Brian Atwater and the Orphan Tsunami of 1700

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Katsushika Hokusai’s Iconic 1830’s Painting, “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa”

The Tillamook Bay Watershed Council (TBWC) and Pelican Brewing Company are pleased to announce the return of world-renowned geologist Brian Atwater to Tillamook County for a special event next Monday evening at the Bay City Arts Center. Atwater is best known for discovering geologic evidence of past subduction-zone earthquakes, and for connecting that evidence to historical records of trans-Pacific tsunamis in Japan. He co-authored a professional paper in 2005 that told the story of the “Orphan Tsunami of 1700,” connecting his scientific work in North America with accounts written by Samurai, merchants and villagers in 18th-century Japan. It’s a gripping detective story, and one that has major relevance to the people of Tillamook County. Atwater’s work has contributed significantly to our understanding of subduction-zone quakes and the resulting tsunamis, and has influenced policy and emergency preparedness strategies.

 

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Geologist Brian Atwater in the tidal wetlands where evidence of earthquakes and resulting tsunamis has been uncovered. Courtesy of Brian Atwater, USGS.

 

            Join the TBWC next Monday, June 12th, from 6:30PM to 8:00PM at the Bay City Arts Center to hear the whole story and to understand how these important discoveries affect all of us who live on the Oregon Coast. Pelican Brewing will provide beer, and the TBWC will serve light refreshments. Admission is free and open to the public, but donations will be gladly accepted.

            The Tillamook Bay Watershed Council is a local not-for-profit organization building collaborative, voluntary partnerships with communities and landowners. Its mission is to protect, maintain and improve the health of our watershed through on-the-ground restoration projects, educational outreach programs, and other community-engagement activities. This event represents a new partnership with Pelican Brewing to offer a series of public events that promote awareness of watershed issues.

 

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This picture map from 1687, with a symmetrical Mount Fuji, shows a pine-covered spit where a tsunami was noted in January 1700, but with no apparent earthquake. Courtesy of the East Asia Collection, University of California, Berkeley.

 

A Report from Tillamook’s 53rd Annual Christmas Bird Count

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John P. counts huge flocks of waterfowl and shorebirds at Kilchis Point while Denise H. writes it all down. If you are curious about our local birds, don’t miss next year’s Christmas Bird Count!

Our Council members spend a lot of time in and around the Tillamook Bay, which means we are always surrounded by birds. We recognize some of them on sight: bald eagles, red tailed hawks, great blue herons, as well as local favorites, like the great egret and the white tailed kite. We are familiar with several of the many different duck species that frequent our bay: mallards, buffleheads, goldeneyes. But there are dozens of species that fly or swim by us that get lumped into broad categories like “gulls” or “shore birds.” Even experienced birders can be daunted by the number of species, especially given their seasonal changes in plumage. So when our Council Coordinator got the chance to participate in the 53rd Annual Christmas Bird Count on Tillamook Bay, he jumped at the chance, even if it required a pre-dawn meeting on a cold winter’s day. Here’s Rob’s report from December 17th, 2016:

Our team met at the Tillamook Denny’s at 6:30AM. It was still dark, but a fresh layer of snow made everything seem brighter, and colder! Denise H. and I were paired with a master birder named John P. who has been doing bird counts for over 40 years. We knew we were in for a real education, and it sure turned out that way.

We launched the boat at Park’s Landing on the lower Kilchis and floated out to Hathaway Slough and Kilchis Point. It snowed periodically, which added a magical quality to the morning. We made several stops on gravel bars to set up the spotting scope, where John counted literally thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds. From there we proceeded to Bay City, counting as we went, and arrived at Pacific Oyster just in time for lunch. Then we climbed back in the boat and motored across the bay to the Bayocean side. This was important because there were birds that John knew would be associated with the eel grass beds in the middle and West bay. Then we made our way up to Dick Point and the Picket Fence, where we crossed back to the east side and explored the massive delta of the Kilchis, Wilson and Trask. Since the Southern Flow Corridor project had mostly finished, we were able to enter Blind Slough for the first time–very exciting. And we were all blown away by the beauty of the newly-connected tidal channel. Our team ended the day at Memaloose Point with over 8,000 birds counted, representing 65 species. There were 14 other birders who participated–a total of 17. Between all of us we counted 27,381 birds of 121 species. A few points of interest from the organizer, Owen Schmidt: The biggest news was the Hooded Oriole coming to the Tweelinckx’s in the Village of Meares and staying at least until Count Day.  Not everyone who stopped by saw the bird, which had been coming daily but stayed only briefly.  The bird was photographed in the days prior to the Count and appears on eBird lists. Say’s Phoebe was seen for only the third time, a single bird near the Air Museum.  A total. of 13 Western Bluebirds from 2 locations set a new high Count record.  Great Egrets continue to grow in their winter numbers with 114 birds from several locations.

