Monday, December 23, 2013

A Crabby Christmas Tale

‘Twas a Saturday Homecrew, 
like almost all others
Hustle and bustle, 
with scrubbers and buffers

The siphons all strung, 
out and about
The tanks to be cleaned, 
inside and out.

The gloves were pulled up,
all over their hands
Attempting to keep clean, their fingers from sand.

And Danae with her scrubber, 
and me in accord
Had just begun the process 
to maintain the tanks we adored.

When at the staff door, 
we all heard such a clatter,
We rushed over to find 
what was the matter.

When what to our 
wondering eyes we did see,
But a man holding a crab 
as big as can be.

The question arose to 
what that was in the lab,
and I knew in a moment, 
it was a dead Puget Sound King Crab.

More rapid than waves, 
the curiosity came
As we quickly exclaimed, 
and called them by name: 

Now Maddie, now abalone, 
Now sculpin, Now Inky
On Pisaster, On Solaster, 
And even, on you, dear Pinky

To the top of the tanks, 
To the sides of the walls
Now splash away, 
splash away, 
splash away all

For those who haven’t seen
 this wonderful sight,
This isn’t the Science Center’s 
only crab delight.

The color it lacks, 
it’s pigment is missing
An albino Dungeness 
is worth reminiscing.

Families alike spring to your sleigh, 
and give us a visit
Open the weekend after Christmas, 
Come see our wonderful exhibit!

You shall hear us exclaim, 
doors open and lights shining bright
“Happy holidays to all, 
science is such a delight!”

By AmeriCorps Volunteer: Shannon Phillips

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Losing a good friend: Michael J. “Moh” O'Hanlon

Photo credit: Tiffany Royal
PTMSC’s staff and volunteer community has been mourning the loss of long-time friend volunteer Moh O'Hanlon. Moh passed away on Friday, November 29th, the day after his 71st birthday. 

Moh was a fixture at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center Marine Exhibit. Garbed in his English seaman’s cap and PTMSC octopus t-shirt, Moh would greet visitors into the exhibits and explain the rules. Moh was passionate about marine science and even more so about sharing that passion with others. Over the years, returning visitors have asked for Moh since their experience with him was so memorable.

Moh had a love for folk music and often played the harmonica in the PTMSC exhibits. His knowledge of fish was extensive and he would spend hours ID-ing the different animals that appeared in the tanks, and educating visitors. He began logging volunteer hours in 2000, and over the course of the past 13 years, racked up over 5,000 hours --- an extraordinary achievement.

Moh represents the true spirit of volunteerism at the PTMSC – he committed himself to our mission of Inspiring Conservation of the Salish Sea, and made it his personal mission to reach as many people as possible. In the summertime, he could be found here nearly every day. If Moh were here, I know he'd say "there's no place I'd rather be!" We have lost an irreplaceable friend ~ thank you Moh for your spirit and all your years of service! 

A potluck (with music of course) to celebrate Moh's life will take place on Saturday, January 4th at 2pm in the PTMSC Marine Exhibit, out on the pier. More information and details will be provided as they develop.

- Claudia Padilla, Volunteer Coordinator

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Two PTMSC staffers are part of a national study circle with the National Network of Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation

Jean and Chrissy observe pteropods in the Ocean
Acidification lab at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center was awarded a grant in the summer of 2013 for Jean Walat, program director, and Chrissy McLean, marine program coordinator, to participate in a six month study circle with the National Network of Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI). 

“Through the program, we are grappling with how to help the general public not only better understand the issues, but also how to communicate what can be done through collective action,” said Walat. Their first session was at the New England Aquarium in September, then Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in October and for the final piece, they will travel to Salt Lake City’s Hogle Zoo in December.

Between these travel sessions, Walat and McLean have been working on applying new interpretation strategies to PTMSC exhibits with the goal of engaging visitors in civic action to support collective climate change solutions.

