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Dramatic Change at the Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Posted: Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:47 pm
by Charles1910
Hi, I'm perplexed by a change that took place close to shore at the Richmond Beach Saltwater Park. Last year at this time
the habitat was alive with Sargassum, Sea lettuce, Red Seaweed, Eelgrass, and juvenile fish. This year there was a big change
between early May and early June. It was sand and rock only by the time I returned to the beach. It is still bleak; the
Sea lettuce is starting to grow back, but it's still bare. Could the cooler summer this year account for it, or is there
something else that I am not aware of?
I posed at You Tube video at: [youtube]

https://youtu.be/Mv9GuB4cLeM

Charles1910

Re: Dramatic Change at the Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Posted: Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:33 pm
by H20doctor
That's pretty normal... Eel grass beds change from year to year

Re: Dramatic Change at the Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Posted: Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:29 am
by YellowEye
I'm not familiar with that site. You sure you went back to the same exact area?

Usually a sudden disappearance of eelgrass indicates a low tide storm or change in health of the environment. I have not seen eelgrass gone one year then back the next... recovery seems to take a long time (see Three Tree and parts of Redondo). I hear there are some efforts at eelgrass restoration by transplant.

Re: Dramatic Change at the Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Posted: Mon Aug 26, 2019 5:15 pm
by ljjames
I'm with Yellow eye here... i have not seen a cycle like 'gone one year back the next', The cycle i'm used to is beds waning over the winter and come back in spring but not change dramatically same time of year same site unless as yellow eye mentions something changed in the near shore or there was a HUGE storm combined with tide hight that allows super washing machine conditions. Both Kelp and Eelgrass have a seasonal component but I don't know of any multi year cycles like salmon etc... Has there been any construction recently of the shoreline? There is eelgrass wasting disease in our waters, if we could use satellite map (google maps) we could map the previous years eelgrass (assuming they have not recently updated) and then go drag a GPS float around sync'd with video at the site currently (videoing any eelgrass that is still there) and circumnavigate the remaining bed. Once you have that info, you can overlay it on the satellite images and often get a pretty good idea of what's going on in the 'big picture'. We (lamont mostly) did this out at Alki and the towed GPS track lined up almost perfectly when overlayed on top of the Google maps (you can see the dark bands of eelgrass).

We've seen some big shifts in biomass over the past few years at the sites i regularly visit and film it has been a slow decline over past decade but changes seem to be more and more dramatic and noticeable.

Re: Dramatic Change at the Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Posted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 5:09 pm
by H20doctor
The ocean is always changing and we see some years being full of life and mass spawn events, and some years with nothing going on

Re: Dramatic Change at the Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Posted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 8:11 pm
by ljjames
Biodiversity is on a declining trend in the Puget sound and Salish Sea on a whole due to a number of factors. It’s not the same as it was 20-30 years ago. To write things like this off as ‘eh don’t worry about it, just a cycle’ does a disservice. Maybe it is a cycle, maybe it’s a harbinger if things to come but if we don’t report stuff like this or get Pooh pooh’d When we do for being chicken little-esque. Case in point, sea star wasting syndrome. Folks were writing it off as ‘just a cycle’ or ‘storm event’ or .... too.

To the OP, thank you for the report, I have payed the info forward to one of the scientists studying eelgrass wasting disease. Hopefully it -is- just a cycle as h2o doc theorizes.

Re: Dramatic Change at the Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Posted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:13 am
by SCUBARM79
As NOT completely acute to the beaches conditions annually: I grew up going to Richmond beach years on end. I recall years where there was little eel grass and others where it was thick and coated the beach with each wave, tangling around my feet along with the broad coverage of seaweed, brown kelp bulbs, and so on.

Skepticism is healthy when applied judiciously. While this could be a case for a general shift in the population/abundance of eel grass at this location, I also agree that the observation is good to be recorded and monitored. As a community we see things others don't and we notice minute details that others may not observe because we frequent a location intimately. Science takes years of study to confirm results based on lots of data points-unless it is specific and testable with a rapid assay. Given that we have funding issues with science and our local government has multitudes of issues, we stand at a point when we, as citizen-scientists, can make a difference with our time. It is not uncommon for WDFW to take samples from hunters/fisherman to monitor animals and their health. Local volunteer divers were a front line to act against invasive species in local waters, until funding quit to support them. (millfoil, mussels, etc.) We can be a force for good to help understand our ecosystem. (Sorry about soap boxing)

ljjames- does your contact have any further advice or specifics that we, as a community, could help with in their studies?