Tag Archives: puget sound

The Orca Task Force targets whale watching boats, delays action on dams

Whales from the J and K orca pods in Puget Sound.  (AP Photo/NOAA Fisheries Service, Candice Emmons, file)

In their rush to judgement and to take bold actions to save the endangered Southern Resident orcas, Governor Inslee’s Task Force voted to approve a flawed document that calls for killing sea lions and ending whale watching from boats. Long term measures to recover salmon and improve water quality were well thought out but there are no measures in place to get more fish to the whales in the short term.
The organizers who ran the task force did an amazing job and were cognizant of their responsibility to the public. But if they saw what those of us in the public chairs or watching the live stream saw yesterday, they might have put more constraints on some of the other task force members who wandered around and talked among themselves at times instead of dialing into the work at hand. The morning session can be found below, the beginning of the vessel discussion starts at the 2:23:00 mark and finishes in the afternoon session which is not available at this time. [Update: both sessions are  now available].
The end result was an 11th hour push to severely curtail and finally to eliminate the presence of watching boats around the Resident orcas for 3 – 5 years.
There are two main problems with this. First, they bent their own rules of order by introducing major changes at this stage and second, they failed to provide conclusive science on how removing the boats entirely is more effective than limiting the speed, distance, or time the boats are with the whales. The only reference I heard quoted combined the whale watching vessels with all commercial vessels – it’s not just unfair to address only the whale watch boats, it’s bad science.
Kayakers may lose their access to the nearshore. Whale Watch Park. Lime Kiln State Park, San Juan Island. Photo: Jason’s kayaking blog.

If these measures are allowed to work their way through the legislative process unchallenged, the number of people who have an opportunity to see the orcas will be curtailed and many will seek out shore-based opportunities when visiting the San Juans – but those places have limited parking and can’t accommodate many people.
And anyway, what they’ll see is still-hungry whales going extinct – albeit in quieter water. There were no bold actions to honor treaty rights and take down the obsolete Snake River dams, which would have been the quickest way to build salmon populations.
Orcas Island resident and State Senator Kevin Ranker, who lobbied for (and helped write) the proposed vessel regulations issued this statement:

“I am proud of the hard work, discussion and analysis we have put into these bold recommendations working toward recovery of the orca. The Task Force has worked very hard over the last six months developing major recommendations for the state to implement.
“We are recommending critical actions to protect and recover these magnificent creatures by reducing the risk of oil spills through banning offshore oil drilling, mandating tug escorts for all vessels transporting oil, and stationing an emergency rescue tug in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca that can respond when a vessel is in distress.
“Additionally, the task force boldly recommended we protect the whales from vessel impacts through a suspension of whale watching of the southern residents, a new limited entry permit system for all commercial whale watching.
“Also, we are dramatically increasing protections for critical near shore habitat for forage fish, salmon, and whales.
“This report is just the first step. Our work is not finished, it has just begun. Implementation is critical as these recommendations go before the governor and Legislature. I pledge to work hard with my colleagues in the Legislature to enact bold policy to permanently protect our resident orcas.
“Now we must all unite to ensure these recommendations become law, so our children and grandchildren can experience that total sense of awe as they see a healthy and thriving southern resident orca population in our Salish Sea.”

The role sea otters play in saving salmon – a benefit for the Southern Resident orcas

Photo Credit: Alaska Magazine

In a marine protected area off of Vancouver Island, Canada, a rich ecosystem supports breeding and migrating seals and sea lions – and at least one adorable sea otter, Ollie. Southern resident killer whales pursue the adult salmon that hide among the kelp fronds, and the mammal eating transient orcas hunt the seals and sea lions.
Luckily, nothing seems interested in eating Ollie, to the relief of his fans who follow his Facebook page.
Admittedly, not everyone loves these furry machines that need a quarter of their body per day to keep warm, even with their luxurious coats. They consume over a hundred different species of primarily bottom dwelling invertebrates, but come into conflict with fishermen over the sea cucumbers, urchins, clams, abalone etc that have a fairly high market value.
When the otters move into a region they do have an impact on those fisheries, but what they give back to the environment makes them worth their weight in gold – their foraging habits quickly restore kelp beds where juvenile salmon hide on the journey to the open ocean. Each female Chinook salmon that successfully returns to spawn carries as many as 17,000 eggs, so each fish saved by adequate kelp beds can have a significant impact.
Via Sea Otter Conservation

