Tuesday, November 12, 2019

LECTURE: Art & Science Of The Marine Micro World


Sunday, December 8

3 pm

Carla Stehr
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, retired

The Fort Worden Chapel

Admission: $5

(students, teachers FREE)


Carla Stehr’s artist statement: I use cloth, paint and stitch to express my fascination with aquatic life and natural patterns. My work is inspired by a life-long obsession for exploring tide pools and a career as a Marine Biologist where I had the opportunity to photograph amazingly beautiful aquatic creatures with a scanning electron microscope.

I am especially drawn to organisms that may be hard to see, like the tiny Moonglow Anemone partially buried in sand, or single-celled plants such as diatoms that are so small they can only be seen with a microscope. Many of my pieces are influenced by microscopic images I photographed as a scientist.

The textural properties of fabric and stitch lend an organic quality that I am compelled to use in my art. I may use overlapping layers of silk organza to suggest transparent structures such as anemone tentacles. Or, to suggest the multi-layered cell walls of diatoms, I may use multiple layers of fabric, creating openings in the top layers to reveal textured patterns below. My intention is to illustrate features of plants, animals or natural patterns that might be unnoticed without looking really close.

More info about the lecturer: https://carlastehr.com/


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

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

Assisted Listening Devices available

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Cruise Protection Island Aquatic Reserve This Holiday Season



2 Dates:

November 30

&

December 31 




Participants will enjoy the amenities of Puget Sound Express’s heated, fully enclosed whale-watching boat, including 360-degree windows, wrap-around observation decks and a cozy 
interior.
Just outside of Port Townsend is an amazing National Wildlife Refuge — Protection Island. Nearly 70 percent of the nesting seabird population of Puget Sound and the Straits nest on the island, which includes one of the largest nesting colonies of rhinoceros auklets in the world and the largest nesting colony of glaucous-winged gulls in Washington. The island contains one of the last two nesting colonies of tufted puffins in the Puget Sound area. About 1,000 harbor seals depend upon the island for a pupping and rest area.

Cruise trips will go through the Protection Island Aquatic Reserve and circumnavigate Protection Island, a National Wildlife Refuge located at the mouth of Discovery Bay. This 364-acre island is covered by grass and low brush, with a small timbered area, high sandy bluffs for seabird nesting, and low sand spits on two ends of the island. 










The Port Townsend Marine Science Center – in collaboration with Puget Sound Express – hosts special expeditions to Protection Island. 

Friday, November 1, 2019

Gift Shop Annual Sale

The once-a-year PTMSC Gift Shop sale is coming up
Friday, Nov. 29 through Sunday, Dec. 1.

10% off
all merchandise*

15% off for PTMSC Members!
Join Today

Support the PTMSC while finding unique gifts, books, jewelry, and PTMSC logo gear for everyone on your holiday list.

*except Gift Cards and Memberships.

photo by Wendy Feltham

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

LECTURE: The Zooplankton of Puget Sound - Links to Climate and Fisheries


Sunday, November 10

3 pm

Julie Keister, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Biological Oceanography
University of Washington

The Fort Worden Chapel

Admission: $5

(students, teachers FREE)



Dr. Keister’s research focuses on a variety of problems in biological oceanography and zooplankton ecology, particularly those related to how climate-driven environmental change interacts with biological processes to control zooplankton biogeography, diversity, community structure, and abundance.

Interactions between the environment and zooplankton population structure, behavior (e.g., diel vertical migration), and growth ultimately control ecosystems including fish and other upper trophic level organisms.

Dr. Keister works on these interdisciplinary projects using a combination of field collections, laboratory experiments, satellite data and collaboration with modelers.


More info about the lecturer: http://faculty.washington.edu/jkeister/



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

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

Assisted Listening Devices available

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: https://www.ocean.washington.edu/home/Alex%20Gagnon


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

Saturday,
November 16
 


7 p.m.

The Commons at Fort Worden State Park

$5 general public (FREE to PTMSC Octopus & Orca members)
NO TICKET PRE-SALES: doors open at 6pm
books for sale before and after event


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.

REGISTER TODAY

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.

Nominations now open for the 2019 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award

Recipient will be announced at Oct. 3 Fort Worden event

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center is seeking nominations for the 2019 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award. 

