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Biodiversity Research:

Expanses of salt water restrict the movements of animals and plants, making islands ecologically distinct from the mainland. Unique species, and genetically distinct variations in species, are also characteristic of island biogeography. Surprisingly little biodiversity research has been carried out in the San Juan Islands, however. Kwiaht is conducting inventories to fill that gap, and helping public and private landowners identify and conserve sensitive species.

Indian Island Marine Health Observatory:

The Indian Island Marine Health Observatory is part of Kwiaht's San Juan Islands Marine Monitoring Network. It is an ongoing interactive research program involving marine scientists, local volunteers, and Orcas Island schools. We work with the local community, providing outreach and education while surveying marine life in the eelgrass meadows, beaches, and rocky intertidal areas of Indian Island and Fishing Bay.

Community Salmon Teams:

Lopez Community Salmon Team and Waldron Citizen Science monitor large salmon nurseries at Watmough Bight, a protected beach on Lopez Island's largely undeveloped south shore, and Cowlitz Bay, where sandy and cobble beaches meet the rocky slopes of Mount Disney.

Every two weeks from late May to October, volunteers use special 120-foot seines to sample aggregations of fish in the bay. Juvenile Chinook and Coho salmon are measured, their caudal fins are clipped for genotyping to determine their streams of origin, and non-lethal gut lavage recovers specimens of what they have been eating. Sandlance and herring, the main fish prey of juvenile salmon, are also measured and fin-clipped for genotyping to monitor year to year changes in their spawning times and areas.

 

Fabulous Filtering Fungi:

On a small island off Washington's coast, high school students create barriers with oil-absorbing mushrooms to filter stormwater runoff that drains into the ocean.