Getting a glimpse of Fidalgo Bay

September 17, 2018
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Snow Chae, 6, of Bellingham peers Saturday at some tiny critters through a microscope at the table of forage fish biologist Dan Penttila.

ANACORTES — Adults and children alike explored Fidalgo Bay’s marine life up close Saturday during Fidalgo Bay Day.

From petting sea cucumbers in a touch tank to learning how orcas find their food, those who attended wound their way through interactive displays of the bay’s components at Fidalgo Bay Resort.

At one of the booths, Glen “Alex” Alexander, former education coordinator at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, demonstrated what an estuary is through a recipe for “estuary soup.”

As he whipped up the educational recipe, Alexander explained how saltwater, freshwater, phytoplankton, zooplankton and detritus all work together to create a habitat that supports the estuary dwellers humans like to eat — such as crabs, salmon and seaweed for sushi.

“It’s just a fun way to bring awareness about our marine environment and estuary and hopefully create better stewards,” said Tracy Alker, an organizer with the Skagit Marine Resources Committee.

The committee organized the 15th Fidalgo Bay Day with the help of about 25 other organizations, Alker said.

About 100 volunteers put the event together, and about 300 people turned out to wander the booths and grab some salmon, oysters, shellfish or chowder for a lunch hosted by the Samish Indian Nation.

The event was sponsored by the Skagit County Marine Resources Committee and the Northwest Straits Initiative, with partial funding provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Puget Sound Partnership.

At one of 15 stations set up by volunteer groups, marine biology consultant Dan Penttila displayed some of the creatures that call Fidalgo Bay home, including a sample of surf smelt eggs taken Saturday morning from the beach right outside the event.

Penttila said he hoped the displays helped those in attendance learn “that the water is full of these sorts of creatures,” and what their place in the food chain is.

Many of the specimens at Penttila’s booth can be traced up the food chain to supporting sea lions and orcas, he said.

Across the room, Cindy Hansen with the Orca Network gave information to those attending on things they can do in their homes and surrounding areas to lessen negative impacts on ocras.

Al Willett, from Sammamish, said the event was a great way to learn more about the world around him.

“It’s always fascinating to find out what’s happening in the ecosystem you live,” he said.

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