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Conference highlights latest findings on toxic chemical in tires

Stacked tires. Photo: Kool Cats Photography. https://flic.kr/p/ChFgxf (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The International Conference on Emerging Contaminants (EMCON), hosted virtually this month by the University of Washington, focused on newly identified threats from chemicals and microplastics in the environment. The conference provided an opportunity to hear the latest research on the discovery of a tire-related compound deadly to Puget Sound’s coho salmon. The cause of what scientists …

Orca census shows some improvement, but many whales still die before their time

The annual census of the endangered Southern Resident killer whales, submitted yesterday to the federal government, shows three births and one death from mid-2020 to mid-2021. Along with the new census report, Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research sadly confirmed the death of L47, a 47-year-old female named Marina, who has been apparently …

Plunging into a jungle of weather statistics to find the footprints of climate change

“Augusts in Seattle are getting hotter, leading to a change of 3.5°F since 1970.” This was the sentence that caught my eye while reading an email from Peter Gerard, director of communications for Climate Central, an organization that prides itself on helping news reporters tell an accurate story of climate change. I wondered immediately: Is …

Discovery of tire-related chemical that kills coho salmon sparks widespread response

Scientists, legislators and manufacturers are responding in various ways to the recent groundbreaking discovery of a deadly chemical derived from automobile tires, a chemical that can rapidly kill coho salmon swimming in urban streams. Researchers are trying to better describe the chemical signature and biological function of the newfound chemical, 6PPD-quinone, along with related compounds. …

New NSF grant supports toxics research

Researchers at our affiliate organization the Center for Urban Waters have received a $797,107 National Science Foundation grant for the purchase of new equipment to identify toxic contaminants in Puget Sound. Ed Kolodziej is the project’s principal investigator. Co-principal investigators include David Beck, Allison Gardell, Jessica Ray, and Andy James. The funds were awarded on …

PSI Director Joel Baker elected to Washington State Academy of Sciences

Puget Sound Institute Director and University of Washington Tacoma Professor of Environmental Science Joel Baker is one of 38 new members elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences in 2021. Baker, an environmental chemist who has worked extensively on science and policy issues related to Puget Sound, was selected for his “foundational work on …

Can biologists estimate the massive loss of shellfish caused by low tides, high temps?

The putrid smell of rotting shellfish on some beaches in Puget Sound and elsewhere along the West Coast were a clear sign that large numbers of clams, mussels, oysters and other intertidal creatures were killed from exposure to extreme low tides, record-breaking temperatures and a blazing hot sun. The total losses of shellfish that perished …

Young orcas appear to develop friendships, not unlike primates — including humans

UPDATE, FRIDAY, JULY 2: K pod arrived in the San Juan Islands yesterday, so the wait is over for the Southern Residents to arrive this summer. The whales came south through Rosario Strait yesterday morning, according to reports, and then they traveled along the south side of Lopez Island and over to the west side …

Golden-crowned kinglets in Puget Sound have seen a steep decline since 1968

Golden-crowned kinglet (Regulus satrapa). Photo: Minette Layne (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The number of golden-crowned kinglets in the Puget Sound watershed has declined by more than 91% over a recent 50-year period, according to data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The data was reported by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which tracks the information for the Puget Sound Partnership’s terrestrial bird indicator. …

Puget Sound Partnership takes closer look at human well-being and environmental justice

Amid the struggle to save salmon and orcas and restore the Puget Sound ecosystem comes a renewed effort to consider not only how humans affect the environment but how the environment affects the lives of humans. The Puget Sound Partnership, which is overseeing the recovery of Puget Sound, has been developing a series of strategies …

International conference at UW will focus on emerging contaminants

Fluoxetine hydrochloride. Photo: Meg (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/disowned/1125134972

This year’s International Conference on Emerging Contaminants will be hosted virtually at the University of Washington from September 13-14 in partnership with the Center for Urban Waters, the Puget Sound Institute and the Washington Stormwater Center. Abstracts are due June 16th and the deadline for early registration is July 1. The full announcement is available …