by Suzie Gaffney '11
The SWS Class of 2017 from Whidbey traveled to Cama Beach Park on April 27 to attend their final spring class by joining the Camano’s class to attend Dave Brubaker’s EZ ID presentation. After learning about all the sea life they may encounter on Island County Beaches, the class headed to the beach to learn more about monitoring. Several Camano and Whidbey Stewards volunteered to assist in the monitoring demonstration for the class with 4 pods moving up and down Cama Beach, asking and answering questions. The class enjoyed the afternoon exercise and is anxious to volunteer this spring and summer at one or more of our beach monitoring sessions.
by Deannie Dunbar '13
The Camano and Whidbey SWS Training class of 2017 is best described as energetic, enthusiastic and committed to learning about Camano and Whidbey Islands and the Salish Sea. Many new members bring significant background knowledge to share in class discussions while others are learning key concepts for the first time. Regardless of individual backgrounds, the class as a whole demonstrates a positive commitment to the core principles of the SWS Education and Training program. In addition to actively engaging in the classes and field trips, individual trainees are extending their learning by participating in other SWS activities, including SWS monthly meetings, Nature Discovery Days, 4th Wednesday Community Education nights, and joining many volunteer committees. Bio-monitoring on Island County beaches begins this month and most class members have signed up to attend one or more of the monitoring activities.
Over 80% of the 2017 class members were recruited and sponsored by current SWS members. This year, many of our experienced SWS members attend the 2017 lectures to enhance their own personal growth and to demonstrate support for new members. While the learning is the focus for everyone, the interaction of the long-time members with the new ones helps to build a sense of pride and commitment for the organization.
by Paulette Brunner '10
Nature Discovery Days is a tradition on Camano Island started by the Friends of Camano Island State Park (FOCIP) over 20 years ago. Every spring about two hundred second graders, parents and teachers from Stanwood and Camano schools come to Camano Island State Park (CISP) for a day of discovery in the forest, watershed, estuary and beach. Sound Water Stewards participate in conjunction with FOCIP and representatives from the Stillaguamish Tribe and CISP.
Twenty one Sound Water Stewards led the beach activities at Camano Island State Park for Nature Discovery Days this spring on May 11th and 12th.
Fish seining was a big hit this year. Both students and adults were fascinated as the nets brought in pipefish, perch, flounder, sculpin and shrimp. SWS volunteers Gary Skorheim and John Custer gave a mini lesson on the importance of salmon in our waters and why we don’t include salmon in the seining.
Beach Walks showed off our local flora and fauna and also included stewardship when students found, and actually enjoyed picking up, trash on their walk. CISP interpretive specialist, Tina Dinzl-Pederson gave an impromptu talk on the problem of plastics in our waters.
Barnacle feeding, an activity developed by Alice Blandin, is always a favorite as students become barnacles, feeding on plankton bubbles at high tide and closing up tight at low tide.
It’s always fun to see the world through a second graders eyes. At a plankton station, one student looking through a field microscope excitedly yelled “I see a crab” and pointed to a photo of a barnacle larvae. Do you see a resemblance?
One boy was overheard saying “I learned more today than I did all year”. A most enjoyable two days and a job well done!
by Suzie Gaffney '11
The Sound Water Stewards of Camano once again helped out with Darrington’s 2017 field trip to Iverson Spit Preserve organized by the Stillaguamish Tribes Outreach Program under the guidance of Tamara Neuffer.
3rd, 4th, and 5th graders come annually to this gem on Port Susan to over 330 acres of protected birding area home to eagles, hummingbirds, shorebirds and many others.
The preserve is a county park and part of the estuary off the Stilly and Skagit rivers with shallow tidelands with trails (The Hobbit Trail and along the dike), bird watching, and a glorious beach.
