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Seals and sea lions may be slowing salmon recovery, hurting orcas

Increased consumption of Chinook salmon by seals and sea lions in the Salish Sea “could be masking the success of coastwide salmon recovery efforts,” according to a new study published this week in the journal Scientific Reports. Endangered resident orcas are said to be declining in part due to a lack of available Chinook, the orcas’ preferred prey. …

With sea-level rise, waterfront owners confront their options

Climate change could cause sea levels to rise more than four feet in some parts of Puget Sound, leaving shoreline residents with some tough decisions. Experts say fighting the waves with conventional seawalls may not be the answer. Read the story in our online magazine Salish Sea Currents. 

PCBs in fish remain steady while other toxics decline

A new study shows a surprising decline in some toxic chemicals in Puget Sound fish, while levels of PCBs increased in some cases. Scientists say the study shows that banning toxic chemicals can work, but old contaminants remain a challenge as they continue to wash into Puget Sound. Read our story in Salish Sea Currents. 

Are we making progress on salmon recovery?

In recent decades, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to restore habitat for Puget Sound salmon. This month, PSI senior writer Christopher Dunagan looks at how scientists are gauging their progress. Are environmental conditions improving or getting worse? The answer may depend on where you look and who you ask. Read the article …

Update: Killer whale miscarriages linked to low food supply

Our 2016 article “Killer whale miscarriages linked to low food supply” provided an early look at a study published this week in the journal PLOS ONE. PSI senior writer Christopher Dunagan wrote the article based on research that was presented at the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, and it remains a helpful summary of the …

Program envisions fewer floods and more salmon

This week in Salish Sea Currents: PSI senior writer Christopher Dunagan reports on a new approach to flood control in Puget Sound. Rivers, scientists say, can be contained by setting them free. Conservationists hope this is good news for salmon recovery. The story is part of our ongoing series on the science of Puget Sound recovery. Funding …

PSI study links happiness to interactions with nature

Can nature make you happy? Science weighs in. A recent study by PSI social scientist Kelly Biedenweg found that Puget Sound residents reported being happier when they engaged with the natural environment. “We (in the Pacific Northwest) are pretty much the leaders in trying to understand how happiness and integration with the environment relate to each other,” Biedenweg …

Finding a strategy to accelerate Chinook recovery

New in Salish Sea Currents: We continue our series on Puget Sound’s EPA-funded Implementation Strategies. This week we take on Chinook recovery. As threatened Chinook populations continue to lose ground, the state is looking to new strategies to reverse the trend. In the Skagit watershed, the scientists — and the fish — are among those …

Study of eelgrass shows populations steady across Puget Sound

Although eelgrass populations have declined in some parts of Puget Sound, overall numbers for the aquatic plant have remained steady ecosystem-wide, according to an analysis of 41 years of data from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The study, published in the Journal of Ecology, was co-authored by Puget Sound Institute lead ecosystem ecologist Tessa …

The impacts of rogue chemicals on Puget Sound

In early 2016, scientists at NOAA made headlines when they reported finding 81 different man-made chemicals in the tissues of juvenile chinook salmon in Puget Sound. Among those chemicals were drugs such as cocaine and Prozac. This was the first time scientists had made these findings for the region’s salmon, but it has been well-understood that marine …