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

The nomination form can be downloaded at https://tinyurl.com/PTMSC-2019ESELA-form or by calling (360) 385-5582 to request a form.

Nominations can be submitted by email to info@ptmsc.org or hand delivered to the PTMSC office at Fort Worden State Park. All nominations must be received no later than 5 p.m., Aug. 22.

The recipient will be honored at the annual PTMSC Stewardship Breakfast at The Commons in Fort Worden State Park on Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 8 a.m.

About Eleanor Stopps
From the 1960s through the 1990s, Stopps was an active member of the Pacific Northwest conservation community. She founded the Admiralty Audubon Chapter and continued the work of Zella Schultz to protect the habitat for 72,000 pairs of seabirds nesting on Protection Island.

Stopps was also a tireless educator and recognized the need to protect the vast and delicate ecosystem of the Salish Sea. With no dedicated political base or influential financial backers, she worked with groups of students and Girl Scouts to raise environmental awareness, eventually forming a coalition of grassroots advocates who labored to marshal public support and push for legislation to preserve Protection Island and the surrounding marine waters.

In fact, Stopps 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 region, providing breeding grounds for Pigeon Guillemots and Rhinoceros Auklets, Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons, Harbor Seals and Elephant Seals, and myriad other species.

About the Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award
The Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award is presented annually to a citizen 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 Port Townsend Marine Science Center is pleased to sponsor this award and invites nominations so that citizens who have demonstrated positive leadership for the environment can be recognized.

Monday, July 22, 2019

What does it mean to become a steward of the Salish Sea? Part 3

In 2019, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is spotlighting supporters who have become stewards of the Salish Sea. Read Part 1 and Part 2 here. 

What does it mean to become a steward of the Salish Sea?

For Tim Weissman, it was his internship with the Port Townsend Marine Science Center in 2016.

“When I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Tim says. “I spent the next two years of my life doing environmental education in various forms. When I came to Port Townsend to work at the marine science center, I figured this was just another stop on the map during my journey around the country.
Tim Weissman as a PTMSC intern in 2016.


“I interacted with and taught thousands of people from all over the country ranging in age from 5 to 75, whether they were a part of a school group, a summer camp, or they were just visiting. I realized the Port Townsend Marine Science Center had me hooked. This is where I wanted to stay,” he says.

Tim’s first low tide walk was memorable.

“I was still learning about the flora and fauna of the area and I was a little nervous to be teaching others about things I was actively learning myself, but with the help of [former PTMSC Board Chair] Wendy Feltham and [former PTMSC Program Director] Karlisa Callwood, it made everything much easier,” he says. “However, I wasn’t quite ready for the nearly 100 people that showed up to join us on the walk! It was a great experience and ever since then I have been a proponent of trial by fire.”

Today Tim is an environmental health specialist with Jefferson County, but he still makes time to volunteer with the PTMSC.

“The countless ways that we can touch people and move them to feel a certain way about this very special place and our planet, leaves me hopeful for the future,” he says. “We can continue to provide life changing experiences to the next generation and continue being hopeful for the future for those who come after us.”

Through their support of the PTMSC for more than 15 years, Linda Martin and Mike Cornforth have helped nurture future ocean stewards like Tim.

Mike and Linda at the end of their regular Friday docent shifts.
“We have been docents, auction donors and ambassadors, and sustaining financial donors since 2007,” says Linda, who eventually became a PTMSC board member. “Mike and I knew we'd be supporting the PTMSC the first time we set foot in the Natural History Museum.

“Watching a visitor's face light up with glee when a touch tank resident responds to a gentle touch gives my heart a happy thump,” she says. “Seeing visitors from all over the world meet their first orca in our museum is a joy.”

Recently, Mike and Linda decided to become SeaSteward members, making their donation with an automatically recurring monthly payment on their credit card.

“The advantages are two-fold,” Mike says. “First, PTMSC has a steady, stable source of funding for day-to-day operations. And second, our charitable contributions are stable and predictable.”

Adds Linda: “Keeping the Aquarium and Museum doors open to the public is a service to the local and global community. We are honored to be a part of that effort.”



Monday, July 15, 2019

What does it mean to become a steward of the Salish Sea? Part 2

In 2019, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is spotlighting supporters who have become SeaSteward donors. Read Part 1 here.

What does it mean to become a steward of the Salish Sea?

