Puget Sound

 

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $25 million in grants to Washington state, to be used specifically for Puget Sound recovery.

Eilis O'Neill/KUOW/EarthFix

This is the final part in a series on the future of fish farming in the Pacific Northwest. Read part 1 here.

Inside a chilly warehouse on the north end of Vancouver Island, eight giant tanks are lit with swimming pool lights. These are fish tanks — some of the biggest fish tanks around. Every so often the glistening back of a fish surfaces.

This is Kuterra, an Atlantic salmon farm that operates on land. That land belongs to the Namgis First Nation.

Maëlick / Flickr

Stormwater runoff is the largest source of pollution into Puget Sound. It comes from rain or snowmelt that travels over pavement and carries oil and other toxics into the water.

Jill Davenport

Nearly half the anchor lines on an Atlantic salmon farm snapped one evening in July, a month before an even worse accident caused the aging pens to collapse completely.

The damage in July was severe enough that the entire steel structure drifted "considerably" to the south, according to a detailed timeline of the two accidents released last week by the owners of the football-field-sized farm.

Neither Cooke Aquaculture nor Washington state officials conducted a formal investigation of the July accident.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

The orcas that frequent the waters of Puget Sound may not exist a century from now, according to a recent study. Washington Governor Jay Inslee says immediate action is needed to protect the whales.

Lack of food, pollutants and growing noise are two of the biggest threats facing the Orcas - or southern resident killer whales - according to the study.

Riccardo Rossi / Flickr

Despite its stunning natural beauty, lots of problems lurk beneath the surface of Puget Sound. The state agency in charge of coordinating its cleanup meets this week to finalize its latest “State of the Sound” report. 

Using Whale Breath To Find Out What's Ailing Orcas

Apr 6, 2017

Scientists have a new tool to figure out what’s ailing Puget Sound’s resident orcas. They’re studying whale breath, which is no easy feat.

“We had petri dishes that were mounted on an extendable pole,” explains Linda Rhodes, with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. “We had to position the boat close enough to the whale so that when it surfaced and exhaled we would be able to pass the petri dishes through the plume.”

A newly implemented fee for drivers near Puget Sound sent shockwaves through the region, after people renewing their car-tabs found out how much it would cost. Friday, some lawmakers in Olympia announced how they plan to ease the pressure of new prices.

King County Releases Findings On Sewage Plant Failure

Mar 8, 2017
Des Runyan / FLICKR Creative Commons

On Tuesday, King County released preliminary findings of what went wrong at the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. This February, an electrical failure there caused flooding and a massive dump of sewage into Puget Sound.

Some drivers in the Puget Sound region are experiencing sticker shock over their car tab renewals. That’s because of the formula Sound Transit uses to assess vehicle values as it implements a new tax for light rail expansion.

Navy Sued Over Aircraft Hull-Scraping In Puget Sound

Jan 27, 2017
Flickr User COMPDUDE787 / Flickr

The Suquamish Tribe and two environmental organizations have filed the legal paperwork necessary to sue the Navy for what they say are violations of the Clean Water Act that could harm salmon and other marine life.

Flickr User compdude787 / FLICKR Creative Commons

The Navy is scraping the hull of a decommissioned aircraft carrier moored at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard just outside of Bremerton. The EPA and others are concerned that could be polluting the Sound.

PREIN ET AL. / NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE

Wintertime is often drizzle time in the Pacific Northwest. The region may need to get used to more intense rain as well.

Climate change will bring rain in more intense bursts across most of the country. That's according to a new study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The extreme rainfall would come in the summer in much of the country. Here, we'd get it mostly in the winter.

With a warmer climate, the storms known as Pineapple Expresses would carry more moisture our way from the tropical Pacific.

NOAA Fisheries

Whale researchers who track the small endangered population of Puget Sound orcas say three whales are believed dead or missing since this summer. The Center for Whale Research says, as of Friday, there are only 80 animals. Two females and a 10-month old calf are believed gone.

