Man charged with attempting to redirect Western Washington River

The Attorney General’s Office filed three misdemeanor charges today against a Tahuya man accused of using heavy machinery to fill and alter the course of the Tahuya River near his home without any permits.

William Cayo Sr. is charged in Mason County District Court with violation of the water pollution control act, violation of the shoreline management act, and conducting unpermitted hydraulic activities in connection with the alteration of the channel of the Tahuya River in early February 2013.

Continue reading Man charged with attempting to redirect Western Washington River

Anglers, beachcombers asked to watch for transponders from Japan

Some transponders have reportedly been washing up along the WA Coast. The Pacific County Emergency Management Agency reports these floating instruments are about the size of a 2-liter soda bottle and were set in the ocean from different ports off Japan in 2011-12 after the massive Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Researchers from Tattori University for Environmental Studies in Japan have been collaborating with Oregon State University, Oregon Sea Grant, and the NOAA Marine Debris Program on the project.

Persons who find a transponder are asked to photograph it if possible, and report the location of their find to Chan at Samuel.Chan@oregonstate.edu ; or to the NOAA Marine Debris Program regional coordinator in their area at http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/contact-us . They will provide shipping instructions to persons who find the transponders so that the instruments can be returned to the research team.

More information available at:http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2014/sep/anglers-beachcombers-asked-keep-eye-out-transponders-japan

U.S. Coast Guard advises strong caution to beachgoers in the Pacific Northwest

Due to the recent number of fatalities the Coast Guard strongly cautions beachgoers to be aware of possible dangers to stay safe while enjoying the Oregon and Washington coasts.

During the past two months, the Coast Guard has responded to numerous reports of beachgoers swept out into the ocean along the Pacific Northwest coast. Since July 3, four of these cases have resulted in fatalities. These include a 10-year-old girl in Long Beach, Washington, July 3, a 53-year-old man in Seaside, Oregon, July 22, an 18-year-old man in Ocean Shores, Washington, July 26 and a 19-year-old man in Garibaldi, Oregon, Monday.

“In each instance, the people who got caught in the currents were visiting from out-of-town,” said Cmdr. Bill Gibbons, chief of response, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River. “Visitors are more likely to enter the water unaware of the unpredictable and extreme dangers posed by beach surf along the Pacific Northwest coast. In one instance, a victim was only in water up to his knees when he was knocked down by a wave and pulled out into the ocean.”

Beachgoers are reminded to always be aware of their surroundings. Water depths can change rapidly along the coastline and waves and rip currents can be very strong and unpredictable.

“The only way to avoid the risk is to avoid going in the water,” said Gibbons.  “At a minimum, people should never enter the water alone, children should never be allowed near the water unattended, and people who are near the edge of the surf line must be prepared for what many refer to as “sneaker waves” – disproportionately large and powerful coastal waves that can appear without warning.”

Additionally, since ocean temperatures in the Pacific Northwest remain around 55 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months, wet or dry suits are advisable during prolonged water exposure.

“Tragic experiences such as the ones over the last couple of months highlight the need for beachgoers to be fully aware of the dangers while enjoying their time along the coast,” said Capt. Daniel Travers, commander, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River. “Incidents like the aforementioned can be reduced by planning ahead, being aware of your surroundings and observing beach safety guidelines.”

For more information on general beach safety along the Pacific Northwest coast visit http://visittheoregoncoast.com/beach-safety/ and http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov.

Westport Aquarium responds to beached Porpoise calf

Staff at the Westport Aquarium aided a harbor Porpoise calf that became stranded on the beach at the Schaefer Road access in Westport yesterday. Olympia scientists were contacted while Mark and Kathryn Mersell with the Westport Aquarium attempted to get the calf to swim on it’s own around 3 Wednesday afternoon. Marc tells us the calf had passed away by the time a scientist with Cascadia Research in Olympia arrived to take possession. A necropsy is scheduled for today, they believe the calf was about 4 days old.

The Westport Aquarium has been working with NOAA’s Regional Standing coordinators in Western Washington for years now, and is trained to handle stranded sea life. If you spot stranded sea life, do not handle them, please contact the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator for NOAA at 1-866-767-6114.

WDFW cautions boaters to steer clear of killer whales

With summer approaching, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is reminding recreational boaters to give killer whales and other marine mammals a wide berth.

State and federal law requires boaters to stay at least 200 yards away from southern resident orcas and to avoid positioning their vessels in the path of oncoming whales. Boaters who inadvertently find themselves in violation of the 200 yard proximity are required to stop immediately and allow the whale to pass.