For Grace Johnson, the flame was lit as a member of the Northwest Watershed Institute's Youth Environmental Stewardship Program (YES!) in her junior and senior years of high school.

Grace Johnson, recipient of the
2019 Anne Murphy Ocean Stewards Scholarship
“When I first became a member of the YES! Program, our group attended a 30-minute class at the Marine Science Center where several of the staff shared with us the importance of learning [about] the harmful chemicals that are ingredients in many consumer products that are being used in our everyday lives. 

“The information presented in this class was astounding, I realized how extensive the issue of toxic waste really was, not only to marine life, but to the animals and humans who inhabit the Earth as well,” Grace says.

For the last year Johnson has volunteered at the PTMSC, caring for aquarium animals, cleaning tanks and interacting with the public.

At the annual PTMSC Benefit Dinner and Auction in March, she inspired the audience with a story of her interaction with a young boy.

“I told him that [sculpins] enjoy eating clams and small fish, that they prefer to live in inshore rocky and sandy areas, and how they usually swallow their food whole,” Grace says. “As I saw his excitement, I realized in that moment that, just maybe, I had stirred a curiosity within him that just might develop into a life-long passion.” 

For her dedication to the marine environment and instilling that passion in others, Grace was awarded the 2019 Anne Murphy Ocean Stewards Scholarship.

Ed Robeau is a longtime supporter who understands what it takes to create and nurture ocean stewards just like Grace.
Ed Robeau, docenting at the Aquarium.

“The mission is important for many reasons: education, research, monitoring, publicity and more,” he says. “I became a member in 2010, starting as ‘home crew’ cleaning tanks in the Aquarium. Then I became a docent in both exhibits. I am approaching 800 hours of service.”

Ed cited several meaningful examples of progress and success as a result of his work and other PTMSC supporters.

“Data gathered contributes to problem identification and solutions, there’s increased public awareness of issues, and PTMSC is a strong presence in discussions and decisions of other entities, such as Fort Worden State Park,” he says.

Asked why he supports the PTMSC with regular monthly donations, Ed was quick to respond.

“The PTMSC needs it, and I can afford it,” he says. “It’s easy for me with an automatic credit card charge and it gives the PTMSC a steady, dependable base income from which to pay its bills and staff.”

Thanks to ocean stewards like Ed, the PTMSC is transforming the lives of more and more young people like Grace. He encourages others to step up.

“Besides helping accomplish the mission of the PTMSC, this is a great organization to which to belong,” he says. “We work together to perform important services and we provide each other mutual support.”

Friday, July 12, 2019

A Whale of a Time

On May 31, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared the abnormal number of gray whale strandings along the West Coast as an Unusual Mortality Event, or UME.

A UME needs to “involve a significant die-off of any marine mammal population; and demand immediate response."
 
Americorps members, Michael Siddel and Ellie Kravets,  conducting our initial observations. 
The very same week, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center received a report of a stranded adult male gray whale floating in our marine mammal stranding network zone. Over the next few days, we waited for the whale to land and worked out what our plan would be once that happened.

Thanks to many local organizations, NOAA and PTMSC volunteers, we were able to construct a team to move the whale by boat to a more isolated beach location. There, a necropsy was performed in order to determine the cause of death.

Volunteers towing the whale to his new location. 
Finding an appropriate location is important because the remains need to decompose wherever the whale is necropsied. And let me tell you, a 30-ton decomposing whale does not smell pretty!

Would you have guessed a whale had so many intestines? 
As you can imagine, not everyone wants a decomposing whale on their favorite beach walk. In addition, most of Washington's coastline is privately owned. This means a location that isn’t heavily trafficked and one that we have permission to use can be extremely difficult to find.
Fortunately for us, two of our very own volunteers offered up their beach property: Stefanie Worwag and Mario Rivera. Their incredible generosity was reported by numerous news outlets.



As with most of the other gray whales that have stranded during the UME, our whale was found with nothing but some eelgrass and a fruit snack pack in his stomach -- he was extremely malnourished. Currently, NOAA is working to figure out what is the reason behind these increased numbers of emaciated whales.

Two theories are currently under consideration.

First, by studying the West Coast gray whale population trends over the past 30 years, it may be possible that the “carrying capacity” has been reached. In other words, there may be as many gray whales as the West Coast can sustainably support. Gray whale numbers have been increasing and with that comes an increase in competition for food and other resources. This could be the reason behind the spike in mortalities.

