Sunday, October 8, 2017

Little Progress Made Towards A Puget Sound "Fishable, Swimmable, Diggable," Says Partnership After 10 Years

[Encyclopedia of Puget Sound]
Governor Christine Gregoire 10 years ago coined the awful clunky phrase "fishable, swimmable, diggable" to describe the progress to be made to Puget Sound recovery by the year 2020. Sadly, the next State of the Sound Report presented to the Partnership’s Leadership Council late last month pretty much tells the same story of previous progress reports: "We have done many good things, but the system has not yet responded positively." Why not?

In brief: Not enough money, not enough popular awareness of problems, not enough protection of what exists, and not enough attention to a growing economy and population.

Here in the Partnership’s own words from the September 15 draft State of the Sound report (with thanks to the indefatigable Pete Haase of Skagit County who actually attends Leadership Council meetings as a concerned citizen and reports back on what he hears)--

“1 . We are not investing at a level necessary to achieve recovery. We simply have not prioritized Puget Sound recovery at a level that results in adequate spending on restoration and protection projects.

2 . Too few people understand that Puget Sound is in trouble. We must do a better job of providing credible, hard-hitting information to our citizenry, whom we are confident cares deeply about Puget Sound—and will demand a recovery effort that is successful.

3 . While we have appropriately focused much on restoration projects, we have not focused enough on programs designed to protect what we have. We must support our local governments and state and federal agencies as they go about the extraordinarily difficult task of preventing projects and activities that will harm the Sound.

4 . We have to ramp up our effort to keep pace with our booming economy. It has been reported that 1,000 people a week are moving into the Puget Sound basin. That means housing, roads, and other supportive infrastructure, all of which has the potential to destroy habitat, degrade water quality, reduce stream flows, and lower groundwater tables.”

Such frankness and plain-speaking are appreciated but after 10 years a bit ironic. There’s always the problem with funding but how has the money been spent to make the Sound healthier? And why hasn’t the Partnership effort raised public awareness, focused on protection as well as restoration, and developed strategies to deal with growth?

For at least the last 20 years we’ve known Chinook salmon and resident killer whales were in trouble and that recovery required a spectrum of unified actions dealing with pollution prevention and cleanup, habitat protection and restoration, land use and catch management changes, and an active, involved public constituency that kept the issue of the Sound’s health on the front burner.

There once were non-governmental organizations watchdogging this effort and jumping up and down about what needed to be done for the Sound. Where are they now?

Now there’s an action agenda, a constellation of goals and multiple indicators of success.  So how about sparking some urgency to take action for a Puget Sound whose health is slipping away. Show us the leadership that finds funding, educates and involves the public, enforces existing laws, and grapples with population growth.

The treaty tribes will do what they can but they cannot save Puget Sound. It’s also up to state and local elected officials, agency staff and businesses. That’s what these years of “saving Puget Sound” have been all about. And when there are enough people involved, speaking out and voting for candidates and issues supporting a healthy Sound, action follows. Maybe when that happens, reporters will begin covering Puget Sound issues and Pete Haase will have other citizens joining him at Partnership meetings.

The author of the State of the Sound reports says that “we simply need to summon the will— at multiple levels, all across Puget Sound” to “chart a course for where we must go next.”

Better get going. It’s urgent.

--Mike Sato

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse— At Least Once In A Lifetime

[JPL/NASA]
July 11, 1991, Honolulu, was my once in a lifetime (thus far) experience with a total solar eclipse. It began mid-morning and aunts and uncles and family friends gathered at my parents home in Manoa Valley. In the gradual darkening of the totality, I walked down the steep steps to the back yard to watch, using the proper protective lenses (which must have been sufficiently protective since I can still see).

It never got completely as dark as night but the July mid-morning, Hawaii temperature noticeably dropped and a stillness enveloped the back yard. I quickly hurried up the steps to report to those gathered in the living room only to find them comfortably watching the eclipse on television. I could at best describe poorly what could be seen clearly, without protective lenses, on the bright screen.

