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Minor bridge modifications could help young steelhead escape from Hood Canal

Help could be on the way for migrating steelhead and salmon in Hood Canal, where many young fish are killed each year by seals and other predators that lie in wait at the Hood Canal floating bridge. As many as 50 percent of the steelhead migrants perish as they arrive at the bridge, where predators …

Do we know enough to do anything about all the seals and sea lions in Puget Sound?

Scientists have known for years that Chinook salmon are important to southern resident orcas, but Chinook are not the only fish the whales eat. At the moment, chum salmon are returning to Puget Sound, and recent orca sightings suggest that the whales may now be feeding on chum. Harbor seals also eat Chinook salmon, but …

Orca census: One death in January, but no births were reported until September

UPDATE, Oct. 6 The newest calf among the Southern Resident killer whales was officially designated J58 after being seen alive and healthy on Sunday. The calf is the offspring of J49, a 15-year-old female named Eclipse who has one surviving calf, J51 or Nova. Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research had been withholding …

A look at future ocean conditions and how they could affect coastal communities

Scientists tell us that climate change is probably increasing the frequency of extreme events, such as hurricanes, droughts and wildfires. As time goes on, we might expect even more dramatic shifts in the ecosystem, as some species move to more suitable locations and others die out. The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing along …

Does the public have a right to walk across a private beach? The answer is still unresolved

Even before Washington became a state in 1889, Puget Sound beaches had been exploited as log dumps, farmed for shellfish, occupied as homesites and enjoyed for recreation. But today, after 131 years of statehood, residents of this region still don’t know if they have a legal right to walk across a privately owned beach at …

Art contests help to carry the clean-water message to people around Puget Sound

I’m impressed with artists who combine their passion for nature with a message about protecting the environment and how we all have a role to play. This week, I’d like to share winning artwork from two recent contests. One is a poster competition inspired by the “We are Puget Sound” (Water Ways) book and campaign. …

Safe hiking and other outdoors activities could improve mental health in pandemic

Outside seems to be the answer, in more ways than one. Virologists tell us that, aside from isolation, we are less likely to be infected with COVID-19 if we go outdoors and stay away from crowds. Psychologists have known for decades that getting out in nature can improve our mental health, something that many of …

BPA debate rages, while state program seeks safer chemicals for many common products

Ongoing findings about the chemical Bisphenol A has further inflamed a debate about whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is adequately protecting people’s health when it comes to products containing BPA. Meanwhile, a year-old state program, called Safer Products for Washington, may avoid some of the regulatory pitfalls people are seeing at the FDA …

‘Outdoors Act’ would repair national parks, protect land and address recreation needs

UPDATE: July 23 The Great American Outdoors Act passed the House yesterday on a 310-107 vote. See Associated Press and news release from U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor. —– It appears that the political stars are lining up for what some people are calling the most significant environmental legislation in decades. Billions of dollars …

Absent orcas: Most of the whales simply are not around to be counted at this time

UPDATE, JULY 3: Two new reports worth checking out: Center for Whale Research Encounter #31 Orca Network Whale Sighting Report, July 2 —– “So far, no new babies to report.” That’s the latest word from Ken Balcomb regarding the southern resident orcas, the three pods of endangered whales that once frequented Puget Sound but lately …

State officials scramble to protect streams and wetlands in wake of federal rule

Federal protections for millions of small streams and wetlands across the country were eliminated on Monday, following an unsuccessful legal effort to block new regulations that redefine “waters of the United States.” Officials with the Washington Department of Ecology are scrambling to make sure that nobody proceeds to fill wetlands or damage waterways, now protected …