Thursday, December 16, 2010

Join WMMSN this Saturday at O'Donnell's Bellingham Flea Market!

Join us this Saturday the 18th 10am -5pm at the flea market on Cornwall Ave! We will have a booth set up right in front and will be selling our WMMSN t-shirts and beautiful seal prints drawn by our own Volunteer Coordinator Bob Ryerson - both of which make excellent holiday gifts! We will also be awarding one seal print to whoever can guess how many seashells are in a jar. Only $1 per guess, maybe you'll be that lucky winner!

As at all our booths, you'll also be able to learn more about our local marine mammals, sign up to volunteer with us, or make a donation to help keep us going.

Hope to see you there!
Happy Holidays!

Public Market Building, corner of Cornwall/York
(the old "Tube Time")
1522 Cornwall Ave.
Bellingham, WA 98225

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A local sighting of wild weaned pups:

Every once in a while (usually due to some level of human interference) a seal pup needs a helping hand. For whatever reason some pups are abandoned and we're able to rescue them from certain starvation and send them to Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. During their stay at Wolf Hollow they'll be checked for any injuries or illnesses, fed a nutritious formula, gain lots of weight, and finally learn to swim and catch fish. After they meet the specific health requirements they're released back into the world to live out their lives as the wild harbor seal they were born to be. These rehabbed pups get a second chance at that "happily ever after" story.

Then there are the pups who don't need our rehab centers, and these are the stories we love to hear! A baby seal's best shot at life is to have a caring and attentive mother who will nurse it and teach it everything it will need to know to be a harbor seal. Only a mother can teach her pup invaluable life lessons such as effective hunting techniques, and how to watch out for those big black and white seal-eaters. These are the truly lucky ones, the ones with the greatest chance of survival. WMMSN volunteer Katharine Sell recently came across such a group near a popular seal haulout at Semiahmoo. While the larger adults haul out on the docks, these four weaned pups seemed content to rest together on a smaller floating log. Perhaps getting up on the docks is a bit too tricky for these pups right now. This will be just one of the many skills that both the wild weaned and rehabilitated seals will be practicing in the next few months, and we wish the best of luck to both!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Here's a brief account and a few pictures of the Dogwood/Snowberry adventures!

Their crates were open, and Snowberry was first to peek his head out. He slowly made his way out of the crate and into the water. He turned back towards the beach and climbed up, then turned back towards water. He finally started to swim a bit and then there was some big splashing and gulls circling him. Could he have found a fishy already?! We hope! We watched him swim around for a good ten minutes, occasionally glancing over at Dogwoods crate, which he was still in. Actually, he turned around so his head was facing away from the water! Apparently what Snowberry was doing looked like no fun. 

The Wolf Hollow volunteers pushed the crate closer to the water, until he was about 2 inches deep. They tipped his crate, we could hear him trying to scamper to the very back. Eventually the volunteers had to turn the crate completely upside down so he had no choice but to fall out of it into the water. He just stared at us. After a few minutes went by, one of the volunteers threw some pebbles his way to make a splash. He didn't move. After a few more minutes another volunteer walked right up to him and started kicking her boot right near his face to splash him with water. He looked up at her and jumped (as much as a seal can jump) right up at her. If he were a dog he'd have jumped right in her arms! It was so sad, you could almost hear him "But mama, I want to stay with you!" Eventually he started to swim away, but swam by all of us first, looking right up at us. Oh, poor baby, didn't want to go out in the big world! He also didn't really seem to get the concept of swimming like a normal harbor seal. He kept the "banana" pose the whole time, trying to keep his back flippers out of the water instead of using them to propel himself. Maybe his flipper tags were making him a bit uncomfortable? 

SeaDoc Society says we should be able to track them on a daily basis, I think starting in a week, on their website. 

~Heather Hill

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

WMMSN teams up with

What is

     " is a o­ne-stop source for community health information in Whatcom County. Find data, learn about the issues, and determine effective methods for lasting improvement." - from their website

Click here to see the WMMSN page at

WMMSN in the news: Komo 4 video

WMMSN in the news at

POSTED: Friday, Jul. 16, 2010

"A newborn harbor seal pup was rescued from the beach Thursday, July 15, after its mother died and left it stranded. Volunteers from the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network picked up the seal at about 4:30 p.m. in the busy beach area across from the restaurant core along Birch Bay Drive."

Click here for full article

POSTED: Thursday, Sep. 09, 2010

"A newborn seal pup rescued from a Birch Bay beach after its mother died is expected to be released back into the wild by the end of September.
Meanwhile, rescue groups have seen a recent rash of seal killings in the area and are concerned fishermen may be killing the seals instead of deterring them other ways."

