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Second Pacific salmon expedition gets a chance to see the effects of cooler water

A second research cruise to study the winter travels of salmon in the Pacific Ocean got underway today, when 12 scientists from three countries left Victoria, B.C., aboard the trawler Pacific Legacy. Researchers say they have learned a great deal from the first salmon cruise a year ago, when 21 scientists from five countries ventured …

Virus related to measles could push Puget Sound orcas to extinction, study says

Researchers studying the killer whales that frequent Puget Sound are growing increasingly concerned that a dangerous virus or other disease-causing organism could spread through the population and hasten extinction of these critically endangered southern resident orcas. Without dramatic changes to their environment, extinction is already considered the likely future for the southern residents, as they …

Missing orca named ‘Mega’ lived a long, productive life, says Ken Balcomb

A 43-year-old male orca named Mega, now missing and presumed dead, was one of the first new calves that researcher Ken Balcomb spotted when he began his extensive census of Southern Resident killer whales back in 1976. Ken didn’t know it at the time, but the baby orca — one of nine born in 1977 …

How air pollution becomes water pollution with long-term effects on Puget Sound

When thinking of air pollution, I used to think only of breathing toxic chemicals into our lungs, with uncertain health effects. That’s bad enough, but air pollution — which is everywhere — is also getting into our waterways and penetrating deep into our food webs. Rivers, lakes and Puget Sound, no body of water escapes …

Sharing info, as changes in ocean chemistry affect Northwest waters at alarming pace

It was fairly alarming, even to scientists, to hear the latest research regarding ocean acidification — a powerful change in ocean chemistry that results from excess carbon dioxide passing from the atmosphere into the oceans of the world. One of the most alarming reports came from Richard Feely, senior scientist at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental …

The Brightwater Treatment Plant in King County. Image courtesy of King County.

PSI in the news: ‘Salmon on Prozac’ and more

PSI’s Andy James is collaborating with scientists at NOAA and Washington State University to understand how wastewater affects juvenile salmon in Puget Sound. The study is led by Jim Meador of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Sciences Center and focuses on discharge from three major sewage treatment plants in King County. Wastewater will be analyzed at the …

Screenshot from video.

Video: Identifying sources of pollution in the Skagit Valley

A video produced by the University of Washington Center for Urban Waters shows how chemical tracers can identify sources of pollution affecting shellfish growers in Puget Sound’s Skagit Valley. Fecal coliform pollution is a widespread problem in Puget Sound, resulting in costly beach and shellfish bed closures whenever it is detected. Analytical techniques can now …

Tsleil-Waututh canoe travel in Indian Arm at DiRr-6, a massive outcrop of intrusive granodioritic rock marked with a single painting, 2014. Most rock paintings were meant to be seen in this context. Photo by Jesse Morin

Dispatches: Ancient DNA reveals ecological history

Occasionally, this space includes reports and essays from guest writers on the subject of Puget Sound ecosystem recovery. Social scientist Whitney Fleming has this dispatch on new findings that are being revealed by ancient sources. Archaeologists are looking at ancient DNA combined with oral histories to determine ecological conditions from the past.  By Whitney Fleming …