Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Long Live the Kings - King Salmon that is

Volunteers including WSU Beach Watchers have been working hard during spawning season at the Glenwood Springs Salmon Hatchery on Orcas to collect eggs and milt from the over 1300 salmon that have returned so far this year (almost double last year's total of 750) and then mix them for placement into incubation trays.
The Glenwood Springs Salmon Hatchery is considered one of the most environmentally natural hatcheries in the world. Young salmon live in outdoor ponds and for the most part have to fend for themselves for food in a practice that most clearly mimic nature. Salmon from this hatchery have been found to most closely resemble the wild species in appearance, behavior and biochemical makeup.
These pictures show adult salmon being collected for their milt and eggs.

New Bridge over Cascade Creek

After several months of construction a new bridge has been completed over Cascade Creek in Olga on Orcas Island. Prior to the new bridge a small culvert connected Cascade Creek to Buck Bay. For decades the old design significantly impeded the movement of water into the Bay and impacted the movement of salmon and trout. The questions being considered are: Will the new bridge increase fish and water movement in Cascade Creek? Will it affect the shape of the shores of the bay and creek?

To find out a team of WSU Beach Watchers from Orcas Island are monitoring stream bank sediments and vegetation, tidal flux and salinity, and fish migrations and spawning. The data gathered from this reseach will help to improve the design of future projects. Including the bridges recommended for three other fish bearing streams on Orcas. The streams under consideration are Fish Trap, Bonnie Brae at West Beach and West Sound.

More pictures:

Celebrate the Bay - November 18th

Volunteers of the Indian Island Marine Health Observatory are hosting a "Celebrate the Bay" gathering on Friday, November 18th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm in the Madrona Room at the Orcas Center on Orcas Island. WSU Beach Watchers and members of the public are invited to attend. There will be music and refreshments.

The Celebration will include displays, slide show, and a report on the biodiversity of the Eastsound waterfront. Using data on fish, invertebrates and eelgrass compiled over the last three years the Indian Island team has identified changes in the timing and distribution of marine life that may reflect weather changes and/or contaminated urban runoff.

Please attend and learn more about what is changing and why and what we can do about it. Oh, did I mention there will be refreshments! Free admission, but donations are always welcome.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Two Orcas Die in Alaska River

Recently, three whales were sighted about 30 miles up the Nushagak River in southwest Alaska, just east of Dillingham. Two female whales died and the third whale, a juvenile, has not been sighted. The hope is that it found its way back to salt water. A necropsy was performed on one of the females and revealed no cause of death, but that she was in a late term pregnancy. The other female will be necropsied as well. Biologists are baffled as to what the whales were doing so far up the river, and hope the second necropsy will reveal a cause of death, as well as the pod they belong to.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) Open House October 19 on the Interisland Ferry.

PSP is holding a series of open houses in various locations around the Sound this month. Their purpose (as shown on their website,) is to:

· share information about PSP's measure of Puget Sound health - the Vital Signs;

· highlight Puget Sound recovery priorities and accomplishments, especially any local priorities and accomplishments;

· describe the upcoming update to the Puget Sound recovery plan, the Action Agenda, and get public input;

· provide general educational information about Puget Sound, recovery, and what individuals can do to help.

The San Juan County event will be on the inter-island ferry on Wed. Oct 19. The presentations will begin when the ferry departs from Friday Harbor at 11:30 am, and will continue for two round trips through the islands, returning to FH at 5:10 pm.

In addition to the PSP part of the afternoon, island environmental organizations are encouraged to set up displays as well, and Kwiaht intern Aileen Murphy is helping to organize a display with handouts and photos of all three of the islands’ Marine Health Observatories. Email Aileen: before Oct 17 if you’d like to help. Islanders can board the ferry at any point during the afternoon to enjoy and learn from the information presented.

Upcoming Creosote Log Removal from Lopez Beaches

Tim Clark, Lopez Land Bank Manager, has been working hard for several months on a big project that is about to come to fruition. During the week of October 17, Several hundred lineal feet of creosote-soaked logs will be airlifted off Lopez Land Bank property at Fisherman Bay Preserve Spit, and Weeks Wetland, and sent to a hazardous waste landfill on the mainland. Here are some excerpts from the Islands Weekly news article written by Land Bank Manager Tim Clark, (published in the Oct. 11 issue.)

“The State Department of Natural Resources will be supervising a crew from the Puget Sound Corps in addition to the helicopter, all funded by the Department of Ecology. Members of the crew will carry smaller pieces of treated wood to a container, and carefully cut the larger logs into manageable pieces before loading.

“Lisa Kaufman has overseen creosote removal projects at the DNR for six years, and delights in cleaning up sensitive habitat. In addition to the two preserves, Odlin Park will take part in the project along with neighboring private landowners.

“Though creosote has been banned from new marine construction, old docks and pilings break down, float off, and collect in pockets during winter storms. They can leach toxic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs} into the ground and water for years.”

Lopez Beach Watcher Pat Johnson (’11) helped Tim count and tag the logs earlier this year.

Oct 14-15: Kitsap County Symposium on Water Issues

Learn how to grow shellfish in your backyard, create salmon habitat, and plant native plants in your garden. These are some of the water topics featured at a two-day event called “Water Courses – Connecting West Sound,” that is coming up this weekend. This large educational symposium, with more than 36 speakers, is family –friendly and open to the public. It is sponsored by WSU Kitsap Extension and WA Sea Grant.

Friday, October 14, 8 am to 4:30 pm, Naval Undersea Museum Auditorium, Keyport,WA

Sat, October 15, 9 am to 3:30 pm, Keyport Community Church

Scientists, including Sea Doc’s Joe Gaydos, will present research information during the first day. On the second day, attendees can choose from a large variety of workshops focused on natural gardening, wildlife, energy conservation, preserving food, etc.

An event schedule and registration information are available on WSU Kitsap County Extension's website: Cost is $45 for both days, lunch & beverages included. $30 for day 1; $25 for day 2. WSU Kitsap County Extension and Washington Sea Grant coordinated this two-day seminar.

Fisherman Bay Marine Health Observatory Update

The Fisherman Bay MHO Steering Committee held its quarterly meeting on October 6 to recap what the project has accomplished so far, and to prioritize goals for the coming year. The weekly bird surveys around Fisherman Bay, which will be ongoing, record not only species and numbers, but also migration, diet and behavioral data, Beach Watcher Pat Johnson has also been sampling oxygen levels in the Bay and doing plankton tows. The first annual “Day for the Bay” in April, and information booths at the Lopez Farmers’ Market on three Saturdays during the summer were the major outreach activities of the project. Kwiaht intern Nathan Hodges has also been working on a fascinating set of GIS maps with detailed information on the Fisherman Bay watershed.

Among the existing or planned Kwiaht projects that are related to the health of Fisherman Bay, the Committee decided that their focus for the coming year will be on 1) Village drainage and stormwater, and 2) improving tidal circulation in the Bay. Specific goals and plans are being developed, and there will be a number of volunteer opportunities in the coming months.

The MHO has a new email address: and their website is .