Juvenile salmon prefer to use kelp bed prefer to use kelp bed habitat over bare areas, where they swim in the middle of the canopy as they migrate. The kelp forests also provide cover for the forage fish that fuel the salmon’s journey.
In the Puget Sound and greater Salish Sea there are few otters, and the kelp forests are in trouble:

 Dr. Tom Mumford, Washington Department of Natural Resources, reports that floating kelp beds have all but disappeared from southern Puget Sound. Declines are also reported generally from the Salish Sea, including British Columbia, Canada.
Because of the ecosystem functions provided by kelps, the consequences of declines to kelp beds in Puget Sound are not limited to the direct effects on kelp populations, but influence indirectly the many species that depend on the presence of these forests. (Puget Sound Restoration Fund).

Bull Kelp from Betsy Peabody on Vimeo.

Wouldn’t it be great to have the fluffy otters helping in the effort to restore kelp forests?

Where you may be able to see otters in Puget Sound:

In 2006, the distribution of the majority of the Washington sea otter stock ranged from
Pillar Point in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, west to Cape Flattery and as far south as Cape Elizabeth
on the outer Olympic Peninsula coast. However, scattered individuals (usually one or
two individuals at a time) have been seen outside of this range.
… Sightings around the San Juan Islands, near Deception Pass, off Dumas Bay, off the Nisqually River, and in southern Puget Sound near Squaxin and Hartstene Islands have also been reported.

Photo Credit: popsugar.com.au

 
 
 

Killer whales need protected space – lawsuit looms against the current administration’s failure to act

Trump Administration Stalls Protections as Southern Resident Killer Whale Population Drops to 76

Photo credit – Dale Mitchell, Eagle Wind Tours

SEATTLE— “The Center for Biological Diversity filed a legal notice today pressing the Trump administration to protect ocean habitat off California, Oregon and Washington to save the last remaining Southern Resident killer whales.
Today’s notice points out that the administration has unlawfully delayed critical habitat designations sought by the Center in a 2014 petition under the Endangered Species Act.
Endangered Southern Residents live along the Pacific Coast and are starving for lack of their preferred prey, spring chinook salmon. Other threats to these orcas’ survival include oil spills, water pollution and vessel noise.
“These iconic orcas are going extinct, but the Trump administration has proposed oil leases rather than protections for their habitat,” said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney and marine scientist at the Center. “The Southern Residents desperately need protected foraging areas full of salmon to feed them through the winter. Without swift federal action, these whales will continue their steep slide to extinction.”
Courtesy of the Center for Whale Conservation

The threat of legal action comes just a week after the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission met in Seattle. Experts there warned of the crisis facing Southern Residents with a steep population decline to only 76 whales and few calves born. There were calls for urgent action, including habitat protections, to prevent their extinction.
Responding to the Center’s petition in 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service said it would expand habitat protections in 2017 to safeguard key foraging and migration areas off the West Coast. Yet the Trump administration has failed to act, despite broad public support.
“These incredible orcas should not become victims of the Trump administration’s policy of blocking science-based protections for the environment,” said Kilduff. “With extinction right around the corner, Southern Residents can’t afford to wait for help.”
Photo credit: Center for Whale Research

Photo credit: Center for Whale Research
While spending their summers in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea, areas protected as critical habitat in 2006, these killer whales travel extensively along the West Coast during the winter and early spring, congregating near coastal rivers to feed on migrating salmon. The Center petitioned in 2014 to protect areas off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California as critical habitat (see map).
The death of the two-year-old male orca known as “J52” in 2017 came as the population dipped from 83 in 2016 to only 76 individuals today, the biggest year-to-year decline ever recorded. The death was confirmed by the Center for Whale Research, which reported malnutrition was likely the cause.
Today’s notice, which typically precedes the filing of a lawsuit, outlines how the Fisheries Service’s failure to act on the Center’s 2014 petition violates federal law. The letter asks the agency to propose habitat protections by August 6.”  Media Release.