Click here for full article

Meeting Minutes 9/1/10

September 1, 2010

Metcalf Hodges Accounting Firm conference room

Meeting called to order at:
6:30 pm

People present at Meeting:
Mariann Carrasco
Heather Harris
Michael Bowland
Anastasia Edgar
Kelly Armijo
Lori Crawford
Victoria Souze
Edradine Hovde
Claudia Olejniczak

  • Unanimous approval to accept minutes from past meeting
  • Treasurer’s report from Lori shows that we have about $1400 in our account after paying some bills and getting all our refunds and donations covered.
  • Mariann brought in all the items that go in the necropsy kits except the formaldehyde. Necropsy kits were passed out to Stasi, and Victoria said she could take Christi hers. Michael bought a kit on the spot. Mariann will hang onto Kellie’s until she gets back.

Old Minutes:
  • Discussion on Adopt-a-seal program, donating seal prints. Danielle passed on costs she received from her boyfriend at 79 cents per copy not including matte. Since Bob wasn’t here we decided to table the discussion for a board meeting or the next Oct when everyone needed could make it. We need Bob, Victoria, Trisha, and others all at the same meeting at the same time. Bob was not able to get costs for the prints yet.
  • Mariann gave a brief summary of the grants process. Mariann and Lori are finalizing the grant and it is with the grant reviewer now. Hopefully it will get finished and out this week or next. Claudia also asked to review it.
  • Most folks are doing their beach surveys, although it has not revealed very many extra strandings, but the season is still young!
  • This summer’s fundraiser, the boat trip, was cancelled as Trisha was very sick this summer and couldn’t plan the fundraiser properly. Get well Trisha! She should be on the mend now.
  • Mariann reminded everyone to send their hours/expenses to Bob at the end of each month.
New Business
  • Mariann and Kelly put in a plug for everyone to see the movie “The Cove”, an excellent documentary about the dolphin slaughter in Japan. Well worth viewing if you get a chance.
  • Mariann updated everyone on a volunteer appreciation party to be held in January. Awards will be given out (some of them humorous!) and certificates for hours volunteered (so get your hours to Bob) as well as food, drink and other great stuff! More info to come out later.
  • Mariann provided a statistical summary of strandings so far this year, in preparation for an article to come out in the Bellingham Herald either Sept 9 or 10. Watch for this article.
  • We discussed have another seal triage training at Wolf Hollow to coincide with release of our pups later this month or next. Julie or Mariann to check into this possibility. (see what happens when you miss a meeting; an assignment!)
  • We reviewed the highlights of the summer strandings and discussed the unusual ones and what things might work to make responses go more smoothly.
  • We discussed ordering 2.5% Dextrose so that we have the proper fluids available should another pup go to NWRC. Mariann and/or Julie to look into this.
  • We may include pictures of what we are doing into our grant to show how our education efforts are working. Mariann to look into this.
  • Starr Johnson, one of our volunteers who was gone this summer while she served on the Sea Shephard, will be our presenter at the October meeting. She will talk about her experiences on the boat and what it was like working in the Mediterranean this summer.
  • Next board meeting we should review our goals for 2011 and see what we can or can’t do with the money we have since we would not get grant money until summer of 2011, as well as finalize our adopt-a-seal program.
  • Stasi, Lori and Heather gave updates on how the 2 summer education events went at Birch bay and Blaine.
  • Mariann mentioned that elections will be held in November. The Co-Investigator position is open and all other positions, except the Education director which was just filled, will be available for new folks. We are looking for a NON-BOARD member to head up the elections committee (could be just 2-3 people) to canvas for board members in the November elections. If you are interested, please contact Mariann.

Mariann showed a draft clip (about 10 minutes) of the gray whale necropsy that happened last spring. This clip will eventually be part of a small documentary about the WMMSN and what we do that we can use at educational events that Ken Carrasco is working on, and will finish sometime in 2011.

Meeting adjourned at 8:20 pm.

Monday, August 2, 2010

NOAA releases State of the Climate Report

This week NOAA released The State of the Climate report.  More than 300 scientists from 160 research groups in 48 countries contributed to the report.  This report shows the past decade was warmer than any other on record and our planet has been growing warmer for the last 50 years.

