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Author: Christopher Dunagan

Add-on structure will begin to address steelhead crisis at the Hood Canal Bridge

The Hood Canal Bridge, which connects the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas, has proven to be a dangerous impediment to juvenile steelhead trout. As many as half of the young migratory steelhead in Hood Canal may get picked off by seals, birds and other predators as the fish try to pass under the floating highway, according …

New film about spring Chinook delves into history, culture and science in unique habitats

A new film, titled “The Lost Salmon,” opens with a video montage that takes us through some wondrous scenes: A wide aerial shot of California’s majestic Salmon River, moving to an underwater view of salmon swimming through the clear water and then to an action spectacle of wild salmon practically flying through the air to …

New orca calf confirmed amid serious health concerns and actions to protect the whales

A surprise visit by K pod on Saturday near Vancouver Island led to the official confirmation of a new orca calf born into the Southern Resident killer whale community. The new calf, designated K45, is the second baby born to the Southern Residents this year, as recorded by the Center for Whale Research, which maintains …

Green crabs in Hood Canal raise questions about invasion; further response is coming

For the past six years, a volunteer crew has been diligently visiting Nick’s Lagoon near Seabeck on Hood Canal, checking the waters for the destructive European green crab. The three citizen scientists have caught and released lots of native crabs — including thousands of hairy shore crabs. But, until May of this year, they never …

BPA toxicity debate approaches regulatory decisions at both state and federal levels

As Washington state authorities get ready to ban the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from drink cans and customer sales receipts, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has agreed to take a fresh look at the potential dangers of BPA. Washington Department of Ecology has issued its “Regulatory Determinations to the Legislature,” which specifies that safer …

New Puget Sound Action Agenda will include revised ‘targets’ to express recovery goals

UPDATE, TUESDAY, MAY 17 / WEDNESDAY, MAY 18 Environmental review has been completed for the draft 2022-2026 Puget Sound Action Agenda, and the Puget Sound Partnership announced a public comment period for the SEPA checklist (PDF 818 kb) and determination of nonsignificance (PDF 134 kb), as required by the State Environmental Policy Act. Comments will …

Governor’s renewed salmon strategy faces decisive period in the current Legislature

State legislation designed to enhance salmon habitat by requiring protective buffers along streams has been set aside pending further discussions over the coming year. Meanwhile, several other salmon-protection measures proposed by the governor could move forward with decisive funding from the Legislature. The buffer bill (HB 1838), named the Lorraine Loomis Act, would prohibit degradation …

North Pacific expedition gets underway aboard four ocean-going research ships

A North Pacific research expedition is underway, with projects said to be bigger, bolder and more scientifically sophisticated than cruises in 2019 and 2020. Four research vessels carrying more than 60 scientists from various countries will span out across the Pacific Ocean to increase their understanding of salmon — including migration, environmental stresses, availability of …

Scientists look for answers in methane bubbles rising from bottom of Puget Sound

In 2011, sonar operators aboard the ocean-going Research Vessel Thomas G. Thompson inadvertently recorded a surprising natural phenomenon, as the 274-foot ship traversed through Puget Sound while returning to port at the University of Washington. At the time, researchers on board were focused on a host of other projects. They might not have known that …

Ecology, EPA now under the gun to adopt new water quality criteria for aquatic creatures

Long delays in updating state water-quality standards to protect orcas, fish and other aquatic species appear to have finally caught up with the Washington Department of Ecology and its federal counterpart, the Environmental Protection Agency. In a court ruling this week, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman of Seattle found that Ecology has “abdicated its duties” …

Understanding the cold-water needs of salmon and helping them to survive

Salmon need cold water. This general statement is something I’ve been hearing since I first began reporting on these amazing migrating fish years ago. Cold water is a fact of life for salmon, known for their long travels up and down streams, out to saltwater and back. But colder is not always better. Questions about …

Recovery of Puget Sound species could hinge on better understanding of ecosystems

A recent report from the Puget Sound Partnership helps us understand the difficulty of restoring the Puget Sound ecosystem. What caught my attention in the State of the Sound report was that after 20 years of protecting and restoring streams, wetlands, shorelines and estuaries, we have not increased overall fish and wildlife populations, and some …