Born and raised in Eastern Washington, far from saltwater of the Salish Sea, Jess didn’t discover her pull to the ocean until her first SCUBA course in Thailand 10 years ago. After that she was “hooked” and was soon on a path to becoming a SCUBA instructor in Egypt, an underwater photographer ready to share the awe and wonder with others, and a life that would evolve around this deep developed passion for our ocean.
Junior SeaDoctors’ mission is to inspire and mobilize youth for a lifetime of ocean literacy, stewardship, and sustainable Salish Sea citizenship.
We achieve this mission through three tributaries: 1) JuniorSeaDoctors.com, a website and club for ocean education and community stewardship, 2) National and Provincial standards-based curriculum for grade 5 teachers, based on our book, Explore the Salish Sea: A Nature Guide for Kids, and 3) Kids on the Beach, a template and guide for educators from schools, Tribal and First Nations, government agencies, NGOs, citizen science programs, and community volunteers to support student projects in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) that help inform policy, restore habitat, and educate the community.
This past summer the world watched as the small 4-year-old southern resident killer whale, J50, lost weight and, despite medical efforts to help, died (see below for links to media coverage). Scarlet, named for the rake marks or scars seen on her body shortly after birth, quickly captured the hearts of southern resident watchers thanks to her breaches and extreme surface activities.
The Center for Whale Research recognized how thin she was in the spring and numerous phone calls and meetings led to the first ever attempt to provide medical intervention for a free-ranging southern resident killer whale. Many people asked, "Why now?" Was it a media ploy on the heels of the tragedy of J35 (Tahlequah) carrying her dead calf for 17 days? While the timing could make you think so, it was not.
It’s amazing what you can get done if you have the right tools.
About a year ago, we made the decision to bring a manned submersible to the San Juan Islands for a week of seafloor research. We put out a call for proposals and ultimately decided on three great projects studying deep-dwelling red urchins, sand lance habitat and the effects of seafloor trawling.
In most cases, scientific results arrive slowly after data is processed and analyzed, but when a tool is offered up that grants a new perspective for observation, exciting discoveries can arrive quickly. We saw that during our week with the OceanGate submersible, with team after team brimming with excitement after popping out of the sub after several hours of deep sea immersion.
For the past decade, SeaDoc has hosted veterinary interns each summer to help run the Marine Mammal Stranding Network in collaboration with The Whale Museum. This summer’s interns were Alexa Dickson and Tamsen Polley, who have since returned to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine for their third year. They did a great job and we loved having them around, so we took a moment to ask about their experience on Orcas before they dive headlong into their next year of vet school.
Last month, we announced the winners of the Salish Sea in Focus photo contest. The first-place winner in the under-18 category, Faith Halko, replied that same day informing us that she would be donating half of her prize money to the SeaDoc Society.
I found it both heartwarming and inspiring, so I shared her note with the office and we got collectively excited about the endless potential of the next generation. We couldn't help but want to know more about Faith, so we reached out and asked her about the winning photo, Caspian Tern Catch, and how she got into photography in the first place…