Details and more information about climate changes can be found here:
 For updated information from NOAA check them out on Facebook.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Recent stranding news

On July 15th, the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network received a call about a seal pup at Birch Bay.  The pup was located on a populated portion of beach below the Blue Fish Restaurant.  An adult female Harbor Seal who appeared to have been the pup's mother was found dead near by.  The cause of death appeared to be complications with the birth.  The pup was very healthy and active but without a mother to nurse him and was in need of help as beach goers, kids and dogs were harassing the pup.

Volunteers arrived to crate the pup for a quick transfer to the Wolf Hollow Rehab Center in Friday Harbor and put him on the next flight.  The pup is now doing well at the rehab facility and is a boy.  His name is Dogwood and we hope he can be released into the wild again soon, probably in late September or early October.
The volunteers who participated in this days event were:
  • Marcia Steadman
  • Katharine Sell
  • Shirley Sell
  • Stasi Edgar
  • Lynn & Michael Bowland

Monday, June 7, 2010

General Meeting Minutes - June 2010

Date:  June 5, 2010

Location:  Metcalf Hodges Accounting Firm conference room

Meeting called to order at:   10:05 am

People present at Meeting:
  • Mariann Carrasco
  • Heather Harris
  • Bob Ryerson
  • Carley Lowe
  • Christi Spangler
  • Kellie Dalrymple
  • Starr Johnson
  • Michael Bowland
  • Anastasia Edgar
  • Rick Defehr
  • Lynn Defehr
  • Deanna Defehr

Unanimous approval to accept minutes from past meeting

Approximated treasurer’s report from Mariann in Lori’s absence shows that we have about $1200 in our account after paying some bills. IRS refund of overpayment of 501 (c) (3) approval is being sent to us ($450).

Mariann brought in all the remaining items that go in the basic kits except the rope and dry erase markers. White boards, flagging tape, large and small ziploc sample bags were all passed out to those that bought basic kits.

Old Minutes:

Discussion on Adopt-a-seal program, donating seal prints. Bob was not able to get costs for the prints yet. Danielle, Trisha and Edradine were not in attendance to pass on what they found out either, so discussion centered on explaining the program to those not familiar with it. Decision was made to wait until the next meeting for cost comparison to come in and then make a decision. Also, Starr said she knows the manager at Kinkos and she might be able to get us a good deal. Bob to look into it. Bob still needs to put together a table of specifications for the prints so that others can approach vendors for accurate comparisons. Bob’s vendor is charging $110 for 50 prints.

Mariann gave a brief summary of the grants process. Mariann and Lori are finalizing the budget and will get it to Carley soon. 

Vancouver Aquarium is tentatively scheduled for June 12th. Carley says 12 people are signed up right now so it is booked. 

Mariann brought everyone up to speed about our only fundraiser for the year, the July 31st boat trip on Ken and Mariann’s 32’ power boat. We are still waiting to hear back from Trisha on the Mt. Baker Vineyards and Chuckanut Brewery donations before we can put together the invitations. Rick mentioned their 40’ boat and that their family might be willing to do something similar if ours is successful and there are more people that want to come. Mariann and Ken to meet with Rick and look over their boat to see how many people it can hold.

Mariann reminded everyone to send their hours/expenses to Bob at the end of each month.

Seal pup triage was approved by NOAA with a small caviat, so we are good to go.

Northern Lights article was submitted by Heather and is being run. Great job Heather! Heather still has not heard back from the Bellingham Herald and will try contacting them again.

Mariann gave everyone updates on the July Discovery Days booth (July 17-18) and the August Drayton Harbor Days booth (August 7), on what they are about and what our role is when we have a booth. She also told folks to contact Bob if they want to sign up to staff a booth for a couple of hours either of those days.

Mariann checked in with everyone regarding beach surveys. Most everyone in attendance has done their beach surveys without incident or finding a marine mammal. 

New Business:

Mariann updated everyone on the Steller’s sea lion that stranded on Lummi Island on Memorial Day (young male) and showed a slide later on diastema in the lower jaw that was the main distinguishing factor identifiying it as a Steller’s instead of a California’s.

Mariann updated everyone on her scheduled vacation of June 28 through July 7th, and that Carley will be taking over for her during that time.

Also, Carley is leaving us to go to grad school (in Hawaii!) August 1st, so the board decided that her position of Co-Investigator should remain open until the November elections. Those interested in consideration for this slot should contact Carley or Mariann to talk about what is involved.

The board approved dropping the July and August general meetings because everyone is sooo busy with seal pups and vacations. Next meeting is September 1st, Wed evening at 6:30 pm. And all our meetings will be held 6:30 pm the first Wednesday of every month.

Updates on the $500 emergency fund voted and approved by the board and the approval by the board to pay for 2 people (Lori and Victoria) to attend the grant writing class put on by WCC.

