PSI monthly roundup: July 2022

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VIEW THE FULLY FORMATTED NEWSLETTER in your browser Low-oxygen problems to be scrutinized in talks about research, modeling efforts   For decades, researchers have been advancing their understanding of what causes the harmful and sometimes deadly low-oxygen problems afflicting some areas of Puget Sound. A series of 10 workshops on the subject will begin Tuesday, July 26th, and continue into next year. The workshops, coordinated by the Puget Sound Institute, will build on previous discussions, such as the Washington Department of Ecology’s Nutrient Forum and a forthcoming Marine Water Quality Implementation Strategy that […]

New guidance for cleanup of toxics in Puget Sound

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An EPA-funded team of scientists and other experts has completed draft recommendations for the future cleanup of toxic chemicals in Puget Sound. The group’s Toxics in Fish Implementation Strategy addresses pollutants such as PCBs and a slew of emerging contaminants that can affect species throughout the waterway. The strategy will be available for public review until October 16th after which it may be revised and submitted to the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council for approval. The Washington State Department of Ecology is co-developing the strategy with the Department of Commerce […]

Ancient harvests: A history of Salish Sea herring

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If you were to ask a group of experts to make a list of culturally important foods in the Pacific Northwest, it would not be a surprise if salmon rose to the top. But researchers say Pacific herring may have at times rivaled salmon in importance in the Salish Sea. Scientists believe that herring have been a staple of Salish Sea food and culture since humans first arrived here at least 12,500 years ago. That importance has continued into modern times, even as herring numbers have declined in parts of […]

The herring defenders

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Herring numbers have been declining in Puget Sound since surveys for them began in the 1970s, but it is unclear what is causing those declines, even in the face of widespread fisheries closures. Less clear still is whether anything else can be done to stop or reverse them, and bring herring back. Our reporter Eric Wagner spent a day with a biologist spotting herring eggs and considering the future of one of our region’s most ecologically and culturally important fish species. Read the story in Salish Sea Currents.

Test your herring knowledge

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By Jeff Rice One of the first steps in protecting any species is understanding as much as you can about it. When it comes to Pacific herring in the Salish Sea, much is known but until recently many of the key scientific findings about the species had not been gathered together in a single place. A new state of the knowledge report published by the Puget Sound Institute and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is a step toward remedying that. The report, “Assessment and Management of Salish Sea […]

Dispatches: Ancient DNA reveals ecological history

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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 People have inhabited the waters around the Pacific Northwest for thousands of years. It is only in recently that humans have destroyed ecosystems in the Salish Sea to the point where they need fixing. Scientists […]

How herring learn from their elders

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Young Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) learn migration behavior by joining up with older fish, according to a new paper co-authored by Puget Sound Institute Lead Ecosystem Ecologist Tessa Francis. The paper, published this month in the ICES Journal of Marine Science, showed how this behavior leads to greater spatial variability in biomass, and that commercial fishing could disproportionately affect some herring populations. Citation: Alec D MacCall, Tessa B Francis, André E Punt, Margaret C Siple, Derek R Armitage, Jaclyn S Cleary, Sherri C Dressel, R Russ Jones, Harvey Kitka, Lynn […]

Stormwater mimics oil spill’s effect on Pacific herring

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Pacific herring exposed to stormwater in Puget Sound show some of the same effects as fish exposed to major oil spills. Symptoms include heart and developmental problems. Read the story from Katie Keil in our magazine Salish Sea Currents.

New Puget Sound herring research

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Herring may not be the most charismatic species in Puget Sound. They don’t breach dramatically out of the water. Fish mongers don’t throw them through the air at Pike Place Market. They find their strength in numbers, schooling around by the thousands and serving as food for other creatures like seabirds, salmon and seals. But if it weren’t for these small, unsung fish, the Salish Sea might be a very different place. Herring and other so-called forage fish — named for their role as important food (forage) for other species […]