Killer whale recovery projects to get $2.18 million from partners including SeaWorld, Shell Oil, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Media release:  SEATTLE, WA (November 16, 2017) –The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced the awarding of $888,265 in grants to increase the recovery potential of the endangered Southern Resident killer whale. The grants will generate $1.3 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of more than $2 million. [Please note, NFWF is not a government agency].

The Center for Whale Research has studied the Southern Resident orcas for almost forty years.

The grants were awarded through the Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program (KWRCP), a partnership that began in 2015 with support from SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This year, Shell added its support to the effort. The company has been a part of the Anacortes community since 1955, and has identified the KWRCP as a key local conservation effort for the region.

The projects supported by the nine grants announced today will help to restore and enhance populations of Chinook salmon, a key prey item for the whales. These projects will focus on scientific research, habitat restoration and bolstering of forage fish levels. Specifically, grantees will work with recreational fishermen to understand the potential significance of the resident Chinook population to killer whales. Additionally, grantees will work with the seven Northwest Straits Marine Resource Committees to protect and restore important forage fish habitat, and support the restoration of 8 acres of juvenile salmon habitat in the Skagit River.

“We are excited to welcome Shell, a long-standing partner of NFWF in several regions of the country, to the Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Saving this apex species is an ‘all hands on deck’ situation. It is only through partnerships supporting a comprehensive approach to conservation that we will be able to reverse the decline of this iconic species of the Pacific Northwest.”

A wild, vibrant, male orca. Photo by Simon Piddock

The program also supports cutting-edge science, including genetic research, acoustic monitoring and aerial surveys using helicopter drones. This research will provide managers with the tools they need to help killer whales overcome the threats they face from poor water quality, noise pollution, vessel traffic, malnutrition and disease.

“Protecting this species has been at the core of SeaWorld’s purpose and mission for decades,” said Dr. Chris Dold, chief zoological officer for SeaWorld. “It’s more important now than ever to support efforts like the Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program, and SeaWorld remains committed to giving these animals a chance at survival.”

Less than 90 Southern Resident killer whales remain. While the species has been protected since the 1970s, its numbers have failed to rebuild the way neighboring populations to the north have. The Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program works to understand why the population has failed to recover and takes steps identified in the recovery plan to bring this population back from the brink.

“Working with this diverse group of partners to aid in the recovery of this incredible species is an honor, and we are proud to have this opportunity to help affect change,” said Shirley Yap, Shell Puget Sound Refinery General Manager. “Our refinery has a long history of collaborating with numerous environmental organizations to protect and preserve the communities we live in. By investing in projects that address salmon research and the monitoring of killer whale health and habitat restoration, we hope to help increase the killer whale population off the coast of  Washington state.”

A complete list of the 2017 grants made through the Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program is available here.

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,500 organizations and committed more than $3.8 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.

About SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. 
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., supports two initiatives at the Foundation that focus on coastal and marine resources, the Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program and the Ocean Health Initiative. The Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program funds efforts to advance the knowledge and conservation of killer whales with a primary focus on activities that aid in the recovery of the Southern Resident killer whale Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and the Northern Pacific Resident population. The Ocean Health Initiative works through other Foundation programs to support a portfolio of projects that bolster the health of threatened marine and coastal species and habitats while engaging communities in these conservation efforts. For more information, visit SeaWorldCares.com

About Shell Oil Company
Shell Oil Company is an affiliate of the Royal Dutch Shell plc, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies with operations in more than 70 countries. In the U.S., Shell operates in 50 states and employs more than 20,000 people working to help tackle the challenges of the new energy future. 

Environmental stewardship is one-way Shell has continued to share benefits with communities over the past 100 years. Since 1999, Shell has focused our partnerships with many organizations in the U.S. to protect more than 13 million acres of wetlands, clean and remove 600,000 pounds of debris from shoreline, and conserve more than 1.8 million acres of critical habitat.

These whales can avoid Navy sonar from ships but not from helicopters – public opinion sought on Naval exercises

 
A recent Navy-funded research paper on Cuvier’s beaked whales and military sonar reveals that in one location these whales have learned coping strategies to avoid ship-mounted sonar – but those strategies can only go so far to protect them.

