From the Executive Director

Summer 2010

With only one season behind us, we have learned much; but with a dual purpose of observing wildlife conditions on the bays and shorelines plus measuring for dissolved oxygen and related water-quality parameters, we know that the real challenge is still ahead. To do it right, we will have to go out in all kinds of weather and stay on schedule. We will have to study, study, and study some more. Boat maintenance and data input will be a constant. Adventure, spending time on our beautiful bays, and achievement of purpose will have to be our reward—as it has been during the last 3 months.

In this report we will tell you some of what we've seen and what we've learned. We will also share with you some of the data that we've collected.

water clarity test

While waiting for our DO meter to arrive, we decided to make a late spring run on the good ship Sea Turtle from Quilcene Bay to Hood Canal. In lieu of a Secchi Disk or turbidity meter, we stopped every half mile to drop a shiny silver and red probe to compare water transparency in Dabob with that of Hood Canal. The difference was amazing. Although we could barely see the probe at 8 feet in the center of Dabob Bay, as soon as we hit the opening to the canal we could clearly see the probe at slightly better than 10 feet.

We also researched the bottom of the tidal estuary in Quilcene Bay. Because Quilcene is the location of a major shellfish fishery in the area, we found some well-cared-for sites and some long-abandoned (above left) and never-cleaned-up sites (above right). Abandoned nettings used to protect shellfish plantings were common. The photo shows a fish caught in one of these abandoned nets.

salmon caught in net


debris in Quil Bay

On the surface of the tidal estuary, we found that the water was extremely cloudy with an abundant amount of dead organic matter (detritus) that also appeared to collect much debris (wrack). In the distance you can see the complex of Coast Oyster—a company that relies heavily on having a good supply of pollutant-free water. When debris and pollutants settle to the bottom, they can change the habitat for shellfish to a degree that oysters and clams cannot prosper. Cloudy water will also keep sunlight from penetrating to the bottom—thus interfering with healthy and essential plant life.

Above is a photo of a fireworks display (we could see 14 between Quilcene and Dabob bays) that deposited residue from hundreds of rockets into the water. We picked up pounds of residue from fireworks along the shores in Quilcene Bay (one sample of the remains of a rocket is shown below). Of course, dissolved chemicals from fireworks are probably one of the worst kinds of pollutants for low-flow bays like Quilcene and Dabob.
fireworks debris in Quil Bay

On a happy note, throughout the summer we observed about a hundred healthy seals who could easily find resting places in both bays.

Early in the summer, we anchored off Fisherman's Point and were fortunate to watch 21 mature and young eagles interacting along the shore. We didn't realize that eagles were social birds until we spent 5 hours watching them go through a complete training session for scrounging food among the rocks of the shoreline. Off and on, we could see that some of the "white-heads" were still feeding their young.
Eagles on Dabob Bay

Connie Gallant
Fall 2010