This refers to a PREVIOUS SW, held February 6, 2016
Please see this page for the most recent Sound Waters information

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Session A 11:00-12:15
A.1 A Guide to Kayaking Local Waters

The Salish Sea comprises the inland waters from the southern end of Puget Sound to the northern edge of the Strait of Georgia -- with many of the best places on the planet to paddle.

Paddling off Double Bluff

We will "tour" Whidbey with trip information and attractions for day trips (and a few overnights) compiled by WISK--the Whidbey Island Sea Kayakers network. Class participants will learn how to access detailed trip information to enable them to circumnavigate Whidbey in day-trip segments.

A.2 Adapting to Projected Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

Puget Sound and Olympc Mountains at sunset, ferry in foregroundThis class will cover the impacts of climate change for the Pacific Northwest region. We will explore how the global climate affects us regionally, specifically in regards to how our natural resources will respond to a warmer climate. Topics will include projected implications for aquatic systems, forest fires and sea level rise. We will also discuss potential adaptation efforts to increase the resiliency of our natural resources to the projected effects of climate change.

A.3 Coastal Geology: Bluffs, Beaches and Landslides

Bluff erosionWhere is your favorite beach? Do you know how it was formed or why it changes during the year? What will that beach look like in 20, 50 or 100 years?  

And what about the landslides you saw on the news? Could that have been prevented?

Did you know that much of the salt marsh habitat on Whidbey Island occurs (or used to occur) behind spits?  Why is that?

photo of eroded beach bluff

This class will answer many of your questions. You'll be expertly guided through a slideshow illustrating principles and local examples of geology and beaches.   Come learn the importance of storms and discover that erosion is often a good thing.  Our shorelines can be exciting places--storm surges, king tides, 60 mph gusts, landslides--and they demand stewardship.

A.4 Environmental Assessment & Monitoring: Integrating UAVs, Aerial Photography, and Mapping Technologies

aeiral image of a wooded shoreline and grey water

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have rapidly become a part of our daily conversations. Advances in technology have dramatically increased the availability and economy of an easily deployable, flying platform for augmenting environmental studies, especially the geographic information systems (GIS) mapping we do in environmental work.

The class will explore some of the basic distinctions between types of UAVs and how each can benefit our environmental assessment and monitoring efforts.

GIS users have always craved high-resolution and near real time imagery. UAVs offer a unique opportunity for users to gather their own high-resolution temporal data. Such data can easily be brought into GIS software to perform analyses.

This class will also cover some of the basics of using UAV’s for GIS and mapping including post-processing, ortho-mosaicing, georeferencing, spatial analysis, and 3D structure-from-motion (SfM).

aerial view showing a grid system of points used in mapping with a camera on a UAV

A.5 Eyes on the Beach, Boots in the Mud: On the lookout for invasive European green crab in Puget Sound

photo of European Green Crab

European Green Crab, Carcinus maenas

One of the world’s worst invasive species is on our doorstep: in 2012 a population of the European green crab, Carcinus maenas, was first recorded in Sooke Inlet, west of Victoria, B.C. The crab has been established on the outer coast since the late 1990’s, but this was the first observation of this globally-invasive species in the Salish Sea, raising concern about whether the crab could expand its range further into Puget Sound.

Why does this crab have such a bum rap? Are concerns for invasion into Puget Sound well-founded? What are we doing about it?

Most importantly - what can YOU do about it?

Two field workers setting a quadrat next to a transect line

Volunteers survey for green crabs at Deer Lagoon

This session is going to answer these questions and arm you with the information you need to be our “Eyes on the Beach”. You’ll learn how to identify the crab, and distinguish it from similar native species. You’ll learn how to find the best places to look for European green crabs, and what to do if you see one (hint: start by avoiding the pinchers!).

Spotting invasive species at the earliest possible opportunity gives us the best chance for controlling their population and reducing their negative impacts. Your help looking for this invasive crab is critical to protecting Washington’s productive and diverse inland shorelines. For more information on the monitoring program, visit our website:

A.6 Fishing for a Living: Cormorants and Mergansers

Cormorants at Port TownsendDark and sleek, cormorants are familiar figures in the Salish Sea. Learn the secrets of these streamlined birds that are well-adapted to our local waters.

The class also covers three local species of mergansers, those odd ducks of the waterfowl world. Male Red-breasted Merganser

This class on Cormorants & Mergansers is the 4th in the Fishing for a Living series, but it stands alone and participants need not have taken any of the previous classes.

Presenters are Coupeville residents Steve & Martha Ellis. Steve is a past president of Whidbey Audubon Society and Martha is a member of the Washington Native Plant Society. Together they have been leading field trips and giving talks on a wide range of natural history for over 25 years.

A.7 Gardening with the Natives (Plants)

Photo of Native NW PlantAre you looking to go completely native? 

Or, do you want to add some of the best of our NW native plants to your garden? 

We will talk about how to choose the best plants, and how to plant and place them so they thrive and show their best qualities. 

Trees, shrubs, ground covers, and ferns will all be covered to help gardeners create layered gardens with seasonal interest.

A.8 Glacier Research and Monitoring in Washington's National Parks: A History of Changing Climate and Water Supplies

Silver Glacier Photo

Washington's ~1,000 glaciers are valued as recorders of climate change, sources of freshwater, mountaineering challenges, and as the sole habitat for some species. 

Glaciers record a history of climate change because of their sensitivity to temperature and precipitation combined with their ability to leave lasting evidence of their former size.

They also provide vast amounts of cold fresh water to our lakes and streams during the region's summer drought.

This class will explore the rich record of climate changes in the region as revealed by research on ancient glacial deposits and modern glacier observations.

Dr. Riedel will trace our climate history from the last ice age between about 30,000 -11,500 years ago, through cyclic changes in glacier size after about 7,000 years ago, to the Little Ice Age and the last century.

And last but not least, you will hear how monitoring of glaciers in Washington's national parks provides important information on changing water supplies.