There is no experience quite like watching a total solar eclipse outside in real time. Use a little imagination and try to see it through the eyes of a pre-scientific person, try to make up a story that makes sense of what you see. What filled me with amazement and still does every time there is a solar or lunar eclipse is how we have learned the physics and mathematics to predict with great accuracy the places and times these wonderful celestial events occur. We’ve come a long way from making up stories. Think about that relationship between what’s inside our heads and what’s outside in the natural world— pretty profound.

This morning I’ll be watching an 88% totality with my grandson and joking that he can use the protective lenses while I watch the eclipse on television. But I’ll be outside with him as will millions of others coming together for a few hours, sharing the experience of a lifetime.

So, that’s my story. Send me yours to share.

--Mike Sato

Friday, July 14, 2017

NEWS RELEASE: Orphan Orca Springer Gives Birth To Second Calf

Springer & new calf [PHOTO: Lisa Spaven, DFO]
NEWS RELEASE

July 14, 2017



 

ORPHAN ORCA SPRINGER GIVES BIRTH TO SECOND CALF BEFORE
15TH ANNIVERSARY OF RESCUE CELEBRATION 
JULY 21-23 AT TELEGRAPH COVE, BC
 

The heroic rescue in Puget Sound fifteen years ago of the orphaned orca Springer (A-73) and her return home 300 miles north to Johnstone Strait is celebrated July 21-23 at Telegraph Cove, British Columbia.

Just in time for the celebration, Springer has a new calf! The calf was first spotted by CetaceaLab on BC's north central coast on June 5th and confirmed by a Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) research survey. Springer's first calf, Spirit, was born in 2013.

“Celebrate Springer!” brings together the 2002 rescue team to give first-hand accounts of how Springer was identified, rescued and rehabilitated. She was taken by jet catamaran to the north end of Vancouver Island and reunited with her Northern Resident family.

“Springer’s story is an inspiration on many levels,” said Paul Spong of OrcaLab.  “It proved that an orphan orca, alone and separated from her family, can be rehabilitated and returned to a normal productive life with her family and community; and it showed that disparate parties with diverse interests can come together and work together for the common goal of helping one little whale.”

Fifteen years later, Springer is still healthy and now has given birth twice. They are most often seen on the north central British Columbia coast and occasionally return to Johnstone Strait in summer.

The public is invited to Telegraph Cove at 11 AM on July 22 to hear “Springer’s Story,” a slide show narration by members of Springer’s rescue team, followed by a panel discussion. At 4 PM, the new Telegraph Cove Whale Trail sign will be dedicated and at 5:30 PM, the public is invited to join in for a salmon dinner on the Boardwalk.

“We can hardly believe it has been 15 years since Springer was reunited with her family.  We encourage everyone to come and celebrate this milestone with us at the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove,” said Mary Borrowman, director of the Center. “The most exciting news is the confirmation that Springer has had another calf and we hope we will be fortunate enough to see this famous mother with her family this summer.”

“Fifteen and half years ago Springer was orphaned, 300 miles from home, starving, sick and completely alone,” said Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard, director of the Cetacean Research Program at Ocean Wise. “Her rescue, relocation, reunification with relatives and transition to motherhood is an incredible story. I see it as testimony to both the resiliency of killer whales as a species and to the wonderful things we humans can do when we work together on behalf of — rather than against — nature.”

"The few, well-documented records that we receive of Springer each year are testament not only to the success of her rehabilitation and reintegration with her population but also to the dedication of cetacean researchers up and down the more remote regions of our coast," said Jared Towers, DFO’s killer whale research technician.

 “The Springer success story continues to be an inspiration for all of us working on conservation in the Salish Sea,” said Lynne Barre, the lead for orca recovery at NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast regional office in Seattle. “The partnerships created during Springer's rescue provide a strong foundation for international cooperation as well as coordination between government, state, tribal, and non-profit groups to benefit both Northern and Southern Resident killer whales.”

“Springer’s reunion is an unqualified success – the only project of its kind in history,” said Donna Sandstrom, director of The Whale Trail and co-organizer of “Celebrate Springer!” Telegraph Cove event. “To get the little whale home, we had to learn how to work together, as organizations, agencies and nations. Above all, we put her best interests first. Community members played a key role in shaping Springer's fate.  We hope her story inspires people to join us in working on issues facing our endangered southern resident orcas today, with the same urgency, commitment, and resolve.”

