No Bull! Monitoring Kelp Via Kayak

Photo by Jim Ramaglia

Bull kelp is an important species in the Salish Sea that, like so many other species, is experiencing decline. Better policy and management are needed to better protect kelp and the fish that rely on kelp forests for survival. Marine Resources Committees, along with the Northwest Straits Initiative, Department of Natural Resources, Puget Sound Restoration Fund, and others are working to fill data gaps within Puget Sound using citizen science. By using local paddlers on the water and comparing imagery from drones, planes, and satellite, we are better able to understand the changes that are occurring in our kelp beds on the regional scale. Partners are also exploring other opportunities such as developing protocols to examine the morphometrics of kelp. Each year, thanks to our volunteer citizen scientists, we are able to enhance our citizen science protocols and able to provide clearer data to resource agencies to inform future management plans.

About the Speaker

Eleanor Hines
Eleanor Hines, Dana Oster and Austin Rose
Whatcom County MRC (Marine Resources Committee)

Eleanor Hines is the chair and scientific interest seat on the Whatcom Marine Resources Committee. She has volunteered with the Committee for over ten year and participates in many of their citizen science projects like bull kelp, forage fish, intertidal, European green crab, and water quality monitoring. In her day job, she is the North Sound Baykeeper, lead scientist at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. She has a B.S. and M.Sc. in Environmental Science from Huxley College at Western Washington University where her focus was on Environmental Toxicology.

Dana Oster is the marine program manager with the Northwest Straits Commission. She has a background in coastal geomorphology and nearshore oceanography. She earned a B.S. in Geology from Bates College, and a M.Sc. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia. Dana has worked as an environmental consultant in Vancouver BC, and most recently was assisting with the nearshore program at the Northwest Straits Foundation, and she is very excited to be a part of the Initiative!

Eleanor and Dana will be joined by Austin Rose (Whatcom County Public Works and the Whatcom MRC).


The Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee (MRC) is one of seven citizen-based committees in the Northwest Straits region to address marine issues. The MRCs’ purpose is to guide local communities, using up-to-date information and scientific expertise, to achieve the important goals of resource conservation and habitat protection within the Northwest Straits. The mission of the Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee is revitalizing and preserving Whatcom County marine resources for future generations. 

Established by Congress in 1998, the Northwest Straits Initiative includes the 13-member Northwest Straits Commission and Marine Resources Committees in Clallam, Island, Jefferson, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties. The Initiative provides a “bottom-up”, local approach to protecting and restoring local marine resources with active citizen involvement.

Environmental Speaker Series

The Environmental Speaker Series is hosted by the College of the Environment at Western Washington University.

The Series is free and open to the public. Talks are held each Thursday at 4:30 pm in Academic Instructional Center West room 204 - AW-204. Talks will also be streamed via zoom. Register with the Alumni Association for the zoom link. Paid parking is available in lot C.

Learn more about the Environmental Speaker Series
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