Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Water, Water Everywhere: It's A WaterWorld!

During the last week of April, students from across Washington state gathered at Fort Worden for WaterWorld, a week-long arts and science camp run by Centrum in collaboration with the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. The week is filled with art, dance, and writing activities, as well as science classes taught by Science Center staff. Our role was to help students understand how marine and terrestrial habitats are connected by watersheds.

Examining bull kelp at low tide 
The highlight of the week-long camp was Expedition Day, where campers journeyed through the forest, across meadows, and along the beach to discover the variety of aquatic habitats in and around Fort Worden. Sightings included bald eagles, tadpoles, seals, and crabs. After identifying and learning about the animals they had seen, some students paused to draw or write about their expedition day discoveries. All students participated in a showcase at the end of the week, where they presented skits, poems, dances, and the artistic journals they produced in class and on the expedition.

How many animals can fit under a rock?
I enjoyed the opportunity to share both my love of science and art with many different campers  and seeing their enjoyment of relating their experience in the natural world using artistic mediums was incredibly rewarding. Art is a wonderful way to reach new audiences and to help inspire a lifelong wonder at the world around us, and I am always glad to include it in science education. Learn more about WaterWorld and see more photos.

Photos by Nancy Isreal



CAROLYN WOODS is the Natural History Exhibit and Volunteer Educator and an AmeriCorps Member serving at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Four Reasons to be Thankful!

Reflecting on our successes this past week, we'd like to celebrate and extend our thanks to some of the people who make our work possible:

Our Friends & Members:



On Saturday, twenty-five people came down for a low tide walk at Kinzie Beach on a warm, blue-sky morning. Spreading out among the rocks, kelp, and seagrasses, visitors discovered shaggy mouse nudibranchs, gumboot chitons, blood stars, anemones, hermit crabs, sea worms, giant barnacles, limpets, and even a snailfish, named for its tail which folds inward like a snail shell when the fish is resting.

Our Generous Donors:



Last Tuesday and Wednesday, 128 people participated in our GiveBIG campaign, a 42% increase in participants over last year! Donations ranged from $10 to $2,500 and came from as far away as Vermont! Thank you all for coming together to collectively make a huge impact. We are happy to report that we surpassed our goal of $15,000, raising a total of $20,625!

We are thrilled with this 19% increase over last year — a new GiveBIG record for the Port Townsend Marine Science Center — and are humbled and honored by your support.

Our Volunteers:



Every weekend, squeals and laughter echo through our exhibits and touch tanks as our volunteer docents tell the story of our orca, Hope, and help visitors connect their own lives and choices with the health and conservation of the Salish Sea. Whether seeing a child touch the incredibly soft fur of a seal for the first time or wriggle with excitement as their finger is delicately "hugged" by a sea urchin, our volunteers help create small moments of inspiration almost daily. Those moments can shape a lifetime.

Our Lifelong Learners:



Yesterday, we welcomed a group of 80 second-grade students from Sand Hill Elementary School for a tour of our Marine Exhibit. One unanticipated highlight of the tour was a tank filled with seawater (and nothing else), which we had goofily named "the plankton tank." Upon discovering that seawater is filled with billions of plankton, one student asked for permission to uncover the tank so he could "please touch all the plankton." Students excitedly took turns dunking their hands into the sea water and looking at plankton under a microscope. One student expressed fear of having to leave before she got a chance to look at plankton under the microscope because, she said, "plankton are the coolest dudes ever!" The students were more hyped about the plankton than anything else, which is a marine exhibit first. When asked how the water in the "plankton tank" felt, one student exclaimed, "Oh my goodness! It feels like I'm being tickled by a billion tiny creatures!" Needless to say, the "plankton tank" was a total Sand Hill Elementary hit.

Thank you to all our members, donors, volunteers, students, and friends for making this past week such a success at the Marine Science Center.

Photo 1 by Port Townsend Marine Science Center | Photos 2 & 3 by Gary Larson | Photo 4 by Zofia Knorek



JOIN US AT OUR ANNUAL MEETING Thursday, May 26 from 5:00 to 6:30 for a recap of the Science Center's highlights and successes over the past year as well as a lecture presentation from new Program Director Karlisa Callwood on the Caribbean spiny lobster.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Tomorrow is the BIG Day!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 3, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is trying to raise $15,000 through GiveBIG, the Seattle Foundation's one-day online charitable giving event. Help us address the problems affecting our oceans today — together we can make an impact!

Volunteers monitor sea star wasting in the Marine Exhibit
Your donation will help us raise $15,000 tomorrow — thanks to a group of generous PTMSC supporters, the first $7,500 donated will be matched dollar for dollar and stretched even further by the Seattle Foundation!

Schedule your gift right now!

