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Puget Sound's orcas are among the most contaminated marine mammals in the world. Photo: Minette Layne (CC-BY-2.0) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_whale#/media/File:Orca_porpoising.jpg

New theory rethinks spread of PCBs and other toxics in Puget Sound

Researchers are proposing a shift in thinking about how some of the region’s most damaging pollutants enter Puget Sound species like herring, salmon and orcas.

RECENT ARTICLES

Phytoplankton collected in a jar carry toxic chemicals they picked up from Puget Sound. Photo: WDFW
5/17/2016

Suspended marine pollutants more likely to enter food web

Researchers are studying how persistent pollutants such as PCBs avoid settling to the bottom of Puget Sound. This article continues our coverage of new theories on the spread of toxic chemicals in the food web. 

The Tufted Puffin is among 125 species of concern found in the Salish Sea. Photo: Peter Hodum.
4/20/2016

The growing number of species of concern in the Salish Sea suggests ecosystem decay is outpacing recovery

The number of species of concern in the Salish Sea is growing at an average annual rate of 2.6%, according to a report published in the proceedings of the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver, B.C.

4/19/2016

Clean Water District Activities in Jefferson and Clallam Counties

This report summarizes activities and accomplishments completed under the grant PO-00J100-01 from September 13, 2010 to December 31, 2015. 

Black Scoter (Melanitta negra), one of seven new birds added to a Salish Sea-wide list of species of concern. Photo courtesy of USGS.
4/16/2016

Conference snapshot: The number of species of concern in the Salish Sea is growing steadily

The number of species of concern in the Salish Sea is growing at an average annual rate of 2.6%, according to a report published in the proceedings of the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver, B.C.

Bulkhead in Puget Sound. Photo by Christopher Dunagan
4/15/2016

Conference snapshot: Lengthy study looks at impacts of shoreline armoring

A new peer-reviewed study reports significant findings on the impacts of shoreline armoring in the Salish Sea. 

Killer whales and boat in Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
4/15/2016

Conference snapshot: Listening to the Salish Sea

Scientists are realizing that underwater noise in the Salish Sea affects a broad range of species, even plankton. Read a Q & A with the organizers of the session 'From plankton to whales: underwater noise and its impacts on marine life.'

A 6-year-old killer whale from L pod, known as L-73, chases a Dall’s porpoise in this historical photo taken in 1992. Photo: Debbie Dorand/Center for Whale Research
4/14/2016

Resident killer whales sometimes attack porpoises but never eat them

The mysterious practice of killing porpoises may have a useful function, but it has yet to be fully explained, according to orca researcher Deborah Giles.

4/13/2016

Perception is the key to a better future, says Canadian astronaut

Dr. Roberta Bondar opens the three-day Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver, B.C., by challenging people to see things in different ways.

4/12/2016

Gearing up for the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

About 4,600 miles of coastline wind from southern Puget Sound to northern British Columbia along what is known as the Salish Sea. It is a land of connections and contradictions. Snowmelt from three national parks feeds more than a thousand creeks and rivers that in turn flow to the rich floodplains and estuaries of places like the Skagit and Nisqually Delta. It is one of the most diverse and spectacular ecosystems  in the world, a fact made even more incredible because it is also home to 8 million people. 

Marine Shoreline Design Guidelines (MSDG) report cover
4/7/2016

State guidelines offer new approaches to shoreline protection

Bulkhead removal is becoming an attractive option for many shoreline property owners as awareness spreads of their geological and ecological impacts, and as aging bulkheads come up for replacement. New state guidelines provide alternatives to hard armor.

Feeder bluff and beach at Fort Flagler Historical State Park. Marrowstone Island, WA. Photo: Kris Symer (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
4/7/2016

Sources of sand: maps show crucial “feeder bluffs”

For more than a hundred years, property owners have seen shoreline erosion as the enemy. But it turns out that in many cases erosion is actually a good thing — crucial, according to scientists — because it provides the sand and gravel needed for healthy beaches.

Chart: Local shoreline changes in King County (2012-13). Source: King County, 2014
3/29/2016

Studies point to gap in permits for shoreline armoring

A significant number of Puget Sound property owners have been altering their shorelines without required permits, according to studies. A new report suggests that state and local regulators should increase enforcement and make penalties more costly for violators.

Pat Collier walking along the restored beach in front of her Maury Island home. Photo: Christopher Dunagan/PSI
3/29/2016

Shoreline restoration turns to private property owners

By removing bulkheads where they can, property owners are improving shoreline habitat, one piece at a time. Officials from county and nonprofit groups have been offering assistance and finding new ways to connect with property owners.

