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oceans

A Blob In The Ocean Means More Ozone In The Air

Feb 21, 2017

Remember the warm weather we had in 2014 and 2015? University of Washington professor Dan Jaffe says that was caused by a meteorological phenomenon known as "The Blob."

“The Blob was a region of really unusual warm water that was sitting off the coast of Washington and Oregon,” he explains.

That blob had a surprising effect: it increased air pollution across the West.

Shipwrecks along the Pacific Northwest coast number in the thousands. A handful have become the long-running obsessions of a cadre of shipwreck buffs.

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered a sound coming from one of the deepest spots in the ocean. They believe it’s the song of a Minke whale, but it’s not like any they’ve identified before.

The so-called “Western Pacific Biotwang” is more horror movie than Nashville ballad. A low moan at the beginning is typical of baleen whales, but it was the end that caught the ear of OSU researcher Sharon Nieukirk.

“What makes this call special is the second part, and the way it sweeps way up and it sort of has that metallic twang sound to it,” she said.

Princess Cruises will pay a $40 million fine for "deliberate pollution of the seas and intentional acts to cover it up," according to the Department of Justice, which calls it "the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution."

The California-based cruise operator also agreed to plead guilty to seven felony charges over illegal practices on five ships dating back, in at least one case, to 2005.

Last winter was the first time the Dungeness crab fishery in Oregon closed temporarily because of toxic algae in the ocean. And even just a week ago, another toxic bloom was happening off the coast.

Scientists are just beginning to understand what triggers these conditions. A study this month from Oregon State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides a rare peak below the waves.

KUOW / John Ryan photo

Wind and heavy rain could make this weekend tough for Puget Sound dwellers.

The storm could be rough on the sound's underwater residents as well.


Dead Whale Returns To Oregon Coast

Sep 20, 2016

The humpback whale whose carcass washed ashore near Arch Cape over the weekend, and then left with the high tide, is back again.

This time, the remains washed up at Oswald West State Park just south of Arch Cape.

State park staff plan interpretive talks at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday about the whale at the park, whether the remains are still there, or not.

"The twice-daily high tides predicted over the next few weeks are not expected to be high enough to take it back out to sea, though it is still possible for it to wash out," staff said in a press release Tuesday.

Robin Everett, a Sierra Club organizer, says that Trump sees that workers and the environment are not being protected through these trade deals.
KUOW Photo/David Hyde

Last month in Everett, Donald Trump called the Trans-Pacific Partnership a “disaster.”

Hillary Clinton opposes it, too. So what does the rise in anti-trade politics mean for Washington – the most trade-dependent state?

Humpback whale off of Victoria, British Columbia.
Flickr Photo/Ivan Wong Rodenas (CC BY ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/Ehzb6P

This summer is proving to be a bonanza for whale-watchers.

According to The Pacific Whale Watch Association, tourists and researchers are seeing groups of humpback whales in the Salish Sea and Puget Sound nearly every day.

COASST / Cliff Brown

Seabirds have been washing up dead on beaches in Washington and British Columbia this summer, and scientists can't say why.

A crisp wind rakes the surface of Hood Canal, a narrow, 68-mile waterway and Puget Sound’s westernmost reach.

A group of divers emerges from the chop and wades ashore. They’ve just finished their first open-water dive.

“Congratulations. You’re certified,” said Callie Renfro, the dive instructor.

This is what passes for good news about coral reefs these days: Around the world, some reefs aren't dying as quickly as scientists thought they would.

Deep in the ocean, a mission is underway to explore the "unknown and poorly known areas" around the Mariana Trench.

UW-Tacoma biologist Aimee Kinney looks for small invertebrates that salmon feed on along a less-degraded patch of heavily walled Alki Beach in West Seattle.
kUOW Photo/John Ryan

In Seattle's King County, property owners have walled off most of the shoreline with concrete bulkheads and other heavy infrastructure.

Along Hood Canal and other rural parts of the sound, the owners of coveted waterfront homes keep building more walls to keep their properties from eroding.

Douglass Brown was walking down Titlow Beach in Tacoma with a girl he liked when he saw a giant thing – that looked like an octopus tentacle – emerge from the water. He ran, screaming.
Illustration by Tom Dougherty

Douglass Brown was 15 when he saw a giant tentacle emerge from Puget Sound.

He was in Tacoma, walking down the beach with a girl he liked. Then he looked out at the water.

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