Students changed learning stations every 30 minutes in wonderful weather with experts from Stillaguamish Tribes, Sound Water Stewards, and Sound Salmon Solutions. In the photo students are looking for crabs in the mud shoveled up from the creek by volunteer Gary Skorheim and helper Varisha Wolf.
by Bruce Hardcastle '16
HGTV Film Crew “Beachfront Bargain Hunt”
When Kelly Zupich (Whidbey Volunteer Coordinator) put out an invitation to show a family how to dig for clams, and have the experience filmed by HGTV, I figured, why not? We have a beach loaded with clams, and so I figured that filming a family digging for clams on our beach would be great. After working a little with Digging 4 Dinner last year, headed by June Davis, I thought I could easily point the family in the right direction, and they should find plenty of clams. Bottom line, they found plenty of clams; the film crew, and the family were delighted with the result. As you can tell from the picture above, the film crew got right in on the action. So did the clams, they were squirting like sprinklers. At one point, one of the daughters exclaimed “Dad, the clams are squirting YOU!!” Whether this adventure will be shown on TV, only the editor will know. We’ll have to wait until next season, and anxiously watch the episode on Whidbey Island. Will I be on the show? Definitely not. The director had no interest in filming my instructions to the family, and when filming was about to begin, I was told: “Bruce, stay out the filming, get behind the production crew, and don’t say a thing.” I was thrilled to comply!!! The film and production crew, headquartered in New York, could not have been more professional and courteous. I found the entire experience to be a blast, and it was over “in a New York minute!!!”
If you are interested in learning to dig for clams please check out our summer class schedule! Digging for Dinner Schedule
A small group of hardy explorers donned headlamps and warm winter garb as they set out to investigate the nightlife of Rosario Beach on the night of Dec. 13. A minus 2.4-foot tide exposed a real diversity of life that included flamboyant clown and chalk-lined nudibranchs, colorful shrimp in a variety of hues, and massive gumboot chitons that adhered to the bedrock. The group also found spiky red and green sea urchins, a large and lumpy California sea cucumber, and a weird little umbrella crab. With a bright full moon, it was a perfect night for tide pooling. The evening’s sense of adventure was heightened thanks to a very vocal great horned owl and a wondrous light show as Geminid meteors sporadically streaked across the sky.
Our November night low tide walk was canceled because of bad weather; but the December 12th walk was blessed with great weather at 32°, a clear sky, and an almost full moon. Gary Skorheim walked the beaches of Cama Beach State Park with 10 others ( 3 from Ananda Farm, a no-till nature farm on the south end of Camano Island).
The reward for venturing out into the cold night was to see sea stars in greater numbers than we have seen recently. Two species of the genus Pisaster showed up…giant pink sea star (P. brevispinus), ochre sea star (P. ochraceus), and then there was the sunflower sea star (Pycnopodia helianthoides). Very good signs to us. Our mottled sea star, (Evasterias troschelii) also made an appearance along with a moon snail (Euspira lewisii).
Still looking for that fabulous hooded nudibranch (Melibe leonia) on our next tide walk.
“In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum – 1968
Happy New Year 2017
It’s fun and rewarding to learn more about YOUR island habitat – for you and your kids and/or grandkids, your neighbors, …
- Get outside and take a walk …
- Visit some indoor educational displays
- Learn from home
- Attend a day or evening of learning …
- Visit some outdoor festivals
Feb 25-26 – Port Susan Snow Goose & Birding Festival – has been cancelled for 2017
- Explore other ways to ‘get involved‘ – and care for our habitat
- Invest a day a week for 12 weeks (Mar-Apr, Sept-Oct) and take our training to become a Sound Water Steward. Apply by Feb 28th.
Other Good Resources
Our 23rd Sound Waters University will be on February 4th at South Whidbey High School.
See the Sound Waters 2017 website to read about the keynote (by Dr. Terrie Klinger – on ocean acidification) and review the wide variety of available classes (60+) and mark your favorites.
Registration begins Jan 3rd – we recommend registering by mid-January for the best class selections.
The Friends of Camano Island Parks (FOCIP) and Camano volunteers of Sound Water Stewards (SWS) joined forces again to host three elementary schools for Second Grade Nature Discovery Days at Camano Island State Park on two beautiful days (May 9 and 10).
Both students and volunteers have a wonderful time. SWS member Linda Brubaker overheard two boys coming back from the beach … and one said … “this is the best day of my life.”
Over 80 students and 25 parents are hosted each day. Between FOCIP, SWS, and Park personnel there are 50 plus volunteers who take the students on hikes through the forest and down the watershed to the estuary where they are shown how to make estuary soup … yumm! On the beach they get to experience what it’s like to be a barnacle, see critters up close in the aquariums, and explore the beach for sea stars.
SWS volunteers Barbara Brock ‘ 02 and Elaine Chan ’16 leading the ‘estuary soup’ exercise (photo by Carol Triplett of FOCIP)