NaturePl.com

 
The whales’ behavior is nuanced and more complex than previously known, which demonstrates their remarkable intelligence and adaptability.

The longest deep dive in this study, lasting 163 min, occurred while the whale was intermittently exposed to mid-power MFAS at distances of 8–12 km.
While it may be possible for a whale to avoid conducting a deep dive while a surface ship is nearby, the same is not true for helicopters, which acoustically may appear without warning. Surface ships typically broadcast MFAS for extended periods while moving; thus whales probably know roughly where the ship is when exposure begins and how the ship’s position is changing through time, and can use this knowledge to mediate their response.
Helicopters deploy MFAS from a hover in bouts generally lasting under 20 min, moving rapidly between sequential deployments in an unpredictable pattern, and thus whales may react more strongly to these sudden, close-range exposures even though their duration of use and source level (217 dB) are generally well below those of a ship’s MFAS (235 dB) [27]. The difference in these responses underscores the importance of how the source is used, in addition to sound levels (source or received) and distance, in predicting whale behaviour, particularly for whales that are probably familiar with both MFAS types.

 
This study suggests that while these whales recognize Navy vessels and have adopted a suite of behaviors to avoid the sonar, they may be impacted by the unpredictable nature of aerial sonar. Long term, the avoidance behaviors may accumulate into loss of sustainability.
The paper is publicly available online, below is the abstract. Diving behaviour of Cuvier’s beaked whales exposed to two types of military sonar:

Abstract
Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) have stranded in association with mid-frequency active sonar (MFAS) use, and though the causative mechanism linking these events remains unclear, it is believed to be behaviourally mediated. To determine whether MFAS use was associated with behavioural changes in this species, satellite tags were used to record the diving and movements of 16 Cuvier’s beaked whales for up to 88 days in a region of frequent MFAS training off the coast of Southern California.
Tag data were combined with summarized records of concurrent bouts of high-power, surface-ship and mid-power, helicopter-deployed MFAS use, along with other potential covariates, in generalized additive mixed-effects models. Deep dives, shallow dives and surface intervals tended to become longer during MFAS use, with some variation associated with the total amount of overlapping MFAS during the behaviour.
These changes in dives and surface intervals contributed to a longer interval between deep dives, a proxy for foraging disruption in this species.
Most responses intensified with proximity and were more pronounced during mid-power than high-power MFAS use at comparable distances within approximately 50 km, despite the significantly lower source level of mid-power MFAS.
However, distance-mediated responses to high-power MFAS, and increased deep dive intervals during mid-power MFAS, were evident up to approximately 100 km away.


Cuvier’s beaked whale (Whaleopedia) 
As a result of similar research, the Navy is asking for your opinion on changes that are planned in the training areas off the Pacific Coast states. They are proposing changes to the environmental impact statements that are required for them to detonate explosives during practice sessions, and will consider new data (such as more accurate measures of marine mammal hearing levels) – there is even the option to scrap the practices altogether, although the latter is unlikely given the saber-rattling going on in the world at this time.
In California and Oregon the changes will only apply outside of state waters, but in Washington they will include inland waterways such as Puget Sound.
The question is, are these proposed changes good or bad for the whales and dolphins that live in these waters? At this point the Navy continues to practice maneuvers in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and Navy sonar is so loud around the San Juan Islands that it can drown out the calls of the orcas on the hydrophones put in place to monitor whales.
The Navy is dedicated to keeping us safe from enemies at our shores, and they are also answerable for needless destruction caused by the need to practice – a tricky balancing act…but they are trying.
Below is the basic information on the Navy’s planned changes. 
In the supplement to the 2015 Final EIS/OEIS, the Navy will analyze training and testing activities within the Study Area. The Study Area remains unchanged since the 2015 Final EIS/OEIS and includes:

  • Established maritime operating areas and warning areas in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, including areas within the:
    • Strait of Juan de Fuca
    • Puget Sound
    • Western Behm Canal in southeastern Alaska
  • Air and water space within and outside Washington state waters
  • Air and water space outside state waters of Oregon and Northern California
  • Navy pierside locations

Navy Acoustics

KEY UPDATES TO THE 2015 FINAL Training and Testing Final Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS ) and why it needs your input on proposed supplemental information. (Comments can be submitted here).

