Employee culture related articles such as food bank donation, holiday parties and the Lynker flag photo contest.

Lynker in the News – Seattle Times: Tribe calls for NOAA to help rescue two ailing orcas, but scientists sent home during government shutdown

Killer whales K25 and J17 were reported to be in an unhealthy condition earlier this month.

Image caption: J17 rolls on her side, showing the dramatic constriction in the shape of her neck, which should be a smooth line. The so-called peanut head is a sign of starvation in killer whales. (Center for Whale Research. Taken Dec. 31, 2018 in Haro Strait near Victoria. Center for Whale Research under DFO SARA permit 38)

The Lummi Nation urged federal officials Wednesday to launch an emergency response to help two ailing southern-resident killer whales — but how do you call for help?

The unprecedented government shutdown, continuing into its fourth week, has stymied any attempt by the tribe or veterinarians ready to help killer whales K25 and J17, among the 75 remaining southern residents that frequent Puget Sound.

The policy makers and scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who would approve and coordinate any such response, such as for the emergency rescue plan for J50 last summer, are unavailable during the shutdown.

The emergency stranding network operated by non-federal personnel under contract to NOAA is continuing to operate, said Lauren DeMaio, the marine-mammal-stranding assistant under contract for Lynker Technologies.

The tribe urges that what was learned in the planning to rescue J50 could be deployed now, before it is too late. “We must act now if we are to save two of our ailing relatives,” Lawrence Solomon, secretary of the Lummi Nation, wrote to Kristin Wilkinson, NOAA’s regional stranding coordinator for Washington and Oregon. The tribe considers the orcas family members.

“It’s very frustrating,” DeMaio said. “Everyone wants to be working. Unfortunately we are not all allowed to work.”

Wilkinson’s email indicated she is unavailable during the shutdown. The one available public-information officer at NOAA for the entire agency could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Marty Haulena, staff veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium who helped with the emergency response for J50, said vets are willing to help but need permission to do so from NOAA, and a plan.

“We have been putting our heads together,” Haulena said. “But we are a bit stuck.”

Why the animals are thin is not known — and that is part of what a veterinary assessment could learn. It may or may not be a matter of not having enough to eat; there could be another cause, such as disease, Haulena said.

This would be an even harder rescue than with 3-year-old J50, Haulena said, because they would be working with big adults, one of them a male, rather than a 3-year old — itself an unprecedented effort. In addition, at this time of year the whales also are often inaccessible in winter weather, on the open sea along the West Coast.

Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Research, was the first to announce the two whales’ thin condition after seeing them New Year’s Eve. Since then, J17 has further declined, Balcomb said.

“She’s going to die. There’s no doubt. I don’t know when, but we are going to lose her,” he said Wednesday.

J17 is the matriarch in her family and the mother of J35, or Tahlequah, the orca who raised worldwide concern when she carried her dead calf last year refusing to let it go for more than 1,000 miles. J17 plays an important role finding and sharing food with the rest of her family. A key provider, losing her hunting prowess could hurt the rest of her family, the Lummi Nation warned in its letter.

K25 is actually looking better, Balcomb said. “He appears to be holding his own, though that could change at any time.” He said a rescue plan — even if it could be put together — is impractical if not impossible, particularly at this time of year.

“The thing to do is fix this on the other end — the only savior is the food supply, get them more food.”

The southern residents eat mostly chinook, the fattiest salmon of all, though in the winter as much as half their diet can be chum and other salmon.

The Lummis urged action. “We all have a sacred obligation to take action, now, and we need your help and support to save our relatives.”

Lynker drives implementation of groundbreaking American Samoa Ocean Plan (ASOP)

Lynker’s Sarah Pautzke (third from the right) drove the development of the American Samoa Ocean Plan (ASOP) finalized and released December 2018. Ms. Pautzke worked with a team of American Samoa Government (ASG) and federal employees and the assistance of a consultant, Miranda Foley (fourth from the left), with whom Lynker partners.  And, it was formatted and turned into its final product by another Lynker employee, Melanie Jordan. Well done!
 
The ASOP is the first ocean plan to be completed by the United States for the Western Pacific jurisdictions. The purpose of the plan is to ensure compatible ocean use and conservation of ocean resources to ensure the vibrant coastal and ocean environments.  There are several tasks that require data collection, particularly GIS data.  Please download the plan and have a think about how best Lynker can assist in accomplishing these tasks by partnering with
federal and ASG agencies.
 
The ASOP is now “owned” by the AS Department of Commerce, who is responsible for its implementation.  Thus, it is housed on the AS DOC website.
 

 

Links of importance:
Great job by our teammates!   

If you have any questions about the plan or how to use it, please reach out to Sarah Pautzke, spautzke@lynkertech.com so she can guide you to the correct person with whom to work.

Lynker’s “MacGyver” Saves the Day!

Lynker’s aquarist, Michael “MacGyver” Caban, saves the day for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Mokupāpapa Discovery Center for Hawaiʻi’s Remote Coral Reefs. He was able to diagnose and repair an expensive reverse osmosis system that is used to make water for the Mokupāpapa aquarium. The system had been tripping breakers and he knew why. The Center was looking at a $300+ diagnosis from an electrician, if they could get one, or a $3500+ shipping (100lbs) for a new system. Michael was able to use a multimeter to diagnose the system and repair the malfunctioning part. Now the Discovery Center can once again generate the water they need for water changes in the aquarium, keeping their fish healthy.