“It’s been exciting to participate in the NNOCCI study circle with zoos, aquariums, and science centers from across the country,” said McLean. “I am inspired by the cutting edge information we are learning about climate change science and the most effective ways to share this information with the thousands of students, guests and volunteers who come to PTMSC each year.”

A NNOCCI Study Circle is a cross-disciplinary learning group made up of peers with expertise from fields of professional interpretation, climate and ocean sciences and communications and cultural sciences. Through a series of facilitated in-person meetings, webinars, conference calls and practical activities, participants build knowledge of ocean and climate science and communications and cultural sciences. They apply lessons learned to communications or educational opportunities in the context of their work environment through several cycles of development, practice, sharing and reflection.
“NNOCCI has provided so much feedback about the ways people react to environmental information that we’re looking at all of our programs and exhibits with new eyes, and this will definitely inform our programming in the future,” Walat said. “But probably the most valuable insight that we gained is matching the scale of the environmental solution to the environmental problem. For large scale issues like climate change, collective action at the community, regional, national and international levels is essential.”

McLean added, “Port Townsend is an amazing place and we are really innovative when it comes to supporting climate change solutions in our community. From our robust farmers market to our walkable and bike-able town—we have the perfect platform to inspire responsible stewardship and civic action in so many people who come to visit. Together we can make a big difference.”

NNOCCI is a collaborative effort led by the New England Aquarium with the Association for Zoos and Aquariums, the FrameWorks Institute, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Monterey Bay Aquarium, the New Knowledge Organization in partnership with Penn State University and the Ohio’s Center for Science and Industry. With support from the National Science Foundation Climate Change Education Partnership program, NNOCCI’s goal is to establish a national network of professionals who are skilled in communicating climate science to the American public.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Share the Joy of the Salish SEAson

Tired of the shopping frenzy? Looking to reduce the carbon footprint of your gifting?
Consider making a gift in honor of your loved ones as a way of sharing the Joy of the Salish SEAson.  

Here is what your gift can buy:

·         $10 - runs tank for a month to study how to help endangered pinto abalone recover
·         $25 - supplies a volunteer to test tissue of marine mammals for harmful plasticizers
·         $32 - supports one “seal sitter” to educate the public and protect a stranded seal pup for one day
·         $64 - feeds the aquarium animals for a week
·         $125 - scholarship for a summer camp experience for a low-income child

Simply click here to Share the Joy of the Salish SEAson

Friday, November 15, 2013

Narwhals: Arctic Whales In A Melting World

Join us as we welcome Todd McLeish, who will present his latest book on narwhals (also known as sea unicorns) titled Narwhals: Arctic Whales In A Melting World.

Saturday, December 7
Natural History Exhibit

$5 members

$7 non-members
FREE for youth

Watch a preview video:

Learn more about Todd McLiesh's book at

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Seabird Rescue!

Look what the storm brought in! 

My new friend and I go for a truck ride.
Life at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is largely unpredictable, and often chaotic. Inspiring conservation of the Salish Sea is a BIG job and it turns out there are A LOT of ways to do it. Today I helped save a seabird and I'm writing this blog to inspire you to save future ones- and their homes too. 

This striking penguin-like seabird in my lap is a Common Murre. Earlier today a woman braved the wind and rain to bring the bird to us in hopes we would be able to help. She had found him (or her) on a nearby beach, unable to fly and looking tired. We have no idea how to care for birds, but we know someone who does! We called our friend Cindy Daily at Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue (360-379-0802), who's always eager to save a feathery friend. 

While we waited to hear back from Cindy, Chrissy and I went about finishing up our tasks. After all, we had not allotted time in our schedules for bird-sitting and still had to clean up after a day full of harbor seal necropsies (more on that later). We planned to leave the bird in a box lined with a comfy towel, but he kept poking his head out the top and attempting to escape. It was time for Plan B. I tucked him into my jacket and whispered sweet nothings to him as I went about putting things away. 