You can learn about our glacier monitoring program before this class at:

photo: Silver Glacier lies between the two peaks of Mount Spickard in the North Cascades

A.9 Green Shores™ For Homes Washington State and British Columbia

Photo of soft shore restorationGreen Shores for Homes (GSH) is a voluntary, incentive-based program that helps waterfront homeowners restore natural shorelines and reap benefits of improved scenery, recreational uses, shoreline protection and environmental quality. Green Shores for Homes can be applied to both new construction and modifications to existing structures, to both whole-site and riparian/shoreline development, on both rural and urban sites, and to both freshwater and marine shoreline environments.

This class will outline the development of the Green Shores for Homes program including a full discussion of the GSH Rating System that uses credits to award points to a waterfront project. The final score of a project assesses the level of ecological improvement that is achieved at a site  using this program. Learn how the program benefits homeowners and the environment, and learn how local governments can use the program to incentivize ecological improvements along the shoreline.

For more information, visit the Green Shores for Homes website at which will be available after December 15th.

 Photos copyright City of Seattle Green Shorelines

A.10 Ikkatsu Project: A Puget Sound Bottle-Boat Voyage Highlights Our Addiction to Plastic

Photo of Ken Campbell paddling the Hyas yiem

In April of 2014 Ken Campbell embarked on a 150-mile trip from one end of Puget Sound to the other using a kayak that had been constructed out of discarded single-use plastic bottles.

The kayak, the Hyas yiem, "... took about 450 bottles to build,” says Campbell. “Which seems like a lot at first, but when you consider that in this country we go through 1500 bottles of water every second, it starts to put it in perspective.”

The voyage included several data gathering assignments, including water sampling for microplastics along the length of the route, something that had not been done to date.

Raising awareness about the dangers that plastic poses to the marine environment is the driving idea behind this presentation, as well as one of the core messages of the Ikkatsu Project.

A.11 Island County's Shoreline Master Program: Process, Status and Issues

Island County staff will present an overview of Island County's Shoreline Master Program (SMP).  The SMP was developed pursuant to the Washington Shoreline Management Act and gives preference to water-dependent and water-related uses, provides public access to the shorelines, and regulates shoreline development and activities to prevent a net loss of ecological functions and processes.







A.12 Know Your Risks: Do extreme storms and predicted sea level rise threaten your shoreline property?

Photo of homes at surf lineExtreme storms and king tides are well known to present risks to shoreline properties. Anticipated sea level rise is predicted to increase risks of property damage further. What's a property owner to do? This session will focus on tools provided by NOAA to help property owners predict risks specific to their locations. In addition to showcasing web-based tools to assess risks, this session will discuss strategies to mitigate risks and explore environmental stewardship opportunities when dealing with aging structures at high risk for damage.


A.13 On an Incoming Tide: Seabirds, Marine Debris, and Citizen Science

Photo of Two citizen scientists collecting data on a beached birdWhat can we learn from what washes in to local beaches?

What can beached birds tell us about the marine environment?

What can the characteristics of a piece of marine debris tell us about its potential impacts?

In this session, we'll take a look at beached bird and marine debris data from the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), a program based at the University of Washington in partnership with state, tribal and federal agencies, environmental organizations, and community groups.

More than 800 COASST participants collect data on local beaches from California to Alaska, covering about 600 km of coastline each month. photo of Car Tire on a Beach

What do they see in Washington? How does the deposition rate of seabirds vary between relatively sheltered waters in the Puget Sound and more exposed beaches along the Pacific Coast? What marine debris washes in, where does it come from, and what characteristics make it harmful?

Come find out how local citizens are contributing valuable scientific data to one of the Salish Sea’s largest citizen science programs and how this contributes to our understanding of our local marine environment.

A.14 Prairie History and Restoration in Ebey's Reserve

Prairies in the Pacific Northwest? Yes, indeed. Learn about the history of the prairies in Ebey's Reserve, with a focus on glacial/geological, cultural and ecological forces. Explore the challenges and lessons learned in restoring some of these prairies-specifically what constitutes restoration and why it is important.

A.15 Puget Sound Orcas

Orca pod in front of Seattle skylineKiller whales, or orca, are toothed whales related to dolphins, with a worldwide distribution. Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) are an iconic species here in the Pacific Northwest, spending several months during summer and fall in Washington’s San Juan Islands and Puget Sound where they feed primarily on salmon. 

Orca population was reduced substantially in the 1960s and 1970s by marine park captures, when the population reached a low of 71 individuals. Although the population grew in size into the 1990s, population growth has since stalled at an average around 80 individuals. In 2005, NOAA Fisheries designated Southern Resident killer whales as ‘endangered’ due to their low abundance and the variety of threats they face.  NOAA then finalized a recovery plan in 2008. 

The NWFSC Marine Mammal research group is leading the effort to understand potential factors in orca taxonomy, biology, ecology and behavior as well as human-caused environmental impacts that may limit orca population recovery. These factors may include quantity and quality of prey; toxic chemicals which accumulate in these top predators, disturbance from sounds and vessel traffic and any future oil spills. Our work helps NOAA's West Coast Region implement the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act and inform species recovery and management actions.

This class will summarize a variety of topics related to understanding the current status of the southern resident killer whales, including: - How the Endangered Species Act considers populations and species - The recent evolutionary history of North Pacific killer whales - Breeding structure and life-history - Diet and distribution - Comparisons to other killer whale populations - Current ideas about why the southern resident population is not growing.

More information is available on the NWFSC southern resident killer whale website:


A.16 Salmon & Forage Fish in Island County? For Real? Indeed....

"What do you mean we have salmon here? We don't have spawning rivers. We're an Island, with small streams! And what are 'forage fish' anyway?" Actually, Island County provides miles and miles of important habitat for important fish we rarely see. We will discuss salmon and forage fish and their habitats. Hopefully, by the end, we will see our beaches with new, fishy eyes.

