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Stormwater, salmon, and the health of Puget Sound


Keynote speaker at Sound Waters 2010 Dr. Nathaniel ‘Nat’ Scholtz, NOAA/NWFSC Coho salmon are our first choice for a ‘sentinel species’ because they: are widely distributed inhabit lowland steams that are important and familiar to humans and areas impacted directly by stormwater runoff (if we can reduce toxics in lowland streams, then we’ll likely keep [...]

Safina on orcas in LA Times


Save the salmon — and us Above is a link a nice Op-Ed piece by Carl Safina.  Below is my response, submitted today to the L.A. Times. In his 1/24/10 opinion “Save the salmon — and us,” Safina points out that new research says orcas prefer salmon.  But the in-press analysis of prey scraps by [...]

Orca refuge: a gift for endangered killer whales


This Friday, January 15, 2010, is the deadline for public comment on the proposed orca conservation area along the west side of San Juan Island. All marine conservationists should consider commenting on these precedent-setting rules: comment via email | comment via web form.  (Official background and the PDF of proposed rule are on the NOAA [...]

New tools for orca sound annotation


Here’s a glimpse into the future of killer whale sound archives. Steven Ness and collaborators at the University of Victoria have created the Orchive — a suite of open-source, web-based tools for listening to and annotating the recordings of northern resident orcas made by Paul and Helena Spong at OrcaLab. Using Ruby on Rails and [...]

Chinook data needed to interpret orca baby boom


Good national news is rolling in about 5 new southern resident whales and no deaths in 2009, plus one new baby thus far in 2010. Howard, Ken, and Brad allude to looking for correlations or explanations in chinook salmon abundance: It sounds simplistic, Garrett said, but “the way that we can tag the population fluctuations [...]

First outer coast hydrophone nearly live


On December 8th the NEPTUNE Canada cabled ocean observing system started pouring data on to the Internet.  This opens the door for John Ford and his collaborators to listen for killer whales on the outer coast of southwest Vancouver Island.  The Naxys hydrophone is sensitive to 5Hz-65kHz and is located in Folger Passage at 95m [...]

+3dB noise reduces ‘effective listening area’ 30%


Jim Cummings of the Acoustic Ecology Institute has posted another great synopsis of an important new bioacoustics paper that has big implications for southern resident killer whales.  After defining a new bioacoustic metric “effective listening area” (which is MUCH more intuitive than “active space”), the authors clarify how slight increases in ambient noise can have [...]

Kalimari for orcas, or another salmon predator


Ron Hirschi, a local marine naturalist, is reporting Humbolt squid being caught on salmon gear in the central Strait of Juan de Fuca. Will they come all they way in in 2010? 11.30.09 Recreational salmon fishers are now catching them as far east as Sekiu in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Watch for further [...]

How NZ orcas hunt sharks


I was most impressed by this underwater photograph taken by Ingrid Visser of a New Zealand killer whale pursuing a mako shark. The associated article from the Daily Mail describes hunting techniques that smack of likely Southern Resident tactics: collaborative herding and stunning blows from the flukes. I wonder: does she have recordings of the [...]

Salmon court fallacy: we must spill or spew


There are some great observations and quotes in the liveblog of Matthey Preusch during the Nov 23, 2009, Salmon Court. This first one suggests a slight of hand or an ignorance of the primary findings of the Bright Future report — that we do not necessarily have to choose between spilling water for salmon in [...]