Your support allows us to train volunteers and inspire visitors to make a collective impact with our Gone Green? Go Blue! exhibits, continue to monitor the health of local sea star populations in the wake of sea star wasting, and teach students and visitors how to "be a toxic-free zone" to keep plastics and harmful chemicals out of our oceans.

Gooseneck barnacles attached to plastic water bottle.
Found at Fort Worden beach, May 1, 2016
In anticipation of this BIG event, we’ve been sharing inspiring Go Blue! stories and tips:
Learn from Whales, read about a once-in-a-lifetime Orca encounter, and take a quiz to learn what kind of Change Maker you are.

Thank you for being a champion of ocean health and conservation.



The GiveBIG campaign only lasts for one day, so please help us in raising $15,000 on Tuesday, May 3. Schedule your gift today to help us reach our goal and share this post to spread the word!



Friday, April 29, 2016

What Kind of Change Maker are You?

There are countless ways for each of us to Go Blue! by sharing our individual environmentally friendly "green" practices with our friends and communities.

One quick and easy way you can Go Blue! right now is to spread the word about GiveBIG on Tuesday, May 3 and help us reach our $15,000 fundraising goal. Your gift supports our mission and programs, and thanks to a group of amazing local donors, any contribution you make will be matched dollar-for-dollar!


Looking for other ways to Go Blue? Take this 7-question quiz at Story of Stuff to find out what kind of change-maker you are. Then visit our exhibits to see what sorts of changes you can help make towards a healthier ocean in your local community!

When I interviewed Amy yesterday, she decided that she was a Communicator:

"I think I'm a Communicator. I like being creative with the way I tell stories: whether with photography, art, or dance, I love figuring out how to connect all our volunteers with our different programs!"

Communicators use creativity to share knowledge, remind people how we're all
connected, and spread news and ideas to other changemakers.
When I went through the exhibit myself, I realized that I'm also a communicator!

Find out whether you're a Communicator, Builder, Resister, Networker, Nurturer, or Investigator to help inform the sorts of Go Blue! actions you can take to help your community be more sustainable!

These volunteers might very well be "Nurturers," providing support and care,
having a source of strength so large that it can be shared with others when they need it,
and always being ready, able and willing to help. Like when a seal shows up downtown!
Did you take the quiz? Please let us know in the comments what kind of change-maker you are!

And remember, even sharing this post is a Go Blue! action!



ALISON RILEY is the marketing and development coordinator at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

Next Tuesday, May 3, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is trying to raise $15,000 for our mission and programs through GiveBIG, a one-day, online charitable giving event hosted by the Seattle Foundation, but we can't do it without your help! Thanks to a challenge match from a group of local donors, your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar before being stretched even further by the Seattle Foundation! Schedule your gift today!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Go Blue! Profile: Amy Johnson

I sat down with Port Townsend Marine Science Center Volunteer Coordinator Amy Johnson to find out what inspires her to Go Blue! We invite you to Go Blue with us next Tuesday, May 3 during GiveBIG. 

What do you like to do outside of work?
I love walking up through Fort Worden after work, down into the Chinese Gardens and seeing how everything changes from one day to the next. I've been trying to use my camera to look at things in new ways, from different perspectives. Finding new ways of connecting with my surroundings and with people really motivates me.

What is your personal relationship with the Salish Sea?
I grew up here and I think all my paths coalesce around marine science. It started back in kindergarten. My kindergarten teacher was my favorite teacher. She had some background in marine biology and would bring marine biologists into our class to talk to us about whales. I didn't realize that's where my relationship with the Salish Sea started until I was 22 and dropped a political theory class to take "Marine Diversity and Conservation" and remembered that I had always thought marine science is freaking cool!

Any highlights or best memories from studying marine sciences?
We did a field trip to Friday Harbor to do some "night-lighting" [also known as "Friday Harbor TV"] where you put a flashlight underwater and see what creatures come up to inspect it. One of the creatures was this crazy iridescent alien folding itself in half and bending and opening and my teacher told me to smell it. It smelled like fake watermelon — I was totally fascinated.

Melibe leonina, the hooded nudibranch, secretes a sweet, watermelon smell
What aspect of the Marine Science Center's work resonates with you?
For me, our education programs. I am forever a teacher and a learner. I will teach people randomly at the bar about plankton. Inspiration is the first step to conservation, and to be inspired by something, you have to have an awareness of it. So, seeing the students who come through our education programs become aware and inspired by the Salish Sea is the key, for me.

Can you tell me about a moment of awe you've experienced on the Salish Sea?
I was on a research team measuring Orcas' hormone levels by collecting orca stool samples. We'd follow a pod of Orcas flukeprint to flukeprint, always trying to stay two flukeprints away, looking for this mucousy stuff [the stool] on the surface.

