Vancouver Sun Series: State of the Salish Sea

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BC CoastIn a six-part series on the State of the Salish Sea, Vancouver Sun reporter Larry Pynn reports on the state of the shared inland waters of Juan de Fuca Strait, BC’s Strait of Georgia, and Washington state’s Puget Sound.

Part 1: Marine mammals coming back to the Salish Sea

The first article of a six-part series on the State of the Salish Sea, the Vancouver Sun reports that “Thanks to conservation efforts, one marine mammal after another is making a dramatic comeback, their presence providing the biggest reason for hope across an ecosystem spanning 7,000 square kilometres.”  The article goes on to state, “The dramatic return of so many marine mammals at the top of the food chain also suggests good productivity at the bottom, for predators cannot thrive without the fish and smaller creatures upon which they prey. But there are also dozens of species that are not doing as well in the Salish Sea, a complex and poorly understood ecosystem.”

Part 2: Coastal waterbirds in B.C. slipping away

In the second article reports “The B.C. Coastal Waterbird Survey, a 12-year survey of B.C. coastal birds by Bird Studies Canada, found 22 of 57 species — almost 40 per cent — are in decline, according to results released to The Vancouver Sun.  Those findings are echoed in a separate study by the SeaDoc Society, which found that birds represented half, or 56 of 113, species that are threatened, endangered, or candidates for listing in the Salish Sea.”

Part 3: A river runs through it – Fraser plays part in global study measuring effect of climate change

The third article examines the role the Fraser River is playing in the “Global Rivers Project, an initiative of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution near Boston. Along with local partners such as the University of the Fraser Valley, it is tracking the health of rivers, their response to climate change and their impact on coastal ocean ecosystems.  The rivers project is looking at everything from temperatures to trace metals to the carbon cycle, gathering important baseline information against which future studies can be compared.”

Part 4: Exploring Earth’s final frontier

The fourth article examines BC pioneers who “are at the heart of the world’s submersible technology development.”

Part 5: One of Earth’s most remarkable places

The fifth article of the series reports that the “Endeavour hydrothermal vents have been described in scientific papers as ‘one of the most remarkable places on Earth,’ a sub-sea site as strangely beautiful as it can be toxic.”

Part 6: Captive-raised sea lions help research why the species in Alaskan free fall

The final article of the series details research into Steller sea lion abundance in Alaska.  The article reports that “Once the victim of bounties and culls, Steller sea lions continue to make a steady recovery in B.C. waters as a result of federal protection afforded in 1970. The latest abundance estimates peg their population at 48,000 animals in winter on the B.C. coast; the breeding population had dipped to an estimated 3,400 animals before protection. In western Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska, the story is different. Named after the German surgeon and naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, the sea lions there are officially listed as endangered. Current estimates are 39,000 to 45,000 animals, a shadow of what the population used to be in such a vast area.”

“The U.S. National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration says the western Alaska population declined by 75 per cent from 1976 to 1990, and another 40 per cent from 1991 to 2000 — for reasons that remain the subject of debate.”

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