Diverse communities of microscopic organisms called phytoplankton make up the base of the aquatic food web. In that role, they are an essential to the tiny animals that eat them, but phytoplankton are not dependent on others. Thanks to chlorophyl, these tiny organisms can generate their own energy from nutrients and sunlight. Despite their essential role to a great diversity of sea life in Puget Sound, phytoplankton can also contribute to low-oxygen conditions, and some can be harmful in other ways.
In a new series we are calling Ask a Scientist we interview local researchers to get their thoughts on some of the important but lesser-known scientific facts about the Puget Sound ecosystem. Today, we speak with University of Washington oceanographer Parker MacCready about Puget Sound’s “underwater Amazon” and why it has profound implications for Puget Sound science and policy. It all begins, he says, with the mixing of fresh and salt water and something called the estuarine exchange flow.
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.
Stories exploring major research themes presented during the virtual 2022 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference.
Stories exploring major research themes presented during the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle, WA.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).