Photo of fish in palm of hand

A.17 SeaFloor Volcanic Eruptions and Life in Extreme Environments in Real Time

photo of a red octopus on the ocean floorIn a video- and image-rich presentation, this class will take you on a journey to the world of underwater volcanoes and hot springs - one of the most extreme environments on Earth. Here, hidden deep beneath the oceans surface, over 70% of the world's volcanic activity occurs. Heat from volcanoes over a mile underwater drives boiling hot spring systems venting fluids at over 700°F.   Surrounded by near freezing seawater and in complete darkness, these systems are seafloor oases, teeming with life that includes worms that reach 6 ft in length, dumbo octopi that swim using large “fins” on the sides of their heads, squid that turn completely transparent, swarms of shrimp that may “see in the dark”, and microorganisms that live at temperatures over 250°F using toxic volcanic gases as their energy source.

On this journey, you will see some of the most remarkable places and animals on Earth using stunning video and high definition images few have seen before. These sites include metal-rich, actively venting black smoker chimneys teeming with so much life that you cannot see the rocks themselves. I will also take you to the Lost City hot spring system that I discovered in 2000. It is unlike any place yet found on Earth. Carbonate towers rise 180 ft above the seafloor and host amazing biological communities that thrive in fluids with properties similar to liquid Drano at 200°F.

yellow submersible breaking the surface after a diveLearn how scientists explore the deep sea using new submersible technology. Find out what it is like to dive in the three person submersible “Alvin” to a depth of 12,000 feet and travel along a huge underwater canyon.

New technologies just online are forever changing the way we explore and learn about the world’s oceans. You will be introduced to the U.S.’s first underwater cabled observatory located off the WA-OR coast – bringing for the first time the Internet into the oceans and, hence, your living rooms in real-time. This system includes approximately 560 miles of underwater high power fiber optic cables that provide power and communication to over 100 instruments now installed on the seafloor and on instrumented moorings that rise over 9000 feet above the seafloor. The cable extends more than 300 miles off our coast to Axial Seamount, the world's largest underwater volcano , and now the world’s most advanced underwater observatory. Here, cameras provide real-time imagery of hot springs and life on the volcano; seismometers provide real-time earthquake detection; and instrumented moorings with wire crawlers detect changes in acidity, temperature, and biology.

Partial summit view of ocean volcano called Axial Seamount lit up by spotlights on a robotAxial Seamount erupted in 1998, 2011 and April 24, 2015. The cable provided real-time data on the eruption, including over 8,000 earthquakes in 24 hrs and a 7 ft collapse at the summit of the volcano. Underwater hydrophones “heard” hundreds of underwater explosions, which you will get to hear. Across the US, researchers were able to “watch and listen” to this event in real-time. You will be able to witness the first dive on this large eruption, which reaches over 400 feet in thickness -  about 2/3 of the height of the Space Needle! Three months after the eruption, acres of microbial mats covered the cooling lava flow and “snowblowers” emitted millions of microbes from within the crystallized basaltic rocks.

The hope for this informal “journey” is significant interaction with participants – the more questions and discussion the better. For an advance look at this observatory and the expeditions involved in its installation, please explore:

A.18 Stormwater Pollution Solutions for Salmon

Throughout the Salish Sea, coho salmon are a sentinel species for healthy watersheds.  Coho need cool, clean water to survive and thrive, and they are very vulnerable to the harmful effects of toxic stormwater runoff.  As our regional human population grows, more land is converted to parking lots, streets, and other impervious surfaces.  As a consequence, rainfall and runoff transport more chemical pollutants to salmon spawning and rearing habitats.

This session will showcase ongoing stormwater research by NOAA scientists and our many regional collaborators.  Our mission is twofold: 1) identify the most important water quality threats to salmon and their food webs, and 2) identify clean water strategies that remove these contaminants and demonstrably protect the health and integrity of our watersheds.  Although the challenges ahead are enormous, we’ll report some initial good news.

A.19 The Secret Lives of Pigeon Guillemots on Whidbey Island

Photo of Pigeon GuillemotPigeon Guillemots, chunky black and white seabirds with fire engine red feet, are the only seabird known to breed and nest in the sandy bluffs surrounding Whidbey Island. These charismatic seabirds are a recognized indicator species for the health of Puget Sound. Since 2004 the Whidbey Audubon Society's Pigeon Guillemot Research Group have worked with over 50 trained volunteers collecting data from 25 known nesting sites surrounding Whidbey Island. Little was previously known about these birds, but the data from this long-term research project has provided a window into the breeding and nesting behavior of the PGs here on Whidbey Island. Join us as we share our knowledge about this project and those darlings of our Whidbey bluffs, the Pigeon Guillemots.

A.20 Tides, Currents, and Life

Diagram of Ocean Currents

The tides and currents of the Salish Sea directly affect our lives and all marine ecosystems.  Up and down, round and round, why do the waters move?

We will look at the physical factors that create the tides and currents that are such a part of our lives on Whidbey Island, the Salish Sea, and the entire planet.  What does mixed semi-diurnal mean, anyway?  What is the difference between a higher high tide and a lower high tide?  Why are low tides at night in the winter and during the day in the summer?  Why are beaches sandier in the summer and rockier in the winter? 

How does all this affect the behavior of salmon, seaweed, and nuclear power plants?  And how does all this affect me when I visit the beach, paddle a kayak, take a ferry, or try to balance an egg?

Tides wait for no man, but that means they are predictable.  How will the movement of water affect your property?  How do we predict tides in a practical way?  How does a storm change those predictions?  Should we use the dependability and energy of tides for power generation?   With visuals and discussions, we will be able to better understand these processes that create our tides, determine our coastline, and touch our lives.

A.21 HAS BEEN CANCELLED -- Washington's State Wildlife Action Plan and Citizen Science - Conservation

photo of Young Citizen Scientist

Washington state, like all other states, has a State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) that identifies species and habitats of greatest conservation need and actions to address those needs.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife updated our SWAP in late 2015. Citizen Science is identified as a tool to help WDFW and our conservation partners meet objectives in that plan.

Come visit with Wendy Connally about the SWAP priorities, learn where to find resources to use for your own engagement in conservation efforts, and hear about WDFW's citizen science efforts related to this plan.

photo of Field Observations

We regret this class has been cancelled

Session B 1:30-2:45
B.1 A View of Oysters in Washington

a row of oysters in the half shell

This class is a broad view of oysters in Washington State.