For more information, check out Springer Facebook Page   and The Whale Trail.

# # #

CONTACTS:
Paul Spong, OrcaLab (250) 974-8068
Lara Sloan, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (250) 363-3749
Mary Borrowman, Whale Interpretive Center (250) 949-1556
Deana Lancaster, Ocean Wise (604) 659-3752
Michael Milstein, NOAA Fisheries  (503) 231-6268
Donna Sandstrom, The Whale Trail (206) 919-5397 




Monday, July 3, 2017

Merlins

Merlin [Photo: Barb Deihl]
Merlins

Guest blog by Barb Deihl

Right now, at the end of June and into July, the young Merlins are getting bigger and bigger and almost ready to head out of their reused crow nests, mostly in 100-foot firs or pines.  Fledging has started for some of the broods.

How do you find them?  Listen for loud, persistent calls high up in sky or tree and, with the help of binoculars and even better, a spotting scope, you may be treated to views of a swift-flying, 11-inch adult falcon.  Following its flight, you may see it engage with another and execute a prey transfer (usually a small bird), deftly execute a small bird, or chase away a crow or an eagle.

You can often follow an adult to the spot where it enters the nest tree and then find the nest after that, and a few young standing on it or jumping or flapping or racing around in the nest.  Soon (in about 2 weeks), you'll notice dark lumps out on branches (still coated with some sprinkles of down).  Then, in the first weeks of July, they will be taking short flights, playing and learning some important life skills.  The parents now provide and even prepare their food.  By late July, the fledglings will have to start using their own hunting skills, often first on small 'summer birds', dragonflies!

Numbers of suburbanizing Merlins living among us have certainly increased in the past decade up an down the coast, from northern California to British Columbia. They adapting well to living around humans.

Click here to view a set of photos of nestlings, fledglings and adults, most of which were taken by me, and one by another person.

Kee-kee-kee!

Writer and photographer Barb Deihl is a Neighborhood Merlin Liaison, naturalist, educator, and environmentalist.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

"Celebrate Springer!' Marks 15th Anniversary of Orphan Orca Rescue

Springer and calf Spirit, July 2013 [PHOTO: Graeme Ellis]
NEWS RELEASE
May 3, 2017

RESCUE OF ORPHANED ORCA SPRINGER 15 YEARS AGO
TO BE CELEBRATED AT SALISH SEA PROGRAMS AND EVENTS
“Celebrate Springer!” marks the 15th anniversary of the dramatic rescue in Puget Sound of the orphaned orca Springer (A-73) and the heroic efforts by Washington and British Columbia teams working together to return her safely to her home 300 miles north in Johnstone Strait at the north end of Vancouver Island.

Fifteen years later, Springer is still healthy and in 2013 had her first calf, Spirit. They are most often
seen on the north central British Columbia coast and occasionally return to Johnstone Strait in summer.

The 2002 Springer rescue team will reconvene in programs and events in Puget Sound, Georgia Strait and Telegraph Cove in May, June and July to give first-hand accounts of how Springer was identified, rescued and rehabilitated. She was taken by jet catamaran to the north end of Vancouver Island and reunited with her Northern Resident family.

“The Springer success story continues to be an inspiration for all of us working on conservation in the Salish Sea,” said Lynne Barre, the lead for orca recovery at NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast regional office in Seattle. “The partnerships created during Springer's rescue provide a strong foundation for international cooperation as well as coordination between government, state, tribal, and non-profit groups to benefit both Northern and Southern Resident killer whales.”

“Celebrate Springer!” begins on May 20 on Vashon Island near the waters were Springer was found. The Vashon Theater program of “Springer’s Story” will feature members of the rescue team, a dance performance by Le La La Dancers, who were present at Springer's release, and followed by a late afternoon Whale Trail sign dedication at the Point Robinson Lighthouse.

“Springer’s reunion is an unqualified success – the only project of its kind in history,” said Donna Sandstrom, director of The Whale Trail and organizer of the Vashon Island event. “To get the little whale home, we had to learn how to work together, as organizations, agencies and nations. Above all, we put her best interests first. Community members played a key role in shaping Springer's fate.  We hope her story inspires people to join us in working on issues facing our endangered southern resident orcas today, with the same urgency, commitment, and resolve.”