The second explanation looks into the possibility that the UME is a result of climate change. It may be possible that warmer Arctic waters are inhibiting the availability of gray whales’ main food sources in those northern waters. 

As more information emerges, we will be sure to update this blog for our supporters.

Written by AmeriCorps Volunteer Program Educator Mandi Johnson.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Keeping up with Eliza Dawson

Eliza Dawson, who grew up around Port Townsend, spent many days volunteering at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center and was awarded the 2018 Anne Murphy Ocean Stewardship Scholarship, has started a blog, Keeping Ice Cool, that describes her work as a geophysics Ph.D. student at Stanford University.

Eliza Dawson, posted on her Twitter account @keepingicecool. 
“I model and measure the evolution and stability of ice sheets,” Eliza writes. “Drawing on a multidisciplinary knowledge base across earth sciences and engineering, I am working to develop novel techniques to integrate ice penetrating radar observations with numerical modeling.

“My research works to advance our understanding of ice sheet basal thermal transitions and the onset of sliding, and improve projections of sea level rise,” she adds.

The latest entries on her blog, which was started in March, describe her time studying the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier in Greenland.

You can keep up with Eliza’s blog via email, by subscribing in the left-hand column on her blog’s website. Or follow her on Twitter, @keepingicecool!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Grace Johnson awarded 2019 Anne Murphy Ocean Stewards Scholarship

$1,500 scholarship presented at Port Townsend Marine Science Center annual meeting


On July 9 at its annual member meeting, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center announced the winner of the 2019 Anne Murphy Ocean Stewards Scholarship: Grace Johnson of Nordland, Wash.
 
Grace Johnson, recipient of the 2019 Anne Murphy Ocean Stewards Scholarship.

Johnson, a recent graduate of Chimacum High School, has volunteered in ecosystem projects in the local community and recently participated in the Northwest Watershed Institute’s “YES! Leaders Program,” a hands-on environmental education initiative. For the last year Johnson has volunteered at the PTMSC, caring for aquarium animals, cleaning tanks and interacting with the public.

“When I first became a member of the Youth Environmental Stewardship Program, our group attended a 30-minute class at the marine science center where several of the staff shared with us the importance of learning [about] the harmful chemicals that are ingredients in many consumer products that are being used in our everyday lives,” Johnson said.

“The information presented in this class was astounding, I realized how extensive the issue of toxic waste really was, not only to marine life, but to the animals and humans who inhabit the Earth as well,” she added.

Johnson was also a featured speaker at the annual PTMSC Benefit Dinner and Auction in March, where she inspired the audience with a story of her interaction with a young boy. 

Grace Johnson, speaking to the audience at the 2019 PTMSC Dinner & Auction on March 16.


“I told him that [sculpins] enjoy eating clams and small fish, that they prefer to live in inshore rocky and sandy areas, and how they usually swallow their food whole,” Johnson said. “As I saw his excitement, I realized in that moment that, just maybe, I had stirred a curiosity within him that just might develop into a life-long passion.”

A resident of Marrowstone Island, Johnson will attend Peninsula College in Port Angeles to obtain an Associates of Science Degree. She intends to use the $1,500 scholarship to supplement her tuition, books and room and board.

Her future plans?

“Although my future career path is not environmentally geared, I plan to continue to contribute in environmental conservation, specifically the marine environment by continuing to volunteer throughout college at centers, such as the Feiro Marine Life Center in Port Angeles, during my first two years of college, or possibly the Marine Life Center in Bellingham, while I finish my degree in kinesiology.

“By doing this,” Johnson said, “I can continue to gain and share my knowledge and experiences with others, in hopes of inspiring them to volunteer or even pursue a career in this area.”

She added: “Once my schooling is complete, and I’ve started my career, I plan to attend the Port Townsend Marine Science Center’s annual fundraising event where I can donate to the program that helped me discover my new found love for marine life.”

The PTMSC awards the Anne Murphy Ocean Stewardship Scholarship annually to an East Jefferson County student or graduate who embodies the values that Murphy demonstrated in her 24 years as the organization’s executive director: curiosity, wonder and love of the marine environment.