Your copresenters will give an overview of the story of oysters including historical accounts of harvesting native oysters many years ago, the role of oysters in the ecosystem, and the farming of Pacific oysters.

You will be introduced to the different species of oysters found in Washington and learn how to identify them from their physical characteristics.

Health and safety issues for enjoying oysters from local beaches will be discussed.  Bring your questions and don't hesitate to ask about any of your concerns.

an oyster garden row on the beach at low tide

Do you think you might want to start a new hobby such as oyster gardening on Whidbey Island?--This class will provide you with some tips on how to get started and where to find suitable beaches for this activity.

B.2 Birds, Backyard Habitat & Beyond

Enjoy a newly upated film with even more birds and interesting wildlife behaviors!

The Johnsons illustrate the delights possible by recording birds and other creatures that visit their Whidbey Island backyard in a developed neighborhood. This remarkable film provides a window to the natural world, with birds foraging for food, raising young, maintaining their plumage and much more. Using video, animations, graphics and photographs the Johnsons also offer some simple suggestions to increase the variety of wildlife in your yard.

Q & A with Craig & Joy following the 60 minute movie.
B.3 Crabbing 101

photo of Dungeness crab

This class is a true crabbing 101, or as much as can be delivered in 75 minutes.

We will cover: crab habits and addictions; the rules for catching and possession; the many ways to catch crabs such as trapping, snaring, and netting; how to keep crabs alive; cleaning crabs; cooking crabs; picking crabs; and freezing crab meat.

We'll look at many equipment options and make suggestions as to how to best set up a pot.  We'll discuss the best baits, Whidbey Island locations and times, and how to keep from losing your pot.  If we have time, we might trade recipes and taste the results.

B.4 Electricity on Whidbey: Safety, Distribution, Restoration and Stand-by Generators

photo of downed power linesRepresentatives from Puget Sound Energy will provide an overview of the electricity distribution system and how power is restored following an outage. They’ll also provide tips and recommendations for selecting, installing, and operating a back-up generator. Finally, an electrified table-top display will be used to demonstrate electric safety practices and procedures.

B.5 First Four Years: Wildlife Response to Removal of the Elwha Dams

photo of river bed with removed dam and Olympic Mountainsin distance

We will discuss wildlife research in the Elwha as it relates to removal of the Elwha dams, with a specific focus on river otters, American dippers, black bears, and Roosevelt elk.

The class will also address the role of wildlife in Elwha restoration, and how wildlife may help or hinder overall restoration.

Some wildlife will contribute to restoration by transporting nutrients and seeds, while others may hinder restoration by foraging on newly established of river otter on a log overhanging river bank

Photo of a rodent peeking out from driftwood

B.6 From Mountains to Sea: Local Aerial and Underwater Photography

Pohot of mountain lookout towerWe live in a beautiful area of high mountain peaks and the deep waters of the Salish sea. I will be sharing my images and the techniques of photographing while in some of our more challenging local environments. such as from airplanes and underwater. I will also be bringing in some of the equipment and software that I use. My website is


Photo of Wolf Eel











B.7 Global Climate Change: Pacific Northwest Impacts

Photo of Puget SoundGlobal climate change will bring major changes to the Pacific NW, both on the land and in the coastal environment. In this presentation, I will summarize these projected impacts, drawing on the published work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2013/2104 AR5) and the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington. The focus will be primarily on the marine environment, addressing ocean acidification, sea-level rise, toxic algal blooms, and species diversity /invasive species. The global predictions of changing temperature and precipitation will be addressed at the regional scale with implications for agriculture, water resources, snowpack, and forest health.

B.8 How Clean Energy Technology Can Be Used to Mitigate Climate Change

The four pillars of a next-generation energy system are massive efficiency improvement, de-carbonization of energy sources, electrification of fossil fuel demand, and integration of the system through smart, distributed energy grids, executed via new energy business models. This approach can also be applied to pursue a carbon neutral target at the business or campus level, or economy-wide if motivated by consistent, flexible policy, including a price on carbon.

B.9 Island County Hydrogeology: Your Groundwater

Aquifer ImageIn this course, you will gain a basic understanding of groundwater science (hydrogeology).  You will learn about the genesis and function of our aquifers and aquitards.  You will also learn about the risks to our water resources, such as contamination and over use, and how government agencies work to protect our water resources.  The course will provide details regarding local groundwater availability and issues.

B.10 Kelp: Ecology, Stressors, and Species Identification.

Our region has one of the most diverse kelp communities in the world, with twenty-three species found locally. While there are over 600 species of marine algae, kelp play a disproportionate role in Washington’s marine ecosystem.

The first part of the course will provide an overview of kelp ecology, stressors and restoration.

The second part of the course will be focused on identification of local species using photographs, keys, herbarium sheets and other resources.

You will come away with a greater understanding of the connectivity of the marine ecosystem and the role kelp play in it.

close up photo of kelp

B.11 Native American Adaptation to Whidbey and the Salish Sea.

Coast Salish wrapped net sinkers. www.qmackie.wordpress.comLou will discuss the Native American cultural adaptation to the mega-optimum zone of the Puget Sound region with a focus on Whidbey Island.

The tools, food, dwellings, and life ways will be shared with the audience.



B.12 Paternity, Prey and Population Structure: Insights Into the Lives of Cetaceans Through Genetic Studies

Killer WhalesRecent advances in molecular genetic techniques have provided new avenues through which to explore aspects of cetacean behavior and ecology that previously seemed intractable.

Join us as we discuss our genetic toolkit and examine the wealth of data that we have gained through molecular approaches highlighted through examples of studies on species ranging from killer whales to porpoises.Harbor Porpoise

B.13 Shellfish, Can You Dig It?

Audrey Kuklok, of the Washington State Department of Health, will show you how to find out where it's safe to harvest shellfish in Puget Sound. Learn about recent trends concerning dangerous biotoxins like PSP, ASP, DSP and Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

Maribeth Crandell, of Island County Health Department, will discuss the latest news about local shellfish sites in Holmes Harbor, Penn Cove and other popular beaches.

