Meet Jess Newley, SeaDoc’s Newest Board Member

Meet Jess Newley, SeaDoc’s Newest Board Member

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.

Making a Splash with the Kids of the Salish Sea

Making a Splash with the Kids of the Salish Sea

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), 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.

What We Learned From J50

What We Learned From J50

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.

We Brought a Sub to the Salish Sea (PHOTOS)

We Brought a Sub to the Salish Sea (PHOTOS)

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. 

Harbor Seals, Killer Whales & Lifelong Memories: A Conversation with SeaDoc's Summer Interns

Harbor Seals, Killer Whales & Lifelong Memories: A Conversation with SeaDoc's Summer Interns

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.

Young Wildlife Photographer Makes a Donation to Help Save the Sea

Young Wildlife Photographer Makes a Donation to Help Save the Sea

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…

Is Southern Resident Killer Whale J35 really mourning?

Is Southern Resident Killer Whale J35 really mourning?

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."

Salish Sea in Focus Photo Contest Winners!

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.

Science on the Seafloor: A Research Submarine is Coming to the San Juan Islands

Science on the Seafloor: A Research Submarine is Coming to the San Juan Islands

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.

Meet SeaDoc's 2018 Interns

Meet SeaDoc's 2018 Interns

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.

2018 Wine & Sea Auction

The SeaDoc Society's annual Wine and Sea benefit auction will be held on Saturday, July 14, 2018, starting at 5pm at Family Tides Farm in Deer Harbor on Orcas Island. If you would like to reserve a seat, contact Jean Lyle at 360-376-3910 or or purchase online. Please RSVP by June 30. Tickets are $150 per person. This year SeaDoc welcomes a submarine to the Salish Sea and we launch our Junior SeaDoctors program for kids. Join us on July 14 to celebrate an exciting year of science and education.

Want to donate wine to this year's auction? Here's how you do it.

Buy Tickets Online:


Predator Versus Prey: An Eagle's Eye View

Predator-prey relationships are strong evolutionary drivers and prime movers and shapers of our natural world. They also make for dramatic stories that seem to portray black-and-white cases of cause and effect. Ecosystems, however, function at such a high level of complexity that seldom are things as straightforward as they appear.

In Yellowstone, introduced wolves take down elk and the park’s forests grow and streams revert to meandering courses. In the Salish Sea, seals and sea lions are protected and salmon populations crash. Along the Pacific flyway, we stop poisoning and shooting bald eagles and suddenly seabirds are struggling.

VIDEO: Joe Shares SeaDoc's New Kids' Book on New Day Northwest

As you may already know, our Science Director Joe Gaydos co-wrote a kids’ book to engage the young people who will inherit the Salish Sea. He went live on KING5’s New Day Northwest Tuesday to talk about the book and the wonder of the Salish Sea as a whole. Learn more about the book and how you can help inspire the next generation at

Filled with beautiful photography and engaging stories, Explore the Salish Sea: A Nature Guide for Kids inspires children to explore the unique marine ecosystem that encompasses the coastal waters from Seattle’s Puget Sound up to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Georgia Strait of British Columbia.

Discover the Salish Sea and learn about its vibrant ecosystem in this engaging non-fiction narrative that inspires outdoor exploration. Filled with full-color photography, this book covers wildlife habitats, geodiversity, intertidal and subtidal sea life, and highlights what is unique to this Pacific Northwest ecosystem. The book was written by SeaDoc Science Director Joe Gaydos and board member Audrey Benedict.

Donate Wine to the 2018 Wine and Sea Auction

We've made it easy for you to purchase one or more bottles of wine (at a 20% discount) for donation to the SeaDoc Wine 'n' Sea auction. Here's how it works:

  1. Look below to see the list of hand-selected wines
  2. Pick the wines you want to donate.
  3. Call Compass Wines in Anacortes to give them your order and payment. 360-293-6500
  4. Be sure to mention this is for the SeaDoc Auction, (you'll get 20% off), and let them know how you'd like to be acknowledged on the bid sheet.
  5. We'll take care of the rest! The wines will be delivered directly to SeaDoc in time for the auction.