Training and testing activities proposed in the Supplemental Statements are generally consistent with those activities analyzed in the 2015 Final Statement and earlier environmental planning documents.
Below are some key updates to be made. In the Supplemental Statement, the Navy will:
• Include a No Action Alternative in which proposed training and testing activities would not be conducted and Marine Mammal Protection Act authorization would not be issued by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
• Include analyses of increases in testing of some new vessels and weapons systems, and decreases in other testing activities
• Include analyses of both increases and decreases in the annual occurrence of certain activities
• Recategorize or rename some testing activities to be consistent with Navy testing activity categories
• Include improved acoustic models, updated marine mammal and sea turtle densities, and updated marine species criteria and thresholds based on NMFS’s 2016 guidance
• Use the most current and best available science and analytical methods
• Review procedural mitigations, where appropriate, and consider geographic mitigation, where applicable
The Supplemental Statement will include an analysis of training and testing activities using new information available after the release of the 2015 Final Statement. New information includes an updated acoustic effects model, updated marine mammal density data, and evolving and emergent best available science. As part of this process, the Navy will seek the issuance of federal regulatory permits and authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act to support ongoing and future at-sea military readiness activities within the Study Area beyond 2020.
The 30-day scoping comment period begins Aug. 22, 2017 through Sept. 21, 2017. Comments must be postmarked or received online by Sept. 21, 2017 for consideration in the development of the Draft Supplemental EIS/OEIS. Comments may be submitted online at www.NWTTEIS.com, or by mail to:
Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest
Attention: NWTT Supplemental EIS/OEIS Project Manager
3730 North Charles Porter Ave., Building 385
Oak Harbor, WA 98278-3500

This rescued killer whale calf is thriving 15 years later – “Celebrate Springer!” events

Fifteen years ago, Springer, an orphaned and lost orca calf was successfully rescued, rehabilitated, and returned to her wild family.
“Springer’s story is an inspiration on many levels,” said Paul Spong of OrcaLab. “It proved that an orphan orca, alone and separated from her family, can be rehabilitated and returned to a normal productive life with her family and community; and it showed that disparate parties with diverse interests can come together and work together for the common goal of helping one little whale.”

PHOTO CREDIT:
Graeme Ellis: Springer and calf Spirit, 4 July 2013

“The Springer success story continues to be an inspiration for all of us working on conservation in the Salish Sea,” said Lynne Barre, the lead for orca recovery at NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast regional office in Seattle. “The partnerships created during Springer’s rescue provide a strong foundation for international cooperation as well as coordination between government, state, tribal, and non-profit groups to benefit both Northern and Southern Resident killer whales.”
Fifteen years later, Springer is still healthy and in 2013 had her first calf, Spirit. They are most often seen on the north central British Columbia coast and occasionally return to Johnstone Strait in summer.
“Springer’s reunion is an unqualified success – the only project of its kind in history,” said Donna Sandstrom, director of The Whale Trail and organizer of the Vashon Island event. “To get the little whale home, we had to learn how to work together, as organizations, agencies and nations. Above all, we put her best interests first. Community members played a key role in shaping Springer’s fate. We hope her story inspires people to join us in working on issues facing our endangered southern resident orcas today, with the same urgency, commitment, and resolve.”
The 2002 Springer rescue team will reconvene in programs and events in Puget Sound, Georgia Strait and Telegraph Cove in May, June and July to give first-hand accounts of how Springer was identified, rescued and rehabilitated. She was taken by jet catamaran to the north end of Vancouver Island and reunited with her Northern Resident family.

Celebrate Springer!” begins on May 20 on Vashon Island near the waters were Springer was found. The Vashon Theater program of “Springer’s Story” will feature members of the rescue team, a dance performance by Le La La Dancers, who were present at Springer’s release, and followed by a late afternoon Whale Trail sign dedication at the Point Robinson Lighthouse.
The event will continue in June and July with programs at NOAA Fisheries, Whale Trail Orca Talk, Whale Trail sign dedications, and conclude with a three-day program at Telegraph Cove, British Columbia, where Springer was released in 2002 and rejoined her Northern Resident family.
For more information, check out the Celebrate Springer Facebook page and The Whale Trail.


