Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The West Coast Agrees to Protect the Oceans!

FINALLY! A little something something for the oceans....read on...
Governor Gregoire, Governor Kulongoski, and Governor Schwarzenegger announced the release of their landmark Action Plan for the West Coast Governors' Agreement on Ocean Health on Tuesday, July 29, 2008. We've been waiting since 2006!

On September 18, 2006 the Governors of California, Oregon and Washington announced the West Coast Governors' Agreement on Ocean Health. The Agreement launched a new, proactive regional collaboration to protect and manage the ocean and coastal resources along the entire West Coast, as called for in the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission. 

The Agreement seeks to advance the goals of:
Clean coastal waters and beaches; 
Healthy ocean and coastal habitats; 
Effective ecosystem-based management; 
Reduced impacts of offshore development; 
Increased ocean awareness and literacy among the region's citizens; and
Expanded ocean and coastal scientific information, research, and monitoring;
Sustainable economic development of coastal communities. 

The Agreement also underscores the importance of managing activities that affect our oceans on an ecosystem basis. That is, managing human activities and their impact on ocean resources in a way that accounts for the relationships among all ecosystem components, including people and other species and the environment in which we all live. 
The Agreement directs staff of the three Governors to take certain immediate actions, and to develop a more extensive action plan within one year. The three states prepared a discussion paper to guide public input on actions for consideration during development of the action plan and sponsored a series of meetings to obtain public and stakeholder input on the Agreement. The public comment period on the draft Action Plan is now closed. Thank you for your input. The draft Action Plan was released on October 19, 2007 and public comments were accepted through December 1, 2007. The Governors released the final Action Plan in July 2008. View the press release here.  Via letters to the House and Senate, the Governors have request $5 million to support implementation of the Action Plan.  

Maybe the Oceans will catch a break by 2030!

Subscribe in a reader

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Destination: San Juan Islands

Friday Harbor Afternoon print
Recently, the San Juan Islands have been getting alot of press coverage- and for good reason. The evergreen lined shores and pristine marine environment of the hundreds of islands making up the San Juan archipelago are known throughout the world for their unsurpassed beauty. Consisting of roughly 150 islands (depending on high and low tides) and stretching 24 miles in the lower end of the Georgia Strait in northwest Washington just below the Canadian border, several of the larger cities are accessible by a ferry ride that lasts nearly 1.5 hours. But as you travel through the blue waters, marvel at the eagles soaring and the seals frolicking in the Straits, it's hard to imagine in the midst of this idyll, that you are actually on a form of public transportation. Here in the San Juan Islands, the ferry you have boarded is considered part of the Washington State highway system. Yes, it's hard to believe. You may just want to sit back, enjoy the ride and start redefining "paradise."  But be sure to check the schedule- short of flying in, this is the only was to get to the Islands- and you want to make that ferry!

The historic seaport of Friday Harbor awaits you at the end of the journey, in the heart of the Salish Sea, nestled between three magnificent cities of the Pacific Northwest: Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria. Measuring one square mile, the city has no stop lights but embraces an island culture borne of geographic seclusion and resilient spirit.  Set your expectations high, because you will not be disappointed by the magical forests, breathtaking and bountiful wildlife, long swept driftwood ridden beaches, mountain peaks with incredible vistas, towering cedar trees, and quiet bays.


Cattle Point Lighthouse card
Friday Harbor Magnet magnet
Juxtaposition- Sailing San Juan Island Style card
Island Sunsets Greeting Card card

So, who's talking about the Islands? Well, where do we start? The Washington Post just published an outstanding piece about the Islands- and gives great hints on eats, things to do and places to stay. (Note that COHO Restaurant, which I mentioned in an earlier blog is reviewed!!!)  The Islands have also been listed as one of the BEST places to retire at Topretirements.com, stating "San Juan Islands attracts a community who want to live in a very small island community surrounded by world class scenery and recreational opportunities." Not enough for you? How about the recent ranking by Travel + Leisure Magazine - who announced its 2008 World's Best Awards on July 10, ranking the San Juan Islands #4 on its list of Top 5 Islands in the Continental U.S. and Canada . And in February, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Friday Harbor , Washington one of its 2008 Dozen Distinctive Destinations.  Even the New York Time weighed in...

Haven't been persuaded yet?  Keep on visiting...there's so much to see...

Live. Love. Sail Sailing Stamps stamp
Cattle Point Lighthouse Print print

San Juan Islands Calendar 2008-2009 calendar
Red Veined Darter Stamp stamp

Hope to see you soon!!!!

Subscribe in a reader

Whale of a Purpose!- A Fun Blog to Check Out!