“Celebrate Springer!” will continue in June and July with programs at NOAA Fisheries, Whale Trail Orca Talk, Whale Trail sign dedications, and conclude with a three-day program at Telegraph Cove, British Columbia, where Springer was released in 2002 and rejoined her Northern Resident family.

“Springer’s story is an inspiration on many levels,” said Paul Spong of OrcaLab.  “It proved that an orphan orca, alone and separated from her family, can be rehabilitated and returned to a normal productive life with her family and community; and it showed that disparate parties with diverse interests can come together and work together for the common goal of helping one little whale.”

“Celebrate Springer!” partners include NOAA Fisheries, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, OrcaLab, Whale Interpretive Center, Vancouver Aquarium and The Whale Trail.

For more information, check out the Celebrate Springer Facebook page,  and The Whale Trail.

# # #

CONTACT:
Donna Sandstrom, The Whale Trail (206) 919-5397
Michael Milstein, NOAA Fisheries  (503) 231-6268)
Paul Spong, OrcaLab (250) 974-8068
Lara Sloan, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (250) 363-3749
Mary Borrowman, Whale Interpretive Center (250) 949-1556
Deana Lancaster, Vancouver Aquarium (604) 659-3752
 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Had Enough Yet Of Trumpalooza?

It’s now been two months of the Trump Administration barrage of executive orders, nominations and appointments claiming to bring about a new social, political and economic order. “When will there be good news again?” one news reader asks. “I can’t stand what I read every day,” another said, “but I can’t help but read the news every day.” Frankly, I don’t think it will get any easier.

The daily rounds of incoming bad news is not like a war zone but some of the anticipated effect of shock and awe is psychologically akin to what was once called shell shock: that numbness, that desensitized, nervous, anxious feeling. Unlike having to suffer in the foxhole, the trench or the basement bomb shelter, you can (and some advise us to) unplug. Have sex, play with the dog or the kids, walk in the woods, clean the closet or the garage.

But it’s hard not to keep reading, listening, watching. In the last two months the Trump barrage has come down on climate change, digging and burning coal, oil pipeline, immigration, deportation, health care, reproductive rights, science, public broadcasting, education, communication privacy, LGBT rights, Muslims, Hispanics... Trump and his cronies and emerging phalanx of industry collaborators have pretty much demonstrated who will win and who won’t in the new Trumpean Order. It’s as if “We are the 99%” and “Citizens United” and “Black Lives Matter” never happened.

This is a long march. Some of the fervor of the early opposition will probably be lost as the worst is averted (the GOP did not repeal the ACA) or sports and summer grab people’s attention.

However, more troubling is having to make choices as to where to put one’s dollars and time on multiple fronts under siege. This is the danger of battle fatigue. How can everything be important? Will there need to be winners and losers among the causes we champion?

A few years back David Domke of the UW School of Communication advised groups working for the social good to recognize in their communications that the majority public we wished to reach drank drip coffee, not espresso, watched Wheel of Fortune rather than PBS, and shopped at WalMart. He advised us to think through how we could communicate our individual messages in common themes of responsibility, opportunity and legacy so that, while individual in our efforts, we would be heard as standing together in our larger goals.

I think it’s crucial that we start that thinking as our causes come under assault. We need to show how our causes are thematically linked and form a united front that speaks to the kind of society and its values we are fighting for. I think those themes have something to do with equal opportunity, diversity, transparency and the rule of law. I don’t see it coming out of either the Republican or Democratic parties. If we are saying more than “no” to Trump and his cronies, who are “we” and what do we, united, stand for?

One good way to think about this is to chew on a recent piece by Eric Liu titled “How To Get Power” published in TED.Ideas. (Simone Alicea at KNKX interviewed Liu in advance of his talk in Seattle promoting his new book, You're More Powerful than You Think: A Citizen's Guide to Making Change Happen. Listen at: Citizen University Founder Says You're More Powerful Than You Think)

For Liu, the crux is the stories we tell to others: the story of self (what this cause means to me), the story of us (what we share that makes “us” us), and the story of now (this time, this moment calling for action.) Liu makes it tantalizingly simple: “Of these three stories, the middle one — about us — is crucial...Who is “us”?” I say “tantalizingly simple” because many have swooned over the simplicity of Tom Peters’ Passion For Excellence and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point but found carrying out their lessons in the real world difficult.