B.14 Surprising Stopovers of Juvenile Chinook

aerial view of an estuary in the Whidbey basinPocket estuaries and small independent streams draining into nearshore areas within the Whidbey Basin are an important rearing habitat for fry migrant Chinook salmon originating from the three Chinook salmon bearing rivers of the Whidbey Basin. close up photo of Chinook fry

Juvenile Chinook salmon utilize pocket estuaries and small independent streams during late winter and spring months. The residence period of individual juvenile Chinook salmon in a specific small stream or pocket estuary averages a little over one month. During this period, individual fish increase their length by 20% and weight by 60%.

Use of these habitats provide fry migrant Chinook salmon with a survival advantage compared to use of the more exposed and marine-like nearshore habitats. Restoration and protection of pocket estuaries and small independent streams within the Whidbey Basin is important to Puget Sound Chinook salmon recovery.

Link to key juvenile Chinook salmon and pocket estuary references:

Link to key juvenile Chinook salmon and pocket estuary reference:

Link to Skagit River System Cooperative (SRSC) Research Department webpage:

Link to research reports based on field studies of fish use in estuary or nearshore habitats:

B.15 The Curious Harbor Porpoise - How We Monitor Its Acoustic Activity

Two harbor porpoises at the surfaceWhile most of our work focuses on acoustic data to learn about the movement, distribution and population of harbor porpoises, I want to emphasize that we are not just dealing with numbers. These are curious, playful creatures with personality.

My talk will describe our research and findings. I will describe how our instruments work and explain about the high frequencies at which the porpoise echolocates. I will also share some of my experiences working closely with the rescued porpoises at Vancouver Aquarium.

I am grateful to the Vancouver Aquarium for letting me spend time at their facility recording the echolocations of their two rescued harbor porpoises. In this time, I found these porpoises would tease and play with me. After such an experience one could never go back to impersonally cataloging their characteristics.

The Harbor Porpoise Project was initiated in 2009 following my identification of instruments and techniques that could be used to monitor harbor porpoises, a species that state agencies found too difficult to monitor. Since that time the instruments have been tested, used and proven to be effective.

Through land-based observations and acoustic monitors, Pacific Biodiversity Institute has collected data that shows seasonal movement and distribution for the harbor porpoise. This data will be used in the coming year to request state agencies to adapt their management to be more protective of the porpoises and to petition for protected areas for calving. This work was presented at the 23rd Annual British Columbia Marine Mammal Symposium and written up in the Puget Sound Ecological Monitoring Program’s Marine Waters Report for 2014.

In 2014-5 the project has expanded monitoring which reaches from Saturna Island, British Columbia to the Hood Canal. This set of monitors in different habitats are demonstrating the harbor porpoise movement and distribution to show changes in seasonal presence. From data collected continuously over the entire past year at Burrows Pass, Rosario Strait and Admiralty Inlet, it appears that we can see movement from the more protected habitats on the east side of the Salish Sea in the winter to the more open waters of Admiralty Inlet in the summer. The three months of data from Saturna Island agrees with this finding. This finding is also supported by examining data from Dr. Anna Hall’s studies which show a peak of presence near Victoria, BC in the Haro Strait and Strait of Juan de Fuca in June and July.

Our analysis comparing land-based observations and acoustic monitoring at Burrows Pass has continued for five years. The seasonal cycle of higher presence in the winter than the summer is robust and comparable in the two sets of data. Since these sets of data are completely independent, this is strong confirmation of the validity of our work. We continue to see a diurnal cycle in the porpoise’s presence at Burrows Pass both winter and summer. In the fall of 2015, we began moving our monitors to other locations around the Fidalgo Island area and into the San Juan Islands where we will continue to look for examples for calving habitat.

Since 2009, we have been investigating the possibility for Photo ID work. About four likely identifications were made and a number of additional possible identifications were noted. The identifications may have included photographs from 2010 and 2012. At the present there are several animals that return regularly and for which we are collecting a set of photographs documenting this return. Two of these are recognizable by scars that are probably from a ship propeller. We will continue to watch for these animals.

Anna Hallingstad is replacing Aileen Jeffries as the instructor for this class.
B.16 The Ecology of Seagrasses and Adjacent Habitats

photo of opalescent nudibranch on eel grassWe will cover the ecology of seagrasses in Puget Sound and the outer coast of Washington. This will include interactions with adjacent habitats including seaweeds, tidal marshes, and tidal flats.

The session will describe the structure, processes (e.g., productivity) and functions (e.g., food web support) associated with these habitats, along with the factors that control the development and dynamics of the habitats. The food webs associated with the habitats will be described. 

We will explore the effects of stressors on the habitats including physical disruption, shoreline development, and climate change. Finally we will address aspects of the resilience, protection and restoration of these of a large bed of eel grass visible just below surface

B.17 The Seasonal Clock of Feather Renewal: Molt and Avian Life Histories

several different birds studied by the Burke Museum



Birds have played a central role in developing and testing the life history tradeoffs between reproduction and survival. Yet studies of avian life histories have seldom considered the importance of molt and feather quality as drivers of avian life history evolution. Instead, the period of molt in the annual cycle is generally ignored or unstudied with respect to molt constraining avian reproduction and evolution.

Fortunately, modern collections inspire and help test new ideas. In the mid 1980s Burke staff pioneered the collection of extended wings. Started as a service to artists, this collection quickly became so indispensible to researchers that it has grown to be the largest and most comprehensive collection of avian wings in the world.


a black bird with 10 meter wingspan:ArgentavisExtensive salvage programs from fishing and oil spills have generated uniquely valuable series of wings, and this new resource has revealed much about the rules of flight feather replacement and how these rules affect avian reproduction and life history evolution. My class will focus on how we determine these rules and how large birds can or cannot accommodate their need to regularly renew their flight feathers.

In a similar vein modern Burke collecting has led to the discovery of the remarkable molt migration system that characterizes many western Neotropical migrants. I will discuss the potential conservation implications of this migration system.

B.18 Update on Island County Environmental Programs Including Priorities, Focus Areas, Goals and Successes

photo of the hearing room

Island County is committed to developing and implementing the most effective ecosystem recovery and protection projects.   