Sponsored by: Puget Sound Partnerhsip, WA Sea Grant, WA Ecology, Puget Sound Institute
3/28/2016

Shoreline and Coastal Planners Forum: Shoreline stabilization

Proceedings of the March 31, 2016 WA Shoreline and Coastal Planners Group Spring Forum. Shoreline Stabilization: Using the Permit Process to Protect Shoreline Habitat and Property with a Focus on Single Family Residential Properties

Puget Sound Tribal Capacity Grant
3/23/2016

Building Squaxin Island Tribe capacity to implement the 2020 Action Agenda for Puget Sound and the EPA region 10 comprehensive conservation and management plan

This 2015 report from the Squaxin Island Tribe details the projects it undertook with funds received by the EPA for the implementation of the 2020 Puget Sound Action Agenda. These projects include the restoration of the Shelton Harbor shoreline and a pelagic food web study.

Spawning Surf Smelt. Fidalgo Bay. Photo: Copyright Jon Michael https://www.flickr.com/photos/-jon/5892559865
3/22/2016

Spawning habitat for forage fish being lost to rising tides

Where shoreline bulkheads remain in place, the loss of spawning habitat used by surf smelt is likely to reach 80 percent.

Cattle Point Beach, San Juan Island, WA. Photo: Travis S. (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/baggis/8089171175
3/22/2016

Forage fish are losing places to lay their eggs

Rising sea levels are expected to exacerbate habitat loss caused by bulkheads, according to studies in the San Juan Islands.

Storm surges against the bulkheads protecting beach houses at Mutiny Bay, WA. Photo: Scott Smithson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/dtwpuck/15725058917
3/22/2016

Shoreline armoring's effect on the food web

The removal of shoreline armoring in Puget Sound has become a priority for state and federal agencies, but until recently there have been relatively few scientific studies of armoring's local impact. New research looks at the pronounced biological and ecological effects of these common shoreline structures, especially for tiny beach-dwelling creatures that make up the base of the food web.

Sternaspis affinis
3/21/2016

The dumbbell worm

The genus Sternaspis is comprised of sedentary invertebrates with short and thick anterior setae. The dumbbell worm (Sternaspis affinis) can be found on the West Coast of North America, from Alaska to the Gulf of California.

British Columbian Doto
3/21/2016

Sea slugs: The British Columbian Doto

The Doto is a species of sea slug, also known as a nudibranch. It is a marine gastropod in the family Dotidae. This species was first discovered in British Columbia and has been reported as far south as Santa Barbara, California.

Cactus worm
3/19/2016

The cactus worm

Priapula are a small phylum of small, worm-like animals found in Puget Sound. They occur in most seas, both tropical and polar, at a variety of depths, from shallow coastal waters to as far down as 7,200 meters. 

Stylatula elongata
3/16/2016

The slender sea pen

Sea pens are marine cnidarians that belong to the order Pennatulacea. They are colonial organisms, composed of specialized polyps.

Close up of Phocoena phocoena. Photo: AVampireTear (CC BY-SA 3.0) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Daan_Close_Up.PNG
3/8/2016

Disappearance and return of harbor porpoise to Puget Sound

A 2016 technical report from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Cascadia Research Collective details the decline of the harbor porpoise in Puget Sound in the 1970s and reports that species numbers have increased over the past twenty years likely due to outside immigration.

Salmon. Photo: Dan Hershman (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/hershman/497293505
2/29/2016

Contaminants of emerging concern in a large temperate estuary

A 2016 paper in Environmental Pollution identifies dozens of pharmaceuticals and other compounds that are accumulating in Puget Sound fish such as salmon.

Algal bloom. Photo: Eutrophication&Hypoxia (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/48722974@N07/5120831456
2/26/2016

Harmful algal blooms in Puget Sound

An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in a water system. While most are innocuous, there are a small number of algae species that produce harmful toxins to humans and animals.

Young adult herring from Puget Sound.Margaret Siple/University of Washington
2/25/2016

Population diversity in Pacific herring of the Puget Sound

A 2016 paper in the journal Oecologia describes how individual herring populations in Puget Sound exhibit a portfolio effect, collectively influencing and stabilizing the region’s population as a whole. 

Common starfish feeding on mussels. Photo: James Lynott (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlynott/11715880653
2/24/2016

Food web dynamics: competition and invasive species

Competition occurs when individuals of different species struggle to obtain the same resource in an ecosystem (such as food or living space). Adaptations, such as physical mutations and behavior modifications, can help an organism outcompete its competitors. 

Early morning meal. Photo: jdegenhardt (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdegenhardt/2771107305
2/24/2016

Food web connections beyond the marine areas of Puget Sound

Food webs are natural interconnections of food chains and depict what-eats-what in an ecological community. While Puget Sound represents a specific food web, the organisms that reside within that web often travel outside the region. In this way, one community's food web can be drastically affected by a change in a neighboring ecosystem.

Dead salmon. Photo: Boris Mann (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/boris/3037705761
2/23/2016

Transfer of nutrients in the ecosystem

Decaying organic matter plays an important role in marine ecosystems. 

Puget Sound. Photo: S.N. Johnson-Roehr (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/snjr22/4095840433
2/18/2016

Water and nutrient circulation in Puget Sound

Complex physical processes such as hydrology, nutrient cycling, and sediment transport are linked to water circulation patterns in Puget Sound. 

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