Getting cozy.
Too soon, Cindy called and it was time to bring my new friend into rehab. We met at the Safeway parking lot to make the exchange. I fought back the urge to ask 'can I keep him?' (it wasn't easy). Instead, I asked what she thought had happened, since I couldn't see any obvious injuries. I was startled by what she told me.

On windy days when the seas get really wavy, contaminants in the water get stirred up. Some types of contaminants, like petroleum or vegetable oils, destroy the insulating capacity of bird feathers. If a seabird like our Common Murre swims through an area with these types of contaminants, they risk death by hypothermia because they can't keep warm. Sometimes a 'de-insulated' seabird winds up on shore, usually cold and exhausted. However, with time, food, and TLC, rehabers are able to save these birds. But only if people bring them in! 

Here's what you should do:

  1. If you suspect a bird is 'de-insulated', capture it! It should be fairly easy. Use a towel, blanket, or jacket to cover him up and keep that sharp beak away from your eyeballs. If the bird flies away at a million miles a minute, it probably wasn't de-insulated.
  2. Put the bird in a box.
  3. Call Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue at 360-379-0802. You could do this first if you are unsure what to do in-the-moment.

Of course the ideal solution to this problem would be to remove all of the troublesome contaminants from the ocean so that seabirds (and everything else) wouldn't be threatened by their presence. Maybe that's not possible, but it's sure worth shooting for.   

Farewell wild one. I forgive you for jabbing me.
Baby steps. Today we helped save a seabird that had been hurt by something people did. Sure, it's not a big difference in terms of the Salish Sea, but it's a big difference for this bird. Thinking about the small things we accomplish on a daily basis allows me to sleep peacefully at night. 

I have high hopes for our little black and white amigo. Thank you mysterious lady who brought him in, huddled in your blanket. You've inspired me!   

*Special note: Cindy Daily is a licensed reahabilitator. It is illegal for the general public to posses a wild bird except for short-term care prior to transporting it to a rehab facility. 
Here's a pigeon we brought to Cindy's rehab center a couple weeks ago.
 He had an injury to his neck and crop, but is recovering nicely! 

Thanks for reading!

Danae Presler
Marine Mammal Stranding Network Educator


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gift Shop Sale + Both Exhibits OPEN Thanksgiving Weekend

Friday, November 29 through
Sunday, December 1
Noon to 4 p.m.  

The Marine Science Center Annual Gift Shop Sale tradition continues with a big holiday sale on Thanksgiving Weekend. Both exhibits (Natural History Exhibit and Marine Exhibit) will be open all weekend.

Volunteer Gift Shop Manager, Janine Scott, has greatly expanded our collection of "green" gifts and books for both kids and adults. All merchandise is at least 15% off, with larger savings on some items.
Gift memberships to the PTMSC and gift certificates in any amount are also available.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

LIVE Video from PTMSC Volunteer's Research Cruise

This weekend we will be streaming video from our volunteer, Nam's research cruise in the Caribbean. Come to the Marine Exhibit to check it out on the big screen, or stream it at home on your computer. Here's an endorsement from the travelling man himself:

“As a volunteer of the PTMSC, I am proud to represent Port Townsend as a science intern aboard the E/V Nautilus during the last two legs of the 2013 expedition in the Caribbean. 

We are currently examining the impacts of volcanic eruptions on the seafloor off the coast of Montserrat. By next week we will be exploring the most active and dangerous submarine volcano (Kick’em Jenny) off the coast of Grenada. The tools and instruments we are using include multi-beam SONAR and sub-bottom (ground penetrating RADAR) for seafloor mapping, as well as the ROVs Hercules and Argus to collect images, videos and samples from the seafloor.

Visit to read more about our mission, crew, ship, ROVs, and to tune in live as we explore the unknown depths. My watches till Oct 25th are from 05:00 to 09:00 and 17:00 to 21:00 PST, I will keep everyone updated on my future watch hours. Click on the participate tab on the right-hand side of the page to send us a message. Please remember to note who you are, where you are messaging from, and if you address it to me, our educator will make sure I get your message!”

