October 2015 Update
It was a joy to spend almost 7 hours under water the other week as part of the SeaDoc / REEF subtidal monitoring project. I'm always in awe of the diversity of species and colors beneath the Salish Sea. It was also fun to post some images and video on SeaDoc's Facebook page and Instagram account for people to enjoy and share. If you're not already following us, please do!
While SeaDoc is all about data collection, analysis and dissemination, we also realize that helping people to know and connect to a place is a critical component of conservation.
Thank you for supporting SeaDoc and for sharing our love of the amazing animals of the Salish Sea!
Joe Gaydos
Chief Scientist and Regional Director
Curious about harbor porpoises? You should be!
Harbor porpoise group by Erin D'Agnese
Harbor porpoises are one of the most common - but most elusive - cetaceans in the Salish Sea. These animals tend to be shy and subtle at the surface of the water, but they are fascinating sentinels for the health of the ocean.
SeaDoc's Jacq Zier and Joe Gaydos just completed a comprehensive species profile on the harbor porpoise that was published on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Much like the profile for the harbor seal that Jacq and Joe posted last year, this profile is a one-stop-shop for everything you wanted to know about harbor porpoises.
Did you know...
  • Harbor porpoises can live to be over 20 years old, but most probably don't make it past 12 years? Scientists often refer to them as living life in the fast lane.
  • In most females, only the left ovary is functional. And in males, the testes grow during the breeding season and typically account for more than 5% of the total body mass.
  • Harbor porpoises sometimes mate with Dall's porpoises, producing hybrid offspring that tend to show behaviors more common in Dall's porpoises (like bow riding) and tend to mate back with Dall's porpoises more than with harbor porpoises.
  • During foraging, harbor porpoises have three different kinds of clicks depending whether they are locating prey, advancing on prey, or going in for the kill. In the last phase, the clicks are as little as 3 milliseconds apart.
  • Harbor porpoise clicks are typically above 100 kHz, around the upper limit of the effective hearing range of killer whales, which are one of their main predators.
  • Harbor porpoises ingest chemical contaminants like PCBs and PBDEs in the fish they eat, and these contaminants may predispose them to infectious diseases.
This profile also contains information about a recent paper that SeaDoc helped produce that analyzed possible causes of an increase in harbor porpoise strandings starting in 2006.
Check out the harbor porpoise species profile
Third year of REEF dives to track sea star recovery and other changes
sea star
How do you know what's changing if you don't look?
In mid-September we collaborated with volunteer divers and REEF to do 100 survey dives around the San Juan Islands, counting and photographing fish and invertebrates. This was the third year of what will hopefully be a 10-year project.
And the question on everyone's mind is this: "Are sea stars recovering from the disease outbreak that almost demolished the population starting in 2013?"
The answer, with pictures
More divers needed for SeaDoc economic impact study
Several hundred divers have already responded to our call for information about their 2014 dive expenditures in the Salish Sea. And we still need more.
If you dove in the Salish Sea or bought dive equipment here to use for diving elsewhere in 2014, please fill out our survey.
If you know someone who dives, please let them know about our study and encourage them to complete our survey.
The more divers who complete the survey, the more powerful the results.
Eventually we will be able to tell you how much money and how many jobs recreational diving contributes to the local economy.Our goal is to make sure politicians and resource managers have this information at hand when deciding whether or not to protect important marine areas.
Take the survey
UC Davis gets high rankings again
We were jazzed when we learned that UC Davis, where SeaDoc is a major program of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, a center of excellence at the School of Veterinary Medicine, came out shining in some recent rankings.
The school was highlighted by the Department of Education for being in the top 10% of four year universities in the United States in terms of graduation rates and earnings of graduates. Davis was also listed #2 on Sierra Magazine's list of greenest colleges and universities.
A few years ago, Davis was also ranked as one of the top schools in the world for Conservation Science based on the number of academic papers published. The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is ranked #1 by US News and World Report and the QS World University Rankings.
SeaDoc is proud to be a program of UC Davis.
More about the rankings
Your chance to influence the future of WDFW
Jim Unsworth
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to hear from you!
Fish and Wildlife department head Jim Unsworth is soliciting public input about what YOU would like to see from WDFW in the next 20 years.
