Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Lecture: The Salish Sea's Native Corals-- A New Tool to Monitor Ocean Acidification

Sunday, October 20

3 pm

Alex Gagnon, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Chemical Oceanography University of Washington

The Fort Worden Chapel

Admission: $5

(students, teachers FREE)

Alex Gagnon’s talk will focus on cold-water corals, including species native to the Pacific Northwest.

“Many coral reefs are in decline due to rising temperatures and ocean acidification," Gagnon said. "What few people know is that stony corals do not live just in the tropics. A few hardy species of stony corals grow right here in the Pacific Northwest.

"What is even more surprising is that these native corals record information about ocean chemistry as they grow and may hold the key to understanding how much humans have changed the pH of the Salish Sea,” he said.

Gagnon earned his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, as well as a B.S and B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. He received a National Science Foundation CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) award and is director of the TraceLab at the University of Washington, an analytical facility for the measurement of trace elements in environmental materials.

Gagnon uses tools from chemistry and geology to study how ocean acidification impacts corals and other marine organisms that make their skeletons out of calcium carbonate. Based on this mechanistic understanding of calcification, his lab can predict how changing ocean conditions will affect coral reefs and uncover the climate records locked within fossil marine shells.

Gagnon’s lab makes regular expeditions to a field site on Tetiaroa atoll in French Polynesia. The search for deep-sea corals has even taken him to the bottom of the ocean in the submersible vehicle Alvin.

More info about the lecturer:

This is the first installment of The Future of Oceans lecture series.

This event is offered with generous support by the Darrow Family.

Assisted Listening Devices available

Thursday, October 3, 2019

2019 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award presented to Cheri Scalf

Port Townsend Marine Science Center honors longtime salmon restoration advocate and volunteer

Cheri Scalf (r) is congratulated by 2018 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award winner Sarah Doyle (r).
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center announced today that Cheri Scalf is the recipient of the 2019 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award. Scalf has been working on the restoration of salmon runs on the Olympic Peninsula for nearly three decades, first with Wild Olympic Salmon, then with the North Olympic Salmon Coalition and now with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The award was presented at the annual PTMSC Stewardship Breakfast at The Commons at Fort Worden State Park on Oct. 3.

The prestigious Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award recognizes significant contributions in the protection and stewardship of the natural environment of the North Olympic Peninsula. The award, now in its 15th year, pays tribute to Eleanor Stopps, whose vision, advocacy and determination exemplify the power and importance of citizen leadership.

“Cheri is often considered the godmother of the salmon by her friends, family and volunteers,” said North Olympic Salmon Coalition Stewardship Coordinator Sarah Doyle, who received the award in 2018. “She has led a volunteer salmon monitoring project over the last 27 years that has played a critical role in informing fisheries managers of the status of our local salmon populations and has also provided an avenue for community members to be a part of salmon recovery efforts on the Olympic Peninsula.”

Scalf played a vital role in the incubation and rearing of juvenile endangered Hood Canal summer chum salmon while volunteering with Wild Olympic Salmon from 1992-1999 and while working for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Over the years she has worked on the Chimacum, Salmon, Snow, Jimmycomelately, Thorndyke and Tarboo creeks.

Among her notable efforts:
- Scalf was instrumental in the early restoration of summer chum on Chimacum Creek after their returns were reduced to virtually zero. Scalf and other Wild Olympic Salmon volunteers spent countless late nights monitoring thousands of eggs that would later boost the population to over 1,500 wild salmon. She also advocated for and assisted in the restoration of chum salmon habitat.

- Scalf was a strong voice for the construction of a bridge over West Uncas Road. During the 10-year span for the culvert to be removed and the bridge to be built, she recruited volunteers and hauled sandbags to help salmon get through the culvert to healthy spawning habitat upstream. She also engaged stakeholders, agencies and political leaders to advocate for the critical project. The bridge was completed in 2018 and adult summer chum now swim under the bridge to spawning grounds.

- Volunteers recruited by Scalf have, in turn, engaged other community groups to bring even more participants to salmon restoration projects.

- Scalf educates youths and adults about the importance of salmon to local watersheds. Some of her young volunteers have gone on to pursue careers in environmental science.

About the Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award

From the 1960s through the 1990s, Eleanor Stopps was an active member of the Pacific Northwest conservation community. She founded the Admiralty Audubon Chapter and was a primary driver behind the establishment of the Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge in 1982, one of the few federally protected marine refuges established by an Act of Congress at that time. Today it is a critical habitat link in the preservation of the entire Salish Sea ecosystem, providing breeding grounds for pigeon guillemots and rhinoceros auklets, bald eagles and peregrine falcons, harbor seals and elephant seals, and myriad other species.

Stopps died in April 2012 at the age of 92.

