Thursday, December 21, 2017

Winter Solstice 2017

December 21st marks the shortest day of the year and the official first day of winter. This also means that starting Friday, December 22, the sun will be out a few seconds longer each day.

The winter solstice, due to the way the earth rotates on a tilted axis, happens the moment the sun’s rays reach their southernmost point over the Tropic of Capricorn. Here in Washington, we will get just over 8 hours of daylight on December 21.

This day marks the changing of the seasons and is an important Pagan festival where many people gather at the Stonehenge in England to celebrate re-birth.

Here at PTMSC, the AmeriCorps and staff are celebrating the coming new year by making marine-themed snowflakes and creating New Year’s resolutions focused on supporting the health of the Salish Sea.

Octopus snowflake 
Sea star snowflake 
Luminary made by AmeriCorps Mariah 
We are also hard at work preparing the Marine Exhibit and the Natural History Exhibit for a fun week of arts and crafts. Lots of cutting and taping going on -- come visit us and see what we’ve been up to! We will be open the 27th through the 31st from noon to 5 p.m.

AmeriCorps James deep cleaning tide pool tank #1

Written by PTMSC AmeriCorps Natural History and Volunteer Educator Emilee Carpenter

Friday, December 15, 2017

Flexing our Citizen Science Mussels

On December 1, 2017, Port Townsend Marine Science Center volunteer Darryl Hrenko and I ferried over to Whidbey Island and made our way to Penn Cove to pick up a truckload of “mussel kits.” These kits were provided to PTMSC, as well as Jefferson County Marine Resources, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, and Feiro Marine Life Center, to participate in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Puget Sound Mussel Monitoring program.

That night at zero tide, PTMSC staff, AmeriCorps, and volunteers split into three groups, each heading out to a local site to deploy our mussels. In February 2018, the mussels will be collected, delivered to WDFW labs and tested for toxins.

Mussels are filter feeders so they accumulate toxins found in the water, and that helps scientists determine which toxins have been present in a given area since they have been there.
Nate Wold helping to light the way for Carolyn Woods as she attaches the mussels to their cage.
Betsy Carlson and her son Gus Wennstrom

The report from the 2015-2016 survey provides some context, stating that “stormwater [runoff] is considered one of the biggest contributors to water pollution in the urban areas of Washington State because it is ongoing and damages habitat, degrades aquatic environments, and can have serious impacts on the health of the Puget Sound. Monitoring pollutants and their effects on the marine biota of Puget Sound is critical to inform best management practices and remediation efforts in this large and diverse estuary (”
AmeriCorps Mariah and Emilee excitedly getting ready to deploy their mussels.
I am so excited that such an important project is utilizing the power of citizen scientists. I’m happy because it means that I get to be a part of this project and also because I think citizen science is an amazing tool for collaboration, outreach/education, and creating more opportunities for scientific discovery!

Written by AmeriCorps Citizen Science Coordinator Lily Evanston.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Interview with Curtis Deutsch, University of Washington Professor of Chemical Oceanography

Enjoy KPTZ Radio's Nature Now host Nan Evans's interview with Curtis Deutsch, University of Washington Professor of Chemical Oceanography, our featured speaker on Dec. 10 at the Fort Worden Commons for the third installment of the Port Townsend Marine Science Center’s Future of Oceans Series: Short of Breath -- Marine Life in a Warming World. 

The Future of Oceans: Sea-Level Rise’s Impact on Humans and Habitat in the Salish Sea

Eric E. Grossman, PhD
USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program
Sunday, January 14
3 pm
Eric E. Grossman, PhD
The Fort Worden Chapel

Admission: $5
(students, teachers FREE)

Urban growth, rising seas and changes in Pacific Northwest stream runoff are placing unprecedented pressure on coastal ecosystems and communities across Puget Sound. Estuaries, beaches and floodplains support many important uses, including fish and wildlife habitat, nationally-important farmland, and natural flood protection to prime real estate, industry and transportation corridors. Intensifying competition for coastal lands raises both the urgency and the challenge of adaptively managing ecosystems and the services they provide for long-term human well-being while accommodating near-term farming, growth and other land-uses. This presentation will synthesize climate change impact pathways leading to coastal squeeze of the Salish Sea and new research aimed to help resource managers and communities plan for adaptation.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

2017 PTMSC Volunteer Gathering

Dec. 5 was a beautiful evening to be at the Port Townsend Yacht Club to celebrate and acknowledge the heart and soul of the Port Townsend Marine Science Center: all of our volunteers! Thank you to everyone who came -- and also to those of you who weren't able to make it -- for all your caring and effort! Each of you makes being part of PTMSC a joy.



Congratulations to these awesome people have all reached a new level of hours volunteered, and a new button to show the world. Thank you!

Over 50 hours
Donna Larson
John Mackey
Cathy Parkman
Steve Reed
Laura Simpson
Morgan Trail

Over 200 hours
Tom Cawrse
Jo Ferrero

Over 500 hours
Dennis Cartwright
Lee Merrill
Ed Robeau

Over 1000 hours
Merce Dostale
Howard Teas

Over 1500 hours
Sally Davis
Over 2000 hours
Linda Dacon
Over 2500 hours
Karen DeLorenzo

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Perfect Night Among the Stars

Sea Star Wasting Syndrome is a horrific disease that has impacted much of the coastal intertidal zones of the Western United States. It has caused sea star populations to collapse in some areas.

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center plays an active role in monitoring the spread of this disease in our local waters.

Currently, we monitor a plot off of Indian Island four times a year. We count the number of sea stars found in the plot and look for signs of wasting. The two species of interest when we are monitoring are ochre stars and mottled stars. However, seeing many species of sea stars in the plot is good news!

Ochre Star 

December 3rd was our last monitoring event in 2017. It also happened to be a super moon, when the full moon is at its closest to Earth, making the moon appear up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual.

Being from the Midwest, tide pooling is always a treat since I never have been able to do this back home, but adding a super moon to the mix made for an amazing night. The moon lit up the rocks and helped us spot all the animals. There were crabs, anemones, sand dollars, and sea stars all living in the intertidal zone.

Looking for Sea Stars

We saw a total of 8 sea stars in the plots. However, there were many more outside of our plots. The purple, red, and orange colors from the ochre stars and anemones were everywhere on the rocks.