Cloud Ridge Naturalists


September 27-October 4, 2015 8 Days/7 Nights

Dr. Geoff Hammerson, Jenny Hahn, Audrey Benedict, Bob Rozinski & Wendy Shattil, and the M/V Catalyst Crew

Thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived in the Pacific Northwest, the Coast Salish people flourished along the shores of one of the most biologically rich inland seas in the world—now known as the Salish Sea. Named in honor of those first inhabitants, the Salish Sea straddles the Canadian border and includes the marine waters of Washington’s Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, and British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and the Strait of Georgia.

Connected to the Pacific Ocean primarily via the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Salish Sea receives an almost constant influx of nutrient-rich freshwater from British Columbia’s Fraser River, the Skagit, and the many smaller rivers of Washington’s mainland—all of which provide essential building blocks for the region’s extraordinary biodiversity. The strong currents and extreme tidal exchanges that typify the Salish Sea create optimal conditions for nutrient upwelling and for the proliferation of the photosynthetic plankton that forms the basis of the marine food chain.

Life in the San Juan Archipelago is governed by the sea’s rhythms—its extraordinary biological richness attributed to the rain shadow cast by the Olympic Mountains and the greater diversity of habitats available to plants and animals in these islands than occurs along the wetter mainland coast. Not surprisingly, the marine waters surrounding the San Juan Islands provide critical habitat for marine mammals such as migrating gray whales, both resident and “transient” populations of killer whales, harbor seals, Steller and California sea lions, and river otters. More than 165 species of birds depend on the Salish Sea and adjacent terrestrial habitats for their survival. Many of the overwintering seabirds and sea ducks we’ll see—the murrelets, guillemots, murres, rhinoceros auklets, scoters, and harlequin ducks— will have recently arrived from their breeding areas. All seven species of Pacific salmon, including rainbow/steelhead and coastal cutthroat, occur in the Salish Sea. Both near-shore and deep- water habitats are also home to several “giants” of the marine world, including the Pacific giant octopus, plumose anemone, giant red sea urchin, and the geoduck, largest of the burrowing clams.

Today, nearly 8 million people live on the islands and in the mainland watersheds that nourish the Salish Sea on both sides of the international border. The impacts of a burgeoning population, global warming, ocean acidification, as well as pressures related to commercial fisheries, fish and shellfish farming, and the looming threat of a major coal shipping port at Cherry Point pose significant environmental challenges for the future. Many scientists and citizen groups are doing all they can to secure the environmental health of the Salish Sea and to ensure that sea- based livelihoods are able to adapt to change with practices that promote future sustainability.

Once again, our “classroom afloat” is the superbly comfortable M/V Catalyst, a 76-foot lovingly restored wooden boat built in 1932 as the floating laboratory for the University of Washington. Jenny Hahn, one of the Northwest’s foremost naturalists and an award-winning author, joins our team of naturalists and photographers at the helm. She’ll share her knowledge of the Coast Salish and the edible delights to be found at the sea’s edge. Guest scientists for this voyage include Russel Barsh and Madrona Murphy, founders of Kwiáht, the Center for the Historical Ecology of the Salish Sea, and Dr. Joe Gaydos, the Chief Scientist for the Orcas Island-based SeaDoc Society’s marine research and conservation program. Moving beyond the familiar intertidal zone, Joe and his dive team will conduct their third “virtual dive” for us—transmitting live coverage of the deep-sea world to a big-screen TV aboard the Catalyst for us all to enjoy—no wet suit required!

Working together, we’ll create a book of images and drawings that truly captures the magical essence of the Salish Sea and all that we’ve seen—sharing our observations and as well as a better understanding of the marine world and the environmental challenges that loom on the horizon. Be inspired and learn how you can make a difference!

Price: $2,550 (includes a $500 deposit)
Group Size: 12 Trip Rating: 2-3

Price Includes: 5 nights/6 days aboard the Catalyst, all meals and beverages, 2 nights’ lodging (September 27 and October 3) in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, 2 group dinners ashore, all instruction by our leaders and guest lecturers, sea kayak outfitting, the Catalyst’s 4- person crew, gratuities to the crew, a copy of our group-produced photo book, and a copy of Jenny’s Pacific Feast. The price quoted is per person based on double occupancy. Please note that the Catalyst has only one single-berth cabin. A single supplement of $350 is required of any participant preferring non-shared hotel accommo- dations. Does not include round-trip airfare or travel from your point of departure on September 27 to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. This seminar begins with dinner and lodging in Friday Harbor on September 27 and concludes with dinner and lodging in Friday Harbor on October 3. Travel home or to other destinations may be scheduled for the morning of October 4.




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