For example, we know who “us” is among those who are part of the choir of loving animals and nature but do those who sing for LGBT rights or reproductive rights or immigration rights sing their songs about “us” that includes all of us? If you think it doesn’t matter, that’s that. But if you think if having a story we tell about us that includes many of us makes us more powerful against Trump and his cronies and collaborators, chew hard. I think it will take a lot of listening and give and take to converse about “us” so we can talk about “us.” There’s no guarantee we’ll be successful— but if there’s a kind of social, political and economic order we want to see as our society moving forward, that’s the kind of hard work it will take.

Let me know what you think.

--Mike Sato

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Would You Shake Hands With A Groper?

 Update: The Elephant in the Room It’s time we talked openly about Donald Trump’s mental health.  Rosemary K.M. Sword and Philip Zimbardo Ph.D. 2/26/17 (Psychology Today)

Would you shake hands with a someone who groped women? Someone who disrespects judges and a free press? Someone who lies and bullies the vulnerable? I’ve been thinking about this civil act of shaking hands for the past month of the Trump presidency.

I didn’t watch the address to Congress last week (I went to a talk about loons instead) but the TV replay showed lots of handshaking. Commentaries noted how ‘presidential’ Trump was without his customary campaign-style histrionics.

Handshaking is a custom that may have originated in ancient times to show a peaceful intent; the open hand having no weapon. According to Wikipedia, “The handshake is commonly done upon meeting, greeting, parting, offering congratulations, expressing gratitude, or completing an agreement. In sports or other competitive activities, it is also done as a sign of good sportsmanship. Its purpose is to convey trust, respect, balance, and equality. If it is done to form an agreement, the agreement is not official until the hands are parted.” Handshake

My gut feeling faced with the prospects of shaking hands with the President is one of revulsion. But that feeling is in deep conflict with the norms of what I grew up with and internalized as civilized behavior: At an all-boys Episcopal prep school one stands when a woman enters the room, says “sir” and “ma’am,” and shakes hands with a firm grip and eye-to-eye contact. You say, please, and you say, thank you and excuse me, and you respect your elders.

A lot of those norms got tested in the cultural cauldron of the ‘60s. I read Nietzsche's The Genealogy of Morals which examines where societal rules and moral norms come from and their purpose in maintaining social order and the authority of the status quo. I think it was Reed College history prof Owen Ulph who posited that, when the system is corrupt, the social contract with the state is broken and rules no longer apply. Hold that thought, then read Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke and write one’s own life essay on what it means to live a civil life in a time of change.

Unlike Will Rogers, I’ve met and known of a number of people I didn’t like. But I’ve never felt the moral and physical revulsion as I feel with the President. I’ve shaken hands with people I’ve disagreed with, feeling, despite disagreements, we still lived in the same moral universe. From all he’s said, says and done, President Trump and I live in different moral universes.

So, no handshake. But I think about— and worry about— what it means when I cannot maintain one of the most basic norms of civil greeting and tradition. What would a handshake between President Trump and me mean?

For me, the handshake conveys the currency of trust. I’ve shaken hands with people I’ve trusted my life to, my children to, my finances to. With elected officials, bureaucrats and business associates, the handshake’s currency of trust means I will do my part of the relationship and you will do yours. It may very well be a social contract whose rules and norms maintain the status quo, but that is what the currency of trust provides. With no social contract, there is no trust, no handshake. With no trust and no handshake, there is no social contract.

That’s not a comfortable feeling but that’s as far as I’ve come thus far in the current presidency, notwithstanding Trump’s last attempt to appear ‘presidential.’  I never felt this way, despite anger and disappointment, when Nixon, Reagan and Bush 2 began their presidencies. The shorter the term of Trump and his tribe the better.

Would you shake hands with President Trump?

-- Mike Sato