We can't wait to watch the ROV footage this weekend and we hope exhibit visitors enjoy sending in their questions and messages to the researchers on the Nautilus. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

PTMSC volunteer needs your vote!

Ella Ashford, finalist for EPA contest!

You may remember Ella from the elephant seal bonanza this past spring. She donated dozens of hours seal sitting Star, and is also helping with other citizen science projects at the Marine Science Center, as well as docenting in our exhibits. Did I mention she is 12 years old? 

Ella is a finalist for the EPA's 2013 Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder contest. Now it's up to the public to decide the winner. Please watch her 2-minute PT sustainability song "Me and You" below and then support our young volunteer by casting your vote here: Spread the news far and wide.

Deadline is this Friday, October 25th so hurry!!

Did you notice our Science Center volunteers and staff? Looks like she saved the best for last!

For more about Ella's song and inspiration, follow this link:


Thursday, October 17, 2013

PTMSC Abalone ½ way house; Citizen Science fueling restoration of the Salish Sea

Hi I am Annie and I love abalone! I am a new Americorps Member at PTMSC, focusing on Citizen Science.  Two summers ago, I helped out with an abalone restoration project doing surveys which were monitoring the restoration efforts on out plant sites in the San Juan Islands.  I am so excited to be at PTMSC and working with abalone again!

Here is some info about the story of abalone in WA State:
Haliotis kamtschatkana or the Pinto Abalone is a marine gastropod of the Salish Sea. Starting in the early 1900s, Abalone were overfished in Washington State by sport fisherman.  In 1994 it was recognized that the abalone population had seriously declined and the fishery was closed. The naturally remaining Abalone in the Salish Sea are old, consequently big, and most likely too far away from other abalone to reproduce. Abalone are broadcast spawners which makes reproduction difficult when individuals are far apart and low in numbers.
Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF) is a group powering marine restoration projects in the Salish Sea. The goal for the abalone restoration project is to reintroduce abalone into aggregations with densities high enough for successful broadcast spawning. Our planting efforts started in 2009 when thousands of juvenile abalone were replaced at permanent sub tidal outplants sites around the Salish Sea. Last December, PSRF tried a new restoration technique releasing 400,000 additional larval abalone.

What is the role of PTMSC in abalone restoration?
PTMSC is raising over 200 juvenile Abalone for future abalone restoration efforts.  Every week volunteers feed, measure and weigh the tagged individuals to get information on growth rates.


Abalone are a little tricky to handle because they are excellent at sticking to surfaces and move surprisingly quick. Volunteers have been using diligence and team work to get measurements on these sneaky invertebrates.

Volunteers have learned that that Pycnopodia helianthoides or Sunflower sea star is a valuable tool for abalone wrangling.  When Abalone come across the chemical cue of a sunflower sea star they pick up and move quickly allowing an easy snatch.
Thank you to our talented and committed Citizen Scientists for all their help on this project.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

PTMSC receives $3000 gift from Wells Fargo Bank

Linnea Rivel, Service Manager at the local Wells Fargo Bank (on right), presents a check for $3,000 to benefit under-served students of the North Olympic Peninsula. Janine Boire, Executive Director of the Port Townsend Marine Science Center (on left) is thrilled to receive the support. The Center connects local children with the environment through hands-on activities and classes. Photo courtesy of PTMSC

Friday, October 11, 2013

VIDEO: A Link To Action

Short video highlighting the work being done by the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and it's volunteers coordinated through the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. Video produced by Al Bergstein.

Port Townsend Marine Science Center - The Link to Action from Al Bergstein on Vimeo.

To learn more, check out PTMSC's Marine Mammal Stranding Network page.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Special screening of Blackfish at the Rose Theatre

Blackfish Movie Poster

Saturday, September 28th
1 p.m.
Rose Theatre,
Port Townsend

Join the crews from Puget Sound Express and the PT Marine Science Center at the Rose Theatre for a special screening of Blackfish.