These regulations apply to a variety of small watercraft, including tour boats, private powerboats, commercial fishing boats, sailboats, kayaks, canoes and personal watercraft.

WDFW is preparing for a busy boating and whale-watching season, said Mike Cenci, WDFW’s deputy police chief.

“Boaters have a responsibility to keep their distance from these animals,” he said. “To make sure this happens, the department is increasing the number of enforcement patrols dedicated to monitoring boaters and their interactions with whales.”

WDFW issued 13 citations and dozens of warnings to recreational boaters last year. Federal law also includes broad restrictions against disturbing or harassing any marine mammal. Violating the state law can result in a fine of up to $1,025. The maximum fine under federal law is $10,000.

Human disturbances, including boat traffic, may interfere with the whales’ ability to feed, communicate with one another and care for their young, said Gary Wiles, WDFW wildlife biologist.

The southern resident orca population has declined to 80 whales, down from 98 in 1995. The population is classified as “endangered” by both the state of Washington and the federal government.

These whales, which mostly travel the waters of northern Puget Sound and the outer coast, account for the majority of orca whales found in Washington from early spring to late fall, Wiles said. Major threats to their survival include the declining abundance of chinook salmon, exposure to pollutants and disruptions from vessels.

Under state law, it is unlawful to:

  • Approach or cause a vessel to approach within 200 yards of a killer whale.
  • Position a vessel in the path of an orca at any point located within 400 yards of the whale. This includes intercepting a killer whale by positioning a vessel so that the prevailing wind or water current carries the vessel within 400 yards of the whale.
  • Fail to disengage the transmission of a vessel that is within 200 yards of an orca.
  • Feed a killer whale.

WDFW partners with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to enforce these laws.

To report violators, contact:

  • NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement at 1-800-853-1964.
  • During business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Monday through Friday, contact WDFW Police at 1-360-902-2936.
  • After hours, on weekends, and holidays, contact the local Washington State Patrol office for your area.

Additional information about the state law is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/orca. Whale-watching guidelines are available at http://www.bewhalewise.org.

 

Reward offered in lethal injury of mother harbor seal in Ocean Park, Washington

The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for driving over a mother harbor seal in Ocean Park, Washington.

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, on April 20, local wildlife rescuers spotted a mother seal with a newborn baby resting on the sand dunes and put signs up to alert drivers on the beach to avoid the area. By the next morning, it became apparent that a vehicle had run over the mother seal, leaving her paralyzed. The seal was later euthanized and her pup remains missing.

Jennifer Hillman, western regional director for The HSUS said: “Injuring a marine mammal is a serious crime and we are asking for anyone with information to come forward. The Humane Society of the United States is grateful for the efforts of the NOAA enforcement staff who are seeking to bring the culprits to justice.”

Harming a harbor seal is a violation of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and is punishable by up to a year in prison and up to a $20,000 fine. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the NOAA fisheries hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or Special Agent Kevin Mitchell at 503-325-5934. Callers may remain anonymous.

Poaching:
Wildlife officials estimate that for every wild animal killed legally – tens of millions of animals per year – another is killed illegally.
Every year, thousands of poachers are arrested nationwide; however, it is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poached animals are discovered by law enforcement.
Poachers injure or kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways. Wildlife officials report that poachers often commit other crimes as well.
The HSUS and HSWLT work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction of suspected poachers.
The HSUS and HSWLT work to curb poaching across the country. Visit humanesociety.org/poaching for more information. The HSUS recently doubled its standard poaching reward from $2,500 to $5,000 thanks to a generous donation from an HSUS board member.

Watch Your Step: Harbor Seals Pupping

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The harbor seal pupping season began earlier this month, an increase in calls to 911 over the weekend prompted Ocean Shores officer Paul Henderson to remind beachgoers that this is the time of year we will see more pups on our beaches, appearing to be stranded as their mothers will often leave their pups on the beach for several hours at a time while they’re foraging for food. It’s normal for seal pups to be alone on the beach. This does not mean they’re abandoned.
Henderson said meddling with the pups can have the opposite effect, if the mother smells people on her pup she might abandon it.
Nursing pups remain with their mothers for four to six weeks, and then are weaned to forage and survive on their own.

Location
Time of Year
Columbia River, Willapa Bay, Grays Harbor
Mid-April – June
Olympic Peninsula
May – July
San Juan Islands, Eastern Puget Sound
June – August
Southern Puget Sound
July – September
Hood Canal
August – January
* Table provided by Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, Marine Mammal Investigations.