Commissioner Jill Johnson will take you through the selection criteria for project prioritization in Island watershed to prioritize local actions for investment. 

She will explain her view on the County’s values as it relates to environmental protection and recovery and how our local recovery goals fit into a much broader regional perspective.  

This discussion will also tackle the importance of monitoring and adopting plans and policies to be successful in our protection and recovery goals.

B.19 What are we learning about our influences on Puget Sound and the Salish Sea?

photo of Puget Sound shorelineThis class will summarize what we’re learning about how our collective actions impact Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. We’ll discuss the latest on how our homes, our wastes, our vehicles, and many other personal choices influence the world around us. After discussing the common messages on what we can all do, we’ll brainstorm how to transform ideas into actions.

B.20 Where the Wild and Robotic Things Are - Deepgliders

Deployment of deepsea gliderUpper ocean remote sampling is now becoming nearly ubiquitous with drifting profilers, satellites, and 'vessels' of opportunity. But measuring the bulk of the ocean, which is deeper than 1000m, is severely limited by time on research ships, the only way we've been able to get to it. Some robotic solutions are at hand, one of which is operational now - the Deepglider(TM) from the University of Washington.

This presentation will illustrate the technology and delve into data coming from four Deepgliders operating presently in the Atlantic to illustrate the importance of full-depth measurements.





B.21 Wild Foods and Ethnobotany of the Salish Sea Region--A Walking Tour

photo of berry bush

group of people foraging among trees and bushes

Copyright: T. Abe Lloyd

Winter Huckleberries (Vaccinium ovatum) are common on Whidbey Island

Apply all your senses by joining me for a wild food walk around Clinton. From root to fruit and fern to tree, we will identify edible plants, tell stories, share recipes, contemplate legends, and nibble and pluck our way into knowing.

All ages welcome. We will stay on even ground and move slowly. Please dress for the weather. We will meet in our classroom first before heading outside.

Copyright: T. Abe Lloyd

February is the season for tapping birch and maple for syrup

trunk of tree with tap device inserted


Session C 3:00-4:15
C.1 Attracting Pollinators and Beneficial Insects To Your Garden and Farm

bee hovering in front of a yellow flowerBeneficial insects — such as pollinators and predator insects that eat farm and garden pests — are the unsung champions of the farm and garden.

This workshop will explore the ecology of these often overlooked and undervalued allies and suggest practical approaches to enhancing their populations in the garden or on the farm.

Specific topics will begin with an overview of the diverse groups of beneficial insects that prey upon pests and pollinate crops.  We will then engage in a more detailed discussion of the latest scientific information on ways to attract and sustain populations of these beneficial insects. Practical suggestions will include providing habitat features like wildflower strips, hedgerows, beetle banks, cover cropping and more. sign in field "Pollinator Habitat", green house nearby

We will also touch briefly on pesticide risk reduction strategies and suggestions for accessing financial and technical assistance to implement beneficial insect conservation.

Concepts will be illustrated by real world case studies of farms and gardens, and by current research findings.

C.2 Beach Fishing

Kevin fishing at shoreline after sundownIn this introductory class, Kevin will wade through the somewhat complex and confusing salt water fishing regulations and provide information on some popular and not-so-popular public fishing locations.  

He will demonstrate how to play a fish, how to tie the most common fishing knots, and explain why reading tide charts helps your fishing success.  

Kevin notes the importance for all Whidbey residents to understand their civic duty in defending our beaches against the onslaught of pink salmon in odd-numbered years like 2015.  In doing so, many anglers donate surplus salmon to the Good Cheer Food Bank, and Kevin will tell you how you can help.

Bring your questions, bring your gear, come to learn, and prepare to enjoy further our marine environment.

C.3 Cruising Locations and Hazards Around Puget Sound

picture of motor boatsLearn the effects and hazards of wind on currents and how to predict the roughest waters and Deception Pass hazards. Identify two main fog types, how to cross shipping lanes, and avoid rocks and shallow areas. Practical safety suggestions will be offered. This class will focus on pleasure boat cruising locations rather than sailboat or kayak ventures!

Pleasure boats and sunset

C.4 Environmental Legislation in Olympia: What's Up and How to Participate

Washington State Legislature Website Logo

We often hear how important it is to let our legislators know what we care about. But how many of us really do that, or even know what legislation is being considered in Olympia?

Co-presenters Sego Jackson and Rein Attemann together will provide an overview of legislative proposals currently under consideration by our Legislature and teach you a few simple tools to easily and effectively give comments to your elected officials. 

Come hear about the Environmental Priorities Coalition, proposals that impact Puget Sound, and efforts to establish product stewardship and address toxics.

C.5 Evidence Of Historic Tsunamis Inundation In Island County

Geology students in the filedThis class provides a brief overview of tsunami generation, propagation and sources that pose a risk to Camano and Whidbey Islands. The majority of the class will focus on the geologic record of tsunamis in Island County and the active investigations by students and researchers at Central Washington University.

Geology student doing field workThis class will cover our current understanding of when and how frequently tsunamis have occurred  that affected the islands and how large these tsunamis have been.  The principal researchers will discuss recent projects near Oak Harbor in 2014 and on Camano Island in 2015, as well as future plans for 2016. Tsunami modeling results will be presented that may answer questions about future tsunami hazards.

C.6 Getting a grip on bull kelp: Can we use citizen science to map it?

Bull Kelp Bed

At a bull kelp field near Ebey's Landing, kayakers visualize and paddle along a transect line counting bulbs to measure density

Bull kelp beds are important nearshore habitat, providing shelter and nutrients to a wide range of fish and invertebrates. Because of their significant habitat functions, there is strong interest, from the local to regional level, in mapping bull kelp beds.

However, governments have scarce funds for mapping - is this a job for citizen science?