At one point, we were suddenly right above them, so we turned our motor off and waited. A huge Chinook Salmon swam under the boat followed directly by an Orca that was hunting it. Seeing the scale of this giant salmon next to the nose of the Orca ... it was this moment of complete awe. I was stunned. That feeling — there are no words. Orcas are incredible, incredible animals.

What inspires you to Go Blue?
The Salish Sea is an amazing estuary and ecosystem — I can't stress how important it is. I also can't imagine our region without Orcas. When we lost those six in such a short amount of time — one, and then another, and another, I could barely face the idea of losing them. I remember thinking at the time, "what if we can't turn this around?"

What Kind of Change Maker are you?
I think I'm a Communicator. I like being creative with the way I tell stories: through photography, art, dance, and I love figuring out how to connect all our volunteers with our different programs!

Communicators use creativity to share knowledge, remind people how we're all
connected, and spread news and ideas to other changemakers.
Why do you think it's important to Go Blue?
By turning your "green actions" [loving and understanding the importance of plankton] into "blue actions" [teaching someone else about the importance of plankton] you might inspire someone else to do a "blue action" too!
In our Be a Toxic Free Zone exhibit, Amy elevates her
"green action" (buying a non-flame-retardant pillow)
into a "blue action" (encouraging me to do the same!)


ALISON RILEY is the marketing and development coordinator at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

Next Tuesday, May 3, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is trying to raise $15,000 for our mission and programs through GiveBIG, a one-day, online charitable giving event hosted by the Seattle Foundation, but we can't do it without your help! Thanks to a challenge match from a group of local donors, your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar before being stretched even further by the Seattle Foundation! Schedule your gift today!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Learning from Whales

"Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountains and the sea, are excellent school masters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books" —John Lubbock

After months of cold, dark, windy days, the warmth has finally arrived. I find myself looking for more excuses to stay outside and explore everything from the woods to the sea. I'm noticing flowers blooming and birds singing, all new species to me as a newcomer to the Pacific North West. But one this is for sure, with the warmth comes the familiar creatures that I have known and loved for as long as I can remember — whales.

 After almost two hours of not seeing any whales,
 we came across this Humpback Whale lobtailing
 (slapping its fluke on the ocean surface)

Every day I scan the horizon looking for whales — their great exhale or their tall dorsal fins. And while I am excited for Orcas and Grey Whales to be swimming through the Puget Sound, I am most excited to see the Humpback Whales.

Dyad.
This was the first Humpback Whale I identified off of the fluke patterns
Photo Credit: Blue Ocean Society

In the summer of 2012, I was working on a whale watching boat out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, recording whale behavior and educating the passengers. With each trip out to sea, my love for the ocean grew deeper (as deep as the Mariana Trench!). I learned not only about these wonderful creatures, but how connected they are to their surroundings. I was finally able to apply what I had learned in school to the real world. From then on, my curiosity and desire to learn more about the ocean led me to where I am today. With every job and every move, I become engulfed in a new ecosystem with all of its critters.

Pinball (Left) and another Humpback whale.
Photo Credit: Blue Ocean Society

So as each spring comes, and the whales start coming in, I always think back to that summer on the boat where it all began. While I won't recognize any of the patterns on the underside of Pacific Humpbacks' caudal fins, I am excited to learn the individuals on the West Coast.



KATIE CONROY is the Marine Mammal Stranding Educator and an AmeriCorps member serving at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.


Next Tuesday, May 3, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is trying to raise $15,000 for our mission and programs through GiveBIG, a one-day, online charitable giving event hosted by the Seattle Foundation, but we can't do it without your help! Thanks to a challenge match from a group of local donors, your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar before being stretched even further by the Seattle Foundation! Schedule your gift today!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Together We Can Make an Impact

Katie and Zofia Go Blue! by teaching a workshop on DIY toxic-free
household cleaners and personal care products
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center invites you to help us raise $15,000 for our mission and programs through GiveBIG, a one-day, online charitable giving event hosted by the Seattle Foundation.

GiveBIG takes place on Tuesday, May 3 this year. Our theme is Go Blue! Together we can make an impact!

This year, you can schedule your gift in advance.

Thanks to a challenge match from a group of local donors, your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar before being stretched even further by the Seattle Foundation!

Your gift allows us to train volunteers and inspire visitors to make a collective impact with our Gone Green? Go Blue! exhibits, continue to monitor the health of local sea star populations, and teach students and visitors how to "be a toxic-free zone."

Spring (and spawning season) is here! Check out this spawning blood star —

All funds raised during the GiveBIG campaign directly support the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. Thank you for being a champion of ocean health and conservation.

The GiveBIG campaign only lasts for one day, so please help us in raising $15,000 on Tuesday, May 3.



Want to Go Blue right now? Get a jumpstart on your collective action by joining PTMSC and the Port Townsend Food Co-Op for a community beach clean up, this Saturday, April 23! Learn more and get a $5 food voucher for the co-op.