A recent influx of anchovies into Puget Sound may have saved some steelhead from predators, but researchers seek more evidence to prove the connection. Our series on the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project continues with a look at these and other potential impacts from predators on the region’s salmon and steelhead. Read the story in Salish Sea Currents.
We’ve published part 2 of Christopher Dunagan’s series on the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project. Getting bigger faster can help save juvenile Chinook salmon from a gauntlet of hungry predators ranging from birds and marine mammals to larger fish. We take a look at what helps salmon grow and prepare for life in the open ocean. Read the story in Salish Sea Currents.
An intensive research program in the U.S. and Canada is studying why so few salmon in the Salish Sea are returning home to spawn. They are uncovering a complex web of problems involving predators, prey and other factors that put salmon at risk as they migrate to the ocean. Puget Sound Institute senior writer Christopher Dunagan begins a four-part series on the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, including new findings presented at the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference last spring in Seattle. Read part one of the series in Salish Sea […]
By Christopher Dunagan for the Puget Sound Institute Worried that Puget Sound’s revered orcas are headed for extinction, Gov. Jay Inslee is calling for quick actions to help the whales — including boosting their food supply and reducing underwater noise that could disrupt their feeding efforts. Surrounded by state and tribal officials, Inslee on Wednesday signed an executive order designed to galvanize state agencies into action by the end of next month. The order also creates a new Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force, which is mandated to develop a […]
As wildlife managers work to recover Puget Sound’s diminished Chinook population, a proposed white paper is expected to review the impacts of some of the salmon’s chief predators. The study would include a section on potential management of seals and sea lions, prompting open discussion of a long taboo subject: Could officials seek to revise the Marine Mammal Protection Act — or even conduct lethal or non-lethal removal of seals and sea lions in some cases? Such actions are hypothetical, but we look at some of the ongoing discussions around […]
Increased consumption of Chinook salmon by seals and sea lions in the Salish Sea “could be masking the success of coastwide salmon recovery efforts,” according to a new study published this week in the journal Scientific Reports. Endangered resident orcas are said to be declining in part due to a lack of available Chinook, the orcas’ preferred prey. Read the article by PSI senior writer Christopher Dunagan in Salish Sea Currents.
By Jeff Rice, Puget Sound Institute Ten years ago, then-governor Christine Gregoire set an ambitious goal to clean up Puget Sound by 2020. The talk of that time is still familiar. Puget Sound was in trouble then as it is now. Our resident orcas had diminished to dangerously low numbers and contaminants like PCBs and stormwater were well-known threats to the ecosystem. Now, with 2020 less than three years away, we are learning that Puget Sound faces even more extensive problems than Governor Gregoire may have imagined. Ocean acidification was […]
By Christopher Dunagan, Puget Sound Institute Actions that could save Puget Sound’s killer whales from extinction have been placed on a fast track by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and the Puget Sound Partnership, which operates under a legal mandate to restore the health of Puget Sound. Hand in hand with an intensified effort to save the whales comes a revised strategy to reverse the decline of Puget Sound Chinook salmon, the primary food supply for the endangered orcas. In a special meeting Wednesday, the Puget Sound Leadership Council committed itself […]
By Jeff Rice, Puget Sound Institute The Puget Sound Partnership Salmon Recovery Council has posted a list of recommended priority actions for Chinook salmon recovery. The measures were proposed last spring by area tribes hoping to see stronger efforts to protect the region’s threatened Chinook populations. The document summarizes nine recommendations approved by the Council at its September 28th meeting, including broad language on habitat protection, water quality, water quantity and management of predation of salmon by seals and sea lions. The actions are meant to inform state and federal […]
In recent decades, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to restore habitat for Puget Sound salmon. This month, PSI senior writer Christopher Dunagan looks at how scientists are gauging their progress. Are environmental conditions improving or getting worse? The answer may depend on where you look and who you ask. Read the article in Salish Sea Currents.
By Jeff Rice The Puget Sound Partnership’s Salmon Recovery Council last Thursday gave preliminary approval to six of the seven proposed recovery priorities known as “bold actions” to improve Chinook salmon numbers in Puget Sound. One of the actions calling for “a net gain in ecosystem function and habitat productivity” for salmon was tabled for ongoing discussions in August and September. The actions were proposed last May by regional tribes dissatisfied with a state-proposed salmon plan known as the Chinook Implementation Strategy. Tribes felt that the strategy didn’t go far […]
Our 2016 article “Killer whale miscarriages linked to low food supply” provided an early look at a study published this week in the journal PLOS ONE. PSI senior writer Christopher Dunagan wrote the article based on research that was presented at the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, and it remains a helpful summary of the newly published findings. Scientists have found that Puget Sound’s endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales are experiencing a high rate of miscarriages in large part because they are not getting enough food. The whales depend primarily […]