“Celebrate Springer!” partners include NOAA Fisheries, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, OrcaLab, Whale Interpretive Center, Vancouver Aquarium and The Whale Trail.
 

A Flying Ambassador for Wild Orcas Needs Your Help

 
Wild Orca is a 501(3)(c) Non-Profit Organization. Donations are tax deductible.

Summary


Kenmore Air seaplanes are seen by thousands of people on a daily basis. We want to transform a 1950’s deHavilland Otter seaplane into a flying ambassador for wild orcas.
We will use this platform to:

  • Inspire conversations about endangered killer whales,
  • Distribute information about local orca populations,
  • Educate people about what they can do to help protect the species,
  • Educate people how they can support long-term orca research and conservation efforts.

We need your help to fund this project.

What We Need & What You Get

The $14,500 needed will cover the costs associated with:

  • The application of an original custom orca paint scheme,
  • The production of educational booklets.
In return for your generous donation, you will receive one of the attractive gifts offered here.
(Courtesy of Orca Network)
The Impact
This awareness campaign will educate the public about the threats facing endangered killer whales, and the steps people can take to minimize their own impact on the eco-system and the survival of wild orcas by:

  • Aiding in the recovery of chinook salmon,
  • Reducing toxins in the ocean,
  • Reducing marine noise pollution and supporting practices to limit disturbance,
  • Viewing wildlife using responsible practices.

Kenmore Air

Kenmore Air is a seaplane airline located near Seattle Washington. It was founded in 1946 by Bob Munro and has been family operated and owned ever since. Flying residents, families, tourists, researchers and doctors to destinations throughout the Pacific Northwest, Kenmore Air carriers over 75,000 passengers every year. The airline has generously donated the aircraft to be transformed into a Killer Whale free of recurring charges standard of a custom sponsored livery. The Orca paint scheme will be on the airplane for 6-10 years, during this time Kenmore Air will also distribute the educational booklets on all of their aircraft and will make them available to the general public at their passenger terminals.

Photo credit:  Carrie Sapp
Photo credit: Carrie Sapp

The Booklet

We will produce a booklet about Wild Orcas. The information will include:
An introduction to Killer Whales in the Northwest,

  • Factors affecting the survival of wild Killer Whales,
  • Changes people can make in their daily lives to help the species recover,
  • Ways people can get involved in Killer Whale conservation,
  • How toxic chemicals find their way from our homes to our waters,
  • Regulations  and best practices for viewing marine mammals from a boat and the shore.
This booklet will be placed in the seatback pockets of every Kenmore Air seaplane for passengers to read and take home. Additionally, it will be available to the public for free at seaplane terminals, marinas, education centers, and other venues.

Other Ways You Can Help

If you are unable to contribute financially, you can still help…

  • Spread the word about this campaign,
  • Visit wildorca.org to learn about the things you can do to make a difference and reverse the trend in the dwindling population of Southern Resident Killer Whales.

View the Indiegogo project, Wild Orca Seaplane to help wild orcas and salmon.

Photo by Traci Walters.
Photo by Traci Walters.

Saving the Orcas – It is Up to Us, and The Whale Scouts Have a Great Plan

“What we have to do is ensure there is sufficient food supply food supply for the whales…you can’t have a pet if you don’t feed it.  That’s the first thing I learned when I had a little puppy, you have to take care of it.”  Ken Balcomb – Whale Scout Podcast
The Southern Resident orcas are often present in the central and southern regions of Puget Sound this time of the year, and now trained volunteers will be on hand when possible to educate and help the public see the whales. You can participate in the Whale Scouts‘ activities, donate, or send them inquiries on what you would specifically like to do.
whalescout.org
whalescout.org

The killer whales that swim the waters of Puget Sound are endangered and are in serious trouble.  With a two-year gap in successful births  the population has declined to only 79 individuals – its lowest number since the mid 1980’s. 
Whale Scout is taking a proactive approach and setting a positive example to recovering this population by engaging in responsible whale watching from the shore and also striving to turn whale watchers into salmon restoration activists. 