Monday, July 8, 2019

What does it mean to become a steward of the Salish Sea? Part 1

In 2019, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is spotlighting supporters who have become SeaSteward donors. Read Part 2 here.

What does it mean to become a steward of the Salish Sea?

Ella Piatt traces her first inspiration to the time she came to the Port Townsend Marine Science Center as a child to work with co-founder Libby Palmer on a fish seine.

Ella Piatt at the 2019 "Enchanted Salish Sea" Dinner & Auction.
“I loved every bit of it,” Ella remembers. “We would all wait eagerly to see what the haul would bring us. We would get nudibranchs, crabs, starfish, sculpin, gunnels and so on.”

That excitement brought her back for a high school internship in 2009 to work on the Orca Project. The story of “Hope, the orca that stranded and died due to a high level of toxins in her body, was profoundly moving to Ella.

“The public was allowed to put together the skeleton, like a giant jigsaw puzzle,” Ella says. “I remember a young boy in particular who would work on the orca skeleton as much as he could. There was so much passion and determination in this young man to finish the orca skeleton.”

Ella went on to earn an Associate of Arts degree in marine and environmental conservation, followed by a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and anthropology. She is currently working in Maine on a study of saltmarsh sparrows.

At the 2019 “Enchanted Salish Sea” Dinner & Auction on March 16, Ella addressed the audience, giving voice to the inspiration that motivates everyone who works, volunteers, funds or otherwise supports the PTMSC.

“I want to restore a world that was once beautiful and pollution-free, back to the way it should be,” she said. “I want to find ways to encourage the whole world to take a different path that's less harmful to nature. I want to make a global change. It's a huge goal but together it can be done."

This human-to-human sharing of passion and excitement is at the heart of how the PTMSC creates ocean stewards and transforms lives.

Linda Martin and Mike Cornforth have supported the PTMSC for more than 15 years.

Mike and Linda at the end of their regular Friday docent shifts.
“Mike and I knew we'd be supporting the PTMSC the first time we set foot in the Museum,” says Linda, who eventually became a PTMSC board member. “It was 2004 and our first visit to Port Townsend while searching for the perfect retirement location. A friendly volunteer staffer found out we were docents at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in La Jolla, California, and she told us we'd be most welcome as volunteers at the Marine Science Center. We took the first interpretive training as docents while river otters raced around the beach, screeching and rolling around.”

Describing the thrill of interacting with the public, Linda says: “Watching a visitor's face light up with glee when a touch tank resident responds to a gentle touch gives my heart a happy thump. Seeing visitors from all over the world meet their first orca in our museum is a joy.

“We have been docents, auction donors and ambassadors, and sustaining financial donors since 2007,” she says.

More recently, Mike and Linda decided to become SeaSteward members, making their donation with an automatically recurring monthly payment on their credit card. Mike explains it this way.

“The advantages are two-fold,” he says. “First, PTMSC has a steady, stable source of funding for day-to-day operations. And second, our charitable contributions are stable and predictable.”

Adds Linda: “Keeping the Aquarium and Museum doors open to the public is a service to the local and global community. We are honored to be a part of that effort.”







Thursday, July 4, 2019

Summer Low Tide Walks


Sunday, July 14th

9 am - 11 am

Saturday, August 3rd

11 am - 1 pm

Saturday, August 31st

10 am - noon


All dates: meet at PTMSC Museum Portico entrance

Free with price of admission
(members always free)

Meet at the Museum exhibit portico entrance for a guided Low Tide Walk on the beach with PTMSC naturalists. Explore tide pools and learn about how marine organisms are adapted for the challenges of living in the intertidal zone.

We recommend weather-appropriate clothing and shoes with good traction for moving around on wet slippery rocks.


Please RSVP to Carolyn Woods at cwoods@ptmsc.org or call
(360) 385-5582 x 109

BARSTOOL BINGO at Hilltop Tavern

Wednesday, July 31st

7 - 9 pm


Hilltop Tavern


Join us as we ink up some cards for the Salish Sea!

Fun and prizes!