Prices shown below are actual value for the auction. The price to SeaDoc members for the auction are 20% off the prices shown.

Andrew Sorella 2012                                     $78.99

Angel Vine Columbia Valley Zinfandel 2013            $20.99

Avennia Arnaut Syrah 2015                           $50.99

Barthomew Tannat 2014                                $31.99

Bergevin Lane Intuition 2008                          $58.99

Betz clos du Betz 2015                                   $61.99

Brian Carter Corrida 2013                            $29.99

Buty Connor Lee 2013                                     $45.99

Cadence Camerata 2014                              $60.99

Cayuse Horsepower Sur Echalas 2014           $199.99

Cedergreen Cabernet 2010                          $29.99

Co Dinn Cabernet 2013                                  $54.99

Covington Cellars Syrah 2007                       $45.99

Coyote Canyon Sangiovese 2013                  $19.99

Damsel Columbia Valley Syrah 2014                        $35.99

Delille Chaleur Estate 1998                            $100.00

Den Hoed Andreaus Cabernet 2012              $80.99

Dunham Lewis Vineyard Merlot 2012             $75.99

Fidelitas Red Mountain Optu 2015                $55.99

Figgins Red 2013                                           $104.99

Finn River Blueberry Dessert Cider                  $23.99

Five Star Walla Walla Sangiovese 2012     $30.99

Flying Trout Deep River Red 2015                 $28.99

Force Majeure Collaboration Ptera 2010      $50.99

Gilbert Cellars Left Bank Red 2014               $24.99

Gorman Evil Twin 2014                                  $65.99

Gramercy Lagniappe Syrah 2014                $61.99

Grand Reve Collaboration III 2008               $51.99

L’Ecole No. 41 Ferguson 2014                                   $65.99

Leonetti Reserve 2014                                                $199.99

Lobo Hills Right Bank Lonesome Springs 12    $35.99

Lullaby Laylee 2010                                      $52.99

Mark Ryan Old Vines 2015                            $65.99

No Girls Tempranillo 2014                            $149.99

Pondera Jackalope 2010                              $50.99

Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2004   $300.00

Rotie Cellars Little G 2013                             $82.99

Sheridan Singularity Syrah 2014                   $94.99

SightGlass Cellars Cabernet Franc 2014       $45.99

Sleight of Hand Illusionist 2012                      $53.99

Sparkman Evermore Cabernet 2012              $97.99

Two Vintners Sal Cabernet 2014                    $55.99

Walla Walla Vintners Vintage Select 2014  $61.99

Woodinville Wine Cellars OMO 2010          $38.99

Woodward Canyon Old Vines Cab 2014     $105.99

Thank You for Giving 'Explore the Salish Sea' to Kids in Need

Thanks to all who have given copies of our new book to the young explorers who will inherit the Salish Sea! Your online contributions to our Indiegogo campaign plus a matching $5,000 donation from Karen and Phil Drayer and several generous donations that came in by mail have pushed us beyond our $20,000 goal!

We are so excited to share these books with children who might have otherwise been deprived of a chance to connect with the Salish Sea. If you haven’t had a chance to buy a book for a child in need, visit the book page on our website to see how you can support.

We promised a shout-out to all who donated five books or more. Deep thanks from all of us here at Team SeaDoc to all who got behind this campaign!

