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Padilla Bay newsletter

Our e-newsletter is published quarterly with current events, articles, and program information.
Coleen Ebright, Volunteer with the Padilla Bay research and monitoring team counting zooplankton under microscope

The Plankton Counter

Curiosity and dedication: these two words describe Colleen Ebright, a longtime volunteer with the Padilla Bay research and monitoring team. Colleen has been identifying and counting zooplankton with Padilla Bay researchers for over four years. Throughout this time she has spent hours and hours upon even more hours staring through a microscope — adjusting the light here, taking a picture there, and always counting, counting, counting. Though it can be tedious she keeps things fresh with her curiosity. Who is this new plankter? Why are there so many annelid worms? Why is the plankton so different this year?

Always interested in things marine, Colleen spent many years in Hawaii wearing many hats. She was a boat captain for a glass bottom boat and whale watching company. She was a naturalist for Hawaii Forest and Trails where she got to show off the waterfalls and volcanoes. She dove with whale sharks and listened to singing humpback whales. And if that’s not enough to make you jealous, she worked in a breeding nursery for seahorses.

Microscopic image of a Monstrillodia Copepod

The beauty of Hawaii and its tropical charisma hasn’t jaded Colleen to our temperate critters. When asked what her favorite zooplankton is. . .long pause…the wheels are spinning and images are flashing…what will she decide…Monstrillodia copepods! These bizarre copepods are parasites in marine worms, and only swim through the water column as adults looking for love. Their mysterious nature and distorted bodies are the apple of Colleen’s eye.

Thanks for your dedication, Colleen, and for keeping all us number-crunchers curious.     — Nicole Burnett, Padilla Bay lab manager

Drawing of Hawaiian hut with palm trees

Taste of Padilla Bay

Enjoy our annual dinner and auction on Saturday, August 11, 2018. This year’s benefit fund-raiser will support education programs at Padilla Bay. We will be serving a sumptuous summer buffet with tastes of the cuisine of Hawaii as we recognize our newest Reserve. Our event features both a silent and live auction. The event will be outdoors under canopies and in the historic Breazeale Farm Barn. For more details and ticket information contact:

Padilla Bay Foundation.


Dr. Lucas Hart, Northwest Straits Commission Director

Northwest Straits Commission announces new Director        

The Northwest Straits Commission is pleased to announce that Dr. Lucas Hart was recently selected as our new director. Dr. Hart has been with the Commission for the past three years serving as the Marine Program Manager. He brings a wealth of skills and experience to the role of director. A marine scientist and outstanding communicator, he has served in volunteer positions with Puget Sound conservation organizations, including the Jefferson Marine Resources Committee. Commission Chair Nan McKay said, "Members of the Commission look forward to Lucas' leadership and to working with him to advance the goals of the Northwest Straits Initiative."
Please join us in welcoming Lucas as the new director!


Sea Lemon hitching a ride on a Keyhole Limpet.

When life gives you sea lemons...

…Come to Padilla Bay Breazeale Center and check them out! The Monterey Sea lemon or Doris montereyensis is a type of nudibranch, a sea slug roughly the same size, color, and shape of a lemon. Sea lemons even produce a fruity odor along with an acidic flavor to ward off predators.

And that’s not all! These bright yellow sea slugs have a couple more tricks up their sleeves (or gills). Sea lemons are hermaphroditic, meaning each one can produce both eggs and sperm, allowing them to mate with any nearby sea lemon. This is useful since sea lemons only live about one year and must mate quickly. They lay up to 2,000,000 pale yellow eggs that stick together in a large ribbon.

At Padilla Bay we find sea lemons around the oyster beds at Bay View State Park, munching on bread crumb sponge. Like most nudibranchs, sea lemons have a radula, a tongue like structure covered in tiny teeth to scrape food off rocks. Combine that with two chemical sensing rhinophores (rod-shaped antennae) on the tops of their heads and a plume of feather-like gills on their backs, and you’ll agree sea lemons quite the sight to see. This one is hitching a ride on a keyhole limpet.


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