In 2015, volunteers for the Marine Resources Committees (MRCs) and Northwest Straits Commission field-tested a survey protocol to map kelp beds in the seven northern counties. Using kayaks and hand-held GPS devices, the survey teams identified protocol modifications and made their initial data observations. Map of Bull kelp beds

Map of a kelp field near Hastie Lake Road, expressed from GPS tracking data using Garmin software--This field is 0.5 mile long with a 2.0 mile perimeter. Paddling the intricate outline of this kelp field is a fun challenge and a great workout.

This class presentation will share the experience and outcomes from this first year of bull kelp surveying, as well as planning for the 2016 field season.

C.8 Island Beach Rocks - Identification Of Your Favorite Beach Rocks

Be prepared for a lively and interactive class learning about those beach rocks piquing your interest.

Professor Eric Cheney will provide an overview of the basic classification of the glacial rocks we find on our beaches. The fun and interactive nature of this class relies on participants bringing several of their favorite rocks to learn about (not too small, not too large, about 6 inches is just right).


A magnifying glass, small metric ruler, knife to scratch rocks with and a magnet also are ideal items to bring, although several of these items will be available for the class to use.

C.9 It Takes A Village To Raise A... Park?: Partnership and Volunteer Opportunities In Our Local Washington State Parks

Deception Pass State ParkIn the face of diminishing funding for state parks, local parks staffs are getting creative to keep parks running smoothly. Become informed about our local state parks, their current conditions, and how different partnerships and local volunteer support are being used to help our parks do more with less. Admirality Head Lighthouse

Jack Hartt (Manager of Deception Pass Area), Jeff Wheeler (Manager of Cama Beach Area) and Jon Crimmins (Area Manager of Central Whidbey State Parks) will present an overview of our local State park areas and highlight opportunities to enjoy and support them.

Cama Beach State Park

C.10 Learn to Propagate Our Native Plants

snowberry twig cuttings inside yellow cylindrical shaped containersNative plants have many interesting, and sometimes mysterious, strategies to ensure their reproductive success in the wild, some of which can make them challenging to propagate in an artificial situation.

Copyright: Oxbow Farm

Cleaning Lomatium seeds

plastic container with seeds

We will first explore the fascinating world of seeds, delving into collection, cleaning, storage, and methods of overcoming different types of seed dormancy.

We’ll also look at growing ferns from spores, and vegetative propagation via stem cuttings, rhizome cuttings, and divisions.



Participate in this hands-on workshop and take home some native plant starts of your own! (Please pay your presenter a $5.00 materials fee.)


Copyright: Oxbow Farm

Harvesting Mainthemum rhizomes for cuttings

C.11 Ocean Dynamics and the Salish Sea

This class will be an overview of how water moves around in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. We will start with the tides, both the patterns of sea surface height and the currents they cause. These currents, especially when they flow through constrictions such as Tacoma Narrows or Admiralty Inlet, can cause intense turbulence. This is important because it works to mix away the "stratification" that is present throughout the Sound. Stratification means that water near the surface is less dense than water at depth. It happens because rivers add light, fresh water and because of surface solar heating. If there were no mixing, the surface waters would be completely separate from the deep waters.

With the addition of tidal mixing, an amazing thing occurs: a persistent inflow of deep water from the ocean comes into Puget Sound, balanced by a persistent outflow of surface waters. This circulation is not apparent to the eye, but it is strong, over 20 times greater than the sum of all the rivers coming in to the Sound. More importantly, it has huge consequences for our water quality and ecosystem.

Almost all of the nutrients used by phytoplankton to grow in Puget sound come from the ocean, brought in by this persistent current. I will give simple explanations of these physical processes and their ecosystem effects, illustrated with visualizations made from realistic computer simulations of our waters. Our newest project is a daily forecast model of Washington coastal waters called LiveOcean. It is like a weather forecast model for the ocean, and you can read more here:

graphic image showing water movement around Puget Sound and the Salish Sea image of surface fields from the live ocean model

C.12 Preventing Oil Spills in the Salish Sea - Today and Tomorrow

small Coast Guard boat deploying a boom during an oil spill preparedness training session

Members of Naval Station Everett’s (NSE) Oil Spill Response Team (OSRT) deploy an oil spill containment boom in order to capture simulated oil during the OSRT’s annual training near pier A on NSE. The training is designed to prepare the OSRT to protect the environment and surrounding waters at NSE. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeffry A. Willadsen/ Released)

After the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince Williams Sound in 1989 spilling approximately 11 million gallon of crude oil, U.S. Congress enacted the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 dramatically changing how the U.S. prevents, prepares for, and responds to oil spills.In the twenty-five years since this historic bill was passed, these prevention, preparedness, and response regimes have dramatically reduced the spillage of oil and other hazardous substances within the Salish Sea.

In this class Captain Raymond will cover how the U.S. Coast Guard actively works to prevent oil spills, coordinates with its many partners to prepare for potential spills, and proactively responds when oil does enter the water. Additionally, he will discuss how the Coast Guard and its many partners at the state, local, tribal, industry, and NGO level are continually assessing the potential risks posed by proposed new maritime projects and looking at ways to further mitigate the risk of oil spills.

C.13 Raptors of Western Washington: From Shoreline to Summit

Photo of Taiga MerlinOften seen, often admired, often maligned. Raptors are  important apex predators in western Washington associated with ecosystems centered on water and forests. We'll discuss key specialized adaptations of raptors that make them successful hunters, overview the ecology of species most often encountered in westside ecosystems, and address some of the mythology surrounding raptors as fact or fiction.

C.14 Stormwater Impacts to Marine Habitat

Photo of sediment runnoff into nearshoreThis class will cover the characteristics of watersheds, and how factors such as land use patterns and management practices can affect stormwater quantity, quality, and flow rates. We will learn how these factors impact nearshore marine ecosystems, and look specifically at how stormwater pollutants affect salmon. We will then learn about land management methods that can help to reduce pollution from stormwater, such as rain gardens, bioswales, and other 'Green Infrastructure' practices.


Photo of oil slick pouring into storm drain

C.15 The Many Shades of Shellfish Enforcement, from Harvest Grounds to the Illicit Marketplace

Two law enforcement boats with a confiscated net of illegal crab traps

Two of our patrol vessels with seized crab gear deployed by Foreign fishing vessels in Washington waters

Managing and policing shellfish resources is a big job. From wild harvest to monitoring private sector aquaculture, WDFW has a role.

