Latest stories

Posted 1/09/2024 by Christopher Dunagan

Car wheel and tire next to a pothole puddle.

Scientists worldwide are immersed in studies of a deadly tire chemical

Research that began in Puget Sound has revealed much about the cellular-level assault on vulnerable salmon and trout, yet the puzzle remains incomplete.

Posted 12/28/2023 by Eric Wagner

A coho salmon fry about 1.5 inches long watches for food below the Salmon Bone Bridge at Seattle’s Longfellow Creek.  Designed by the late sculptor Lorna Jordan, the bridge honors the creatures that so far keep returning to spawn. Photo: Tom Reese

Photographing the 'Creek of Hope'

Longfellow Creek near West Seattle's industrial district still draws spawning salmon despite a century of city development and an onslaught of toxic chemicals. A current exhibit by photographer Tom Reese explores this often-overlooked gem of urban nature.

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About the magazine

Welcome to Salish Sea Currents, an online magazine founded in 2014 featuring stories about the science of ecosystem recovery. We are published by the University of Washington Puget Sound Institute (PSI) with major funding from the Environmental Protection Agency. To be notified of new stories, subscribe to the PSI eNews list.


Read Salish Sea Currents

Welcome to the 2020 edition of Salish Sea Currents magazine. This is the fourth issue of the magazine, and the first one dedicated to a single theme. All of the stories in this report address the impact of climate change on the Salish Sea ecosystem. Request a hard copy at psiweb@uw.edu.

Thumbnail image of Salish Sea Currents print magazine

Browse series:

Computer models in the Salish Sea

It’s hard to overstate the importance of mathematical models to science. Models show how planets move and how diseases spread. They track the paths of hurricanes and the future of climate change. Models allow scientists to look at systems or scenarios that they could never view otherwise. Increasingly, they are also helping scientists understand the Salish Sea. In this seven-part series, Christopher Dunagan reports on how computer models are changing the way we study the ecosystem. 

Themes from the 2022 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

Stories exploring major research themes presented during the virtual 2022 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference.

Themes from the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

Stories exploring major research themes presented during the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle, WA.

SSEC16 snapshots

Brief reports from the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver, BC. Complements the more in-depth stories in Themes from the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference.

Disease as an ecological force

A main story and two vignettes on impacts of disease in the ecosystem. Sponsored by U.S. EPA.

In the third series of Salish Sea Currents, we present a main story and two vignettes on impacts of disease in the ecosystem. [View printable PDF of this series]

Invasive species in Puget Sound

A main story and 3 vignettes on the sources, impacts, and regulation of non-native species entering local waters. Sponsored by U.S. EPA and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Nearly half of the invasive species in Puget Sound's marine waters have been found within the last 20 years. Among the most common pathways for invaders are ships and boats that may carry thousands of tiny hitchhikers. Our series looks at this growing threat and some of the species of top concern.  To be notified of new Salish Sea Currents stories, subscribe to the Puget Sound Institute eNews.

Series: Habitat protection and restoration–sponsored by the Habitat Strategic Initiative Lead

Puget Sound recovery strategic initiatives

This series of articles profiles select findings from grant-funded projects commissioned by the Habitat Strategic Initiative Lead (HSIL), a cross-agency team co-led by the Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources. HSIL distributed EPA Puget Sound Geographic Program funds to more than 100 grant recipients between 2016-2020. Articles in this series describe findings from several of those projects, including assessments of the risk of flooding driven by climate change, research to mitigate flooding caused by beavers, and zooplankton monitoring efforts.

Oxygen for life: The biological impacts of low dissolved oxygen

Scientists are reporting a decline in oxygen-rich waters throughout the world, raising concerns for sea life. In parts of Puget Sound, low oxygen levels can occur naturally but may be worsened by human-caused pollution. In this five-part series, Christopher Dunagan reports on the critical nature of oxygen to Puget Sound species. Scientists are finding that changes in oxygen levels can lead to physiological adjustments, shifts in predator-prey relationships and other repercussions throughout the food web. Read the latest story.

The orca docs: Can medical interventions help?

This three-part series explores opportunities and challenges of using medical interventions to save Puget Sound's southern resident orcas from extinction. Part 1 looks at how scientists might treat endangered southern resident orcas that face starvation and risks of disease; Part 2 considers how veterinarians have intervened with other animals in the wild, and how this might apply to orcas in Puget Sound; and Part 3 explores a federally approved vaccination program designed to ward of a deadly virus among endangered Hawaiian monk seals.

Themes from the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

A series covering major science themes presented at SSEC16 in Vancouver, BC. Sponsored by U.S. EPA and the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference.

Stories exploring major research themes presented during the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver, BC.  See also complementary reports in SSEC16 snapshots.

Booklet: 2016-17 special report for Puget Sound policymakers (PDF)

About the booklet

Rethinking shoreline armoring

An in-depth series on issues related to shoreline armoring in the Puget Sound region. Sponsored by U.S. EPA and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Salish Sea Currents presents an in-depth series focusing on shoreline armoring in the Puget Sound region. Close to a third of Puget Sound's shoreline is classified as armored with bulkheads and other structures meant to hold back storm surge and erosion. But new studies reveal the often significant toll this is taking on the environment. To be notified of new Salish Sea Currents stories, subscribe to the Puget Sound Institute eNews.

Themes from the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

A 10-story series covering major science themes presented at SSEC14 in Seattle, WA. Sponsored by U.S. EPA and the Puget Sound Partnership.

In this first Salish Sea Currents series, we offer 10 stories exploring major research themes presented during the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference.

2014 special report for Puget Sound policymakers (PDF)

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Implementation Strategies

New EPA-funded Implementation Strategies are designed to target Puget Sound recovery in the most direct and coordinated way ever conducted by state and federal agencies. We report on how these strategies will affect Puget Sound’s Vital Signs for years to come, and why you should care (a lot).

Returning home: The Elwha's genetic legacy

Following dam removal, migratory salmon and other anadromous fish have been free to swim into the upper Elwha for the first time in 100 years. Their actual behaviors and reproductive success may well be driven by changes in their genetic makeup.