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Photographic portrait of Christoper Dunagan

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.

May 11, 2023

" alt="Shutdown looms for Alaska summer troll fishery; court order aims to provide more salmon for orcas">

Shutdown looms for Alaska summer troll fishery; court order aims to provide more salmon for orcas

Southern Resident killer whales, which frequent Puget Sound, are expected to benefit from more Chinook salmon later this year, as expressed in a court order calling for the suspension of a major troll fishery in Southeast Alaska. Alaska state officials are dismayed by the ruling, saying that closing this commercial fishery would have a devastating […]

March 20, 2023

" alt="Inbreeding hinders population recovery among endangered Southern Resident killer whales">

Inbreeding hinders population recovery among endangered Southern Resident killer whales

While a scarcity of Chinook salmon and other environmental factors may be pushing the Southern Resident killer whales toward extinction, a new genetics study has revealed that inbreeding has been exerting a powerful, overriding influence upon the small, genetically isolated population. The weakened genetic condition of the Southern Resident orcas, which frequent Puget Sound, could […]

January 3, 2023

" alt="Remembering Ken Balcomb and his extraordinary life with killer whales">

Remembering Ken Balcomb and his extraordinary life with killer whales

I’m still adjusting to the world of killer whales without Ken Balcomb. Ken, who died Dec. 15 at age 82, was a constant presence throughout my career as an environmental reporter. His presence inspired many others among the so-called “killer whale community,” made of experts, observers and those who simply love and follow the stories […]

December 10, 2022

" alt="As winter approaches, salmon and orcas are still a commanding presence">

As winter approaches, salmon and orcas are still a commanding presence

With salmon and orcas still on the move and facing ever-changing weather conditions, I thought it might be time for a brief update to my blog post of Nov. 21. At the time of the last report, the Puget Sound region had gone through a 13-day dry spell, which followed a period of brief and […]

November 21, 2022

" alt="Low rainfall leads to an odd and changing year for salmon, killer whales and people">

Low rainfall leads to an odd and changing year for salmon, killer whales and people

It has been an interesting year for observing the behavior of Southern Resident killer whales, chum salmon and humans in the Puget Sound region. Weather played a significant role. Two weeks ago, all three pods of endangered orcas spent four days together in Puget Sound, something we have not seen in years. Chum salmon, which […]

November 4, 2022

" alt="Lawsuit seeks to block Southeast Alaska troll fishing to increase salmon for orcas">

Lawsuit seeks to block Southeast Alaska troll fishing to increase salmon for orcas

How much should Alaskan fishing be curtailed to provide more food for the endangered Southern Resident killer whales? It is an important question, enmeshed in conflicting federal priorities and provoked by a lawsuit brought by Wild Fish Conservancy, a Seattle-based conservation group. A federal court ruled in August that the National Marine Fisheries Service had […]

October 14, 2022

" alt="Scientists dig into massive data collected during international high-seas expedition">

Scientists dig into massive data collected during international high-seas expedition

Questions about where salmon go and how they survive when traveling far out into the Pacific Ocean have puzzled scientists for 200 years. But a new vision for piecing together this intricate puzzle has begun to emerge, thanks to sophisticated research tools deployed during an international expedition this past winter. Last week, scientists got together […]

September 27, 2022

" alt="Killer whale census shows another down year, with three deaths and two births">

Killer whale census shows another down year, with three deaths and two births

Three deaths and two births. Over the past year, the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population has declined by a total of one, according to the annual census report submitted yesterday by the Center for Whale Research. Now the number of whales in all three pods stands at 73, down from 74 last year and […]

September 14, 2022

" alt="Add-on structure will begin to address steelhead crisis at the Hood Canal Bridge">

Add-on structure will begin to address steelhead crisis at the Hood Canal Bridge

The Hood Canal Bridge, which connects the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas, has proven to be a dangerous impediment to juvenile steelhead trout. As many as half of the young migratory steelhead in Hood Canal may get picked off by seals, birds and other predators as the fish try to pass under the floating highway, according […]

August 29, 2022

" alt="New film about spring Chinook delves into history, culture and science in unique habitats">

New film about spring Chinook delves into history, culture and science in unique habitats

A new film, titled “The Lost Salmon,” opens with a video montage that takes us through some wondrous scenes: A wide aerial shot of California’s majestic Salmon River, moving to an underwater view of salmon swimming through the clear water and then to an action spectacle of wild salmon practically flying through the air to […]