Friday, May 8, 2015

4 Things I'm Thankful For

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

Our Lifelong Learners 
On Monday, we welcomed a group of visiting students for a Whales of the Salish Sea class. It was a very successful program and one student's first time experiencing the ocean! It's inspiring to witness students developing relationships with the Salish Sea.

Our Generous Donors
On Tuesday, we participated in the GiveBIG campaign. I am happy to report that we surpassed our goal of $13,000, raising a total of $17,182!

We are thrilled with this 36% increase over last year and a new GiveBIG record for the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

Our Friends & Members 
On Wednesday at the PTMSC annual meeting, Executive Director Janine Boire highlighted PTMSC's 2014 successes and future goals, Dr. Joseph K. Gaydos delivered an inspiring presentation and slideshow on his new book, The Salish Sea, Jewel of the Pacific North West, to a full house, and over 100 PTMSC members and friends flipped through their newly signed copies of his work.

Our Volunteers
On Friday, PTMSC volunteers pulled a 150-foot seine net through the eelgrass by the pier to collect fish for our exhibits. Come see the latest additions to the Marine Exhibit tanks this weekend, Friday - Sunday, 12-5. Remember, moms receive free admission to all our exhibits on Sunday in celebration of Mother's Day.

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

Thursday, May 7, 2015

PTMSC Launches The TEENS Project this Summer, July 6-10

Teens Envisioning & Engineering New Solutions

We’re excited to announce a new program this summer — the TEENS Project! A team of young women ages 14-17 will be invited to spend 5 days exploring environmental and public health issues in our communities and work together with female engineers, water quality specialists, farmers, mechanics, and researchers to invent solutions. Topics include:
  • water quality
  • food supply 
  • land use changes
  • plastics and toxics in the marine environment 
  • climate change and ocean acidification 
This program seeks to prepare and empower young women to be the next generation of change-makers. Utilizing skills from science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, we’ll challenge our brains, get our hands dirty, and use our creativity to envision and engineer new solutions. This program is designed for girls who are interested in STEM and want to gain new skills, learn about STEM jobs, make friends, and make a difference!

Do you or someone you know want to be part of the first ever TEENS Project this coming July 6-10th? If so, apply by June 1st!

Who’s eligible: Girls ages 14-17 living in Jefferson County, WA

When: July 6-10, 2015 from 9 AM – 4 PM (camping overnight on the 9th)

Where: We’ll start and end each day at Port Townsend Marine Science Center. There will be several field trips to other places in Port Townsend (on foot or public transit) throughout the week. We’ll camp at Fort Worden on the night of the 9th.

Cost: Commitment fee of $30*

How to apply: Complete the online application. Applications are due June 1st; applicants will be notified by June 8th whether or not they have been accepted.

*If fee is prohibitive to someone attending the program, please contact Danae to explore scholarship opportunities.

For more information, please contact Danae Presler at or call 320-267-5635

Meet the Project Leader: Hi! I’m Danae and I’ve had a lot of fun dreaming up The TEENS Project with the help of my PTMSC colleagues, friends, and family. I’m currently in my first year of graduate school at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, pursuing a Masters of Environmental Studies degree.

From 2012 to 2014, I worked at the PTMSC as an AmeriCorps member. Serving at the Science Center was truly inspirational for me. I worked alongside passionate, intelligent women every day. I was challenged to teach myself new skills-- such as cleaning a seal skull and investigating cause of death, or tinkering with the saltwater plumbing system when the tanks weren’t flowing right-- but I always had a support network there when I needed it. I want to pay it forward and help inspire other young women to dive into the wonderful world of STEM—and help build their support network. For the last year, I’ve been forming partnerships with incredible women in STEM working right here in Jefferson County to be part of The TEENS Project. I can’t wait to launch the program this summer!

The TEENS Project has been made possible by generous support from Jefferson County Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls. 