Bob showed everyone the decals he purchased for the club; a large size for the back of the vest and a small size to be used on the front lapel of the vest or else on a ball cap. We decided to sell them at $10 for the large and $3 for the small decals based on the cost we were charged for them. Nine of the 10 large decals and 4 of the 12 small decals were later sold.

Necropsy training on June 13th at 1:00 pm at 2508 G st. in Bham (Mike’s garage) was discussed. So far 8 people are signed up and 4 of the 6 necropsy kits that were ordered have been paid for. 

It was brought up that if you can’t do a necropsy of an animal than at least get a 1 inch cubed sized blubber sample.

Carley will put on another tagging training in July for those interested. Mariann needs to talk to Mike about the tags.

Discussion on preparation for the summer season commenced.

Meeting adjourned at 11:30 am.

Ken Carrasco, from the Coast Guard Auxiliary that specializes in chemical spills and their affect on the marine environment, proceeded to talk about oil spills in our area, after Mariann presented the Federal picture on oil spills. Ken presented how oil spill emergency response is organized and who responds in detail. Discussion ensued. Ken offered up the National Oil Spill responses number that anyone can call in case of an oil spill. 1-800-424-8802.

Mariann presented a harbor seal pup case study that everyone worked through, so that hopefully we are all prepared for the summer. Mariann will attach the document to the minutes in case others that couldn’t attend want to see what is needed and run through the case study.



Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Background: You have been given a location of Birch Bay, right in front of the only restaurant on the water. The restaurant manager is the caller. You are to meet a fellow stranding network volunteer at the site at 11:00 am. It is a Saturday in June and you were told that a live seal pup has been abandoned on the beach and many people were coming by to pet it and have pictures taken with their kids next to it. It is hot and sunny out (wishful thinking….).

Work in pairs and answer these questions:
  1. What do you take with you given what you know?
  2. What do you do when you get there?
  • Will the weather play a factor?
  • Will the public play a factor?
  • Do you have the right equipment to respond to this situation?

Scroll down to see the answers

1)What do you take with you given what you know?

  • Digital camera
  • cell phone
  • basic kit or equivalent supplies especially flagging caution tape
  • sticks to tie tape to
  • signs
  • gloves
  • your ID
  • your WMMSN T-shirt (if you have one)
  • your binder
  • sun block
  • water
  • food
  • GPS (if you have one)
  • the call sheet
  • mud boots
  • pants that can get muddy
  • handouts and brochures

2)What do you do when you get there?

Check to make sure you park in an appropriate place. Phone your partner and meet up with them. Find the seal pup based on restaurant owners instructions. Look for crowds of people. Make sure you have all your gear in case the pup is far out on the beach. Approach the group. Part your way through. Raise your voice and tell the group who you are and who your represent. Tell them that everyone needs to be at least 300 feet away (Birch Bay being such a large beach, you might be able to get people that far away, depending on precisely where the pup is located). Tell them that all people and dogs must stay away because MM can carry diseases and because their presence is stressing the pup. Make sure everyone knows to call 966-8845 if they see a marine mammal on the beach. Verify that it is a seal pup. Explain that the pup is not calling for its mom because it has been abandoned; it is calling because it is scared as they are too many people around with their kids and dogs. Set up your perimeter and post signs. Tell them that you are trained as a responder and are certified to handle seal pups and you understand the risks; that is why you can get within 300 feet of the pup and no one else can, if asked. Handout brochures if needed and answer questions about our organization if asked. Refer them to our website, for more answers. Get photos of the pup from several angles, using the white board. Determine the condition of the pup, i.e., dehydrated (skinny with wrinkled skin) or fat (nice and rounded), how many days old it is by the freshness of its umbilical cord, verify the details with the reporting party, call the principle investigator or equivalent with your findings. The PI will start making calls to set up more pup sitters to rotate with you over the next 24 hours based on everyone’s schedules.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Minutes from May 5 General Meeting

Date: May 5, 2010

Location: Metcalf Hodges Accounting Firm conference room

Meeting called to order at: 6:35 pm

People present at Meeting:

Mariann Carrasco, Heather Harris, Julie Straight, Bob Ryerson, Lori Crawford, Danielle Love, Edradine Hovde, Trisha O’Connor

Unanimous approval to accept minutes from past meeting

Old Business:

Discussion on Adopt-a-seal program, donating seal prints. Decision was made for charge $20 per print/certificate for the harbor seal, $30 for harbor porpoise, $40 for gray whale, $50 for Steller’s sea lion, $75 for the killer whale. We will do a certificate with a stuffed whale or seal for kids and families. Bob will make a table of items that need to be discussed with vendors and send it around to Danielle, Trisha, and Edradine who think they can approach some printing companies so we can figure out costs to print. Bob’s vendor is charging $110 for 50 prints.