Ken Balcomb, who’s featured throughout the film and is the executive director of the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, will do a Q&A following the screening. The event is co-sponsored by Puget Sound Express, the Rose Theatre and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTSMC). Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for children.

is described as a mesmerizing psychological thriller with a killer whale (orca) at its center. The film features the story of Tilikum, who is an Icelandic transient. Unapologetically designed to both inform and affect, this delicately lacerating documentary uses the tragic tale of a single whale and his human victims as the backbone of a hypercritical investigation into the marine-park giant Sea World Entertainment.
“The documentary
Blackfish helps us understand the social structure of whales and provides a glimmer into their complex society,” said Janine Boire, executive director for the PTMSC. “The movie challenges our view of humans and whales and how we interact together.”

Pete Hanke, owner of Puget Sound Express, agreed saying, “The events portrayed in the film that took place 40 years ago still affect the orca population in our area today.  Blackfish certainly brings to our attention the impact of whale imprisonment for human amusement.”

Ken Balcomb is a pioneer in photo-identification of cetaceans and is the founder of Orca Survey (1976), a study of Pacific Northwest Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcas). Not only has he participated in humpback studies across both oceans but also rare beaked whale identification throughout the world. One of his main interests is the effect of sonar on cetaceans and how that causes mass stranding. He founded the non-profit Center for Whale Research in 1985 and is its executive director.

Puget Sound Express has been in operation as a charter boat company for 27 years, offering whale watching tours. It’s a family-run business, with three generations of knowledge and caring at the ready. For more information, go to or call 360.385.5288.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Oceanography On The Dock

Thursday, August 15
11am - Noon

Friday, August 16
2 - 4pm

Sunday, August 18
11am - Noon


Try your hand at being a scientist.
Use oceanography tools.
Learn why we measure things such as pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen and  nutrients in the water.
Drop in or stay as long as you like.
More sessions will be scheduled for July, August and into the fall.  Check back for dates!

For more information or to sign up, contact Jamie at 360-385-5582 x112 or email

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Marine Biology Camp 2013

            During opening circle last Monday for Marine Biology Camp, when prompted to state one interesting fact about yourself one young man set the tone for a wonderful week when he said, “my name is Cort and I like to stay positive,”. Again and again we counselors were impressed by the enthusiasm, intelligence, joy, and humor that the 32 nine to thirteen year olds demonstrated throughout the week.
            We started off learning about invertebrates, visiting the Marine Exhibit, and fish printing their camp shirts. Although they struggled to pronounce “Echinodermata” during invertebrate class, many of the campers were excited about exploring the touch tanks. Real fish were used to print colorful patterns on their shirts and many of the campers produced their own unique design.
            Tuesday the kids arrived energetic and ready for a day in the tide pools. We bundled up against the fog and explored the intertidal area near Point Wilson. The campers braved the slippery algae covered rocks to reach the lower intertidal, home to numerous invertebrates and fishes. Exciting discoveries included a hairy helmet crab, umbrella crabs, numerous sea cucumbers, big red rock crabs, brittle stars, gunnels, cling fish, and more. Although after lunch Plastics class was not a favorite, the lesson clearly hit home as the campers combed the beach to find trash. The most diligent embarked on a “nurdle hunt” in which they searched through the upper layer of sand and plants looking for tiny plastic beads that are melted down to make plastic.
            On Wednesday morning the signs of a busy tiring two days were beginning to show which meant we counselors were doing our job! This day was a favorite for many campers and staff alike. In the morning we split into two groups and half of the students returned to the marine exhibit to learn about, and sketch fish, while the other half peered into microscopes to study and learn about plankton. Afterwards the two groups switched. Amber’s fish talk had many of the kids in peals of laughter and numerous individuals cited the plankton class as their favorite learning activity of the week. In the afternoon we set out to build a whale to scale! After a vote the Orca won by a large margin over other local whales. Various teams such as artists, water collectors, and sand collectors began the task of constructing the 25 foot marine mammal. After a hectic start many of the workers formed a group which involved a dedicated team of diggers, an eight person line of bucket passers and bucket dumpers, and a small group of sand squishers, shapers, and smoothers. It was a truly exciting sight to watch the 32 kids work in an organized team. In the end they produced a marvelous sand whale with a surprising likeness to a real orca!
            Thursday involved a bit of travel on the public bus system with all of the campers. Although we filled every seat on the bus the transit went smoothly and we were delivered to the tide flats near the boat yard. The morning was foggy and the tide flats stretched out ahead of us at low tide full of promise. There we set up four stations: one for journaling, the next for checking out animals caught in a seine net, the third for digging up worms, and lastly a station for digging clams. Although all of the animal oriented stations were popular, the clam digging station stole the show. The record for clams unearthed in one 20 minute rotation was 36!
            We culminated Marine Biology camp on Friday with a Marine Birds class as well as a Fish Dissection class. Both classes were popular albeit the herring dissection was not popular with everyone. In the afternoon we unleashed the 150 foot long seine net and examined (in a large plastic pool!) the variety of fish and invertebrates we caught. Although small Dungeness crabs, surf perch, and soles dominated the sample, more unique finds included juvenile salmon, buffalo sculpin, various gunnels, and silver spotted sculpin.

