Salish Sea

The Race for Adaptation in an Increasingly Acidic Salish Sea

dissolving pteropod NOAA

Underneath the picturesque Salish Sea there are churning currents, with water swooshing in from the open ocean and surges of nutrient-rich fresh water from creeks and rivers that alter the sea’s chemistry — and can make life tough for species trying to survive in a rapidly changing environment.

And that’s why scientists are increasingly interested in the Salish Sea as they study ocean acidification — often called the evil twin of climate change.

The impacts of ocean acidification range from coral reef bleaching in the Caribbean and South Pacific to the hardships faced by oyster and mussel aquaculture businesses in the Salish Sea because shellfish are unable to form calcium carbonate shells.

Southern Resident Killer Whales Unlikely to Survive Increase in Oil Tanker Traffic, Say Experts

Under the waves of Haro Strait, hydrophones record the noise made by passing vessels and, if you happen to be a whale, the din is already disorienting and disturbing, making it difficult to echo-locate food or communicate with other members of the pod.

Tweet: ‘It’s a thunder. Thump-thump-thump, accompanied by squeals & engine noise - like being under the hood of a hot-rod’’s a thunder. Thump, thump, thump, accompanied by squeals and engine noise. It’s like being under the hood of a hot-rod,” said Howard Garrett, president of Orca Network, the Washington State group that tracks the comings and goings of the 80 remaining members of the endangered southern resident killer whales.

All recent studies of the resident pods have identified marine noise around the Strait of Georgia and Juan de Fuca Strait as one of the stressors threatening their survival, in addition to lack of Chinook salmon — the whales’ favourite prey — contaminants accumulating in their blubber and degradation of their critical habitat.

Ship Noise Harming Endangered Killer Whales in Salish Sea: New Study

Killer whales eye oil tanker in Salish Sea

Underwater shipping noise in the Salish Sea is likely making it difficult for endangered southern resident killer whales to find food and could threaten their survival, according to a team of U.S. scientists.
A new, two-year study, published in the academic journal Peer J, used underwater microphones to take 3,000 noise measurements as 1,600 individual ships passed through the Washington State side of Haro Strait.
The study site is in the middle of critical habitat for the fish-eating southern resident killer whales and researchers found shipping noise extended to middle and high frequencies used by killer whales to echo-locate prey. Killer whales emit a series of clicking sounds and then listen for the bounce-back echoes in order to find fish.
The researchers found the growth in commercial shipping has raised the intensity of low-frequency noise almost 10-fold since the 1960s and there is growing evidence that it is affecting the communication ability of baleen whales, such as humpbacks, gray whales and right whales.

NEB Grants Costco Late Request in Trans Mountain Review, Denied EPA Extension

EPA and Costco

The National Energy Board’s decision to grant Costco intervener status in its review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline even though it had missed the deadline to apply is raising questions given that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was denied its request for an extension to the same deadline.

Costco submitted a late application to participate in the review of Kinder Morgan’s proposal to triple the capacity of its pipeline to Burnaby on April 9, 2015. The company argued that it received formal notice of the pipeline’s potential impacts on its Langley property on Feb. 4, 2015, when it was served with notice for land acquisition.

In a letter sent to all interveners, the National Energy Board wrote that Costco had provided sufficient reasons for the board to consider a late submission based on the fact “the project may cross Costco’s lands and it has the potential to be directly affected.”

American authorities are nervous about Kinder Morgan’s proposal to increase oil tanker traffic by a factor of seven through the shared waters off B.C.’s coast, particularly in light of the recent slow response to a small fuel spill in Vancouver Harbour.

Kinder Morgan CEO's TransMountain 'Hubris' Underestimates Pipeline Opposition in B.C.

Richard Kinder, Houston-based billionaire and CEO of Kinder Morgan Inc., told an industry audience last week the TransMountain pipeline expansion project “will go forward” if granted approval at the federal level, despite growing and very vocal opposition to the project in British Columbia.

Kinder said pipeline opponents are using “spurious arguments” to purposely strangle pipeline projects across North America as a means of fighting development in the Alberta oilsands.

I am sure there are legitimate concerns about any mega infrastructure development, but a lot of this is [about] the pipeline as a choke point to get at production of the oilsands, which there are people in Canada and the U.S. who want to strangle that altogether,” Kinder said.

Kinder’s comments seem to affirm criticism that the company is refusing to take local opposition seriously.

Rich Kinder's optimism shows he really does not understand B.C.,” Tzeporah Berman, adjunct professor of environmental studies at York University, told DeSmog Canada. “British Columbians love this coast,” she added, noting the recent bunker fuel spill in Vancouver’s English Bay “was a real wake up call.”

B.C. Mayors Declare 'Non-Confidence' in NEB, Call on Feds to Halt Review of Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan Kinder Morgan

The mayors of Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, City of North Vancouver, Victoria, Squamish and Bowen Island have declared their “non-confidence” in the National Energy Board’s (NEB) review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and are calling on the federal government to put the current process on hold until a full public hearing process is re-instated.

It has become apparent that the NEB process does not constitute a ‘public hearing’ and is completely inadequate to assess the health and safety risks of a proposed pipeline through major metropolitan areas, and the potential risks of shipping bitumen oil to Burnaby and through Burrard Inlet, the Salish Sea, and along the coastline of British Columbia,” the mayors write in their declaration.

The mayors also call upon the Government of British Columbia to re-assert its role in environmental assessment and to establish a provincial process, including public hearings, to assess the Trans Mountain proposal.

Salish Sea Orca Whales Not Mating, Socializing in Polluted Soundscape

orca whales, salish sea, kinder morgan, coal export terminals

Vessel noise is already hindering endangered southern resident killer whales from communicating and finding fish and the noise bombardment will get worse if proposals for coal terminals and pipelines in B.C and Washington State are approved, said scientists and environmentalists at a conference looking at the health of the Salish Sea.

“Ships dominate the soundscape of Puget Sound,” said Scott Veirs, Beam Reach Marine Sciences and Sustainability School program coordinator and professor, speaking at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference.

Veirs and his students take underwater sound recordings off Lime Kiln Park on San Juan Island, an area where the killer whales are known to spend time, and then model the echo-location and communication consequences for the resident killer whales. The resident killer whale population has dropped this year to 80 animals in three pods, the lowest number in more than a decade.

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