Mariann, in Carley’s absence, gave a brief summary of the grants process. Carley is working on a draft now.

Vancouver Aquarium is tentatively scheduled for May 16th. Space is limited to 10 people, first come first serve. Carley to get back with us this week for final arrangements.

Bob to send me details on Blaine coming up this weekend to set folks to sign up. Trisha, Julie, Sonia and Bob are scheduled now.

Ski to Sea, Memorial Day weekend is the next event. Please contact Bob if you are available for this event. Mariann can do the afternoon.

Mariann reminded everyone to send their hours/expenses to Bob at the end of each month.

Seal pup triage needs to be approved by NOAA before we proceed.

New Business:

Oil Spill: no updates right now. Go to website to find out how to volunteer.

Prior to the regular meeting a quorum of the board met and accepted the resignations of Rose Lavoie as Volunteer Director and Robert Ryerson as Director of Education. Verbal elections were held and Heather Harris was approved unanimously as Education Director and Robert Ryerson as Volunteer Director, to serve the remaining terms of office. Trisha O’Connor was voted to take over as Development Director when Sonia Hurt vacated that office in the next month or so. Sonia will get together with Trisha in the next month to transfer all her information she has collected.

Meeting adjourned at 8:00 pm.

Mariann then proceeded to present information that was presented with various papers at the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network Conference. She recommends that we put in our budget for 3 people to go to the conference next time, as it was an excellent conference and so much information was gathered.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Whale entangled in fishing gear

A humpback whale entangled in fishing gear reported by a fisherman.  Here's some video of the rescue attempt from King 5.  Read the full article here

Sunday, May 9, 2010

May 17, 2010 - New Volunteer Responder & refresher training:

This is the last scheduled training before pup season 2010. 

Do you have a love and concern for our local marine mammals?  Would you like to volunteer to make a difference in our community?  Register now to become a member of the WMMSN Stranding Response Team.  

At this training you will learn what is required for responding to a stranding including:
  • Species identification of marine mammals common to this area
  • How to recognize and document various types of injuries and illnesses
  • Determining and establishing a safe perimeter around marine mammals
  • Laws, regulations, and procedures to be followed when working with stranded or deceased marine mammals
  • What paperwork is required and how to fill it out

Volunteer Responder Training

Registration required:

To register, please call Bob Ryerson, Director of Volunteers at 360-306-1568 or email to: 

Class length: 

1 session (approximately 3 hours)


May 17th


6:00 - 9:00 pm 


Metcalf Hodges Building Conference Room at  770 East Holly St 


Mariann Carrasco of WMMSN
Cost:  $25 for new volunteers.  Current volunteers may refresh training for free


**WMMSN Tshirts ($20) and responder kits containing necessary response items ($15) will be available for purchase at the training.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Blaine Big Boating Day

The city of Blaine will be celebrating their Big Boating Day at Marine Park on May 8th from 8 am to 2 pm.

WMMSN will be there with a booth at the Nautical Flea Market.  Stop by for refreshments, T-shirts and more information about our organization. If you would like to volunteer to be a member of the Stranding Response Team you can sign up here for the next training which will be held on May 17th.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Blogmania Winner

BloggerBlogmania has been a huge success.  We had 159 entries into our contest for a free WMMSN T-shirt!    
Thank you to everyone who entered and left wonderful comments on our blog and welcome to all our new followers too.  We went from 1 google follower to 124 overnight! I hope you all will enjoy reading about what's going on with the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network.  To learn more about our organization and what we do to help marine mammals please stop by the website at

The WMMSN T-shirt goes to comment number 9: 
Susan Margaret.  She said...
"I love the shirt and I love your cause! I've bookmarked your site - I'll be back!!"
April 30, 2010 3:28 AM

Check your inbox Susan for the details on how to claim your prize.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bellingham Boating Season Opener

2010 boating season opens today and WMMSN is at Squalicum Harbor to celebrate!  Stop by our booth and learn more about us and how we are helping marine mammals & purchase one of our T-shirts to help support our effort with marine mammals. Want to become a volunteer? Sign up at this event.

Friday, April 30, 2010

WMMSN celebrates Blogmania with a free Tshirt giveaway!

Chitenango when found on the beach.  

Who is WMMSN? 

The Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network is a non-profit organization made up of volunteers that are dedicated to the care of distressed or deceased marine mammals. 

After several months of rehab he's ready to return to the wild
What does WMMSN do? 

Our trained volunteers do many things including: Responding to reports of stranded, distressed or deceased marine mammals.  When we arrive on scene, we then assess the condition of the animal and determine how best to help them.  When a stranding occurs on a crowded public beach we often set up a safety perimeter around the stranded marine mammal to prevent human contact.  We also educate the public about the stranded marine mammal and the laws that  protect them.  If we respond to a deceased animal, a necropsy may be performed to help to determine what caused the death. 

    To learn more about WMMSN and our work with marine mammals, please visit our website or fan us on Facebook for news updates.  Click here to read the story of Chitenango.  Chitenango was a stranding call we responded to last year.  He was rescued, rehabbed and released back into the wild to live out his life.

    This Blog is 115 of 123

    You’ve arrived at exactly the right time to explore lots of new blogs, all of which, ARE HOSTING A VERY SPECIAL BLOGMANIA GIVEAWAY!  (For One Day Only – April 30th)
    All the work has been done for you. No hunting or surfing. Each blog will have a number and each new blog link will have a number. These numbers will allow you to keep track of which blogs you’ve visited and how many are left to visit. Why not take a moment to make a list of blog numbers 1-123 and check off the blogs as you go.
    I know you’ll want to visit as many blogs today as you can. So, if you see something that interests you on any of our participating blogs, why not bookmark that site. Later, when you have more time, you can discover all its fabulous treasures.  
    Our GIVEAWAY and RULES:  For Blogmania we are giving away one of our organic cotton T-shirts.

    To enter to win just leave us a comment on this blog.  1 winner will be chosen and announced on this blog on May 3rd.



    The WMMSN T-shirts are made from 100% organic cotton in light blue, are pre - shrunk but sizes do run a little small.  They feature a Walking Whales design on the front with the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network logo on the back. 

    After you've commented and entered to win, be sure to visit these other Blogs participating in Blogmania.  Each one is hosting a giveaway!


    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    Another Training Coming Up

    Missed the last training session?  You're in luck!  We'll be having one more training session before the spring seal pupping season begins.  This training is for new volunteers and for existing volunteers who missed the previous refresher training.  Here's the scoop:

    Volunteer Responder Training

    Registration is required for new volunteers.  To register, please call Bob Ryerson, Director of Volunteers at 360-306-1568 or email to:

    Class length: 1 session (approximately 3 hours)

    Date: May 17th

    Time: 6:00 - 9:00 pm

    Location: Metcalf Hodges Building Conference Room at 770 East Holly St

    Instructor: Mariann Carrasco of WMMSN

    Cost: $25 for new volunteers. Current volunteers may refresh training for free

    **WMMSN Tshirts ($20) and responder kits containing necessary response items ($15) will be available for purchase at the training.

    Mariann will be instructing the training for new volunteers and has requested that all current volunteers attend in preparation for the upcoming season. It will be a good opportunity to get new information, learn the new protocols and advances in communication. There's no charge for current members of the WMMSN just bring in your binders.

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    General Meeting Minutes 4/17/10

    April 17, 2010

    Metcalf Hodges Accounting Firm conference room

    Meeting called to order at:
    2:00 pm (1400hrs)

    People present at Meeting:
    Mariann Carrasco
    Heather Harris
    Christi Spangler
    Trisha O’Connor
    Edradine Hovde
    Danielle Love
    Victoria Souze
    Mike Etnier
    Lynn Bowland
    Mike Bowland

    • Unanimous approval to accept minutes from past meeting

    Old Minutes:

    • Discussion on Adopt-a-seal program, donating seal prints. Victoria presented her ideas. Everyone would get a certificate (she handed out an example) and we would do it for 6-8 species, maybe varying the amount of the donation by species for those that want to donate more or less. Price still to be determined after asking Bob. We could do a certificate with a stuffed whale or seal for kids and families. Oriental Trading catalog has special prices for these critters for non-profits. We all agreed this seemed like a good idea but wanted to wait to finalize after Bob tells us what we should charge for one of his prints.

    • Mariann is going to pursue getting a space with Port of Bellingham for use in necropsies and maybe storing supplies.

    • Discussion on grants was tabled since Carley was not here.

    • Basic Kits are now assembled (mostly) and available for purchase ($15).

    • Seal Pup Triage protocol was discussed and handed out. Stacy will have an on-site training for the qualified individuals soon.

    • Mariann reminded everyone to send their hours/expenses to Bob at the end of each month.