Whales, whales, whales!  The kids are back in town!  Jeanne Hyde, who runs the Orca Adoption Program at The Whale Museum- has a fantastically fun BLOG- with a twist! Jeanne writes:

"I believe that my purpose is that of inspiring others in their lives, because of my enthusiasm about things I am passionate about. It's not something I do, it seems to be what others feel. COME WHALE AWAY WITH ME!! Sharing my killer whale encounters with you. Sometimes they are from a boat and sometimes while I'm sitting along the shore. I'll bring the whales to you no matter where you live. Enjoy!"

Spyhop Stickers sticker

You may want to check it out!

Subscribe in a reader

Monday, July 21, 2008

Waking up to the Southern Resident Community of Whales

It is 6:00am and I am awoken by the sound of orca whale blows (exhalations) out of my window- on the west side of San Juan Island.  To hear the whooshing sounds of the whale blows all surfacing within seconds of each other - then silence - then blows all louder than before is almost magical in itself. The morning was beautiful- the sky was blue and the water even more so. The whales were spread out and not very close to shore, but the stillness of the quiet morning brought the echoes off the Straits and directly to my waiting ears. A loud whoosh, another and another! I turn to the south and hear whales in the distance, turn to the right and see whales headed down island from the North.
Southern Resident Orcas/ Faces in the Waves print
And far offshore, I spot him...a huge six foot dorsal fun slowly curving into the waters offshore, the dorsal fin ruffled even at this distance. J Pod has been splitting up alot lately with Spieden (J-8) seeming to be traveling with the J-14's and others, while Granny (J-2) and the rest of the pod have been traveling without them. But seeing Ruffles, I know J Pod is back in town!!
Granny and Ruffles, J Pod 2006 print
No pictures from today, although J Pod traveled up and down the west side of San Juan Island until 3:00pm- and it currently appears they have made yet another decision to head North- guess the fishing has been good at the Fraser River.
Subscribe in a reader

Sunday, July 20, 2008

She's Here! Our Newest Addition to the Friday Harbor Family...

Friday Harbor has a sweet new yellow lab residing on the west side! She has grown considerably in the past four weeks since we first met her, but her personality is as SWEET as ever.  When I arrived home from Moses Lake- we went to pick up our 8 year old lab named Bogey from our neighbor's house. They have two golden retrievers and when we entered the yard, this precious little baby girl ran right over to Bogey (who was the furthest from her), immediately jumped up and began licking the side of her mouth- utter subservience and a very warm greeting!

She's got a great appetite, is already hiking on the trails each day and anything (may I repeat) ANYTHING is now the definition of fun.A blowing poppy? Fun!!!! Grasses blowing across the yard? Fun!!!! Laying on Mommy's feet every second of the day we're not exploring...now that's Fun!!! And don't forget the puppy breath- don't you just love it???  Yesterday, we were out in the yard on one of our 14,000,000 bathroom runs- and I look behind us to find a familiar face- a little black female fox who frequents the yard.  A few times this year she has been accompanied by one of her pups- who she brought within 10 feet of me one night.  This day, though- it was her turn...I let her come over to us but quickly scooped the puppy up as she came just a bit too close for comfort. (Sometimes it's hard to forget some of these habituated foxes are WILD animals). It was a fun night...details on her name and life to unfold!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tomorrow is the Big Day!!!

We are about to add a new member to the San Juan Island family! Tomorrow I head to Moses Lake to pick her up- our new beautiful little 8 week old yellow lab. 

Hopefully she will love Friday Harbor as much as we do, although in comparison, I suspect she may find it a bit chillier than she is used to. We went to select her in the beginning of July and the temps in Moses Lake were 106 degrees. Ouch! let's see, today we're enjoying a supposedly summer day in July- the temperature reached a whopping 63 degrees- and that was the high!

We have several names in the running- Madrona (a tree indigenous to the region which has reddish bark and a very distinctive shape full of dark shiny leaves.  We're also considering Coho, an endangered species of salmon. Another name we're considering is Cedar, because we certainly have lots of evergreens out here!  If you're reading this blog and come up with a great name that celebrates the Pacific Northwest, drop me a line (e-mail) and we'll surely consider it!!!

