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.
By Jeff Rice How many fish are in the Salish Sea? It’s an impossible question that drives the Puget Sound Institute’s newest senior scientist Marc Mangel. Mangel has spent his career working on fish and fisheries issues and uses mathematical models to answer critical questions about species such as their population numbers and population health. He joins PSI this month as an affiliate professor at the University of Washington Tacoma where he will focus on a range of subjects related to species such as salmon and forage fish. Mangel comes […]
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.
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 […]
A Puget Sound scientist’s work is never done. PSI’s Lead Ecosystem Ecologist Tessa Francis sent us this e-mail about a recent call to identify some wayward fish on Vashon Island. It didn’t hurt that she happens to study the same species of fish — Pacific herring — as part of her research at PSI. By Tessa Francis Two days into the New Year I got a text at lunch from Vashon Island Nature Center staff with a picture of dozens of fish in a pool: ‘Wondering if you could tell what […]
PSI’s lead ecosystem ecologist Tessa Francis is co-author of a 2017 paper linking increasing adult mortality of Puget Sound herring with regional population declines in the species. The authors report that natural mortality among herring four years and older has doubled in Puget Sound since 1973, suggesting a possible connection to declines at spawning sites near Cherry Point and Squaxin Pass. Age structure has been shifting in Puget Sound herring populations for the past 30 years, their analysis shows, which could have negative impacts on both herring and their predators. […]
A new study shows a surprising decline in some toxic chemicals in Puget Sound fish, while levels of PCBs increased in some cases. Scientists say the study shows that banning toxic chemicals can work, but old contaminants remain a challenge as they continue to wash into Puget Sound. Read our story in Salish Sea Currents.
Some of the most important fish in the Salish Sea food web are also the most mysterious. Researchers have only begun to understand how many there are, where they go, and how we can preserve their populations for the future. University of Washington researcher Margaret Siple reports on the secret lives of forage fish in the latest issue of Salish Sea Currents. Read the article in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.
A new paper co-authored by PSI’s Tessa Francis connects social and ecological factors influencing herring management in the Salish Sea. The paper, published in the journal Ecosystem Health and Sustainability, grew out of a three-day workshop held last year in British Columbia. The workshop was sponsored by The Ocean Modeling Forum, a collaboration between the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington and NOAA Fisheries. It brought together a variety of herring experts, from commercial fishermen to scientists, regulators and members of regional tribes. NOAA’s Phillip Levin was the paper’s […]
The online publication UW Today reports on a recent paper co-authored by PSI research scientist Tessa Francis. The paper, published in the journal Ocealogia, describes how individual herring populations in Puget Sound exhibit a portfolio effect, collectively influencing and stabilizing the region’s population as a whole. Francis teamed up with the paper’s lead author UW doctoral student Margaret Siple to analyze more than 40 years of herring data on 21 subpopulations in Puget Sound. Read the feature in UW Today. Citation: Siple, M. C., & Francis, T. B. (2016). Population diversity in Pacific […]
A Seattle Times story features a recent paper in the Marine Ecology Press Series about shifting baselines in the Puget Sound food web. Forty years of data from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reveal a trend toward more jellyfish and less of some forage fish species in the region. High amounts of jellyfish can mean a decline in ecosystem productivity, according to scientists. The original paper was based on some of the same data used by Puget Sound Institute researchers looking at trends for Puget Sound’s Pacific herring populations. Read the […]