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Debate over water quality standards takes a new turn

Toxic pollution accumulates in Puget Sound's salmon, spurring debate over recommended fish consumption rates. Chinook salmon fillets photographed by pui wong {as*q}. Cerative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

Many people thought the issue of regulating toxic chemical discharges into Puget Sound was settled when the federal government forced Washington state to use stricter criteria, but the debate may be underway once again. By Christopher Dunagan An unlikely disagreement between state and federal authorities over water-quality standards has flared up again. Two years ago, …

Orca task force releases recommendations

Southern resident killer whale breaching. Image courtesy of NOAA

By Jeff Rice The governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force released its final report and recommendations today, focusing on three key threats to Puget Sound’s endangered orcas: Lack of food, disturbance from noise and vessel traffic, and toxic contaminants. In all, the report makes 36 recommendations for recovering the fast-declining orca population, which now stands at …

Chemicals from automobile tires suspected in coho deaths

A dying female coho salmon in the Lower Duwamish spotted by Puget Soundkeeper volunteers in October 2017. Photo: Kathy Peter

Findings authored this month by University of Washington scientists at the Center for Urban Waters and their collaborators provide new insight into “urban runoff mortality syndrome” affecting Puget Sound coho.   By Jeff Rice Chemicals linked to automobile tires have been found in stormwater associated with the widespread deaths of coho salmon in Puget Sound. The …

Transient phenomena in ecology

Puget Sound Institute Lead Ecosystem Ecologist Tessa Francis is co-author of a paper in the journal Science this month. The article, “Transient phenomena in ecology” reviews current knowledge of transient dynamics within ecosystems. The authors say the paper shows a need to consider short-term ecological changes as well as long-term, and that “basing either management …

Dispatches: Ancient DNA reveals ecological history

Tsleil-Waututh canoe travel in Indian Arm at DiRr-6, a massive outcrop of intrusive granodioritic rock marked with a single painting, 2014. Most rock paintings were meant to be seen in this context. Photo by Jesse Morin

Occasionally, this space includes reports and essays from guest writers on the subject of Puget Sound ecosystem recovery. Social scientist Whitney Fleming has this dispatch on new findings that are being revealed by ancient sources. Archaeologists are looking at ancient DNA combined with oral histories to determine ecological conditions from the past.  By Whitney Fleming …