Posted by Sandi
We’re fortunate to have many conservation-oriented organizations in the San Juan Islands dedicated to understanding, preserving and restoring our ecosystems. One of the most important is the SeaDoc Society, based on Orcas Island.
SeaDoc sponsors a very cool Marine Science Lecture Series on Orcas in the fall/winter. I’ve been to many of these and highly recommend them. Get there early as they’re usually packed! It starts with cookies and refreshments, followed by a slide presentation with a scientist, then Q&A. It’s a fun educational event for all ages. Click here for the schedule. The next one is December 11th and focuses on potential local impacts of Climate Change.
SeaDoc is now posting videos of these informative presentations on their website. The October lecture was fascinating and one well worth watching: Indirect Effects of Humans on Native Species and Ecosystems.
Foxglove and Daisies, both non-natives, thrive here because they’re not on the deer diet.
The biggest takeaway for me was that our deer population, which is 10 times larger than it was when we had apex predators on the island, is responsible for large declines in native plant variety and therefore songbirds — two of my loves. Professor Peter Arcese, the lecturer from University of British Columbia, says responsible stewardship is the only way to reduce the deer population so that the ecosystem can begin to recover.
Stewardship is a nice word for hunting, which I’ve been adamantly opposed to. However, this lecture really opened my eyes as to the impact of letting the deer population run wild. Our current hunting law, though, permits up to two deer to be “taken” per hunter per year. Venison anyone?
Posted by Sandi
Yesterday my husband Bob attended his annual Marine Mammal Stranding Network (MMSN) refresher course on Orcas Island. Bob is part of a group of volunteers in San Juan County that respond to reports of live and dead marine mammals. I am much too sensitive for this task. ;o
Bob watching over stranded seal pup in Doe Bay
During pupping season, many seal pups are left on the beach temporarily while mom hunts for food. Others, though, are abandoned or injured. The pup in this photo was found dehydrated on a beach in Doe Bay. He was transported to Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on San Juan Island, treated, and later released. He was only helped because there were dogs roaming on the beach, otherwise he would’ve been left alone for nature to to take its course. According to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, volunteers can only interfere when there is an injury or threat by a human or domestic animal.
If you see a stranded marine mammal, don’t go near it — they carry diseases! Call the MMSN Hotline at 800-562-8832 or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dead animals should be reported too because they provide scientific insight when necropsied at the University of Washington labs in Friday Harbor.
MMSN is a program of The Whale Museum, and on Orcas it’s managed by the SeaDoc Society. This is just one of many ways you can get involved in protecting our rich marine ecosystem in the San Juan Islands.
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