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Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) swimming upstream. Photo: Ingrid Taylar (CC BY-NC 2.0)

‘Early migration gene’ tied to unique population of Chinook

By Christopher Dunagan, Puget Sound Institute Recent studies have shown that Chinook salmon that spawn in the spring are genetically distinct from varieties that spawn during fall months. Experts are confronting the resulting ecological, social and legal implications of that finding. Each year, as the dark days of winter surrendered to the rebirth of spring, …

A bulkhead along the shores of Puget Sound. Photo by Christopher Dunagan.

PSI study will look at potential of low-interest loans for armor removal

There are more than 45,000 residential properties along Puget Sound’s shoreline. Of those, almost half have some form of environmentally damaging shoreline armoring, researchers say. That makes private landowners a primary focus of state and federal armor removal efforts, but many landowners say they either lack funds or are unwilling to pay for sometimes costly …

Benthic invertebrates range in size from those easily seen with the naked eye to those that cannot be spotted without the use of a microscope. Photo: Christopher Dunagan

Are some streams in Puget Sound getting cleaner?

Scientists are reporting some potentially good news about the health of Puget Sound’s streams. Ten years of data from 126 stream sites within King County have shown a slight improvement in water quality, according to the county’s Water and Land Resource Division. The study examined the variety of insects and other invertebrates that were collected …

Image courtesy of depavepugetsound.org.

Project seeks to “depave” Puget Sound

This is a guest blog from Partners in Puget Sound Recovery, an inter-agency group focused on strategies for stormwater mitigation, habitat protection and shellfish recovery in Puget Sound. Project Spotlight: Replicable Model for Depave and LID Retrofits Overview:  This project will conduct three depave and retrofit activities providing direct stormwater benefit to three communities resulting in …

A southern resident killer whale hunts a Chinook salmon. Photograph courtesy of NOAA.

Are the orcas starving? Scientists say it’s not that simple

The reported deaths this week of three more southern resident orcas have brought renewed urgency to efforts to save the critically endangered population of whales. Many scientists and policymakers are focusing on the orcas’ access to their main source of food, the Chinook salmon. Members of the orca population are appearing dangerously thin and malnourished. …

Report cover

Salish Sea toxics synthesis report

The Puget Sound Institute’s Andy James is the corresponding editor of a 2019 report on monitoring and research activities focused on toxic contaminants in the Salish Sea. The report  from the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program covers a range of case studies including the occurrence of microplastics and pharmaceuticals in shellfish, PCBs in river otters and new findings …

Six-month-old Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida) seed. Photo: Benjamin Drummond/benjandsara.com

Return of a native: Olympia oysters are making a comeback

Prior to European settlement, dense assemblages of Olympia oysters covered as many as 20,000 acres, or 26.7% of Puget Sound’s intertidal zone. Today they occupy about 5% of their original range, prompting a slew of state and federally-funded restoration efforts. Sarah DeWeerdt reports on the comeback of Puget Sound’s only native oyster for our magazine …