Find out more and submit comments at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildfuture/. The deadline is October 31.
Submit a comment
Call for abstracts for Salish Sea Ecosystem conference
Abstracts for the upcoming Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference are due by December 18, 2015. This year's conference will again have both oral and poster sessions. There will also be a new format of "Salish Sea Snapshots," which are 5-minute oral presentations. Full guidelines and instructions are here.
The Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference is the largest and most comprehensive event of its kind in the region. The purpose of the conference is to assemble scientists, First Nations and tribal government representatives, resource managers, community/business leaders, policy makers, educators and students to present the latest scientific research on the state of the ecosystem, and to guide future actions for protecting and restoring the Salish Sea Ecosystem.The conference will be held at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, B.C., on April 13, 14, and 15, 2016.
Conference details
Timothy Dwyer kicks off our Marine Science Lecture Series
Timothy Dwyer
Scientist and educator Timothy Dwyer will speak on October 13 to kick off our annual Marine Science Lecture series. A teacher at the Spring Street International School, Dwyer was recently selected as a 2015 Science Communication Fellow for the Ocean Exploration Trust. Just this past month he sailed with the Corps of Exploration on the E/V Nautilus to explore the Salish Sea and the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate.
Fresh from his trip, Dwyer will share his experience of ocean exploration. He'll be talking about how deep diving remotely-operated vehicles resist extreme pressure, how invertebrates make their living at hydrothermal vents in the Earth's crust, and even about how fast small scavengers in the Salish Sea can skeletonize a pig's carcass.
Join us at 7pm on Tuesday, October 13 at the Emmanuel Parish Hall in Eastsound. There will be coffee, tea, and snacks. As always, the event is free thanks to our generous sponsors!
This year's lecture series is produced by SeaDoc and YMCA Camp Orkila, sponsored by Tom & Nate Averna of Deer Harbor Charters, Barbara Brown, West Sound Marina, Dean & Audrey Stupke, Martha Wyckoff in honor of Lee Rolfe, and the WWW Foundation (Bryce and Sue Rhodes), and co-sponsed by Barbara Bentley and Glenn Prestwich.
SeaDoc in the news
harbor seal with hat tag
In September, the San Juan Islander wrote about our change - led by our vet student intern Lauren Zatorski Clarke - from plastic to wooden hat tags for baby harbor seals. Details.

Upcoming events
Tim Dwyer on Ocean Exploration
Tuesday, October 13, 7pm
Scientist and educator Timothy Dwyer speaks on his recent ocean exploration voyage aboard the E/V Nautilus. Emmanuel Parish Hall, Eastsound. Free.
Leslie spoke a few years ago about the "Hot Water" we're getting into with climate change. Now the former USGS scientist will tell us what actions we can take to change the climate for the better. Emmanuel Parish Hall, Eastsound. Free.
Gene Helfman on sharks
Tuesday, December 8. Free dinner at 5:30, talk at 7pm
Shark expert Gene Helfman will speak on "25 Things You Didn't Know About Sharks" for our annual family night at YMCA Camp Orkila. Dinner (yes, it's free) starting at 5:30. Larry Norman Lodge, Camp Orkila. Free.
Veterinarian Martin Haulena of the Vancouver Aquarium will talk about marine mammal strandings in the Salish Sea. Emmanuel Parish Hall, Eastsound. Free.
Serge Dedina: Surfing the Border
WEDNESDAY, February 24, 7pm
Ocean advocate Serge Dedina speaks on his efforts to protect coastal habitats on both sides of the US/Mexican border. Please note that this talk does not follow our usual "second Tuesday" routine! Emmanuel Parish Hall, Eastsound. Free.
Eleni Petrou of the University of Washington will speak on the relationship between Pacific herring and human communities in a talk entitled, "Chasing the Silver Sea of Fish." Emmanuel Parish Hall, Eastsound. Free.
The next Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference is April 13-16 in Vancouver BC. Details are here.
About SeaDoc
The SeaDoc Society uses science to find solutions to the problems facing marine ecosystems. Our work focuses on the Salish Sea, one of the most ecologically productive inland seas in the world. The Salish Sea extends from Olympia, Washington to Campbell River, BC., and is home to over 8 million people.
We are a program of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, a center of excellence at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
WHC Logo