June 29, 2012 at 1:00 PM
Congratulations to local wildlife photographer Paul Bannick who is a Canon Award winner in the International Conservation Photography Awards competition.
Here’s his prize winning photo:
Paul Bannick’s winning photo, Arctic Emissary, taken at Ocean Shores in February, 2012.
Here’s his artist statement for this photo: “Powerful wings propel a snowy owl vertically into a hunt during an irruption at Washington’s Ocean Shores. I aim to trigger intense connections with the owl’s fiery golden eyes to trigger empathy, curiosity and conservation. The inky pre-dawn allowed me to study the rhythm of her hunting and enabled a close approach. As the sunrise lit her body, lying on the sand allowed me to align her with the bluest opening in the clouds.”
The Burke Museum of History and Culture will display the winning photos by Bannick and others in its 2012 International Conservation Photography Awards Exhibit. Opening day is Saturday June 30. The event offers the chance to not only see the photos, but hear from four of the honored photographers about their technique and passion for conservation. Judges from the panel will also offer guided tours of the exhibit.
The program runs from 10 a.m. to 5 pm. at the Burke.
Over 75 photos were chosen from more than 1,500 images submitted by amateur and professional photographers from across the globe, all with a conservation focus.
The exhibit will be up from June 30 until Nov. 25.
The Burke’s web site has a complete schedule of events on opening day of the exhibit and more information about it. .
To enjoy more of Bannick’s work, see his web site.
For more about the snowy owl irruption of 2011-12 that thrilled so many birders and conservationists, read my story in the Seattle Times.
June 26, 2012 at 7:00 AM
They’re back: the silvery, spectacular Lake Washington sockeye, just now putting on their show at the Hiram Chittenden Locks. Captivating, graceful, powerful, their ballet is one of the best shows in town as they swish through the water at the viewing windows at the fish ladder.
Sockeye shimmer and shine as they glide through the water, making a fine show at the viewing windows at the Ballard locks.
Photographed by Mark Harrison of the Seattle Times
The viewing windows at the fish ladder at the locks are open to the public every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and there is no admission fee. The fish began arriving in June and their run usually peaks around July 4, and continues through August.
The excitement is building for a possible Lake Washington Sockeye fishery — and if it happens, it would be the first since 2006. There need to be at least 350,000 sockeye returned through the locks for that to happen. So far so good: according to estimates by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, which monitors the run, some 23,546 sockeye had passed through the locks as of Friday. That compares with just 5,319 sockeye at the same time last year.
If the run keeps building and stays strong, who knows? Maybe the nation’s only urban sockeye fishery will return to Seattle. “They are looking so big and so strong,”Jay Wells, program director for the visitor center, said of the sockeye, which are as large as eight pounds.
At the very least, just watching the fish is one of the city’s premier tourist attractions, especially for out-of-town guests. Go see the sockeye now while the run is hot.
To learn more about the Seattle’s on and again affair with its sockeye, read my magazine story in Pacific Northwest Magazine.
June 22, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Here is a fantastic aerial from Ian Miller, coastal hazard specialist for Washington Sea Grant, based in Port Angeles, documenting the rebuilding of the beach at the mouth of the Elwha:
Lenses of sand building on the beach at the mouth of the Elwha. The arrows indicate the areas of new sand deposition. The sand is rinsing down from what used to be Lake Aldwell, now a free flowing stretch of river since getting Elwha Dam out in March. Photo by Ian Miller.
Meanwhile contractors are continuing to tear down Glines Canyon Dam, requiring road closures during the day on the Whiskey Bend Road from June 25-29. The popular trailhead can still be accessed in the evening,
The road will close at 7 a.m. each day, to allow passage of heavy equipment up to Glines Canyon, then re-open each day at 5:30 p.m. to allow public access.
For a look at dam removal as it is progressing, check out the Park Service blog.
And here is one more fantastic photo from documentary filmmaker John Gussman: check out how much sediment is stacked up at the former Lake Mills, and how vigorously the newly free flowing river is chewing through it.
This sediment layer is about 15 feet thick. Photo by John Gussman
June 20, 2012 at 8:30 AM
With sediment trapped behind two dams for a century, the shore by the mouth of the Elwha has become rocky and eroded. The river itself has also starved for the sediments locked up behind the dams.
But that’s starting to change. Amy Draut, geologist with the USGS Pacific Coast and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, nearly had her boots sucked off by the soft sediment transported by the Elwha, now that the lower dam is out, when she came out to examine the river. “I never envisioned a mud flat on the Elwha would rip a wading boot off.
