On May 8 and 9, 33 Sound Water Stewards island hopped to San Juan Island to visit and learn about the Friday Harbor Laboratories. Monday morning we carpooled from Whidbey and Camano Islands to catch the hour long ferry and eventually meet up in the afternoon at the FHL.
Friday Harbor Laboratories is a satellite campus of University of Washington known for their marine biology, oceanography, and fisheries research. The Lab, which started over 100 years ago, has a residential staff of researchers and faculty and also provides housing and labs for visiting researchers and students.
The Stewards toured with Dr. Becca Guenther, the manager for the Ocean Acidification Environmental Laboratory. The OAEL has two parts, indoor experimental water enclosures with temperature and pH control, and an analytical chemistry lab filled with fascinating instruments and electronics. This lab hosts many projects internal to FHL and for visiting scientists. Ocean water is pumped in to the lab, scrubbed of CO2 later to be added back. A variety of experiments can then take place under controlled conditions.
For the rest of the day, the guide and host was Michele Herko, one of the FHL caretakers who has years of experience there. She took the group out on a rocky point next to Fernald Laboratory and looking out to the bay and the Lab’s 58-foot research vessel, the R/V Centennial, she told the story of this campus and the work that is done here. Later, the group toured several other labs.
That night after dinner in the FHL Dining Room, the Stewards settled into the Commons for an evening of story telling and sharing.
The next day, the group headed west to Lime Kiln Point State Park and hiked down to the adjacent Deadman Bay which was acquired by the San Juan County Land Bank—a perfect bay for tide-pooling and pH water testing with Becca Guenther. The tide-pools kept the Stewards fascinated for two hours with their many treasures.
While the visit spanned only 2 days, everyone felt like they were away longer, having seen and learned so much on another island world with so much exposed bedrock and many rocky beaches.