Sound Waters makes waves

Sound Waters University is an opportunity for participants to learn about everything environmental in the space of just one day.

The annual conference exploring the Salish Sea and its surroundings is set for Feb. 1.

Now in its 25th year, the program, hosted by volunteers from Sound Water Stewards, offers a wide variety of classes.

The first Sound Waters was a small event in Coupeville in 1994. The theme was “What About Water.”

Nowadays, about 600 people attend the one-day university.

Anne Cushing Post, one of the organizers, said over 75 percent of classes are new this year, including sessions on electric cars, climate change, birds and earthquakes. There are 60 classes total, taught by 72 instructors. Exhibits can be viewed all day.

Located in South Whidbey High School, the event runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., including lunch and breaks.

Keynote speaker John Calambokidis will present his research on humpback and gray whales and the new threats they are facing in his presentation, “A Sea of Change.”

Calambokidis draws from more than 30 years of research into these massive mammals. His work has been featured on National Geographic, BBC and Animal Planet. He has also written for more than 140 scientific publications and two books.

In addition, Heide Island, a professor at Pacific University in Oregon, will share her research of Whidbey Island river otters, and she will also explain how to get involved with the next phase of her future research.

Other classes will explore electrosmog, underwater eelgrass meadows, beavers, beneficial insects in the garden, bull kelp and much more.

Registration for Sound Waters University opens Dec. 28. Cushing Post said the event sold out last year in mid-January, so online registration is recommended since tickets are not being sold at the doors.

Tickets are $60. For students, teachers and AmeriCorps volunteers, tickets are $30.