Ashley Ahearn

The first debate between the leading candidates for Washington governor took place Tuesday in Spokane. The candidates were asked for their stance on the coal export issue. EarthFix’s Ashley Ahearn reports.

Photo by Ashley Ahearn / Northwest News Network

Barker Creek cuts through the semi-rural landscape of hobby farms and small towns on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula. And like many small waterways in this region, Barker Creek has had problems with fecal coliform. Rain washes the bacteria from animal manure and leaky septic systems into nearby waterways.

In some watersheds, the contamination can get so bad that officials have to close shellfish beds and post signs warning people to stay away from the water. EarthFix’s Ashley Ahearn reports on one success story.

Since April, 20 sea lions have washed up dead in Oregon and Washington. EarthFix’s Ashley Ahearn reports the majority of the animals were shot.

On the Olympic Peninsula the largest dam removal project in history is well underway. The Elwha River flows from the Olympic Mountains down to the Strait of Juan de Fuca near the mouth of Puget Sound. Ashley Ahearn reports that as the two dams come out, new life is coming into the Elwha River.

A 140-foot fishing boat has been leaking oil from the bottom of Penn Cove off Whidbey Island for almost three weeks now. The ship caught fire and sank on May 13th. Local shellfish beds have been closed as agencies prepare to remove the ship. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Bristol Bay, in Southwestern Alaska, is the home of one of the world’s largest runs of Sockeye salmon. In fact, all five types of salmon spawn in the bay’s freshwater tributaries.

Bristol Bay could also become the home of a new mine to extract copper, gold and other minerals.

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a risk assessment study on how mining could impact the ecosystem there. The Agency will hold a public hearing in Seattle Thursday.

Ashley Ahearn reports that fishermen in the Northwest are watching the process closely.

A deadly virus that prompted salmon farmers in British Columbia to kill 560,000 fish has shown up for the first time in Washington. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Photo by Ashley Ahearn / Northwest News Network

The ocean absorbs a large portion of the CO2 that we release into the atmosphere from our power plants and tail pipes. But when it gets there that CO2 makes the water more acidic and less hospitable for some creatures, like shellfish. In Puget Sound some shellfish hatcheries have already lost millions of oyster larvae because of exposure to acidic water.

Ocean acidification has scientists and policymakers in the Northwest concerned. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has convened a panel on Ocean Acidification, which met this week. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Few people know the orcas of Puget Sound as well as Ken Balcomb.

A researcher with the Center for Whale Research on Washington state's San Juan Island, Balcomb has been studying the whales for more than 30 years.

It takes Balcomb only a few seconds of listening to the squeaks and whistles of underwater whale recordings to recognize the different pods of orcas.

In one recording, Balcomb identifies the group known as the L Pod — the family many people in the area are talking about right now.

Cascadia Research

Scientists are still trying to pinpoint the cause of death for a young female orca that washed up near Long Beach, Washington in February.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report today with details from the whale’s necropsy.

Right now scientists still aren’t sure what caused the death of orca L112, also known as “Victoria”.