  • Karen and Phillip Drayer
  • Martha Kongsgaard and Peter Goldman
  • Kathy Dickinson McDowell
  • Wally and Susan Gudgell
  • Debra Cederbaum
  • Heather and Ron Rosenberg
  • Betty Corbett
  • Ivan Reiff
  • Audrey Benedict
  • Rochelle and Cory Severson
  • Janice Sears
  • Kerry Dyson Allen
  • Susan Alter
  • Brian Ehrmantraut and Moana Kutsche
  • Janice D'Amato
  • Kit Wright
  • Ken and Mariann Carrasco
  • Janet Alderton
  • Markus Naugle
  • Kate Janeway and H.S. Wright III
  • Audrey and Dean Stupke
  • Mollie and Glenn Anthony
  • Valerie Rockefeller
  • Nancy Liebermann
  • Sound Action
  • David Hall
  • Colleen Broughton
  • Brian Riddell
  • Alissa Elderkin
  • Wally and Josie Barrow
  • Nicole Hehn
  • Larry Soll and Nancy Maron
  • Harvey Himelfarb and Alice Swan
  • Kirsten and Jamie Gilardi
  • Bob and Sandi Friel
  • Tegan Tigani
  • Trude Wright
  • Jennifer and Kevin Lassahn
  • Bob Dash and Ranna McNeil
  • Charlotte and Joel Gaydos
  • Sara Jane Johnson
  • Susan and Mike Briddell
  • Wendolyn Michnay
  • Chris Moench and Jennifer Hahn
  • Carl Johansen and Judy Chapman
  • Meggen Chadsey
  • Annie Jost DeKay
  • Mary and Gil Masters
  • Stu and Patsy Stephens
  • Pam Loew and Linda Henry
  • Leslie Dierauf and Jim Hurley
  • Bert and Sue Webber
  • Angel Braestrup
  • JoAnn and Wayne English
  • (Updating as donations continue to come in)

'Return of the Sea Otter:' A Book Review by Joe Gaydos


SeaDoc Society Science Director Joe Gaydos reviews Return of the Sea Otter: the story of the animal that evaded extinction on the Pacific coast, by Todd McLeish.

Whether you are in the camp that defines sea otters as the epitome of cute or in the other camp with abalone, sea cucumber or urchin fisherman who see them as their nemesis, there is no debating that the sea otter plays a key role in shaping healthy nearshore ocean ecosystems. From Alaska to California, these fascinating and complex animals have survived centuries of harvest and persecution. In at least one location, they’ve even been targeted as prey by killer whales.

In his book Return of the Sea Otter, Todd McLeish tells this story. But he also tells the other side of the story; the one of multiple translocation efforts, research and rehabilitation - the story of people committed to making the world a better place, once species at a time.

Beautifully written, entertaining and engaging, McLeish’s tale of the sea otter will make you love this incredible animal and the ocean even more, and will leave you with hope that our intensive efforts to better understand and heal our stressed ocean can and will make a difference.

Ocean Acidification Expert to Receive Salish Sea Science Prize

Dr. Nina Bednaršek will receive the 2018 Salish Sea Science Prize for her work on the effects of ocean acidification on pteropods.

Dr. Nina Bednaršek

Dr. Nina Bednaršek

Ocean acidification is a threat to marine ecosystems around the world and the Salish Sea is among those most vulnerable to its effects. Recognition of the problem is new and there are practically no measures in place to regulate or manage it.

Enter Dr. Nina Bednaršek, a scientist with the the Southern California Coastal Waters Research Project and winner of this year’s Salish Sea Science Prize. Through years of groundbreaking science, Bednaršek and her collaborators discovered that tiny marine mollusks called pteropods can be used to understand the biological effects of ocean acidification, which is a growing threat due to human-caused pollution. Pteropods are an indicator species for the ecosystem as a whole.

“The Salish Sea is one big ocean acidification hotspot,” said Bednaršek. “It’s corrosive from late fall through winter, including early spring. It’s so severe that it’s not just impacting pteropod shells; it’s impacting their survival.”

The SeaDoc Society, a program of the UC Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, awards the Salish Sea Science Prize every two years to recognize scientists whose work will result in the improved health of fish and wildlife populations in the Salish Sea. It comes with a $2,000, no-strings attached cash prize and will be awarded to Bednaršek on April 4 at the opening plenary session of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle.

