Our Science Director Joe Gaydos spoke Western Washington early this year as part of their Huxley Speaker Series. He discussed the importance of having a sense of place when it comes to protecting an ecosystem like the Salish Sea. How can you work to protect something if you don’t first connect with it? Watch the presentation below to hear more. Thanks to Huxley College for hosting us!
We’re excited to announce two exciting additions and (one transition) to the greater SeaDoc team!
Laura Donald is our newest member of the the Board of Directors and Marco Hatch and Marguerite Pappaioanou have joined our Science Advisory Committee. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have all three of them in these roles! Their insight and drive will be immensely valuable as we carve our way through 2019 and beyond with science as our foundation and new outreach and education opportunities on the horizon.
SeaDoc Society Science Director Joe Gaydos speaks about SB 5577 (Orca whales/vessels) to the Washington Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee on Feb 12th, 2019. Watch Joe’s statement below:
Want to call your legislator and share your thoughts about Southern Resident Killer Whale recovery? Do it today!
The Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) is a flagship species, a cultural icon, and an economic driver for Washington State. However, depleted Chinook salmon stocks, vessel-related noise and disturbance, and increasingly polluted waters put the orca population at risk of extinction. Efforts are underway to aid and support orca recovery, but these efforts are time consuming and expensive.
The combination of ocean warming and an infectious wasting disease has devastated populations of large sunflower sea stars once abundant along the West Coast of North America in just a few years, according to a study co-led by the University of California, Davis, and Cornell University published Jan. 30 in the journal Science Advances.
“In California, Washington and parts of British Columbia, sunflower sea stars keep urchins under control,” said Joseph Gaydos, senior author on the paper and director of UC Davis’ SeaDoc Society program. “Without sunflower stars, urchin populations expand and threaten kelp forests and biodiversity. This cascading effect has a really big impact.”
Every year, the SeaDoc Society funds prominent scientists to conduct important research in the Salish Sea. Proposals for this year’s projects’ are due February 22 by 5pm. SeaDoc works to ensure the health of marine wildlife and their ecosystems through science and education and does not take policy positions nor serve in an advocacy role. This year the SeaDoc Society requests proposals only for projects that scientifically address one of the four priority topics below.
Herring are a small fish that play a big role up the food chain, and at the moment scientists don’t know nearly enough about their health status in the Salish Sea. That’s why SeaDoc funded a study that helped bring many top herring experts together for the first time–a crucial first step in ensuring their future.
The team recently published a report, “Assessment and Management of Pacific Herring in the Salish Sea: Conserving and Recovering a Culturally Significant and Ecologically Critical Component of the Food Web,” which included the creation of a model that simulated how herring populations respond to key environmental stressors under various scenarios.
For thousands of years, abalone provided food and shells for local tribes, only to be fished out by poachers and over-harvested due to poor management. Now they are functionally extinct, meaning there are so few they can’t find a mate and reproduce.
Despite a ban on harvest and the creation of a captive breeding program, remnant populations of pinto abalone are not reproducing in the wild and may be facing local extinction. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment on a proposal to list the pinto abalone as a State Endangered Species.
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…
By Joe Gaydos. For more than a week, a female Southern Resident Killer Whale has been carrying her dead calf around the Salish Sea.
J35, the 20-year-old orca also known as Tahlequah, gave birth on July 24th, but the baby girl died just a short time later. Since then, people around the world have watched as this young mother has appeared to grieve.
Primates, including Gelada baboons, Japanese macaques, chimpanzees and mountain gorillas have been shown to carry around dead babies even though, as one researcher commented, it "is a waste of energy and seems to be of no benefit to the mother."
We held our biggest event of the year this past weekend on Orcas Island. It was a beautiful sunny day in Deer Harbor, filled with great food, wine and music – all bound together by a common love for the Salish Sea. Check out our photos from the event.
Our debut photography contest was an all-around blast. We have formally notified the winners and are excited to share their work with you!
In total, we received 872 photos from 161 photographers. Check out the Grand Prize winner by Bruce Kerwin above and then head on over to the Salish Sea in Focus website to browse all of the category winners and the top 130 photos, which will be recognized at our gala at the Pacific Science Center IMAX in Seattle on October 4th. (Save the date!)
Thanks to all who participated and to our esteemed judges for lending their talents to the competition.
What do red urchins, Pacific sand lance and scientific trawling of the seafloor all have in common?
All three exist at depths that can’t be easily observed by scientists -- that is unless you bring in some fancy tools. Enter SeaDoc and our friends at OceanGate Foundation, with whom we’ve partnered to bring a submarine (a manned submersible called Cyclops 1) to the San Juan Islands this September. We funded three unique research projects, none of which would be possible without this incredible piece of machinery to carry our teams.
Every summer, SeaDoc brings one or more rising third-year veterinary students to Orcas Island to assist with research projects in conjunction with the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor. The eight-week internship is a great opportunity for vet students to get involved in wildlife health issues.
One of their primary roles is to help respond to marine mammal strandings, but they also participate in medical rounds at the Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and they work closely with volunteers and spend a good deal of time educating and speaking with the public. This year's interns are Alexa Dickson and Tamsen Polley from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.