New Federal Action Plan For Puget Sound Restoration

Oct 18, 2016
Associated Press / AP Images

Puget Sound is a national treasure and deserves protections on par with Cheaspeake Bay and the Great Lakes. That was the message as officials announced a new memorandum of understanding that will direct restoration activities from the federal level. 

Associated Press / AP Images

Wind and heavy rain could make this weekend tough for Northwest residents. The storm could be rough for the Puget Sound's underwater residents as well. Big storms mean big water pollution.

Researchers from the University of Washington and NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center found the opposite of what they expected when they used a new scientific method to sample the waters of Puget Sound.

D Coetzee / Flickr

Walls are going up around Puget Sound, and the sound is paying for it. In King County, property owners have walled off most of the shoreline with concrete bulkheads and other heavy infrastructure. A new study suggests the practice known as shoreline armoring is more harmful to Puget Sound than previously thought.

John Ryan / KUOW

A Skagit County oil refinery wants to ship a raw material for plastic overseas, and some environmental groups say that's a bad idea.

Ingrid Taylar

A wild collection of sail and paddle-powered boats has assembled in Port Townsend, Washington for the inaugural Race to Alaska. The 750-mile adventure race from Puget Sound to Ketchikan begins at dawn Thursday. Among the 33 teams entered is a 6-person outrigger canoe. Mackenzie Punter is with that Victoria-based crew, named Team Soggy Beavers.

There's money in a state highway budget that passed the Washington House Thursday to study a one-of-a-kind possible toll bridge fashioned out of retired Navy aircraft carriers.

EarthFix

Orca enthusiasts rejoiced when a newborn calf was spotted seven weeks ago. But as of this morning the endangered killer whale calf has not been seen.

L120 was the first calf born in the past two years. Over the weekend, the calf’s mother was spotted three times, without her baby. Orca experts believe the calf is dead, though no carcass has been found and it's unclear how it died.

Ports of Seattle and Tacoma Form Alliance

Oct 8, 2014
Washington State Dept of Transportation / flickr

  The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma are ending decades of rivalry. At a news conference Tuesday commissioners of the ports announced they will form an alliance. The ports are joining so they can fight new competitors together. Tacoma and Seattle squabbled for decades. But new pressures are now bringing them together.

Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

A long-awaited tidal energy project in Puget Sound has come to halt. The project was set to generate tidal energy and connect it to the grid – the first project of its kind in the world. But it just got too expensive.

Ingrid Taylar / Flickr

Scientists are using shellfish to conduct the broadest study of pollution levels in Puget Sound. Filter-feeders, like mussels, provide a snapshot of the contaminants along the shores of the Sound. And … in some areas, they’re pretty contaminated.

Capacci Says Ferries Back to Normal Saturday

Jul 31, 2014
Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

It's been a rough week for ferry users, but Washington State Ferries hopes to restore its Puget Sound service to normal by Saturday.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

It's been more than three years since the Fukushima nuclear plant accident resulted in a spill of millions of gallons of radioactive cooling water into the Pacific. Oceanographers projected that it could take until this year for highly diluted traces of that spill in Japan to reach our coast (i.e., the West Coast of North America). Radiation experts don't believe there is cause for alarm on our shores. But some coastal residents are stepping forward to pay for seawater testing just to be sure. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Ricardo Martin

Puget Sound tides may soon be generating power.  A proposal for the world’s first tidal energy project that’s connected to the grid received a federal license Thursday.

Puget Sound Still In "Critical Condition"

Nov 1, 2013

Puget Sound just got the results back from its annual check up…and they’re not good. A new report from the Puget Sound Partnership labels the Sound as still in “crisis” but says some small progress has been made.

Iwanafish / Wikimedia Commons

Studying the muck at the bottom of Puget Sound is an excellent way to tell how healthy the Sound is. The Department of Ecology took samples from around Puget Sound back in 1998 and then compared them with samples taken from the same area ten years later. And now the results are in.

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