Click here to see a PDF of the complete species list and tally from the 53rd Tillamook CBC:

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For more information about the Tillamook Bay CBC, contact the compiler, Owen Schmidt, at (503) 789-4854, oschmidt@att.net.

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A Western Bluebird poses for a snapshot near the Tillamook Air Museum. Owen Schmidt photo. Thank, Owen!

Heroic Efforts at the 2016 Tillamook Bay Cleanup

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Over 100 volunteers filled the Bay City Arts Center on Saturday, April 23rd for the Tillamook Bay Spring Cleanup and after-party. Between 2 and 3 tons of garbage were pulled out of the estuary over the course of five hours. Hundreds of filled trash bags lined highway 101 and the Cape Meares Loop until our crew of drivers rounded them up and piled them at strategic locations around the bay. It was an outpouring of effort and support beyond our wildest dreams, and solid proof of the generosity of the communities surrounding Tillamook Bay. Thank you volunteers and sponsors! And a BIG thanks to Pelican Brewing, Fat Dog Pizza, Pacific Oyster, Hook, Line & Sinker, Barview Jetty Store,  and our musical guests Benny and the Bay City Rockers for making the after-party one to remember! Let’s do it again in 2018…

The Biggest Bay Cleanup in a Decade!

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Tillamook Bay is getting cleaned up this year with the help of volunteers, private landowners, local businesses, SOLVE and local non-profit organizations. The Tillamook Bay Watershed Council, Tillamook Estuaries Partnership and Tillamook County Solid Waste Department are pleased to announce plans for the 2016 Tillamook Bay Cleanup, scheduled for Earth Day, April 23rd from 8:30AM to 2:30PM.

Volunteers will gather at the Bay City Arts Center at 8:30AM for a kick-off meeting with complimentary coffee and snacks. Eight teams will be formed, each with a local team-leader who will assist volunteers, ensure safe handling of hazardous waste, and steer teams away from private property. Garbage will be staged at a number of sites around the bay for pick-up by truck and boat. Cleanup teams will return to the Arts Center at 2:30PM, and the event will culminate in an after-party from 2:30pm to 5:00PM. Locally-made food and drink will be provided by Pacific Seafood, Pelican Brewing, Barview Jetty Store, Fat Dog Pizza and the Hook, Line & Sinker.

The last major cleanup effort on Tillamook Bay was back in 2006, so this event is long overdue. Volunteers can expect large amounts of floating debris including plastic bottles, flip-flops, shotgun shells and styrofoam. A similar effort on the Nehalem Bay in 2015 brought in 2.4 tons of trash, including 915 pounds of recyclable or re-useable material. The Tillamook Bay Cleanup is a family-friendly event, with a number of cleanup routes that will be appropriate for kids who are accompanied by an adult.

Local sponsors for the 2016 Tillamook Bay Cleanup include City Sanitary Service, the Bay City Arts Center, Pacific Seafood, Pelican Brewing, Tillamook County Creamery Association, Blue Heron French Cheese Company, Tillamook Headlight Herald, Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Barview Jetty Store, Elevate Yoga & Fitness Studio, Five Rivers Coffee Roasting, Garibaldi Charters, Hook Line & Sinker, US Coast Guard, and Tillamook High School. The list of sponsors keeps growing, and more are always welcome.

Volunteers are encouraged to register on the SOLVE website, solveoregon.org or call SOLVE at (503) 844-9751 ext. 321, or 1-800-333-SOLV(7658).

To become a team-leader or sponsor, or for more information please contact: Robert Russell, TBWC Coordinator, 503-322-0002, or via email at tillamookbaywatershedcouncil@gmail.com

Bay Cleanup Map Updated