Jefferson County Community Foundation (JCCF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the quality of life in Jefferson County. JCCF provides flexible ways for donors to engage in improving their community through charitable giving. Community grants are awarded from funds based on the interest of the donor or an open competitive process that addresses the changing needs of the community. For more information about JCCF, visit or call 360-385-1729.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

This is the BIG day! Help us raise 13K!

Today is the BIG day!

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center is participating in GiveBIG, a one-day, online charitable giving event through the Seattle Foundation. Our theme is climate change action.

We are trying to raise $13,000 by the end of the day to support collective actions to address the problems affecting our oceans, including climate change, but we need your help.

Thanks to a group of generous PTMSC donors, the first $6,500 received today, May 5th, will be matched 1:1, so donate early through the Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG campaign and your gift will be matched dollar for dollar!

Your donation today will allow us to train volunteers and inspire visitors with our new Gone Green? Go Blue! exhibits, conduct important citizen science research on rising jelly fish populations, and fund a pilot program giving local high school students the opportunity to conduct research on ocean acidification.

All funds raised during the GiveBIG campaign directly support the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

Please help us reach our goal of $13,000 today. Thank you for being a champion of ocean health and conservation.

Photo by Wendy Feltham

Friday, May 1, 2015

Jelly Populations on the Rise?

Over the last several decades, records of global jelly populations suggest numbers are on the rise. The jury is still out on whether or not this is a sign of an ocean in trouble. However, an important message emerges from marine researchers: ongoing worldwide jelly monitoring programs will act as sentinels to identify future changes in marine ecosystems.

For this reason, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is starting our own jelly survey. But we need your help.

You may be wondering: What is a jelly? Jellies are comprised of gelatinous tissue and lack hard skeletal components. Jellies have tissue composed of at least 95% water and are delicate and easily damaged. They are a key indicator species of ocean health and an important link in our local marine food web.

With your support, PTMSC will be able to collaborate with local researchers to develop a survey protocol and contribute our observation data to the global jelly survey program, JellyWatch. The project aims to be available to all PTMSC visitors, volunteers, and staff. The survey is designed around a “drop-in” style of Citizen Science, allowing any park or Science Center visitor to participate.

This coming Tuesday, May 5th, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is joining more than 8,000 nonprofits for the GiveBIG fundraising event through the Seattle Foundation to raise funds that will support the collective action necessary in addressing the problems affecting our oceans today, including climate change!

We need your help in raising $13,000 in one day to support climate-change action. Thanks to a group of generous PTMSC supporters, the first $6,500 donated will be matched dollar for dollar!

In anticipation of this BIG event, we’ve been sharing updates on some of our climate change efforts: our new Gone Green? Go Blue! exhibits, a pilot program with our local high school focusing on ocean acidification, and today, our citizen science project that studies jellyfish populations around the pier at Ft. Worden State Park.

Gone Green? GiveBIG! Support Your Local Ocean next Tuesday, May 5.

Photo 2 by Rachel Ganapoler

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

We’ve got BIG news!

Since the industrial revolution around 1750, burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). This contributes substantially to climate change by trapping excessive heat in the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide is also absorbed by the ocean changing the PH of the water, a process known as “ocean acidification.”

Ocean acidification affects species like oysters, clams, sea urchins, corals, and plankton. Their shells, comprised largely of calcium, can become brittle and difficult to form in acidic conditions, making survival for these species more challenging and placing stress on the entire food web.

It is estimated by the end of the century, surface waters of the ocean could become 150% more acidic.

Our oceans support us in a big way (like providing 50% of the oxygen we breathe). It’s time to go BIG to support our local ocean.

Next Tuesday, May 5, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center will participate in GiveBIG, a one-day fundraising event. If you choose to donate next Tuesday, your gift will allow us to pilot a program giving local high school students the opportunity to investigate ocean acidification solutions.

We need your help in raising $13,000 in one day to support climate change action.

When you donate next Tuesday, you are making a direct investment to reduce climate change.

And, thanks to some of our PTMSC champions, your investment on May 5 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $6,500, doubling your impact!

Gone Green? GiveBIG! Support Your Local Ocean next Tuesday, May 5.

