Quakers’ racial justice virtual forum tonight

  WHATCOM — Bellingham Quakers host a community-wide forum starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, to talk about how to nurture racial justice in the local environment.

  The Whatcom Racial Justice Panel on Zoom invites a creative, collaborative discussion about policing reform, community priorities and how to nurture racial justice in this historic moment, according to publicity.

  The link to join the forum is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89368508587 People are encouraged to join the call around 6:45 p.m. so the forum can start on time. The whole event will be recorded and posted online afterwards, so anyone who misses the live version can still watch it. The link for the recording will be posted at https://bellinghamfriends.org/ as soon as possible after the forum.

  Panelists include County Executive Satpal Sidhu; Rosalinda Guillén of Community to Community, an organization advocating for food security and immigrant rights; Bellingham Deputy Police Chief Flo Simon; Shirley Williams of Lummi Nation and White Swan Environmental; and Jonathan Randolph, founder of startup Monumental Onyx and professional singer. J. Lee Cook of Bellingham Friends Meeting (Quakers) will moderate the event, which will include an opportunity for audience members to make comments and ask questions after panel presentations and discussion.

  Quakers believe in “a divine spark” within each person and offer this idea as a starting point for communication and creative problem-solving. Deep listening allows understanding and acceptance of change. The goal of the forum is to enhance dialogue and promote peacemaking and fairness.

  For more information, contact Virginia Herrick at virginiafherrick@gmail.com or Allen Stockbridge at 360-223-8346.


Beach shellfish not safe to eat

   WHATCOM — Paralytic shellfish poisoning biotoxin increased last week to dangerous levels in mussels in Whatcom County, with levels capable of causing illness detected from Lummi Bay north to the Canadian border.

  Biotoxin levels exceed safe harvest limits for all molluscan shellfish species on all county beaches, and recreational harvest of shellfish was closed by the Washington State Department of Health.

  “These levels of PSP biotoxin in mussels are very unusual and very concerning. The amount of biotoxin found in some recent samples of mussels is potentially deadly,” warned Whatcom County health officer Dr. Greg Stern. “People who consume PSP-contaminated shellfish are risking their lives.”

  PSP biotoxin causes symptoms including tingling of the lips and tongue, which may begin within minutes of eating toxic shellfish or may take an hour or two to develop. Symptoms progress to tingling of fingers and toes and then loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty in breathing. Some people feel nauseous or experience a sense of floating. If a person consumes enough toxin, muscles of the chest and abdomen become paralyzed, including muscles used for breathing, and the victim can suffocate. Death from Paralytic Shellfish Poison has occurred in less than 30 minutes. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.

  Algae that contain marine biotoxins cannot be seen and must be detected by laboratory testing. During a biotoxin event, mussels and varnish clams usually contain the highest toxin concentration. PSP and other naturally occurring biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. Crab meat is not affected, but “crab butter” and crab entrails can harbor biotoxins so they should always be discarded.

  Shellfish sold in restaurants and retail markets have been tested before distribution and are safe to eat.

  Biotoxin levels can change rapidly. Shellfish harvesters should check for current biotoxin and pollution closures at the Washington State Shellfish Safety Map (www.doh.wa.gov/shellfishsafety) or call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State.


You can help track marine shoreline life via iNaturalist

   WHATCOM — Community members are invited to become science volunteers as part of the newest project by the North Sound Stewards Program organized by the Whatcom Marine Resources Committee and RE Sources.

  The program uses iNaturalist, a free app and web page online crowdsourcing and social network.

  Community members can share their observations along Whatcom County’s marine shorelines, get help identifying plants and animals and create research-quality data for scientists. iNaturalist is built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe.

  To join, first create an account on iNaturalist using the instructions provided, then navigate to Community > Projects and search or navigate to “Whatcom Marine Shoreline Summer Observation.” Click on the project page, then join.

  This project is open now through Sept. 7. The site’s “About” section includes suggestions for locations to conduct observations, but the project includes every marine shoreline in Whatcom County.

  “During a summer where we are limited in how we can gather in groups on the beach, this is a fun and educational way for folks to still get involved while collecting valuable species data,” said Eleanor Hines, Marine Resources Committee chair. “Just please make sure that you are following all current safety and physical distancing guidelines.”

  For questions, email Kaylene Riehle, North Sound Stewards intern, Whatcom Marine Resources Committee.