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. 

Comments: Formerly treated as conspecific with M. nigra (Linnaeus, 1758) [Black Scoter] of Eurasia, but separated on the basis of courtship calls (Sangster 2009) and color, form, and feathering of the bill in adult males and most adult females (Collinson et al. 2006) (AOU 2010).

Economic Uses

Comments: In recent decades, annual harvest in eastern North America averaged 22,500 (58% in eastern Canada) (Kehoe 1994).

Global Protection: Unknown whether any occurrences are appropriately protected and managed

Comments: No data available.

Biological Research Needs: More information is needed on basic biology (Kehoe 1994).

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