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Our Water Ways

Puget Sound Institute senior writer Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related. As the very first environmental reporter for the Kitsap Sun, he has been a respected voice in the region for more than 25 years. He has been covering science-related stories for the Puget Sound Institute since 2015.


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Young orca calves take part in fall excursions into South Puget Sound with their mothers (11/27/2020) - The two orca calves born to J pod in September are still alive and doing well, according to Mark Malleson of the Center for Whale Research, who spotted J pod on Monday near the Canadian city of Victoria. (Check out Mark’s encounter report.) This is good news, of course, for the highly endangered southern resident …
New online magazine focuses on the stories behind Puget Sound recovery efforts (11/13/2020) - “Making Waves,” a new online magazine from the Puget Sound Partnership, promises to bring us the stories behind the many efforts to protect and restore the Puget Sound ecosystem. The first issue of “Making Waves” — published this week — contains five stories. Jon Bridgman, communications manager, conceived of the magazine format and pushed the …
Copper is being phased out of brake pads to reduce harm to salmon, other creatures (11/6/2020) - Manufacturers of automobile parts are facing their first deadline for removing copper from brake pads. Most seem to be well prepared to meet the new requirements under Washington state law. In 2010, Washington was the first state in the nation to outlaw copper in brake pads, after scientists discovered that the metal can severely affect …
Puget Sound Restoration Fund meets 10-year, 100-acre goal for restoring native oyster beds (10/30/2020) - A heartfelt congratulations goes out to Betsy Peabody, her staff at Puget Sound Restoration Fund, and the dozens of partner organizations working to restore our native Olympia oyster to Puget Sound. PSRF recently fulfilled its ambitious 10-year goal of enhancing habitat for the petite, succulent oysters across 100 acres of Puget Sound tidelands, establishing a …
Controversy flares up over proposed policy revisions for state salmon hatcheries (10/23/2020) - UPDATE: NOV. 10, 2020 Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is seeking comments on a slightly revised draft of a new Hatchery and Fishery Reform policy. For details, please read the news release issued yesterday. —- A state policy revision that could boost salmon production at fish hatcheries in Washington state has raised red flags among …
Minor bridge modifications could help young steelhead escape from Hood Canal (10/16/2020) - Help could be on the way for migrating steelhead and salmon in Hood Canal, where many young fish are killed each year by seals and other predators that lie in wait at the Hood Canal floating bridge. As many as 50 percent of the steelhead migrants perish as they arrive at the bridge, where predators …
Do we know enough to do anything about all the seals and sea lions in Puget Sound? (10/1/2020) - Scientists have known for years that Chinook salmon are important to southern resident orcas, but Chinook are not the only fish the whales eat. At the moment, chum salmon are returning to Puget Sound, and recent orca sightings suggest that the whales may now be feeding on chum. Harbor seals also eat Chinook salmon, but …
Orca census: One death in January, but no births were reported until September (9/15/2020) - UPDATE, Oct. 6 The newest calf among the Southern Resident killer whales was officially designated J58 after being seen alive and healthy on Sunday. The calf is the offspring of J49, a 15-year-old female named Eclipse who has one surviving calf, J51 or Nova. Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research had been withholding …
Western Washington avoids community-leveling conflagration — for now (9/8/2020) - Yesterday evening, high winds out of the east brought unwelcome smoke to the Puget Sound region. Living in the woods — which are very dry at this time — I became somewhat alarmed; I won’t deny it. This past spring, I wrote about the historic wildfires of Western Washington and the likelihood that climate change …
A look at future ocean conditions and how they could affect coastal communities (9/3/2020) - Scientists tell us that climate change is probably increasing the frequency of extreme events, such as hurricanes, droughts and wildfires. As time goes on, we might expect even more dramatic shifts in the ecosystem, as some species move to more suitable locations and others die out. The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing along …