    New Business

    • The gray whale that stranded last week that we worked on was discussed and slides were shown during the potluck for those interested.

    • Beach surveys are being started. It was felt that monthly surveys may do a better job of revealing how many strandings we really get, and it gets everyone out enjoying a worthwhile job with family members or friends. They can be done at any time of the month with anyone you want. Everyone present signed up to survey a beach of their choice once a month. You only report anything if you found anything. There are still a few beaches left to sign up for, for those that couldn’t attend the meeting. The beach areas still left are Chuckanut Bay South, Gooseberry Point West and East Side (we may not be allowed access to these beaches), beaches around the city of Fairhaven, South Side Semiahmoo Spit, West Side Semiahmoo, West Side Drayton Harbor, Head of and East Side Drayton Harbor, Nooksack River Delta/Marietta (kayakers anyone?) Beaches around the City of Blaine, BP to Conoco Phillips refinery (accessed by the Gulf Rd that was used for last year’s gray whale stranding), Sandy Point, and Red River Delta (kayakers anyone?). Call or email Mariann to go over the maps with her and sign up for a beach if you are interested.

    • Events that are coming up that Victoria is looking into signing us up for that we have not already discussed previously are May 1st Opening Day of Boating Season, Old Fashioned 4th of July at Blaine, Old Towne days end of August, Memorial day Ski to Sea Race. We will be looking for volunteers to staff the booth during these events.

    • Mariann will get more whale watching guideline flyers from Kristin.

    • Next meeting will be held on May 5th at 6:30 pm at the M/H building. An emergency election will be held for the Education and Development (fundraising) director positions at this meeting so if you are interested in these positions, please let Mariann know. Mariann will also be presenting all the info she learned at the National Conference.

    Meeting adjourned at 3:30 pm.

    Mike Etnier presented us with a talk on whale teeth and how he and another follow researcher have sliced up teeth to determine age and diet of these animals. It provides us with a good historical record of what the animals used to eat compared to what they are eating now. Awesome talk! 

    Post Submitted by:
    Marianne Carrasco
    Principal Investigator


    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    Mark your calendars!

    We've got a big day coming up next Saturday, April 17th!

    We'll be meeting at the Metcalf Hodges building on Holly St. in Bellingham for training starting at 10 am. 

    Mariann will be instructing the training for new volunteers and has requested that all current volunteers attend in preparation for the upcoming season.  It will be a good opportunity to get new information, learn the new protocols and advances in communication. There's no charge for current members of the WMMSN just bring in your binders. New volunteers, please visit for details on registration and charges.  Basic responder kits are ready and will be available for purchase at this training. This session is scheduled to run until 1 pm.

    Immediately following, we will have a potluck luncheon, so bring your favorite dish to share.

    Then after lunch we are going to continue and have our April general meeting.  This month Mike Etnier, our Director of Necropsy, will be giving a presentation on aging whale teeth.

    Share a love for marine mammals?  Thinking of getting involved?  Now is a great time to volunteer and get in on this upcoming training.  Contact Bob Ryerson, our Volunteer Coordinator at to register or check our volunteer page at for more information. 

    Principal Investigator, Mariann Carrasco, is currently attending the National Marine Mammal Conference.  Join us on the WMMSN Facebook page and get the current updates from her trip.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    The Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network Blog has a new home

    The WMMSN-blog has a new home on blogger!  Please update your bookmarks to our new URL:

    Due to some technical difficulties, we have started a new blog for WMMSN.  Please follow us here for all the latest news from the members of the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

    Click here to return to our website!

    Thursday, March 18, 2010


    Bellingham kicked off its Saint Patrick's Day celebrations a little early this year with its first annual Saint Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 13th. Starting at noon, the streets were lined with cheering crowds as the parade worked its way up Cornwall Avenue and on through downtown Bellingham. Helping to spread awareness of the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network within our community, stranding response team members Trisha, Rose and Julie carried the banner for the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network along the parade route.

    Followed by the Bellingham Roller Betties, we certainly heard lots of applause and cheers. Everyone loves a parade!

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Free Coffee Fundraiser

    Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network (WMMSN) members Danielle and Carley are shown here staffing the free coffee kiosk for the WSDOT free coffee program at the northbound Interstate 5 Bow Hill rest area.

    There all weekend from Friday at noon until 2:00 a.m. Monday morning, WMMSN members and friends took turns staffing the booth and serving up free coffee and cookies. A big thank you to all the volunteers, and friends of volunteers, that helped us plan this fundraiser and staff the booth, and a special thank you to all those drivers that stopped by to meet us and helped fill our donations jar. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Rose Lavoie
    WMMSN, Director of Volunteers

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 website news

    If you've visited us at lately, you may have noticed some changes in the works.  It's true.  We've been working to improve your experience on our website!   