“It’s this really gray, soupy mud,” Draut said of the muck she encountered in her visit to the Elwha during the first week of April, right after contractors took the last of the Elwha Dam out of the river.
“Lake Aldwell was just completely gone by then, and on the river what we were seeing is what I would call a shoulder zone of of mud deposition on the recent high water line. If you wade into the river you feel like you are walking in mud up past your ankles to your calf, but you can feel the cobble underneath.”
Usually ankle-turning cobble has been transformed to soft sediment that will pull your boots off — just ask Amy Draut of the USGS, going toe to toe so to speak with the Elwha.
Photo by Mark Mastin, USGS
“I got stuck in the new mudflat in the estuary, it was so cohesive and sticky that it ripped my wading boot clear off. I’m holding the boot that I pried free of the mud,” she wrote of what was going on in this photo.
One surprise was seeing the mud all over — not only in places without strong current. “We were seeing it everywhere, not just in quiet pools but in areas with current. Even upstream of gravel bars,” Draut said. “It was silt and clay.” Not enough of it to raise the elevation of the river bed, or cause flooding. But enough to notice, that is for sure.
She also documented how the sediment is working its way into the tiny spaces between the river cobbles, potentially worrisome, she noted for salmon eggs in redds that need oxygen to survive.
Fine sediment between cobbles could pose a challenge for life in the benthos, whether its salmon eggs in redds, or the tiny invertebrates that stoke the food chain. Amy Draut, photo
Here’s what she says about what she was seeing: “We see mud thinly blanketing the former riverbed cobbles, with cobbles still sticking up through the mud surface. So the overall amount of new sediment deposited isn’t (in most places) enough to raise the bed elevation very much … but the interstitial mud that now fills pore spaces between cobbles could have ecological effects.” That remains to be seen, especially as a far larger amount of sediment still trapped behind the upper dam upriver, Glines Canyon, starts to break free as dam removal continues, probably beginning this fall.
Animals are already using the new mudflats, as Draut’s photos show. She saw the tracks of racoon and beaver in the mud at the estuary after the high tide dropped.
Beaver are busy indeed as these tracks in the new mudflats of the Elwha show. Amy Draut, photo
Even the tiniest lives are getting a new start, such as this snail, making its way across new ground.
The estuary below the high tide line shows tiny signs of life. Amy Draut photo
June 12, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Ian Miller, a Washington Sea Grant scientist based in Port Angeles studying coastal changes on the Elwha, will present tonight in Tacoma on the fascinating changes underway on the beach at the mouth of the river.
Sediment freed from behind Elwha Dam pours into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Photo by Tom Roorda, taken in this spring, after the dam came down. The biggest sediment loads are yet to come, from behind Glines Canyon dam, starting this fall.
Restoration is making it all the way to the beach, and sand is starting to nourish the shore, starved for sediment locked up behind the dams.
Miller has been watching the cobble transform the beach — check out his video, before and after photos, and reports on his blog. And watch for a story coming soon in The Seattle Times. Photographer Steve Ringman is headed out to the beach with Miller next week to document the changes.
June 11, 2012 at 10:54 AM
I just got an email from Tim Randle, manager of the sedimentation and river hydraulics group at the Denver Office of Bureau of Reclamation, which is leading the management of the sediment out of the Elwha. In it, he warned that as the Elwha kicks back to life it can be quite hazardous. It’s moving a lot of logs, sawing its way through thick layers of unstable sediment, and right now is so cloudy with sediment that it’s impossible to see underwater.
Unstable cliffs of sediment such a these along the Elwha River where Lake Aldwell used to be are captivating to look at and photograph — but also potentially hazardous.
Lynda Mapes photo, March 2011
So if you visit, do it with a good measure of caution and common sense.
“I did want to make you and the public aware that the Elwha River through Lake Aldwell and Lake Mills is extremely hazardous to the public right now with logs, rapidly changing conditions, sudden stream bank collapses, and virtually no visibility under the water. No one should be in the river through the deltas right now and people visiting the deltas by foot should stay away from the stream banks adjacent to the fast moving water of the Elwha River. These hazards will lessen with time, but people need to be patient right now and respect the power of the river. ”
There is so much to see, and see it you can. Just do it carefully.
For more on the changing landscape at the Elwha and to see current photos see our story in the Seattle Times published Sunday June 10. For more on the Elwha restoration, see our special project.
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