The conservation aspect is quite familiar to people, which includes managing the state's naturally embedded shellfish stocks sustainably in order to satisfy treaty fishing right obligations and meet commercial fishing and recreational needs.

Atypical closed season crab catch in Puget Sound

Two WADF&W police in uniform sitting in a boat with a pile of illegal crabsWhat may surprise you is that agencies are mandated to protect the legal seafood industry and the consumer’s health.

There is a vibrant commercial market hungry for good deals on seafood. Often feeding that market is a desperate person who thinks he has found a quick source of cash.

This class will touch on managing the resource, chasing poachers, and controlling a black market.

C.16 The Secret World of Slugs and Snails

Banana SlugStep into a world that, until now, you've only stepped on. In this class, David George Gordon, a preeminent expert on the small wonders of the natural world, will playfully and thoughtfully shed light on the fascinating lives of slugs and snails. Covering everything from snail sex to the use of "snail water" by 17th century physicians, Gordon will take class participants on a journey through the languid and magical world of these charismatic invertebrates.

He will present tidbits from his book, "The Secret Life of Slugs and Snails," that include indispensable gardening tips and a host of other information on the much-maligned mollusks. Whether removing non-native slugs from your garden or following a native snail as it meanders across the forest floor, you'll never look at these underdogs the same way again.  

David's book "The Secret World of Slugs and Snails" will be available for purchase during Sound Waters 2016 as will his "The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook."  

C.17 Understanding the Columbia River Estuary through sensors, innovation, and collaboration

The Lower Columbia River Estuary is a dominant natural, cultural and economic resource in the Pacific Northwest. The economic importance of the Columbia River is evidenced by its central role in energy production, shipping, forestry, tourism, and fishing – as well as supplying water for agriculture throughout the watershed and carrying wastewater away from population centers.

Extending over 140 miles between Bonneville Dam and the Pacific Ocean, the Columbia estuarine ecosystem is a patchwork of sloughs, flood zones, and saltwater marshes that comprise the primary habitat for migrating juvenile salmon and other threatened animals such as the Columbian White-tailed deer.

Stewardship of the ecosystem is a complex undertaking owing to the multitude of stressors imposed by diking, hydropower operations, pollution, climate change, and changing ocean conditions – to name a few. A key component of the management strategy is science-informed decision making, as has recently been demonstrated by the ongoing Columbia River Treaty negotiations between U.S. and Canada. Learn how a new network of underwater sensors is providing continual information on water quality in the lower Columbia estuary and offers to enhance our abilities to protect this vital ecosystem.

aerial view of the Columbia River

Copyright: By aselfcallednowhere (Own work)

[CC BY-SA 3.(], via Wikimedia Commons

View of the Columbia River estuary near Astoria, OR

This class will focus on the science of water quality and ecosystem health of the Columbia River estuary. A central concept is the use of sensor networks to observe biological and chemical changes in the aquatic environment that occurs over daily (or shorter) time scales and across gradients in salinity and habitat type. This monitoring approach captures high-resolution variability in ecosystem function that has led to improved understanding of ecological “hotspots” in the estuary. In this session we will explore important regional science issues including coastal hypoxia and acidification, juvenile salmon food-web dynamics, and chemicals of emerging concern.

Participants can expect to leave the session with a better appreciation of these environmental issues and how sensors and sensor networks are improving the ongoing environmental stewardship efforts in the Columbia River estuary. Data access – data from the National Science Foundation Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction (CMOP) will be presented during the class.

All data is publically available and can be accessed on the CMOP website ( and through the NANOOS data explorer (

C.18 Understanding Your Local Water System -- Best Practices in Management and Operations

The class will cover the legal identifications of the types of local water systems; the control of the federal government, and the state and county governments over water systems; the ownership and the responsibilities of owners of local water systems; and best practices in management and operations, including routine financing and planning for replacing capital equipment. Time permitting, the pros and cons of consolidating small water systems will also be covered.

C.19 Use of Unmanned Aircraft for Environmental Research and Monitoring: Challenges and Opportunities

photo of a man holding a red and white UAV, wingspan  about 7 feetUnmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones. In Europe, the term Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) is often used. Although these terms are used interchangeably, some authors restrict the use of the term “drones” to unmanned target aircraft that are used by the military or to any unmanned military aircraft, “UAV” may refer only to the aircraft itself, while “UAS” and “RPAS” may refer to the aircraft, onboard sensors and ground control station. No consistent categorization scheme has yet emerged for UAS.

Larger UAS may be comparable in size to manned aircraft, capable of covering thousands of kilometers, stay in the air for days and cost millions of dollars. Small systems (sUAS), defined here as less than 10 Kg, generally have a range of a few kilometers and are currently capable of flying for 0.5-2 hours. These sUAS are capable of carrying a wide range of imaging and atmospheric sensors and they are well within the budget of most researchers.

small black drone with rotary blades on topAlthough unmanned aircraft have existed for well over half a century, technical developments in this century have facilitated a dramatic expansion in the capability and utilization of these aircraft. UAS development has been primarily motivated and funded by military interests and application. As the use of unmanned aircraft by the military has expanded, many have recognized the potential for civilian applications of this technology. Furthermore, technical developments in unrelated fields (eg, computers, cell phones, electronic games, battery technology, digital cameras, GPS) have also facilitated the development of UAS.

As the civilian potential for UAS has emerged, the regulatory framework for facilitating the integration of UAS into the national airspace has been slow to develop. At the present time, FAA regulations are the biggest obstacle to more widespread civilian application of UAS technology.I will discuss our efforts over the past two years to navigate these regulatory hurdles and our use of UAS for environmental research and monitoring at Western Washington University.

C.20 Wildlife Photography

Bart Rulon photographAn award-winning wildlife photographer reveals the tricks and stories behind samples of his work. Bart describes equipment, locations, and techniques for getting better photos of our local wildlife.

*This is an intermediate session offering in-depth, technical information beyond the basics.


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