4/12/10 Long held as an environmental success story after being taken off the endangered list in 1994, California gray whale sightings dropped from 25 a day in good years to five a day this season. Such anecdotal evidence has left conservationists and state officials worried about the whale's future, especially now that the International Whaling Commission in June will consider allowing 1,400 gray whales to be hunted over the next decade.

The decision will rely on a report that says the population is flourishing — a study critics say is spotty and outdated. The study draws on annual population estimates dating from 1967, but in the past decade only three census counts have been released, the most recent in 2006.

Since then, the estimated number of calves has plunged from more than 1,000 in 2006 to 312 in 2009. In addition, the species suffered a die-off of several thousand whales in 2000.

4/22/10 Carla Stejhr's photography show, "Sea Unseen," opened recently in the Passages of the Deep exhibit at the Oregon Coast Aquarium after a nine-month run at the Seattle Aquarium. Stehr's photos reveal sea creatures and plant life that typically can't be seen by the naked eye. But magnified 30,000 times or so, they look intricate and otherworldly. Some images seem as tame and orderly as the weave of fine fabric, while others loom B-movie scary.

Diatoms, or microscopic algae, appear as big as doughnuts fresh from the fryer. Flatfish gills seem so large and graceful you'd swear they're palm fronds swaying in a trade wind. A newly hatched red octopus looks enormous enough to wrap an arm around an ocean liner. And one of Stehr's favorite shots -- a newborn surf smelt devouring a freshly hatched crab -- is reminiscent of "Jaws."

Read the full artilce and view the images here.


5/6/10 In the water board's rejection letter, Deputy Director of Water Rights Victoria Whitney writes that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has authority over the project -- and changes must come through its licensing process. She claimed that a 2004 license amendment only reserved FERC's right to make changes to the license in the future, but did not delegate authority to the state.

The 2004 order says that whether Eel River diversions are consistent with California law must be decided by state authorities, “and it is not our intention to interfere with any actions they may take with respect to water rights.”

In a statement, Friends of the Eel River attorney Ellison Folk said that the state board took too narrow a view of its authority to require responsible use of the water and to protect salmon.

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On this 40th Earth Day, we want to thank our dedicated community in their efforts to make every day Earth Day in Humboldt County.  Our dedicated Keepers give us the strength to move forward in the many advocacy projects we are working on from the Balloon Track, the Marine Life Protection Act, our water quality monitoring program, and all the projects we are working on.  We would not be effective without the strong support of our community. So THANK YOU for your guidance and support and again, Happy Earth Day!

Read Beth Werner's My Word: Celebrating Earth Day in the Times Standard. Beth is Humboldt Baykeeper's outreach and marine life protection coordinator. 

Earth Day is here once again; the one day of the year dedicated to the environment. This Earth Day, take time to think about the environment that covers nearly 70 percent of our earth: the ocean.

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4/15/10 Researchers are warning of a new blight at sea: a swirl of confetti-like plastic debris stretching over a remote expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.

The floating garbage - hard to spot from the surface and spun together by a vortex of currents - was documented by two groups of scientists who trawled the sea between scenic Bermuda and Portugal's mid-Atlantic Azores islands.

The studies describe a soup of micro-particles similar to the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a phenomenon discovered a decade ago between Hawaii and California that researchers say is likely to exist in other places around the globe.

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