beverly, Susan and Ann were among the Lopez Beach Watchers who attended.

The salmon-seining will continue at Watmough bight in the summer of 2011, with Beach Watcher and other community volunteers always welcome.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Port of Friday Harbor - MHO update

In December the Friday Harbor Marine Health Observatory (FHMHO) group presented their first annual report to the Port of Friday Harbor, which resulted in more planned collaboration between the Port and FHMHO. Entering 2011 FHMHO is gearing up to welcome more Beach Watchers, and to conduct more public outreach and education on the docks.

The project got under way this past spring. Armed with a brave group of Beach Watcher volunteers, Kwiaht Director Russel Barsh designed and implemented a long term study of the marine organisms living on the docks of Friday Harbor. The goals of the study were: 1) to create a master list of species that are observed here, 2) to create a list of species whose changes in populations or locations or seasonality might indicate changes in the health of the Port and the bay, and 3) to collect relevant data as a starting point for identifying trends.

The volunteers were trained in data collection, invertebrate identification and monitoring protocol. Working in teams of two, the volunteers visited their assigned locations in the Port of Friday Harbor and at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories once a month (rain or shine!) and recorded all species observed. That data was then entered and graphed by species, location, season and abundance.

With months of data collected, some interesting information began to emerge. For example the team learned that while decorator crabs were seen most frequently on H dock, graceful kelp crabs seemed to prefer the docks at Friday Harbor Laboratories. Sea stars were most abundant by the University of Washington Labs, but surprisingly nudibranchs were most often spotted on or near the fuel dock! The volunteers have already learned a great deal about research and are now beginning to generate questions which will shape the direction of the project as it moves into a new year. Thanks to their critical thinking, more variables will be recorded during future observations. (Photos above show a Dawson's Sun Star and a Decorator Crab.)

This spring will also see the development of an interpretive station at the Spring Street passenger terminal. By using an underwater camera and live footage, the station will focus on the beds of eelgrass in the harbor, and the sea life therein. The project hopes to make visible the importance of eelgrass as an essential habitat and food source for animals ranging from anemones, crabs, snails, fish and birds.

If interested in joining the FHMHO team, please contact Beach Watcher Dennis Linden at or Russel Barsh at Also check out the their website at its new location:

This article was written by Kwiaht intern Aileen Murphy. Thanks, Aileen!