            Overall Marine Biology camp was a phenomenal mix of learning and fun.  Many campers and parents expressed how much they loved the camp. First timers and repeat campers alike were already making plans to come back next year. Dates are currently being worked out for next year so keep an eye out on our Facebook page and website for more information!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Sail on the Schooner Adventuress

Saturday, August 31

The PTMSC offers a 6-hour sailing adventure to the Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge aboard the 101' historic schooner, Adventuress.

On this cruise you can help the crew sail this historic vessel while enjoying a leisurely tour of the wildlife sanctuary. As on all our cruises, a Marine Science Center naturalist who knows the island very well will help you see and appreciate its wildlife.

Tickets for Protection Island Sail are $80 per person
or $75 for members of PTMSC, Audubon, Burke Museum or Washington Ornithological Society.

Call 360-385-5582 to reserve. 
Email for details.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Seal Pups Need Tough Love to Survive" by Gayleen Hays

Our Marine Mammal Stranding Network recently received a call on our message-line from a woman reporting that a seal pup was on a busy beach in front of her house. She was worried that the seal pup had been abandoned by its mother and wanted to know what she could do to help. I could tell by her voice that she was very distraught and fighting tears. Her story has a happy ending, but you'll have to read it for yourself! The short story that follows is one she wrote and kindly sent to us. I wanted to share it with you because I know there are others out there who can relate to Gayleen's experience.

When a stranded baby seal pup mysteriously appeared on our beach last Tuesday afternoon I called every emergency number on the planet until I was led to Danae at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, in charge of monitoring baby seal pups. Danae explained how important it was that I follow the hardest advice imaginable: protect and guard the area with signs, watch the pup and... whether its mother returns from her feeding and carries it to safety or not and it dies, I could do nothing except hope, wait, and watch. It looked so vulnerable looking out at the water and crying for its mother, just lying there waiting for her to return. Only 50% survive. At sunset Wednesday night and still no signs of its mother as it waited facing the ocean and crying, I watched an eagle slowly circle the baby pup, and remembered her words, eagles depend on pups for nourishment. I could not intervene. Thursday morning when I forced myself the courage to check for his tiny body, he was gone! No signs of a struggle, he was gone as secretly as he'd appeared. Wherever you are, Mother Seal, thank you. And, a special thank you, Danae, for your guidance and compassion.

A word from the PTMSC Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Thank you Gayleen for sharing your story! Seal pup season brings a mixed bag of emotions. The babies are undeniably adorable with their big eyes and furry little bodies, making it impossible not to fall in love. Watching them wiggle around on the beach is both cute and hilarious. But there is a dark side to the seal pup season... as Gayleen mentioned in her story above, only 50% of harbor seal pups survive their fist year. Harbor seal populations have recovered to a healthy number, thanks to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, but that does not mean it is easy to handle the loss of a seal pup. 

