Efforts to restore ecological health to Puget Sound have largely failed to meet recovery goals, yet fish and wildlife populations are still hanging on, according to a new report that describes many struggling populations as neither increasing nor decreasing to a significant extent. The latest State of the Sound report, released last week by the Puget Sound Partnership, reveals the ongoing difficulty of recovering the Puget Sound ecosystem in the face of rapid population growth, climate change and a legacy of pollution and habitat damage. Yet the report, produced every […]
As part of a project exploring the technical uncertainties surrounding Puget Sound water quality, we are reviewing how computer models are used to advance our understanding of natural systems. This blog post is part of a series focused on different models and their uses within the Puget Sound ecosystem. The project is jointly sponsored by King County and the Puget Sound Institute. The skeletal beginnings of nearly all models is a conceptual understanding of the basic workings of the system being studied: Who are the important actors, and what are their […]
The putrid smell of rotting shellfish on some beaches in Puget Sound and elsewhere along the West Coast were a clear sign that large numbers of clams, mussels, oysters and other intertidal creatures were killed from exposure to extreme low tides, record-breaking temperatures and a blazing hot sun. The total losses of shellfish that perished late last month may be difficult to estimate, but experts are beginning to piece together evidence from shoreline residents, state and tribal biologists, and commercial shellfish growers. Their goal is to describe what took place […]
The Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program has issued a call for proposals for research into climate change risks to Puget Sound shellfish, marine water quality and public health. A total of $150,000 is available to fund up to three projects. Applications are due by 11:59 PM on April 8th. The full call for proposals is available online from the Puget Sound Partnership.
Prior to European settlement, dense assemblages of Olympia oysters covered as many as 20,000 acres, or 26.7% of Puget Sound’s intertidal zone. Today they occupy about 5% of their original range, prompting a slew of state and federally-funded restoration efforts. Sarah DeWeerdt reports on the comeback of Puget Sound’s only native oyster for our magazine Salish Sea Currents.
Thousands of abandoned wood pilings — the ghosts of piers and docks past — are located throughout Puget Sound. Most of them are treated with creosote, a toxic chemical used to preserve wood that contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a class of chemicals that are also associated with oil spills and burning of fossil fuels. While creosote-treated pilings are used less for construction of new piers, scientists at two state agencies are now studying the impacts of existing pilings on herring and shellfish populations along with the effectiveness of removal […]
By Jeff Rice The opioid epidemic has now hit the waters of Puget Sound. State agencies tracking pollution levels in Puget Sound have discovered traces of oxycodone in the tissues of native bay mussels (Mytilus trossulus) from Seattle and Bremerton area harbors. The mussels were part of the state’s Puget Sound Mussel Monitoring Program. Every two years, scientists at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) transplant uncontaminated mussels from an aquaculture source on Whidbey Island to various locations in Puget Sound to study pollution levels. Mussels, which are […]
New in Salish Sea Currents: After a long struggle with pollution, Drayton Harbor has reopened to year-round commercial oyster harvesting for the first time in 22 years. Here’s how the community cleaned up its act, potentially showing the way for shellfish recovery throughout Puget Sound. Read the full article on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.
A story this week in Salish Sea Currents delves into the connection between environmental change and culturally important foods. Writer Sarah DeWeerdt interviewed social scientists at the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference about how this affects the spiritual and physical health of Salish Sea tribes and first nations. “The loss of subsistence and cultural identity cannot be estimated,” Joe Schumacker of the Quinault Department of Fisheries told her. In some cases, the yearning to eat culturally important foods can even override health when foods may be hazardous due to toxins from pollution. […]