Friday, April 24, 2015

New Go Blue Exhibits

We have exciting news to share with you! On Tuesday, May 5th, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is joining more than 8,000 nonprofits for the GiveBIG fundraising event through the Seattle Foundation to raise funds that will support the collective action necessary in addressing the problems affecting our oceans today, including climate change!

In anticipation of this BIG event, we will be sharing updates on some of our climate change efforts: our new Gone Green? Go Blue! exhibits, our citizen science project concerning jellyfish, and a pilot program with our local high school focusing on ocean acidification.

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center’s Gone Green? Go Blue! Support Your Local Ocean initiative builds on what we already do as individuals to live green and takes it to the next level — inspiring collective action to improve ocean health — starting locally with the Salish Sea.

Brand new exterior exhibits at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center show how the community can take ‘living green’ to the next level for local ocean health! Check out a video our Americorps volunteers made while installing part of the new exhibit:


The exhibits feature some of the wonderful things about the Salish Sea, the issues affecting the sea, and inspiration for all of us to take action towards a healthy future for the Salish Sea.

Go Blue! is an environmental initiative led by the Port Townsend Marine Science Center to raise awareness and inspire collective action to improve ocean health — starting here at home with the Salish Sea.

Our exhibits are open Friday-Sunday, 12-5 pm.

Visit us to discover life in the Salish Sea and what we as a community can do to ensure its health for generations to come. Through collective solutions, we can inspire other communities to Go Blue!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Marine Mammal Stranding Network Newsletter

It’s that time of year!

Spring migrations bring gray whales, California sea lions, and elephant seals up the coast. Our local harbor seals are ready to burst with new pups on the way. Yearlings are claiming their own territory, sometimes at a local marina! Before we know it, the hotline will be ringing off the hook and I’ll be calling you, my wonderful volunteers. We’re going to have plenty of strandings to respond to and seal pups to sit. And for those animals that unfortunately will get selected out of the gene pool (but stay fresh), we’ll perform necropsies to find their cause of death. There’s so much to learn about these wonderful mammals of the sea.

With so much to look forward to, let’s first take a look back at 2014. It was a busy year, with a record number of calls on the hotline and strandings on the beach. So join us in seeing all the hard work we put in last year!

Thank you!
Erika Winner
MMSN Educator - AmeriCorps

Call Volume Explodes with  “Share the Shore” Sign Installations

Holy moly, we sure got a lot of calls on our hotline last summer! Does that mean there were more marine mammals getting stranded? Unlikely. We hope it’s because of our “Share the Shore” signs. Through our Prescott Grant, we have installed 21 signs across East Jefferson County. Not only are they beautiful, but they share valuable information to the public about marine mammals. Beaches are a great place for relaxation and recreation, but it’s often forgotten that beaches are also vital habitat for amphibious marine animals. 

Above: Number of calls each month to the MMSN message-line in 2014 as compared to monthly averages from 2007-2013.

The “Share the Shore” signs aren’t pulling all of the weight though. Rack cards distributed by volunteers to local organizations and businesses have also proved priceless in our education efforts!
If you’re interested in helping with public outreach, check out page 6 for more information.

Right: Locations of installed “Share the Shore” signs across East Jefferson County. Think you know a great place to install a sign? Let us know!

How Many Marine Mammals are Reported Each Year? 

After a two year decline from 2011 to 2012, reports on marine mammals has steadily climbed in East Jefferson County. In 2014, we broke our record with 91 marine mammals reported! Of those 91 animals reported, just over half were actually stranded (whew!).
Number of calls each month to the MMSN message-line in 2014 as compared to monthly averages from 2007-2013.
75 of those animals that were called in were harbor seals, yet again demonstrating the abundance of the species in our region. Many of those seals were not stranded, but pups hauled out on busy beaches. Luckily, we have so many wonderful volunteers willing to seal-sit these young animals. Seal-sitting has also been a great opportunity to educate the public about marine mammals.