So, the cedar waxwings have returned and the days are filled with their beautiful calls. Just yesterday I was in my yard and happened upon a group of babies! Located on an important Pacific flyway, the San Juan Islands are a birder’s paradise: a stop-over for thousands of migratory birds and home to numerous species that inhabit the region year-round. Raptors such as eagles, hawks and peregrine falcons are island residents, and songbirds, seabirds, shorebirds and waterfowl are common sights. Took a couple of photos...
Butterfly Sticker sticker
I'll be sure to post some photos of the baby girl this weekend- have some issues with the sensor on my camera being a bit dirty- but we'll work around that too!  Have a great day! Sandy

Subscribe in a reader

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Tale of the Dragonfly

A beautiful start to a Summer Sunday on San Juan Island's west side. At approximately 5:00am this morning, the show began as the southern residents returned to the west side of San Juan Island. The light as too low to photograph, but I watched as the whales came from the west and then headed north (some close to shore, some not) in the very early morning light, their blows echoing off the shoreline. I did see some return an head south and no ID's were possible, but looks as though we'll have cetacean activity today!! Woo hoo!

You Blow Me Away Card card

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time at a local pond on the east side of Lime Kiln off of West Side Road. I actually went there to try and photograph a family of mergansers- but they decided to remain elusive in the grasses too far from my lens. However, what I did see pretty much made up for the birds, what appeared to be thousands of blue damselflies mating in widespread groups across the water. Not a good photo- but this will give you an idea of the encounter.

Keeping in mind that I know nothing about these creatures, I started taking photo after photo of the colorfully darting damselflies who alighted time and time again amidst the reeds. Some shots follow....

A Day at the Pond Collage Poster print

So, here's the question...what did I photograph?  I also found (potentially) nymphs around the water's edge...
I would appreciate any feedback on the red dragonfly photo- an ID would be sincerely appreciated! Also trying to determine of the photo above is actually a dragonfly nymph? Email me at limekilnwhalewatcher@yahoo- I'd love to hear from you!

As I wrote this blog, my attention was diverted out the window as an eagle made its way toward my house, heading up the hillside towards the roof. I heard a distinct "thud," and ran upstairs to see where it had landed. As I approached the sliding door, I looked outside only to see him/her perched on our deck railing. And what was he/she doing? Inside the door sat our 11 month old kitten named Tigger. Both were in a stare down, the cat watching in amazement as he came eye to eye with the biggest bird he has ever seen. A shot through my screen door...and another of the kitty panic attack! Yikes!

(Tried to get the photos to upload, no go right now...will check back later!) 

Have a great day! Sandy

Subscribe in a reader

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Red Beaks, White Caps and Blue Skies- July 4th San Juan Island Style

Another holiday has passed us by- a weekend spent with friends and a cacophony of oystercatcher calls down at Hannah Heights Beach on the west side of San Juan Island, WA. The whales (members of all three pods) made it in for the end of the weekend- foraging and milling on the west side all day today- never even making it up to Lime Kiln Lighthouse (so far).  It is frustrating to watch all of the holiday boat traffic pay no heed to the Whale Watching Guidelines- boating over the whales and through them.  Boaters should beware, though- a new law, signed by the Governor on March 28, 2008, (HB 2514) establishes a 300-foot zone around orca whales that vessels must avoid. The law provides the Department of Fish and Wildlife with enforcement tools to better protect the endangered Southern resident whales. Violators can be fined up to $500 with possible charges filed as applicable.

So, back to the American Black Oystercatchers!!!  We were visited by four of these colorfully fun shorebirds Friday evening- conspicuous black birds found on the shorelines of the Islands just about year round. As their name implies, they forage in the intertidal zone, feeding on marine invertebrates, particularly molluscs such as mussels, limpets and chitons. We watched them hunt so close to the water's edge they had to repeatedly fly up to avoid the surf.

Happy Fourth of July!!

Subscribe in a reader

Friday, July 4, 2008

Whales in Baines Channel

If you didn't have a chance to read Orca Network's update this week, you missed plenty of excitement...especially on Wednesday morning.  I suspect that day will remain a highlight of my whale watching days for many years to come. We had the opportunity to meet up with members of both J & K pods (could have been some L's too??) returning to the San Juan Islands at approximately 11:00am. We met up with the whales as they headed through Baines Channel. While that was exciting in an of itself, when we approached, we were greeted with line after line of resting whales, tightly grouped, intermingled and slowly making their way west toward San Juan Island.

Pictures certainly cannot do the experience justice. But we'll try!!

We stayed with the groups for about two hours (they seemed to gather speed as they entered the Haro Straits- heading north and breaking into three separate groupings). The whales appeared to be heading North but by the time we arrived home to the west side of the Island, many of the whales seemed to have turned and headed south- we even stopped to watch at least 5 of them come well into Deadman's Bay (just south of Lime Kiln). By 6:00pm that evening, we still had the southern residents heading south along the shores, after a day of what seems to have been unstopped milling!

Subscribe in a reader