The leadership award created in her memory is presented annually to a citizen(s) of the North Olympic Peninsula (Jefferson and Clallam counties) who has led a successful resource conservation effort that benefits the North Olympic Peninsula and its residents directly; acted as a community catalyst for programs, initiatives or ventures that demonstrate a commitment to the future of the earth and its biodiversity; become a model for future leaders in business and education; or has been an exemplary citizen or policy maker who has implemented decisions that, though they may entail risks, have helped our communities take the next step towards environmental sustainability.

The PTMSC has sponsored this annual award since 2009.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Kirk Johnson, Ray Troll Lecture & Book Signing

‘Cruisin' the Fossil Coastline’ authors to share fossil secrets of North America’s west coast

November 16

7 p.m.

The Commons at Fort Worden State Park

$5 general public (FREE to PTMSC Octopus & Orca members)

We are pleased to announce a lecture and book signing by paleontologist and author Kirk Johnson, Ph.D., and artist Ray Troll.

The duo will discuss their recent book, “Cruisin' the Fossil Coastline,” which they co-authored following a lengthy trip from Baja, Calif., to northern Alaska in search of the fossil secrets of North America’s Pacific coast, one of the oldest on earth. It is a rich ground for discovery, including extinct marine mammals, pygmy mammoths, polar dinosaurs, California walruses and more. The pair will share photographs and artworks created over the last decade for the book, along with tales and anecdotes from their many fossil adventures up and down the west coast.

“We are deeply honored to be hosting this lecture and book signing, Ray and Kirk are real-life superheroes demonstrating the power of the integration of art and science,” said PTMSC Executive Director Janine Boire. “The director of the Smithsonian's Natural History museum teamed up with the indomitable artistic creativity of a wild man from Alaska, what Disney imagineer could have dreamed up that combination of brilliance and fun?”

Johnson is the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Sant Director, where he oversees the world’s largest natural history collection. Before his arrival at the Smithsonian in 2012, Johnson was a paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, where his research focused on fossil plants and the extinction of the dinosaurs. He is known for his scientific articles, books, museum exhibitions, documentaries and collaborations with artists. His recent documentaries include the three-part NOVA series, “Making North America” (2015) and “The Great Yellowstone Thaw” (2017), which aired on PBS channels. He is currently working on a documentary about the ancient climate of the Arctic and Antarctic.

Kirk Johnson (l) and Ray Troll (r), photo by Bob Halinen.
Ketchikan fine artist and musician Ray Troll draws his inspiration from extensive field work and the latest scientific discoveries in the fields of ichthyology and paleontology. He is widely known for his surreal artwork in books, museum exhibits, public art and a popular T-shirt line. Troll was the art director for the Miami Museum of Science’s “Amazon Voyage” traveling exhibit, and he installed “The Buzz Saw Sharks of Long Ago” at the Idaho Museum of Natural History, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward and the Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Among Troll’s many awards, he received the Alaska Governor’s Award for the Arts in 2006 and a gold medal for distinction in the natural history arts by the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia in 2007.

Co-sponsored with Centrum and Port Townsend School of Arts

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Eleanora the giant Pacific octopus returns to the Salish Sea

image courtesy Florian Graner

Eleanora the octopus, a former resident in our aquarium, seems content in her new den in Admiralty Inlet 

On Tuesday, August 27, with much coordination and care, we transferred Eleanora from the tank in the aquarium back to the waters of Admiralty Inlet where she was found (click first image below to read more and watch video). The dive team, that included our aquarist Ali Redman and documentarian Florian Graner, carried her to her new home where a den in a hollow log had been located for her (click second image for video). She immediately captured and ate the crab that she found there. Florian returned a day later to follow-up and he is happy to report that Eleanora is thriving in her new space.

Ecstatic thank-yous go out to: our aquarist Ali Redman and all our volunteers and AmeriCorps for keeping Eleanora safe and stimulated during her stay with us; to all the docents for helping visitors understand this complex, graceful creature; to our donors for supporting our work inspiring conservation of the Salish Sea (and the octopuses within); and to our visitors who came and marveled at one of our aquarium's most charismatic animal ambassadors. And thank you to filmmaker, Florian Graner who has documented Eleanora's stay in our aquarium and will help her story reach even more people.

Next time you look out on the Salish Sea, think about Eleanora and all the yummy crab she's eating.

PS -- Read more about Eleanora's release in this Sept. 4 article appearing in the Port Townsend Leader.

Enjoy the videos below!