Rehabilitated Seal Pup, EJC-2014-012 

On July 9th, a harbor seal pup was reported on a private beach in Brinnon. The mother had not attended to the pup in 24 hours. Seeking comfort, the pup was calling out and attempting to suckle on some beach walkers. The reporting party observed a neighbor trying to feed the pup.
On the 11th, Chrissy McLean checked on the pup and found it laying next to a dog! She decided to relocate the pup to Point Whitney to be on public land, near other seals, and away from people (and dogs).

 The next day, the pup was back into mischief, attempting to suckle a women’s toes at the Point Whitney boat ramp. Sergeant Andersen of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife picked up the pup. After so much human interaction and no mother to be found, it was decided to send the pup to a rehabilitation center.

She was transferred to PAWS Wildlife Center. She stayed with PAWS for 68 days before being successfully released  by NOAA at Jetty Island.

Pictures: Left: EJC-2014-012 takes a rest in Sgt. Andersen arms before transport to PAWS in Lynnwood. Right: EJC-2014 -012 happy and healthy, hanging poolside at PAWS.

Artemis the Sea Lion Skull

The skeleton collection at the Natural History Exhibit has a new member. Come in and see a male Steller Sea Lion skull! EJC-2011-017, A.K.A Artemis, was spotted by a paraglider at Fort Flagler in November of 2011. After examining the carcass, Chrissy McLean and Jamie Montague collected Artemis’ head for the PTMSC education collection. Strangely, Artemis is lacking the diastema between the fourth and fifth post-canines usually characteristic of Steller sea lions.

Necropsy Program

We completed five necropsies (animal autopsies) in 2014, on three harbor seals and two harbor porpoise. Staff and trained volunteers examined the animals looking for:
  • cause of death
  • signs of human interaction
  • presence of parasites

Collected tissue samples are sent to an Oregon State University lab to be tested for disease.

Right: Chrissy McLean and inter, Carolyn Woods perform an external examination on a harbor seal before making the first incision.

Though necropsies can often bring out more questions that answers, this years necropsies did come up with some noteworthy results. Evidence of net impressions helped determine that one of our harbor porpoise and two of our harbor seals had suspect or probable fisheries interaction. This is a stark reminder that bycatch is still a challenge that marine mammals face in the Salish Sea. Without a dedicated stranding network, such problems would go unrecorded. 

Necropsy team members,  Karen DeLorenzo, Carolyn Woods, Rae  Bronenkant, Danae Presler, and Chrissy McLean demonstrate just how long the small intestine of a  harbor seal is!

Want to learn more about necropsies?

Check out our new necropsy video! Learn about the data we collect and the importance of performing necropsies. Look for it soon on the PTMSC blog or on our Facebook page. Special thanks to Carolyn Woods, Danae Presler, and Matt Eschbach for their hard work.

What’s Happening in 2015?

A new year brings new projects! Check out these opportunities:

1. Responder training
2. Sign installations
3. Distribute rack cards
4. Harbor porpoise monitoring

Responder Training
We will be having a training June 16th for new and seasoned responders alike. If you would like to brush up on marine mammal basics, go over protocol for responding, and hear about special cases, (among other marine mammal topics), RSVP to Erika.

Sign Installations
Our “Share the Shore” signs have helped PTMSC educate more people about marine mammal strandings than ever before! So you’re probably asking: what’s next? Well, we have more signs to install! You might have noticed that most of the signs are located in the northern section of our response zone. We are hoping to increase our outreach farther south. If you know an ideal location to install a “Share the Shore” sign, contact Erika. Photos of the location are appreciated.

Rack Card Distribution
These cards are a quick and easy way to educate the public on the marine mammals in our area. We need your help distributing the rack cards. If you are interested, contact Erika.

Harbor Porpoise Monitoring
PTMSC is partnering with the Pacific Biodiversity Institute! This spring and summer, we will be conducting shore-based observations of Port Townsend’s harbor porpoise population. Data gathered from this project will  help confirm acoustic recordings from our hydrophone and document porpoise behavior. This project is still in the planning stages, so stay tuned for future updates. 

Erika Winner
MMSN Educator
(360) 385-5582 ext. 116