jeffrice's blog

The impacts of rogue chemicals on Puget Sound

In early 2016, scientists at NOAA made headlines when they reported finding 81 different man-made chemicals in the tissues of juvenile Chinook salmon in Puget Sound. Among those chemicals were drugs such as cocaine and Prozac.

This was the first time scientists had made these findings for the region’s salmon, but it was already well-understood that local waters — and marine waters the world over — are becoming an alphabet soup of rogue chemicals. In varying degrees, these chemicals are settling into the bodies of every species analyzed in Puget Sound, including humans.

Removing Puget Sound's Great Wall

Can we really wait 700 years to remove all of the armoring along Puget Sound's shoreline? Let's do some of the math.

Second invasive green crab found in Puget Sound

Last month, EoPS senior writer Christopher Dunagan's series on invasive species in Puget Sound highlighted some of the state's worries about the arrival of the European green crab. The article noted that "the threat could be just around the corner." It could not have been more timely.

Clam hunger: environmental impacts on food and well-being

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.

Tracking the secret lives of forage fish

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 graduate student Margaret Siple describes how scientists are looking into the problem in the latest issue of Salish Sea Currents

Coming this week in Salish Sea Currents: Invasive stowaways threaten Puget Sound ecosystem

Invasive species are among the three greatest threats to the environment worldwide, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Species ranging from microscopic viruses to larger creatures like rodents and non-native fish can alter the balance of entire ecosystems. The threat is well-known in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea, which face their own unique challenges.

Studies show connections between food supply and orca reproduction

Chances are, if you think about the Puget Sound ecosystem, you will think at some point about orcas. There may be no more striking image than an orca breaching against the backdrop of Mount Rainier, or a family of whales slicing through the waters of the San Juans. The fact that there are so few resident orcas remaining — less than a hundred Sound-wide — is part of their mystique. When they experienced a mini 'baby boom' this year, it was celebrated in the media and noted as a positive sign by scientists.

Scientists search for clues in salmon deaths

You might see it as a high stakes and incredibly complicated game of Clue. But instead of Colonel Mustard or Miss Scarlet with the lead pipe, scientists are looking at a dozen or so different culprits. They want to know why young salmon are dying in such high numbers when they venture into the marine waters of the Salish Sea. All researchers know for sure is that there has been what amounts to a murder—or many murders. For Puget Sound's Chinook, coho and steelhead, marine survival has declined by a factor of ten since the 1970s. 

New articles in Salish Sea Currents: following toxics through the food web

Watch for several new articles in Salish Sea Currents in the coming weeks. On Monday, senior writer Christopher Dunagan takes an in-depth look at new theories on the transport of PCBs through the Puget Sound foodweb. Conventional wisdom points to contaminants in the seafloor sediment, but new studies may show a radically different source. If the studies bear out, they will have big implications for Puget Sound's endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, which are among the most contaminated marine mammals in the world. 

Conference snapshot: Listening to the Salish Sea

One of the hot topics at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference this week is the impact of shipping noise on marine mammals such as the region's endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. As vessel traffic increases in the Salish Sea, so does chronic noise, which scientists say can alter whale behavior or even mask communication between species. Now scientists are saying that this may be an even bigger issue, affecting species across the board.


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