Elwha Nearshore Autumn 2022 Update
A warm busy morning in the Elwha nearshore on Friday. We had the WWU Salish Sea Institute Ecological Restoration class with us for this month’s sampling which made for a productive, fun, and very busy morning. We had so much going on we didn’t get fish face photos (!) so I’ve included the aerial photo from August in their place.
The Elwha west side channel was cooler than last month but the DO (Dissolved Oygen) is still troubling (57%). Juvenile coho continue to inhabit the Elwha side channel even though the water was as low as we’ve ever seen it. Salt Creek DO was much higher (91%) and full of the usual gunnels, arrow gobies, etc.
A couple of the nearshore team also took a couple hours to get IN the central Strait nearshore. The juvenile herring and sand lance born just last spring are shoaling in spectacular numbers along the nearshore as they ready to move offshore for the winter. It’s a remarkably abundant landscape and the fall visibility is, for once this year, clearer under water than above due to wildfire haze. Troubling observation is that these images should also include adult coho, steelhead, cutthroat (and others)—but they are not here. The ominous low flows from the unrelenting high pressure system are likely at play. In the nearshore we hold our breath, wait for rain, and hope they are on their way.
Thank you to CWI/WWU/PC interns Bligh Hueske, Meghan Fallon, and newest intern Noah Mohmand for their heavy lifting and good work that allowed us to do so much!
Click any photo to enlarge and begin slideshow. All photos © Coastal Watershed Institute.
Dr. Shaffer is the Executive Director and Lead Scientist of the Coastal Watershed Institute (CWI), a small, place-based environmental non-profit formed in 1996 that is dedicated to understanding, protecting, and restoring coastal ecosystems thru community-led scientific partnerships. Shaffer and her team conduct world-class ecosystem science and restoration with very modest resources and from a remote base of operations.
Dr. Shaffer and the talented team she leads at CWI are now informing dam removals planning and actions worldwide. Dr. Shaffer has authored over twenty scientific publications on nearshore ecology and dam removal science and regularly presents her scientific work internationally. Her work is featured in Hakai Magazine, National Geographic, New Yorker Magazine, Al Jazeera, PBS (Earth works), and National Public Radio. Dr. Shaffer and her team have received conservation science awards from the Seattle Aquarium, American Fisheries Society, and Society of Ecological Restoration for work on coastal ecosystem science, conservation, and restoration, including the Elwha.
Dr. Shaffer was born and raised in a large family and a small town of eastern Washington struggling to overcome the ravages of WWII. The solitude of wild intact remote coastal shorelines of northwest Washington provided rare moments of peace and healing and instilled a fierce dedication to conserving and restoring wild places. After their first round of graduate school Shaffer and her husband Dave Parks moved to the Olympic Peninsula where they raised two children. Dr. Shaffer then returned to school and earned a PhD in Marine Science from the University of Victoria in 2017. She and her family continue to thrive in their dedication to fight for what matters. Their future focus is to instill a passion in the next generation to do the same.
More information on Dr. Shaffer and her work with the Coastal Watershed Institute can be found at www.coastalwatershedinstitute.org.