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Breeding adult Rhinoceros Auklet flying low above the water. San Juan Islands, WA - July, 2016. Photo: Mick Thompson (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/mickthompson/28777858956

Nights in the lives of the rhinoceros auklets of Protection Island

More than 70 percent of the seabird population of Puget Sound nests on a single island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. That includes a massive colony of rhinoceros auklets that has drawn the interest of scientists and birders alike. Our writer Eric Wagner visited the island this summer and reports on a long-term …

J16 surfacing near Saturna Island, August 2012. Photo: Miles Ritter (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrmritter/7730710932

For declining orcas, food is fate

The story of Puget Sound’s starving resident orcas has come into dramatic focus over the past two weeks. As the world watches an orca grieve for her dead calf, and tribes and federal agencies prepare to try to feed a dangerously emaciated three-year-old orca in Jpod, we look at how the lack of Chinook salmon …

Equity and social science integration at the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

A new study looks at social science and equity integration within the proceedings of the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. The study was produced by David Trimbach on behalf of the Puget Sound Partnership for the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound and the Puget Sound Institute. From the report’s Introduction: Social science and equity are increasingly …

Chinook salmon leaping at the Ballard Locks in Seattle. Photo: Ingrid Taylar (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/taylar/29739921130

New studies on emerging threats to salmon

Chemicals, disease and other stressors can increase a salmon’s chance of being eaten or reduce its ability to catch food. We wrap up our series on the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project with a look at some of the lesser-known, but still significant factors contributing to salmon declines in the Salish Sea. Read the story in …

Removal of creosote-treated pilings in Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

Removal of creosote-treated pilings may assist herring recovery

Thousands of abandoned wood pilings — the ghosts of piers and docks past — are located throughout Puget Sound. Most of them are treated with creosote, a toxic chemical used to preserve wood that contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a class of chemicals that are also associated with oil spills and burning of fossil fuels. …

A harbor seal hunting anchovies. From Howe Sound Ballet video by Bob Turner: https://youtu.be/Ycx1hvrPAqc

Could anchovies and other fish take pressure off salmon and steelhead?

A recent influx of anchovies into Puget Sound may have saved some steelhead from predators, but researchers seek more evidence to prove the connection. Our series on the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project continues with a look at these and other potential impacts from predators on the region’s salmon and steelhead. Read the story in …

Spring Chinook Salmon. Photo: Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service

Opening the black box: What’s killing Puget Sound’s salmon and steelhead?

An intensive research program in the U.S. and Canada is studying why so few salmon in the Salish Sea are returning home to spawn. They are uncovering a complex web of problems involving predators, prey and other factors that put salmon at risk as they migrate to the ocean. Puget Sound Institute senior writer Christopher …

A US Fish & Wildlife Atlantic employee displays an Atlantic Salmon with characteristic large black spots on the gill cover. Credit: Greg Thompson/USFWS (CC BY 2.0) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Atlantic_Salmon_(9680675578).jpg

Despite WA ban on farmed salmon, BC impacts may flow across border

A high-profile salmon escape led to a ban on salmon farms in Washington earlier this year. But just across the border, scientists say salmon farms in British Columbia expose migrating fish from Puget Sound to potential maladies like parasites, bacteria and dangerous viruses. They say simply getting rid of salmon farms in Washington does not …

An eelgrass bed in Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of Oregon State University.

Ocean acidification may be twice as extreme in Puget Sound’s seagrass habitats, threatening Dungeness crabs

Ocean acidification could be up to twice as severe in fragile seagrass habitats as it is in the open ocean, according to a study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The conditions may threaten Dungeness crabs by 2050 and will be especially pronounced in the winter, the study says. …