Via whalescout.org
Via whalescout.org
Bothell, WA – Sept. 14, 2014 – Every fall endangered orcas return to the shores of Puget Sound in search of salmon. This year, a team of volunteers organized by Bothell’s Whale Scout non-profit organization will be stationed at local beaches to help those in the community spot and learn more about them.

 

“We are so excited for the whales to come back. Seeing wild killer whales in our backyard truly makes living in the Pacific Northwest magical,” said Whale Scout director Whitney Neugebauer. “The biggest thing we can do to protect endangered orcas is to restore salmon habitat — and that’s exactly what Whale Scout does. We turn whale lovers into salmon habitat restoration experts.”

 

Whale Scout connects trained naturalists with the public, sharing their knowledge about the local whale population in Puget Sound, assisting them in sightings from shore, and offering everyday tips on what anyone can do to help their conservation. 

 

Whale Scout is also launching an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to help raise money to outfit volunteers with identifying vests, laminated materials and assorted gear.

 

“Many amazing individuals and organizations contributed special gifts you can redeem for your donations like underwater photography, beautiful orca photos, handmade gifts, and much more!” Neugebauer said.

 

To help, visit the Whale Scout page at http://igg.me/at/whalescout.

 

For more information, visit www.whalescout.org, or follow the organization on Twitter @whalescout.
Contact:
Whitney Neugebauer, PO BOX 426, Woodinville, WA 98072
@whalescout

 

Awesome Job/Volunteer Opportunity with Whales in Puget Sound! Don’t Miss This One!

Update: Job requires relevant biology degree and/or relevant experience, but whether or not you are presently qualified for this job, check out this video to see why sound is so crucial in the marine environment:

In order to avoid injuries to whales while percussive pile-driving is done on Pier 80 in Seattle, people are needed to help monitor for the presence of whales in Puget Sound during the work.

Observers are needed on Bainbridge Island, on certain ferry runs, at Alki Pt. and at Discovery Park, for about a week, beginning Wednesday, Feb. 8. Pay for observers may need to be negotiated, and a possible contribution to Orca Network by the construction company was mentioned.

[Please call Brad Thiele of NW Environment, at 206-234-2520.]

New calf, J 48, first seen December 17th. (Center for Whale Research)

Courtesy Orca Network.

Dolphins and Plastic Bags Don’t Mix: The Movement to Find Alternatives is Growing

Locally, Mukilteo, Edmonds, Bellingham and Seattle have all chosen to ban plastic grocery bags, and now Bainbridge Island is considering adding their community to the list. (The dolphin in this video managed to free itself eventually).

According to Wikipedia, the following nations and communities around the world have passed similar legislation:

Plastic bags are either restricted or completely banned in over a quarter of the world’s countries. Belgium, Italy, Ireland and Hong Kong have legislation discouraging the use and encouraging the recycling of plastic bags by imposing a fixed or minimum levy for the supply of plastic bags or obliging retailers to recycle.[21][22][23] Italy banned plastic bags entirely in January 2011. In other jurisdictions, including Bangladesh, South Africa and three states/territories of Australia, plastic bags are banned.[24][25]
In the United States, bans have been imposed at the local level, starting with San Francisco in 2007. In 2008, Westport, Connecticut, banned plastic bags in grocery stores.[20][26] In 2009, Edmonds, Washington, banned plastic bags at retail stores.[27] In 2010, Los Angeles County; Brownsville, Texas; and Bethel, Alaska, approved similar bans.[28][29] During the first few months of 2011, bans went into effect in North Carolina’s Outerbanks Region, banning all plastic bags at all retailers.[30] On October 15, 2011, Portland, Oregon, instituted a ban on plastic bags, targeted at large-volume supermarkets and retail outlets.[31] Seattle, Washington, followed suit on December 19, 2011, when its city council voted unanimously to ban single-use plastic bags from grocery stores and other retail outlets.[32] Similar plastic-bag bans have been imposed at the municipality level in India, Mexico and the United Kingdom.[21]

You can easily start a petition in your community, it is a simple thing to do and will make a big difference – I just started one for Friday Harbor, Wa, at Change.org, it just took a few minutes.