A surprise visit by K pod on Saturday near Vancouver Island led to the official confirmation of a new orca calf born into the Southern Resident killer whale community. The new calf, designated K45, is the second baby born to the Southern Residents this year, as recorded by the Center for Whale Research, which maintains the official census. For K pod, this is the first confirmed calf to be born since 2011. The youngster was first reported on April 28 by a fishing guide cruising off the Oregon Coast. The […]
The University of Washington Puget Sound Institute is sponsoring up to 10 student writers to report short (300-word) stories about science findings presented at the upcoming Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. The conference will be held online April 26-28. We are offering $200 per story and can cover conference registration costs. Successful writers will publish their work in our magazine Salish Sea Currents. Writers will also be encouraged to promote their work through social media. The project will include a two-hour pre-conference orientation meeting in early April. Preference will be given to […]
A final report on the 2020 ecosystem-recovery goals for Puget Sound outlines habitat improvements for some streams, shorelines and wetlands, but it also describes ongoing declines among fish and wildlife populations that use those habitats. The latest State of the Sound report, released this week by the Puget Sound Partnership, summarizes the status of 52 individual ecosystem indicators used to measure the health of Puget Sound. While 11 indicators point in a positive direction, suggesting that conditions are getting better for Puget Sound, 22 indicators tell us that things are […]
Amid the struggle to save salmon and orcas and restore the Puget Sound ecosystem comes a renewed effort to consider not only how humans affect the environment but how the environment affects the lives of humans. The Puget Sound Partnership, which is overseeing the recovery of Puget Sound, has been developing a series of strategies to acknowledge and enhance the cultural, economic and psychological values that can come from a healthy natural environment. These new strategies, along with related actions, are to be incorporated into the 2022-26 Puget Sound Action […]
For newcomers to the Puget Sound region — or anyone who wishes to learn about salmon — check out the new video by my friend and former colleague Josh Farley of the Kitsap Sun. Like many print journalists who have expanded into multimedia, Josh became recognized for his quick-hit news reports. Especially popular was his weekly video “Bremerton Beat Blast,” in which he counted down the top stories of the week in Kitsap County. Now, with a goal of going much deeper into regional topics, he has launched a new […]
The discovery of a mysterious chemical that kills coho salmon in urban streams is expected to spawn new research throughout the world while possibly inspiring new demands for protective regulations. The deadly chemical, associated with automobile tires, was identified by researchers at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Waters, which is affiliated with the Puget Sound Institute. The findings were published yesterday in the journal “Science.” I wrote about this discovery and more than 20 years of related scientific investigations in PSI’s online magazine “Salish Sea Currents.” “This is […]
While media reports were raising alarms about an invasion of dangerous “murder hornets,” Washington state entomologists were quietly planning a trapping program, which will mark the beginning of a search-and-destroy mission against the Asian giant hornets. Trapping has become a primary tool in the early detection of invasive species. Traps are often used to control or reduce breeding populations of destructive pests — from insects such as the gypsy moth to rodents such as nutria to aquatic organisms such as the European green crab. Officials with the Washington Department of […]
Despite the cancellation of the full program, the 2020 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference will go forward with a variety of virtual sessions on April 21st and 22nd. The first day of the conference includes a session led by Puget Sound Institute senior scientist Andy James on the occurrence and impacts of contaminants in the Salish Sea. All the sessions are free to the public and a full schedule is available on the conference website. The conference program will also include plenary speakers and the presentation of the SeaDoc Science Award. […]
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 […]
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 study of the auklets that is revealing new information about the health of seabirds in the Salish Sea. Read the story in Salish Sea Currents.
By Shannon Black Microplastics are found throughout the Salish Sea, but “surprisingly little is known about the sources of these particles,” report Canadian scientists who presented their findings last spring at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle. Now the group, led by Dr. Peter Ross at the Vancouver Aquarium is working to categorize the types of microplastics being found in the world’s oceans with the hope of identifying their origins and stopping the problem at its source. The team is using Fourier Transform Infra Red spectrometry (FTIR) to create […]
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 is exacerbating the effects of toxic chemicals on these whales, creating a deadly one-two punch. Read the story from Bob Friel in Salish Sea Currents.