There are currently no established ways to evaluate and regulate the effects of ocean acidification, but Bednaršek’s study of pteropods has laid the foundation for that to change.

Her work began in the Scotia Sea off the Southern Ocean, which is an intense upwelling region where deep sea water naturally rises to the surface – a characteristic shared by the west coast of North America, including the Salish Sea where she would go on to study extensively.

Throughout her studies in these ocean acidification hotspots, Bednaršek and her collaborators observed the severe dissolution of pteropod shells, which are typically about as thin a human hair.

“Under normal conditions the shell is smooth,” said Bednaršek. “But in corrosive waters it becomes opaque and fragmented.”


As their shells become damaged, their stress levels rise and they reallocate energy in an attempt to fend off death, leaving them heavily compromised and prone to infection and predation. Pteropods are a crucial food source for many fish in the Salish Sea, including salmon.

Within a few years, Bednaršek published nine papers describing how pteropod dissolution correlates with physical and chemical stressors in our region, which can be tied to sewage dumping, storm water runoff, carbon emissions and climate change. The highest impacts she has observed throughout her studies have been in the Salish Sea.

Bednaršek’s work shows that more than half of the pteropods along the west coast already show evidence for severe shell dissolution, and the individuals affected could be correlated with the local ocean acidification stress.

Bednaršek and her collaborators have already developed a set of ocean acidification indices that could be used by coastal States and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address water quality issues with respect to ocean acidification, and she has translated that research so that it can be used in water quality management.

“Science is crucial in driving changes in policy and management,” said Bednaršek. “You need solid scientific evidence to detect how humans are impacting the environment.”

Dr. Bednaršek's work makes it clear that ocean acidification is already having an effect on biological organisms and is an unprecedented threat on our ocean’s ecosystems. Her work with this tiny creature is filling large gaps needed to drive the kinds of management actions that will be needed to mitigate ocean acidification.

"Science plays a critical role in restoring ecosystems like the Salish Sea,” said Joe Gaydos, SeaDoc Society Science Director. "The Salish Sea Science Prize is designed to recognize how science helps us figure out what to do when we are faced with evolving challenges like ocean acidification. We couldn't be more honored to give Dr. Bednaršek this award."


Nina Bednaršek: 714-755-3237 / ninab@sccwrp.or
Joe Gaydos: 360-914-1083 /

Lost Fishing Gear Project Featured on NBC News (VIDEO)

A crew with NBC News recently tagged along with a group of fishermen as they ventured into the Pacific Ocean to remove ghost fishing gear -- 640,000 tons of which is lost, abandoned or discarded in the world’s oceans every year.

The California Lost Fishing Gear Project was started by the SeaDoc Society’s founding Director, Kirsten Gilardi, who continues to run the project from SeaDoc’s administrative base at the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, UC Davis. The work is funded by state and federal grants in California.

Buy SeaDoc's Kids Book for a Child in Need

The SeaDoc Society will soon publish a book for young readers titled Explore the Salish Sea: A Nature Guide for Kids. This week we launched an Indiegogo campaign that allows you to buy a copy of the book for a child who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

Our goal is to make the book available to every 5th and 6th grader in the Salish Sea regardless of their ability to pay. (SeaDoc will distribute the purchased books). It’s a great opportunity for SeaDoc supporters to invest in the next generation!

Low-income families are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation. We want to make sure every kid has the opportunity to fall in love with the Salish Sea, because its health depends on the next generation.

Please consider supporting the Indiegogo campaign today and help us spread the word! Visit the Indiegogo page:

The book, written by SeaDoc Science Director Joe Gaydos and board member Audrey Benedict, is filled with beautiful photos and compelling stories about this unique inland sea. It will be in stores and Amazon on April 17!

In the meantime, let’s gift them to the next generation! Learn more on our Indiegogo page.