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ACTIVITIES | July 4th calendar of events [3] ARTS | Beatles cover band comes to Orcas [11] COMMUNITY | Jane Barfoot-Hodde to celebrate 100th birthday [13]


Serving Orcas, Lopez and San Juan County

Hiking, biking and more Look for the Parks and Trails guide inside this edition

WEDNESDAY, July 3, 2013  VOL. 46, NO. 27  75¢

Predator of the deep Stranded sixgill shark offers scientists a ‘rare’ find by SCOTT RASMUSSEN

Journal of the San Juans Editor

Sharalyn Lehma/Contributed photo

Children gather around the 12-foot sixgill shark that washed ashore in Argyle Lagoon on San Juan Island. Sixgills, also known as cow sharks, are deep water creatures at home in the outer ocean at depths as great as 3,000 feet. It is slow-moving yet deadly.

Teachable moments come along all the time for scientists conducting summer classes at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs. But few like this. The lab’s biological preserve at San Juan Island’s Argyle Lagoon became a makeshift laboratory Wednesday afternoon, June 26, after a call came in that a 12-foot-long sixgill shark had washed up on the beach. Students and instructors bundled up a batch of scientific equipment and exited the marine facility en masse, according to biologist Adam Summers, a shark specialist and associate director of the lab’s comparative biomechanics department. “This was beyond a rare opportunity,” he said. “It’s just a very big animal to have washed up on the beach in this area, and one that had just died.” Jenny Atkinson can’t

recall a single sixgill stranding incident in the San Juans during her tenure as director of the Friday Harbor Whale Museum, which operates the local Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Sixgills, also known as cow sharks, are deep-water creatures, at home in the outer ocean at depths as great as 3,000 feet. The name reflects its distinctive feature, as all other sharks have five gills. Slow-moving yet deadly, they prey on large fish and other sharks by methodically sidling up next to an intended target and then attacking with an enormous burst of speed. Lopez Island’s Gene Helfman, professor emeritus at the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology, said that because sixgills live at such great depths not a lot is known about their behaviors. However, he said the prevailing theory is that females venture into shallow and protected inland

More deputies on patrol for July Fourth Sheriff reminds islanders that personal fireworks are illegal The Fourth of July holiday is coming soon and with it comes increased celebrations on land and on the water. In order to keep people safe throughout the long holiday weekend, the Sheriff ’s Office will be fielding extra deputies to focus on problems associated with the consumption of alcohol. Emphasis patrols will be on the road to detect and arrest DUIs in conjunction with the Target

Zero Campaign through the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission. Deputies will be on alert for dangerous driving behaviors in efforts to prevent crashes, said Sheriff Rob Nou in a recent press release. Underage drinking will also be an area of special attention, particularly during and after the professional fireworks displays on San Juan at Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor, Orcas at both Eastsound and Deer Harbor and Lopez on Fisherman’s Bay. On the water, marine patrols will be out throughout the holiday weekend. Emphasized areas on the water will be BUIs and use of life jackets and providing information on new and

changed boating laws, said Nou. Nou also wants to remind islanders that personal fireworks are prohibited. The only lawful fireworks in San Juan County are the professional pyrotechnic shows. Local fire departments will be assisting law enforcement in reminding people that personal fireworks are not allowed “Please enjoy the professional shows and avoid the potential hazards of fire and life safety associated with personal fireworks,” Nou said. “Enjoy the holiday and all that the islands offer in helping to enjoy and celebrate the birth of our nation. We will be working hard to keep things safe and prevent any tragedies.”

waters of Puget Sound to give birth. Helfman noted that a 14-foot-long female sixgill was carrying 80 embryos, or “pups,” as they’re called, when it washed up on a beach near Shelton in 2007. It died shortly after it stranded. Females can store sperm from multiple males and then give birth to a litter of pups that have a different genetic makeup from their siblings, he noted. Back at Argyle Lagoon, Summers said that the call the labs received suggested the massive female might still be alive and that it may be carrying “pups.” Its body appeared to be completely intact. Although neither suggestion turned out to be true, he said that post-mortem twitching of nerves was


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Islands' Sounder, July 03, 2013  
Islands' Sounder, July 03, 2013  

July 03, 2013 edition of the Islands' Sounder