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Monday, August 20, 2007

New Calf for L pod - L110

L pod

Moonlight / L83, a 17 year old female, has given birth to her first calf L110. This brings the southern resident population of killer whales to a total of 87 individuals, with 25 individuals in J pod, 19 animals in K pod, and now 43 whales in L pod.
Center for Whale Research

L pod
L pod

Johnstone Strait Fuel & Oil Spill

Breach

Times Columnist
A tug and barge towing several vehicles has sunk in Johnstone Strait off of Robson Bight where the northern residents go to rub along several beaches. The diesel spill has spread out and is reportedly flowing towards the rubbing beach area. A barge loaded with logging equipment, including a fuel truck carrying diesel fuel, flipped Monday and dropped its load into the water by Robson Bight, the protected area where threatened northern resident killer whales feed and rub their bellies. An oil sheen, about two kilometres long, could be seen on the water shortly after the accident and environmental groups say it is almost inevitable that some of the 60 whales known to be in the area will come in contact with the oil.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Save the Streams

Save_Steams_back-Aug17-clip

There are five species of Pacific salmon that die
after spawning; Chinook, Chum, Coho, Sockeye,
and Pink. Salmon return to their natal streams and
rivers each year. Salmon travel thousands
of miles and spend one to five years feeding in the
ocean before returning to their birth streams.
Spawning females dig out a gravel nests, called a
redd. The males then fertilizes the eggs and the
female protects the redd for one to two weeks.
Alveins hatch and mature into fry, developing
vertical bars for camouflage, called parr marks.
After a period of feeding fry migrate downstream
towards the ocean and grow into smolts adapting
to their marine environment.

Threats
On top of natural dangers from predators dangers
to salmon from human activities include poor
farming and forest practices, pollution, destruction
of coastal wetlands and estuaries. The territory of
British Columbia salmon has been decimated for
decades by industrial clearcut logging. Roots of
trees anchor steep slopes. Logging increases the
chances of landslides filling vital spawning
grounds with mud, debris, and boulders. Shade
from trees is lost increasing water temperatures.
Other threats include overfishing, urbanization,
hydroelectric dams, and fish farms.

Actions
Salmon play an important role sustaining
forest ecology. Spawners bring vital nutrients
from the ocean into the forest. Carcasses are dispersed
by bears and eagles providing the trees with fertilizer;
nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon. Salmon feed the
rivers helping the survival of young salmon. Farmed
salmon does not replicate this vital role and is
detrimental to wild stocks. Dangers from fish farms
include disease, pollution (including contaminating
shellfish), predation on young wild salmon, and
escapement (Atlantic salmon compete for food and
habitat with wild stocks). Conservation actions include
cleaning up salmon streams (ensuring clean and safe
flowing environments), recycling, using biodegradable
and organic products, and choosing wild salmon over
farmed.

Chinook
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
Spring, Salmon, King, Blackmouth,
Quinnat, Chub, Tyee (14+kg)
Chinooks have a greenish-blue dark back with
long black spots, a red hue develops around
the fins and belly, male teeth are enlarged and
they have a hooked snout. Tyee reach 1.5 m
and 58 kg, average 90 cm and14 kg. Spawning
peak May to June and August to September.

Chum
O. keta
Dog Salmon
Females are a metallic
blue, males have a
checkerboard colouration,
a dark horizontal stripe, and
canine-like teeth. Average
from 4.5 to 12 kg. Spawning
peak month October.

Coho
O. kisutch
Silver Salmon
Spawning males are red on
their sides, and a bright green
on the back and head areas, with a
darker colouration on the belly, spots
on upper tail fin lobe. They also develop
a hooked jaw with sharp teeth. Females
develop a lesser-hooked snout. Coho
reach 1 m and weigh up to 14 kg, they
average between 3 to kg. Spawning
peak July to August.

Sockeye
O. nerka
Kokanee, Red Salmon,
Blueback Salmon
Varying shades of red resulting
in a brilliant scarlet fish with a
green head. Grow to 83 cm
and weigh up to 7 kg. Spawning
peak month August.

Pink
O. gorbuscha
Humpies
Pale grey, males
develop a hump.
Get up to 76 cm
and to 5.5 kg,
average 1.5 to 2.5 kg.
Spawning peak month
October.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

SARA Transient Killer Whale & Sea Otter Recovery Strategies

Transient Killer Whale (Orcinus orca)
IMG_8822-crop-crop
The ‘West Coast transient’ population of killer whales (Orcinus orca) is acoustically, genetically and culturally distinct from other killer whale populations known to occupy waters off the west coast of British Columbia. This population was designated as ‘threatened’ by COSEWIC in 2001, and currently numbers approximately 250 animals. Transient killer whales are long-lived upper trophic level predators that are considered to be at risk because of their small population size, their very low reproductive rate (one calf every five years) and their extremely high levels of chemical contaminants that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. Their high contaminant burdens, which have resulted from bioaccumulation in their prey, combined with other anthropogenic threats such as physical and acoustic disturbance, warrant their protection under the Species at Risk Act, and they are currently listed as Threatened.

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Consultation period: 2007-8-7 to 2007-10-6


Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)

Sea otters ranged once from Northern Japan to central Baja California, but were hunted almost to extinction during the Maritime fur trade that began in the mid 1700s. As few as 2,000 animals, little more than 1% of the pre-fur trade population, are thought to have remained in 13 remnant populations by 1911. The last verified sea otter in Canada was shot near Kyuquot, British Columbia (BC), in 1929. Between 1969 and 1972, 89 sea otters from Amchitka and Prince William Sound, Alaska, were translocated to Checleset Bay on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Recent population surveys (2001 to 2004) indicate the Canadian sea otter population includes a minimum of 2,700 animals along the west coast of Vancouver Island and 500 animals on the central BC coast. Sea otters are legally listed as Threatened under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) but have recently been reassessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as Special Concern as they have re-populated 25-33% of their historic range and the population is growing and expanding. However, the population is still considered small (<3500) and their susceptibility to oil and the proximity to major oil tanker routes make them particularly vulnerable to oil spills (COSEWIC 2007).

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Consultation period: 2007-8-7 to 2007-10-6

Tuesday, August 07, 2007