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Friends Notes

Keep up to date with news from Friends of Skagit Beaches

Fidalgo Shoreline Academy is a wrap!

Thank you to everyone who helped make this year's Academy a great success. We had a great line up of presenters and exhibitors, wonderful volunteers and over 85 attendees who enjoyed the day of learning

Check out the Fidalgo Shoreline Academy write-up in the Skagit Valley Herald

Membership Drive with Board members Barb and Gina

barb and gina

 Registration with Rachel and Brad

brad and rachel registration

 

Jude Apple's Keynote Address on Blue Carbon was great!

jude presentation

  

Shannon came to share more information on the
Swinomish Department of Environmental Protection

shannon and swinomish

 

Thank you Skagit Conservation District for spending the day with us!

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Friends of Skagit Beaches new Plastics Interpretive Station

plastics display

 

Karen and friends enjoy lunch

karen and friends

 

Todd McLeish shares some great stories about our coastal sea otters

todd mcl presentation

Citizen Science: Native Oysters

img 0623Jennifer Selvig and Wayne Huseby went out to the end of Weaverling Spit to retrieve half of the "shell stacks" that they had deployed in late May. 

The "shell stacks", made up of 11 Pacific oyster shells, provide an appropriate substrate for native oyster larvae to deposit themselves. The stacks will be sent to the labs in Olympia to be viewed under a microscope for evidence of native oyster "spat". The remaining half of the stacks will be collected in late May of 2019 or one year from initial deployment. A new set of "shell stacks" will be deployed at that time.

A great way for citizen scientists to help with important research on this once abundant mollusk!

2019 Membership Drive Kicks Off

Friends of Skagit Beaches has kicked off our 2019 Membership Donation Drive!

Once again, FOSB Board member, Gina Johnson, has put together a wonderful series of raffle prizes for new or renewing members who sign up by - or at - the Annual Meeting. We will draw the winning member names at the Annual Meeting and member potluck on January 17, 2019.

There are many reasons to support Friends of Skagit Beaches and this raffle is something we do in appreciation for all our members who help us over the year. To join online or download a membership form - click here

Two sets of prizes:

From Seabear - Smoke salmon gift boxes

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From Island Adventures - Whale watching excursions for 2 people

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 Thank you to Island Adventures and Seabear for supporting our efforts!

Salish Sea Steward Class of 2018

class of 2018

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The Salish Sea Stewards Class of 2018 completed their training on Tuesday, May 22. Twenty-five eager and engaged community members completed the ten-week course, which included hands-on training in forage fish spawning monitoring, intertidal monitoring, and crabber outreach. Many regional experts gave their time to the class, presenting on a variety of important topics, such as ocean acidification, the importance of citizen science, and tribal treaty rights. The training included field time at Bowman Bay, the shoreline of Fidalgo Bay and the mudflats of Padilla Bay.

 

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 The new Salish Sea Stewards have committed to give back to the Salish Sea 50 hours of their time over the next year. Programs needing volunteers were highlighted throughout the trainings and class participants have already signed up for many that interest them. Many have already started volunteering at intertidal monitoring, heron monitoring, and education events for school children. When these Salish Stewards complete their volunteering in twelve months, the Salish Sea will have benefitted from a whopping 1,250 hours of dedicated volunteer energy!

FBAR CSC Pilot Project: Marine Bird Surveys

A New Project

fbar bird monitoring sites

After many years of questioning what bird species use Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve, the members of the Fidalgo Bay Citizen Stewardship Committee decided it was time to put this question to action. This question could not be answered previously because bird species have never been consistently surveyed within the aquatic reserve. There have been a few studies quantifying marine bird species abundance in the Salish Sea, the most comprehensive being the Marine Ecosystems Analysis Puget Sound Project conducted in 1978/1979 . The most recent survey of the bay to our knowledge was conducted by ornithologist John Bower of Western Washington University, “Changes in Marine Bird Abundance in the Salish Sea: 1975 to 2007”. Using these two reports as our guide, the committee got to work organizing surveys to quantify the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine bird species within Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve.

Organizing a Citizen Science Project

A key factor in the success of planning these surveys was the guidance we received from the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee, who have been completing bird surveys up north for six years now in close partnership with the North Cascades Audubon Society. Lucky for us, the Skagit Audubon Society also has an incredible group of birders that were eager to help this project take off.

cowles gpsWe also had the privilege of receiving instruction with volunteer training and protocol development by Washington Fish and Wildlife seabird biologist, Caanan Cowles (pictured to the left). Caanan also happened to work for John Bower back in the early 2000s when he last conducted bird surveys in Fidalgo Bay, so he helped us determine the four site locations for our survey as well. The surveys run from September to May for the overwintering season, and this year’s survey was our pilot year to work out the details in the protocol as well as organize a solid group of citizen science volunteers. We held a training in February at the Fidalgo Bay RV Park that had 19 participants, and around 6 volunteers attend the surveys each month.

Why Monitor Birds?

volunteers survey


Birds are often used as an “indicator species” to detect the overall health of the ecosystem. Here in the Salish Sea, marine birds are predators, often dependent upon forage fish as their main food source. Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve was created because it is a hotspot for forage fish spawning due to the expansive eelgrass beds, another common food source for migrating birds. Surveying marine birds gives us yet another element in the Fidalgo Bay food web to follow over time in order to detect any changes within the reserve.

Gathering Baseline Data

By gathering data over a long period of time, we will be able to monitor trends in the population dynamics of the bird species that depend on Fidalgo Bay. This data will help us be prepared for detection of abnormal conditions and whether these changes are due to natural variation or anthropogenic causes such as an oil spill. Volunteer positions for the bird surveys include a spotter, counter, and a scribe. Although we do need an experienced birder for the counter position, all are welcome and encouraged to join our surveys and learn more about the birds of Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve!

If you are interested in receiving updates for the 2018/2019 monitoring season with monthly surveys from September to May, please email Erica Bleke at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

fbar pic one 2018