    Today I'm happy to announce that you can now donate to receive your very own Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network T-shirt through the "donate" page on our website! 

    Wear your heart on your sleeve!  Show your support for WMMSN!  With your donation of $25 you will receive 1 T-shirt or donate $35 and receive 2 T-shirts!
    These T-shirts are pre-shrunk, 100% organic cotton in light blue and feature a Walking Whales design on the front with the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network logo on the back.
    Front View
    Back view
    If you have any suggestions of things you'd like to see on the website, find any problems or errors, or if you have pictures you'd like to contribute, please let me know. 


    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Help Us Help Marine Mammals

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    General Meeting Minutes

    Date: January 6, 2010

    Location: Metcalf Hodges Accounting Firm conference room

    Meeting called to order at: 6:30pm (1830hrs)

    People present at Meeting: Mariann Carrasco, Bob Ryerson, Lori Crawford, Heather Harris, Victoria Souze, Sonia Hurt, Edradine Hovde, Christi Spangler, Claudia Olejniczak, Steve (new volunteer helping Bob with Education)

    Unanimous approval to accept minutes from past meeting

    Treasury report (Lori Crawford): Currently have around $500.

    Old Minutes:

    In the absence of Trisha, Sonia will look into the Rest stop with WDOT and the Boundary Bay Brewery date for confirmation. Apparently the Rest Stop location and date has not been reserved as Trisha had informed us. Claudia will go to the DOT office in B’ham on Tues, the 12th at 8:00 am and pick a lottery ticket, at which time she can select a rest stop and date, as this is the only way the rest stops can be reserved. Discussion on types of fundraisers ensued. Julie brought up the type recommended by Susan Howlett, who teaches fundraising classes, which involves finding a host to have a “wine & cheese” type party where they invite their friends willing to donate around $100 each and listen to someone from our group talk for a few minutes about the WMMSN. Susan says these types of fundraisers are the most effective. We explored that a bit given that auction-type fundraisers are a lot of work, and maybe we don’t need that much money right away. We may pursue that type in the future.

    Sonia will be notifying everyone of a fundraising committee meeting to come up soon.

    Lori mentioned that if we were able to come up with a few large contributions from corporate donors, we may be good for 2010.

    New Minutes:

    · Bob brought up an e-course put on by the SeaDoc society about Healthy ecosystems.

    · Mariann talked about the MMSN conference in April and wanted to see if anyone would be going. Mariann may try to go.

    · Julie mentioned that she is organizing a training with the San Juan MMSN. They would provide training on taking care of seal pups for the first 24 hours before transferring to SJMMSN. We figured one day she could come to Bham and teach us this spring, and then one day we would go to SJMMSN to help with actual pups, so we get some hands on training. Julie will get back to us on arrangements for those interested.

    · It was suggested that occasional descriptions of an incident could be put on the website to educate those that haven’t been out much. Mariann volunteered to do the first one.

    · Website: Christi to add a donations page, and get it set up for accepting donations and getting a t-shirt. Mariann to send Christi pics of T-shirts. We commissioned Bob to do color prints of about 4-5 species of MM found in our area, so that we can sell them on the website and at auctions. All of us to send him pics of our favorite MMs. These prints can also be part of an “Adopt-a-MM” program that Victoria will start up, and go with any “kits” that are sold along with that animal.

    · Header of minutes will include website address. All meeting minutes will be posted on our website for those interested.

    · Christi says we are averaging about 35 hits per week on our website.

    · We will hold out next MMSN training on April 17, 2010 at 10:00 am, location TBA.

    · Mike to get back to us on when we can hold our next necropsy training. Since we received permits from scientists requesting get organ parts of all species that are stranded, it is becoming clear that we all need more necropsy training, especially in regards to protocols for labeling, shipping, etc. Training would be ideal if it were held in the spring.

    · Board meeting to be held next Tues, Jan. 12, 2010 at 6:30 at Pastazza Rest. (same location as previously). All board members should try to make it as we will be discussing budgets.

    · Sonia informed us that she is leaving in May, to go on a forever boat trip to Mexico and will be relinquishing her duties at that time. We will need to find a replacement for the Fundraising Chairperson position, so if you are interested, please let Mariann know.

    · Next meeting on Feb. 3rd, same time and place.

    Meeting adjourned: 8:05pm (2005hrs)