Science during the year of Covid: The Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

Share

While Covid restrictions remain a part of everyday life, a lot has eased since the global quarantines of spring 2020. During that time, the coronavirus effectively shut down scientific fieldwork in Puget Sound, leaving huge gaps in data for most facets of the ecosystem, from orcas to eelgrass. Despite the lockdowns, a new report from the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program offers an assessment of marine conditions during 2020 and paints a surprisingly complete picture of the local environment at that time. This is the tenth year that the group […]

Salmon experts predict more wild coho but fewer Chinook in Puget Sound this year

Share

Greater numbers of wild coho salmon are expected to return to Puget Sound later this year, according to forecasts released last week, but threatened Puget Sound Chinook stocks are likely to see another decline. The 2021 salmon forecasts were announced Friday during an online video conference with sport and commercial fishers and other interested people (TVW telecast). The annual meeting serves to launch negotiations that, when completed in April, will prescribe fishing seasons for the coming summer and fall. Protecting so-called “weak stocks” from fishing pressure continues to be a […]

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

Share

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 also chum, coho and other fish. They seem fond of smaller fish like herring and juvenile salmon. Oh, what a tangled food web we weave… Can we really say that seals are stealing the lunch […]

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

Share

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 us need at this time. Taking a hike can be a great cure for cabin fever. But to maintain safety in a pandemic, we must be careful not rush out to the most popular locations […]

Puget Sound Leadership Council revises list of ‘Vital Sign’ indicators

Share

It was ten years ago this summer that the Puget Sound Partnership first established what it called Puget Sound’s ‘Vital Signs,’ 25 indicators of Puget Sound health ranging from levels of toxic chemicals in fish to the abundance of Chinook salmon and southern resident orcas. Those indicators have now been revised and expanded, setting off a new chapter for Puget Sound recovery efforts.  The Vital Signs and their indicators have been central to Puget Sound policy since their inception in 2010. They were designed to help scientists and policymakers measure […]

New steelhead strategy would include increased fishing and more hatcheries

Share

Strategies to keep steelhead fishing alive while restoring steelhead populations to rivers in Puget Sound are spelled out in the “Quicksilver Portfolio” (PDF 2.3 mb), a document unveiled today before the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. After three years of study, the Puget Sound Steelhead Advisory Group announced that it was ready to solicit public and political support for an experimental approach that includes monitoring the effects of fishing and increased hatchery production as part of a steelhead-recovery effort. “Together, we can conserve wild steelhead, restore fishing opportunities, provide economic […]

Social scientists analyze public reactions to orca crisis

Share

Social scientists at Oregon State University have been analyzing a trove of more than 17,000 public comments sent to the Washington state governor’s southern resident orca recovery task force. The researchers have added the comments to a keyword database to look at public emotions and perceptions around the issue of orca declines. The orca task force was created in March 2018 after media reports of sick and dying whales prompted widespread public concern and led to a groundswell of activity to try to save the endangered whales from extinction. Since […]

Harvest managers setting this year’s salmon seasons struggle to find ways to help orcas

Share

As state, tribal and federal salmon managers work together to establish this year’s fishing seasons, they have not forgotten about the needs of Puget Sound’s endangered killer whales. In fact, new documents related to the southern resident orcas describe an investigation looking to find ways to reduce fisheries at certain times and locations that might get the whales more food. And yet it appears that nobody has figured out a way to help the whales by reducing salmon fishing. Annual negotiations to establish seasons and quotas for commercial, tribal and […]

A path through the maze of resilience thinking

Share

‘Resilience thinking’ has exploded in recent decades to become a sprawling discipline, complete with debates and inconsistencies, and literature to match. The idea that ecosystems should be made ‘resilient,’ or able to absorb disturbance and still bounce back, has gained traction in many policy circles, but there remains some disagreement about what the term means and how it should be applied. A 2019 report from the Puget Sound Institute’s Nick Georgiadis looks at resilience in the context of Puget Sound protection and restoration. Read the report on the Encyclopedia of […]

Survey illustrates a lack of familiarity with the Salish Sea

Share

Washington and British Columbia residents are largely unfamiliar with the Salish Sea. A recent study conducted by the SeaDoc Society and Oregon State University reveals a need to improve geographic literacy and familiarity with the Salish Sea among those communities who share and live alongside this integrated transboundary ecosystem. This is a guest blog from two of the collaborators on the survey, David Trimbach of Oregon State University and Joe Gaydos, Science Director at the SeaDoc Society.  By David Trimbach and Joe Gaydos Do place names matter? For about a […]

Salish Sea toxics synthesis report

Share

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 on persistent contaminants and heavy metals in fish. Copies are available on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound and other sources on the Web.

Risk of a major oil spill generates action in Olympia

Share

This week, our magazine Salish Sea Currents takes an in-depth look at ongoing legislative activity to prevent oil spills in Puget Sound. PSI senior writer Christopher Dunagan reports on the push to adopt new rules to counter-balance the increasing risks of tanker collisions and potential catastrophic spills. Among the concerns: About 1,300 tanker ships, of all types, pass through Puget Sound every year. That number is expected to rise, and the greatest increases are anticipated in Haro Strait and Boundary Pass — the traditional feeding grounds for Puget Sound endangered orcas. One […]