So what should you do if you encounter a seal pup on the shore? The best thing you can do is give the animal space. Mothers often leave their pups on shore to rest. Adult seals are wary of people, so mom will wait until all disturbances are gone before reuniting with and nursing her pup (Gayleen waited two days!). Encourage people to "Share the Shore" by staying back 100 yards, if possible. Do not attempt to move, feed, pick up, or pour water on a seal pup. Please call the PTMSC Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 360-385-5582 x 103  for guidance or to report a dead, injured or stranded marine mammal. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released a short, two-page flyer with FAQs about harbor seal pups. It is loaded with great information (and is free of scientific jargon). To view the flyer please click HERE! You can put the flyer on your refrigerator, share it with your friends and relatives, enclose it with your holiday cards, or have it screen printed on your t-shirt or pillow case. Whatever method you choose, please spread the word about harbor seal pups. 

Enjoy those sandy beaches and rocky tide-pools this summer and remember to Share the Shore!  

View our new and improved webpage here
Also, check out our Marine Mammal Guide here 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Citizen Science in Pictures

How well do you know our Citizen Science projects? Here’ s a test! Below are short descriptions of the various projects volunteers carry out here at PTMSC and groups of photos. Can you match project descriptions with the pictures? Let’s see!

Sound Toxins: Volunteers sample for plankton at various sites, looking specifically for species that cause harmful algal blooms.  These organisms are harmful to human health and/or the economic health of Puget Sound, and we serve as an early warning system!

BEACH: Our volunteers brave the cold water (wading in a few feet) to monitor bacteria levels at local beaches and educate the public about the risks of polluted water.  We work with the government to close beaches when levels are dangerously high.

Mussels/PSP: We collect samples of blue mussels which are sent to a lab (via UPS! What an adventure!) and tested for the toxins responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Puget Sound Seabird Survey (PSSS): We identify local seabirds to develop a baseline of their populations and learn about how to target response efforts in the case of oil spills.

Ocean Genome Legacy Project: We take tissue samples of dead marine animals (that die in our exhibit or that wash up on shore nearby).  Their genome is sequenced to further scientific understanding of the marine environment in light of biodiversity loss in our world’s oceans.

Purple Martin: We’re keeping track of Purple Martins that land and nest in the houses built on our pier. Purple Martin’s experienced a dramatic population decrease in the last century so we’d like to know how our own local birds are faring.

Abalone Halfway House (brand new!): Due to the staggering population decline in Pinto Abalone caused by recreational overfishing, we partnered up with the Puget Sound Restoration Fund to raise 200 juvenile Abalone. We are housing one group in the lab and another on the pier and gathering data on their growth rates.

Oceanography on the Dock (brand new!): A free program intended to get the public involved in testing some physical oceanography parameters. Guided by a staff or volunteer, O-dock participants measure salinity, pH, temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and more while learning about their connection to conservation. 

Now…here’s your test! Match the project descriptions with their photos. Answers at the bottom.

Project 1
Project 2
Project 3
Project 4

Project 5
Project 6
Project 7
Project 8


Project 1 - Abalone Halfway House
Project 2 - Purple Martin
Project 3 - BEACH
Project 4 - Ocean Genome Legacy
Project 5 - Oceanography on the Docks
Project 6 - Puget Sound Seabird Survey
Project 7 - Mussels/PSP
Project 8 - Sound Toxins

Did you pass the test?  I hope this gallery of our fabulous work inspires you to keep working hard as a volunteer or to get involved if you aren't already.  Keep in mind there are always ways that you can be a citizen scientist!

Coming Soon:
Roof Runoff: We’ll be sampling roof runoff from houses both in Port Townsend and Seattle to test for toxic chemicals.  If you are available to be trained for sampling in the fall and want to participate, we’d love for you to get involved!  Please contact Jamie Landry at or 385 5582 x112.