May 2014 SeaDoc Society Update
United States and Canada must work harder to stop "ecosystem decay"
What do American shad, North Pacific spiny dogfish, Pacific Ocean perch, buff-breasted sandpipers, and Baird's beaked whales have in common?
They're all new members of a group of 119 species that are listed as threatened or endangered, or are candidates for listing, by one of the four governments that oversee the Salish Sea: Canada, the United States, British Columbia, and the State of Washington.
Since 2002, the SeaDoc Society has been tracking the species that get listed in the Salish Sea. At the time, it was groundbreaking to make a list that included species of concern in both Canada and the United States.
Approximately every two years, we update the list. Unfortunately, it just keeps getting bigger.
The number of species at risk has just about doubled in the past decade. In addition to the five species that were newly found to be at risk, another 10 other species were placed on the list because scientists learned that their range includes the Salish Sea. Fortunately, 9 species have been delisted.
More species are listed in Canada than in the US, but species listed by the United States federal government receive a higher level of protection than species listed by the Canadian government.
The report makes clear that the Salish Sea is suffering from ecosystem decay. It calls on the United States and Canada to work together to stop the decline.
The report, co-authored by Joe Gaydos and SeaDoc intern Jacqlynn Zier, was presented at the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference.
Read the full report:
Read an in-depth article by Larry Pynn of the Vancouver Sun
Photo: Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Credit Asociacion Armonia, via US Fish and Wildlife Service
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Tuesday, May 6 is the 2014 day of giving sponsored by the Seattle Foundation.
This year your donations will go to support our important long-term investigation into changes that are happening in subtidal habitats in the Salish Sea.
This is a part of the ecosystem few people are studying. Our year-by-year investigation of 10 sites over 10 or more years will give us key insights. Pacific Northwest waters are facing ocean acidification earlier than many parts of the globe, so the changes we track and document could be valuable on a global scale.
There are two great reasons to participate in GiveBIG. First your donations gets stretched by a matching pool from the Seattle Foundation. Second, you could get one of the "Golden Tickets." If this happens, SeaDoc will get an extra $1000 and you'll get a $100 gift card.
The day of giving runs from 12:01 am to 11:59 pm on Tuesday.
Please join in. It makes a big difference to the health of the Salish Sea, and it's fun. Thank you!
Photo Credit: gainesmary28 via cc
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Our Salish Sea Science Prize goes to Northwest Straits Foundation
At the recent Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, SeaDoc awarded its biennial Salish Sea Science Prize to the Northwest Straits Foundation for its successful removal of derelict fishing gear, and for scientifically documenting the positive impact.
The Northwest Straits Foundation began their work removing derelict gear in 2002 and since the project's inception they collected rigorous data that has been used to scientifically quantify the impact of derelict fishing gear.
This led to publication of a 2012 paper by Antonelis et al. demonstrating the importance of escape cord for reducing Dungeness crab mortality, spurring Marine Resource Committees to increase efforts to educate recreational crabbers about this.
It also resulted in a 2010 manuscript in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin by Good et al. demonstrating the impact of lost nets on marine species with the documentation that lost gill nets had entangled and/or killed at least 106 species of marine fauna including 65 species of marine invertebrates, 22 species of marine fishes, 15 species of marine birds and 4 species of marine mammals.
Scientific documentation of drop out and decomposition rates, published in the same journal that same year by Gilardi et al., showed that these were gross underestimations as they did not account for the short life of carcasses in a net and the sometimes decades of killing that many of these nets had done prior to removal. Moreover, that same work documented a cost-benefit ratio for net removal at 1:14.5, demonstrating that ecological restoration also is cost-effective.
When asked about the scientific merit of their work, Joan Drinkwin of the Northwest Straits Foundation responded, "Our derelict fishing gear program was created with an intentional focus on collecting high quality scientific data to understand the impacts of derelict fishing gear on species and habitats of Puget Sound. By effectively communicating what we've found, we have been able to garner support for removing derelict fishing gear from our marine waters and are now very close to eliminating derelict fishing nets from waters less than 105 feet deep."
The SeaDoc Society's Salish Sea Science Prize comes with a prestigious $2,000 no-strings-attached prize. It is the only award of its kind and is bestowed biennially to recognize a scientist or group of scientists whose work has resulted in the demonstrated improved health of fish and wildlife populations in the Salish Sea. It is given in recognition of, and to honor the spirit of the late Stephanie Wagner, who loved the region and its wildlife.
Congratulations to the Northwest Straits Foundation and all the scientists, divers, and staff who have worked on this important long-term project!
Photo: Joe Gaydos and Joan Drinkwin by R. Severson
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Scientists need to communicate better
If you've had the pleasure of hearing Joe Gaydos speak, you know he's great at presenting complicated science in a way that's clear, compelling, and inspiring.
In a recent article for The Wildlife Professional, a journal published by The Wildlife Society, Joe urged his fellow scientists to step up and do a better job of communicating with the general public about the important work they're doing. Communicating science means it doesn't just sit on the shelf, but actually can have a positive impact on policy or management.
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May is "Puget Sound Starts Here" month
Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation announcing May as Puget Sound Starts Here Month and encourages all citizens to take action to improve the health of Puget Sound.
"Things are different now than in the 1970s when the biggest pollution sources were factory pipes dumping sludge into rivers. Today, one of our biggest water pollution problems—rainwater runoff—is something most people don't even think of as being contaminated," said Sheida Sahandy, executive director of Puget Sound Partnership. "We can't point to someone else; the pollution source is us. Our individual and collective actions all add up, for better or for worse. The choice is ours."
Here are some ways you can make a difference:
- Volunteer to help with local habitat restoration projects.
- Take your car to a commercial car wash instead of washing it in your driveway.
- Fix auto leaks right away and take any used fluids to a recycling center.
- Pick up pet waste and place it in the trash.
- Maintain your septic system or side sewer.
- Never dump anything – liquid or solid – into a storm drain or drainage ditch.
- Use natural yard products like compost and mulch. If you use chemical pesticides and fertilizers, follow the directions and use them sparingly.
- Store and dispose of household chemicals according to the instructions on the label.
- Landscape your yard with native plants and trees that soak up rain and slow the flow of runoff.
- Boaters can protect valuable habitat by using pump-out stations for their sewage, using caution in eelgrass areas, and being cautious when fueling and cleaning their vessel.
Drop by SeaDoc's Facebook page and let us know what things you're doing to take care of the Salish Sea in your daily life. (And of course you know it's not just "Puget Sound" we need to be fixing, but the whole transboundary Salish Sea.)
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Orca Tour 2014 with Erich Hoyt. Wednesday May 7 in Port Townsend, Thursday May 8 in Port Angeles, with presentations following in Newport, OR, San Francisco, CA, and other locations on the "Whale Trail." Erich Hoyt is a leading researcher on killer whales. Full details at OrcaTour.org
2014 Wine 'n' Sea Auction: Our 2014 auction will be on Saturday, July 12th, 2014 on Orcas Island. Mark your calendar and buy tickets online.
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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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