By Bob McChesney
Executive Director, Port of Edmonds
On any given day, visitors to the Port of Edmonds marina can see blue herons, bald eagles, kingfishers, terns, ducks and, of course, seagulls. In addition, there are sea otters, harbor seals and even the occasional orca whale waiting for the dedicated wildlife watcher. Our marine shoreline is home to countless animals, sea creatures and birds. (There are some 225 species of birds that visit the Edmonds Marsh each year, for example.)
In some cases, this abundance of wildlife comes with a cost. Here at the marina, sea otters and certain species of birds cause problems ranging from simply being a nuisance to creating a health hazard. Sometimes their interaction with the manmade environment can even endanger their own lives.
At the Port, we are dedicated to preserving the many species that share our chosen corner of the planet. From the outset, one of the prime tenets of the Port of Edmonds’ mission has been environmental stewardship. We insist that any impact we have works to improve the environment or—at a minimum—to be ecologically neutral. When birds and otters leave their “calling cards,” we hose down the docks to keep the area clean and disease free. Through an ongoing boater education campaign, we encourage our marina tenants to do the same.
Sea otters, as cute as they are, can be incredibly destructive to parts of the marina infrastructure. Besides that, their droppings are both messy and unattractive, and they present a very real health hazard. We are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a cooperative services agreement to solve the problem in a humane and natural way. Recently, for example, we were able to participate in a live trapping program where the otters were harmlessly captured and relocated far from the Port of Edmonds — in this case, to New Mexico. It is unlikely that these otters will be returning, but more significantly, the local reproducing population has been scaled back.
Blue herons and other nesting birds are discouraged from building their nests atop electrical transformers or in the girders of the dock roofs. We are careful to do so before there are eggs in the nests, thus not interrupting the birds’ natural cycles.
At the Port of Edmonds, we are constantly aware that these magnificent shorelines are a special—and fragile—place. We work daily to keep it that way, for our tenants, our visitors and for our wildlife friends.