We released Eleanora the octopus back to the Salish Sea this afternoon. 1. Eleanora all ready to go in her lift bucket in our holding tank. 2. Aquarist Ali Redman and specialist Ellie Kravets pull the lid off. Suspense heightens among all onlookers. 3. Ali and Ellie lift Eleanora out of the tank and pour her into the transport bin. 4. Intern Sophie (l) and Ellie (r) carry Eleanora down the steps of the dock to be released. 5. Aquarist Ali In snorkel receives Eleanora into the Salish Sea saltwater, to transport to project leader Florian Graner. 6. Florian takes the handoff of the octopus and guides Eleanora to her new undersea den. Florian reports that Eleanora loves her new home, and will check in on her tomorrow at high tide. We at #PTMSC are honored to have hosted Eleanora for the Octopus Project. Thank you all who have encouraged us with your excitement about learning about this amazing creature of the #SalishSea .
A post shared by PT Marine Science Center (@ptmarinescictr) on

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Adventuress Sail -- Get Your Tickets Now!

Sunday, September 1 

9 am - 3 pm 

$95 per person
($75 members of the Marine Science Center)

The Marine Science Center offers one 6-hour sailing adventure each year to see Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge aboard the 133' historic schooner, Adventuress.
On this cruise, you can help the crew sail this historic vessel while enjoying a leisurely tour to the wildlife sanctuary.
As on all our cruises, Port Townsend Marine Science Center will provide a naturalist and cruise hosts to assist in wildlife spotting and interpretation.
The sail departs at 9 am on September 1 from the Northwest Maritime Center dock at the north end of Water St. in Port Townsend, and returns to the dock at 3 pm.


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

UPDATE: Eleanora's big day approaches

It’s almost Eleanora’s big day, when we release this beautiful giant Pacific octopus to seek her fortune in the Salish Sea!

by Ali Redman, PTMSC Aquarist

Eleanora, the giant Pacific octopus that took up residence at the PTMSC
in September 2018. Photo by Florian Graner.

We are getting giddy butterflies in our stomachs, the mix of elation and nerves that you feel when you release something you’ve nurtured. I’ve felt it on my son’s first day of school, with students I’ve mentored, and with animals being reintroduced into the wild. You wonder if they are prepared for the challenges, but most of all you are excited for the opportunities ahead of them. The feeling of excitement for her impending departure (mixed with a few nerves) is shared by everyone who has come to care about her including members, visitors, volunteers and staff.

PTMSC Aquarist Ali Redman observing Eleanora in the winter of 2018-19.
Photo by Wendy Feltham. 
Despite a relatively brief 10 months with us, Eleanora has had a large impact. She arrived a small and somewhat shy octopus that could fit in your hands. Now at nine feet tentacle tip to tentacle tip and growing larger by the day, she is less vulnerable to hungry predators and ready to explore.

She has delighted staff and visitors alike, amazing us with her curiosity, keen intelligence and agility. Over 14,000 visitors have been able to get “up close and personal” with her since her arrival in September 2018. They have watched as she deftly manipulated puzzles during enrichment sessions (video), explored her kelp forest exhibit or rested in her den. 
PTMSC Aquarist, Ali Redman (lower right) and AmeriCorps Aquarium Educator Marley Loomis (upper right)
conduct an enrichment feeding session with Eleanora, to the fascination and delight of Aquarium visitors.

Watch Eleanora extract some treats from a long clear pipe. "Puzzle feeders" like this one 
mimic food-seeking activities and problem solving she might engage in the wild.

Eleanora’s reach as an ambassador for marine conservation will go even farther. As a subject of biologist and videographer Florian Graner’s Octopus Learning Project on octopus intelligence, described in his November 2018 Future of Oceans lecture, Eleanora will have an international audience and further the Port Townsend Marine Science Center’s mission of inspiring conservation. 

The next exciting step for Eleanora may be parenthood. Once mature, she will have the opportunity to mate and lay eggs. If successful she will live long enough to tend to her eggs, while not eating during this brooding period. Once they hatch she will pass away, but her offspring will go on to play a role in the Salish Sea ecosystem and perpetuate this amazing species.
Eleanora's growth has been phenomenal, as evidenced by this May 2019 picture 
taken by PTMSC Marketing & Development Coordinator Brian Kay.

Over the next few weeks, we will devise a plan to return Eleanora to the location she originated from. It will be a carefully coordinated process involving many team members. Graner hopes to document her activities after release by paying repeat visits to the release site. To keep up to date on our progress and activities related to Eleanora, follow us on Facebook.
We are grateful for our time with this amazing animal. She has been an ambassador for the Salish Sea, helping thousands of people experience the beauty, wonder and importance of our marine environment. Join us in wishing Eleanora “Bon Voyage!”

Eleanora in repose. Photo by Florian Graner. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

PTMSC's 2018 Annual Report Is Here!

Check in with us as we take a look back at another year's highlights and accomplishments.

Read a special message from PTMSC's executive director Janine Boire, peruse our financials, read our "By The Numbers" summary.

We look forward to the work ahead of us and appreciate what YOU have done for us to make this mission to inspire the Salish Sea a reality!

Read the report here.