Human disturbance near the pup may cause stress and delay the mother’s return because of natural wariness. The best thing you can do is leave the pup alone and keep your distance so its mom will return.

Seals and sea lions use shoreline habitat on a regular basis to rest and regulate their body temperature. NOAA Fisheries Service advises the public to stay at least 100 yards away from all marine mammal species to avoid disturbing or harassing them, and to protect people and pets from diseases.
All marine mammals are protected by law. You can be fined if you harass any marine mammal. If you see anyone handling or harassing a marine mammal, call the Office for Law Enforcement at 1-800-853-1964. If you believe a marine mammal is stranded or injured, or a seal pup has been alone for 24-48 hours, please call your local stranding network or NOAA’s stranding hotline at 206-526-6733.

For more information on marine mammals please visit the NOAA website at http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Marine-Mammals/index.cfm

Howard and Katie Auble of Raymond receive 2014 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award

Following their nomination by the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office, Howard and Katie Auble of Raymond were recently selected as recipients of the 2014 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for in recognition of their work as amateur radio operators with the Pacific County Emergency Management Agency, and Pacific County Citizens Corps Program.   The Aubles attended an award ceremony hosted by Governor Inslee and his wife at the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia on April 21, 2014.

The award given the Aubles read as follows:  “Howard and Katie Auble work as a team, supporting the Pacific County Emergency Management Agency in emergency communications.  They are dedicated and willing volunteers, taking on extra projects such as doing home visits to assist Pacific County citizens with programming NOAA Weather Radios.  They visit the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on a weekly basis to check on the amateur radio equipment and help in the testing process when new equipment is installed at the Emergency Operations Center and other locations throughout the county.  They have also been very helpful in the installation of amateur radio equipment at the Pacific County fire stations.  Howard and Katie have taken a number of National Incident Management System courses and are well qualified volunteers.  The Pacific County Emergency Management Agency depends heavily on volunteers and their willing and can-do attitude.  Howard and Katie are a core piece of the communications and public education program.”

A press release from Pacific County added that staff “deeply appreciates the service of their volunteers and is proud to see Howard and Katie Auble recognized for their dedication and effort.”

 

http://www.ofm.wa.gov/servewa/about/Program_2014.pdf

U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hold public discussions on the future of America’s waterways

The U.S. Coast Guard, along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will hold nationwide public discussions on navigational aid technology and how it will affect the future of America’s waterways.

The Future of Navigation-21st Century Waterways public listening sessions will be held in several locations across the country and will provide venues for open communications between various federal agencies and U.S. Maritime Transportation System stakeholders to discuss the joint federal agency initiative to use modern technology to support a safer, more efficient, more secure and environmentally-sound Marine Transportation System.

These listening sessions will provide the maritime community — both professional and recreational mariners — and waterways stakeholders an opportunity beyond traditional venues to express their emerging needs for navigational information and service delivery systems necessary to improve the safety and efficiency of transits on the nation’s waterways.

Scheduled 2014 sessions are listed below:

  • May 1: Prospector Hotel, Juneau, Alaska
  • May 7: 1350 Port of New Orleans Place, New Orleans, La.
  • May 19: Harborview Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • May 22: Renaissance Hotel & Waterfront Conference Center, Portsmouth, Va.
  • May 22: Embassy Suites, 110 SE 17th St., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
  • June 3: Seattle Public Library, Seattle, Wash.
  • June 3: Volpe Center, Cambridge, Mass.
  • June 10: U.S. Customs House, New York City, N.Y.
  • June 12: DoubleTree Hotel, Port Huron, Mich.

Other sessions tentatively scheduled are:

  • Alameda, Calif., and St. Louis, Mo. (dates to be determined)

AHAB Siren testing Monday February 3rd

MONTESANO, Wash. – Washington State Emergency Management will conduct its monthly countywide AHAB (All Hazard Alert Broadcast) Siren test on Monday, February 3, at noon.

AHAB sirens are located in Pacific Beach, Copalis Beach, Ocean City, Ocean Shores, Hoquiam, Aberdeen, Moclips, Westport and Grayland. All Grays Harbor County sirens will be included in the test beginning at noon.

AHAB sirens have a range of about one mile in radius depending on topography and weather. The activation will be Westminster Chimes followed by a test voice message. These sirens are meant to provide emergency notification to people who are OUTDOORS! Residents and businesses located within a tsunami inundation area are encouraged to maintain a working NOAA Weather Radio.

Please DO NOT CALL 911 regarding this testing. If you have any questions or reports regarding the test, please contact Grays Harbor County Emergency Management at 360-249-3911 or ghcdem@co.grays-harbor.wa.us.