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The SeaDoc Society is a program of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

The SeaDoc Society: Please load images to see the pictures...

July 2014 SeaDoc Society Update

We have a few spots left for our Wine and Sea Auction on Saturday the 12th, and we would love to see you there. Tickets are $150 per person, available at

Why do harbor seals swim upside down when foraging?

harbor seal by gary davis

The answer can be found in a new species profile of the harbor seal, just published in the online Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. (Look for the answer on page 8 of the full profile, available from the web page linked below.)

This species profile, written by Jacqlynn Zier and Joe Gaydos, captures the state of knowledge about harbor seals in the Salish Sea.

The 55-page profile includes detailed information on diet, mating, pupping, diseases, toxin exposure, rehabilitation techniques, and much more.

SeaDoc's summer research interns did the bulk of the work on this project over the course of 3 summers. They combed through over 115 published papers and reports to create a single authoritative resource for any scientists or citizens working on harbor seals or, probably more likely, working on other issues such as rockfish or salmon recovery where they need to learn more about the role of harbor seals in the Salish Sea.

This species profile is part of our commitment to making sure that good science makes it off the shelf and into the hands of people who need it to make decisions that affect the health of the Salish Sea.

Photo by SeaDoc board member Gary Davis.

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Scientists close in on sea star wasting disease

screenshotScientists from around the region and country have mounting evidence that the sea star die-off sweeping from Alaska to California is caused by an infectious disease, such as a bacteria or a virus. The pathogen may spread through the water, through physical contact, or it may be transmitted through prey animals like mussels.

According to Dr. Drew Harvell of Cornell University and Friday Harbor Labs, the disease seems to be worse with warmer water temperatures. KUOW's Ashley Ahearn and Katie Campbell recently did a story on the outbreak, with a video featuring Dr. Harvell.

Read and watch:

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Marine mammal video for kids

Lancaster and EhrmantroutOur friend Robin Lindsey of Seal Sitters has put together a video about marine mammals in the Salish Sea, featuring photography from some of the best wildlife photographers in the region.

While it's aimed at kids, we recommend it for pretty much anyone who wants to see some incredible shots and learn a bit more about how to identify the different mammals that call our region home.

The video was made possible by a grant from NOAA Fisheries, and copies are available for use in schools.

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Salish Sea Conservation in Focus trip


How would you like to spend a week on a restored classic 76-foot wooden boat, cruising the San Juan Islands and immersing yourself in the wildlife and natural history of the region?

Board member Audrey Benedict, the founder and director of Cloud Ridge Naturalists, has put together a special Salish Sea Conservation in Focus trip on the M/V Catalyst from September 28 through October 5, starting and ending in Friday Harbor.

Trip staff includes professional photographers, artists and naturalists. Guest experts will include Joe Gaydos and some SeaDoc's Science Advisors.

If you'd like to sign up for or learn more about this special trip, or if you have friends who might be interested, please visit Cloud Ridge at

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SeaDoc's newest collaborator is 6 years old

drift card

In the past 14 years, we've collaborated with organizations ranging from federal and tribal governments all the way down to small groups of citizens working on very local issues. But few collaborations have made us happier than Joe Gaydos' recent invitation to join the science advisory panel for a drift card study organized by Alex Bielawski.

Alex is concerned about the impact of oil spills in the Salish Sea, and has designed a drift card study to show the potential dispersal of oil from a damaged tanker. He's making every effort to conduct a scientifically-rigorous study.

And he's 6 years old.

Alex needs to raise a little money for plywood and orange paint. He's asking for sponsors who can chip in $1 for one card, $5 for 5, or $10 for 10 cards.

Want to help out or want to find out where his drift cards end up? Check out his website and send him an email:

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Harbor porpoise stranding update

There were an usually high number of harbor porpoises that stranded in parts of the Salish Sea in May, and in early June there was a good bit of news coverage about these stranded animals.

You'll be glad to know that the strandings have pretty much stopped but we're still investigating -- doing necropsies, looking at CT scans, and analyzing data from other locations. Evidence to date doesn't point to a single disease or cause, but we'll share results with you if we find anything significant.

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Upcoming Events

2014 Wine 'n' Sea Auction: Our 2014 auction will be on Saturday, July 12th, 2014 on Orcas Island. Buy tickets online.


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About SeaDoc

The SeaDoc Society uses science to find solutions to the problems facing marine ecosystems. We are a program of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, a center of excellence at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

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