Proceeds go to support our programs. We'll see you there!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Washington couple sets example with whale carcass ‘experiment’

UPDATED June 19: NOAA Fisheries seeks others to volunteer waterfront property for whale decomposition


The following gray whale stranding story, reprinted with the permission of NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region, first appeared on June 14 and featured Port Townsend Marine Science Center Marine Mammal Stranding Network volunteers Stefanie Worwag and Mario Rivera, and PTMSC Citizen Science Coordinator Betsy Carlson. The story also aired on Seattle's KING 5 News and local public radio affiliates. On June 15, the Associated Press picked up the story and it went viral, appearing on more than 300 media websites in the following 24 hours, and the New York Times followed up with its own story on June 17.  It was even mentioned on June 18 on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and the Port Townsend Leader ran an update on June 19.

A dead 40-foot gray whale drifted ashore north of Port Ludlow, Wash., on May 28. Photo courtesy Mario Rivera.

The waterfront property that drew Mario Rivera and Stefanie Worwag to the Pacific Northwest about three years ago now has an extra special attraction: the 40-foot carcass of a stranded gray whale.

The whale did not end up on the couple’s rocky beach south of Port Townsend on its own. Rather, marine mammal stranding responders towed it there at the owners’ invitation. The couple volunteers for the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, responding to stranded marine mammals, and decided it would be interesting to see the whale decompose and be recycled back into the marine ecosystem.

“That’s the primary reason we did it,” Rivera said. “How many opportunities do you get to watch something like this happen right out in front of you?”

A stranding response team measured the whale as part of an examination that found it to be skinny and 
malnourished, like many other gray whales that have stranded on the West Coast this year. 
Photo courtesy Mario Rivera.
NOAA Fisheries is seeking other waterfront landowners willing to follow the Washington couple’s example and volunteer their properties for the decomposition of other gray whale carcasses washing up at an unusual pace this year. About 30 gray whales have stranded in Washington so far in 2019, the most in about 20 years.

Several of the enormous animals have stranded in the inland waters of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea, exhausting most of the known locations where they can be left to decompose naturally. NOAA Fisheries works closely with local, state, and other federal agencies to identify suitable sites, but is seeking additional options this year.

By volunteering sites, landowners can help support the natural processes of the marine environment. Skeletons remaining after decomposition may be used for educational purposes, but must be registered with NOAA Fisheries.

“We’re grateful to Mario and Stefanie for supporting our stranding network and helping us find a location that works for everyone,” said Kristin Wilkinson, Northwest Coordinator for the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

NOAA Fisheries has declared the more than 70 gray whale strandings on the West Coast this year an Unusual Mortality Event (UME), prompting a scientific investigation into the cause. Many of the whales have been skinny and malnourished, suggesting some may not have consumed enough food during their last summer feeding season in the Arctic.

The whale decomposing on Rivera’s and Worwag’s beachfront was emaciated, so it fit that pattern. Worwag is a veterinarian and assisted with a necropsy on the animal.

Landowners Stefanie Worwag and Mario Rivera volunteered their waterfront property south of Port Townsend, Wash., as a site where the whale can decompose. Worwag, a veterinarian, assisted with the necropsy of the gray whale. Photo courtesy Mario Rivera.
The gray whale population last estimated at about 27,000 animals remains strong, but an earlier UME in 1999-2000 lasted two years. Strandings continued throughout that period.

While the UME designation helps provide funding to investigate the gray whale strandings, it does not pay for handling or disposing of carcasses that can weigh up to 40 tons. That is typically the responsibility of landowners where the carcasses end up. In the absence of alternative locations, the stranding network will have little choice but to leave carcasses where they land, which can create local concerns about smell and related impacts.

The whale first drifted ashore in front of houses north of Port Ludlow, Washington, before a stranding
response crew towed it to the site where it will be left to decompose. Photo courtesy Mario Rivera.
The 40-foot male gray whale that Rivera and Worwag agreed to take had first drifted ashore in front of three beachfront homes near Port Ludlow. They understand the reluctance of some homeowners to have a decomposing carcass nearby, but they have found the smell less than they expected.

“Actually, it’s not too bad,” said Rivera, a retired police officer. The stranding network is testing the use of hydrated lime to speed decomposition and mask the smell, but it’s too early to tell if it’s working, he said.

He is not sure how long the whale will take to decompose, but he is interested to find out. The couple has already noticed eagles in the area, possibly scouting for food.

“This is all a big experiment for us,” he said.

Willing landowners should contact Michael Milstein at michael.milstein@noaa.gov or 503-231-6268.