 

Lynker Education and Outreach Specialist Awarded Grand Prize in NOAA Education Photo Contest

Lynker employee, Peggy Foreman, was awarded the Grand Prize for her photo entry in the inaugural NOAA Education Photo Contest. See her winning photo below. Congrats Peggy!

6th grade students from Sacred Hearts Academy got first hand experience learning about limu (algae) in their watershed. They learned which species were native and which ones were alien and invasive. However, there is joy and satisfaction when a student wants to confirm that they have correctly identified a species as not to mistake and remove the wrong species. For many of these students, they have eaten limu but this was their first time learning about their role in the ecosystem and why removing the invasive species is critical for the nearshore habitat and barrier reefs that protect their shore and community.

Credit: Malama Maunalua and/or parent chaperone from Sacred Hearts Academy
Submitted by Peggy Foreman (NMFS)

Interactive StoryMap of the Remote Pacific – NOW LIVE

Kudos to Lynker’s Senior Science Writer/Videographer, Joey Bennington-Castro, for the launch of the Historical & Cultural Seascape of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument!

Here’s a link to it: https://arcg.is/1uCzzf

Joey created the StoryMap, using ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, and the StoryMap Map Journal app. He and our NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Region Office Communications team are working on getting it on the NOAA Fisheries website.

It’s fully interactive, so you can move around the map on the right-hand side, and the map and its content slightly changes as you move through the story. Also, all the links within the story will either change the content on the right side or take you to a different spot in the story.
Mike Tosatto, PIRO Regional Director, called it “great (as usual!)”.
According to Joey, “It was a beast of a project to work on but very satisfying in the end, and there have been calls for more such products in the future.”
Awesome work!

Lynker featured at American Geophysical Union (AGU) Meeting in Washington DC Dec 10-14 2018

Lynker team members attended the annual American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in Washington D.C. December 10-14. The Lynker team presented on several research projects including the poster below which summarizes recent work developing decision support tools for drought forecasting and monitoring.

Lynker earned NOAA’s Small Business Success Story of the Year in 2015

Lynker earned a NOAA’s Small Business Success Story of the Year in 2015. Lynker provides systems engineering, data management, GIS software development, and quality assurance support which has helped improve the accuracy, speed of processing, and distribution of critical nautical chart products to federal and commercial stakeholders. Our team built and supports NCSII (Nautical Charting System II), which is used by over 50 GIS Cartographers in OCS. The NCSII system maintains a vector nautical database which used to produce Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs). 

NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) Bottomfish Assessment IDIQ

Lynker is partnering with the Pacific Islands Fisheries Group (PIFG) on a 5-year, $3.6 million contract to conduct Independent Survey Sampling of Bottomfish in the four Main Hawaiian Islands (Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai and Niihau) under NMFS’ Cooperative Research Program (CRP).

Our support includes surveying over 300 individual sites, gear calibration, bio-sampling, and fish tagging. In addition to collecting data and specimens, our team is actively involved in local fishing community outreach and education efforts, working with the CRP to inform vessel owners, commercial and recreational fishermen, fishing clubs, and fishing organizations about how NMFS’ bottomfish-related research helps sustain and protect valuable fishing resources throughout the islands. We are proud to contribute to scientific and technical efforts as well as help drive a more collaborative approach to fisheries management in the Pacific.

NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Region Observer Program (PIROP)

Lynker is the single awardee for this program, the largest of all US Federal fisheries observer programs ($34 million over 5 years). This contract adds 60 additional qualified personnel to our team, who serve as biologists and data collectors/analysts onboard longline (tuna) and shortset (swordfish – to reopen this year) fishing vessels in the Pacific. We are deeply honored to have been selected to support the program, especially as it embraces new tools, technologies, and processes for data collection, monitoring, and reporting in the region.

Lynker in Focus: Meet Lauren DeMaio a Scientist for the Protected Resources Division

Meet Lauren DeMaio, Lynker’s scientist for the Protected Resources Division within the National Marine Fisheries Service. Lauren serves the NOAA West Coast Regional Office from southern California nine months out of the year and in Seattle, Washington the other three months of the year. Her role includes working for the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP), where she coordinates rescues and emergency responses to sick, injured, distressed, or dead sea animals for Washington, Oregon, and California.

Lauren’s job also includes quality assurance of the data from stranding events and large whale entanglements throughout the West Coast. With the large amount of stranding occurrences on the West Coast the data can be of considerable size. The large whale entanglement data includes how, where, and what gear is involved in an entanglement and is essential for management and policy decisions. In addition to her love of understanding the data and fixing data nuisances, Lauren’s role is very essential in major conservation actions.

Lauren also enjoys getting out in the field and participating in stranding necropsies or assisting the NOAA science centers in Southern Resident Killer Whale research activities. Lauren recently published a paper titled “The Evaluation of Olfaction in Stranded California Sea Lions (Zalophus califorianus) and Its Relevance to Domoic Acid Toxicosis” in the journal Aquatic Mammals. Lauren’s hard work does not go unnoticed, and Lynker is so happy to have her on our team!