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Puget Sound

Nathan Cultee dumps 16 farm-raised Atlantic salmon into a container on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, at Home Port Seafood in Bellingham.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Bill Radke talks to Lynda Mapes, The Seattle Times environment reporter, about Washington's disappearing salmon population and what it says about the health of our coast and Puget Sound.  

Washington state Department of Natural Resources

A state-ordered inspection has found "severe corrosion" at another Atlantic salmon farm in Puget Sound, this one along the ferry route between Bremerton and Seattle.


A wild Pacific salmon, left, next to an escaped farm-raised Atlantic salmon, right, on Aug. 22 at Home Port Seafoods in Bellingham.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Cooke Aquaculture and state officials knew at least six months ago that the floating salmon farm that collapsed in August was "nearing the end of serviceable life," with accelerating corrosion eating away at its hinges and steel structure.

A wild Pacific salmon, left, next to an escaped farm-raised Atlantic salmon, right, on Aug. 22 at Home Port Seafoods in Bellingham.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The farmed Atlantic salmon that spilled into Puget Sound would have gone to market soon.

More than 300,000 were in a privately owned net off of Cypress Island when the net broke Aug. 19.

Seventeen thousand years ago, a massive glacier the height of five Space Needles covered what is now Seattle and a large part of western Washington.
Courtesy of the Burke Museum

Seattle was carved by ice.

Beach-goers in Seattle enjoy a Puget Sound shore in Seattle.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

While the Trump administration aims to slash funding for environmental protection nationwide and eliminate funding for cleaning up Puget Sound, the Republican-controlled Congress hasn’t seen things the same way.

Recent University of Washington oceanography graduate, Frances Eshom-Arzadon, collecting samples for microplastics study.
Courtesy of Frances Eshom-Arzadon

If you put any fleeces in the wash lately, there’s a chance small pieces of plastic fibers from the clothing could be sitting on the sands of a Puget Sound beach.

A recent University of Washington graduate conducted a local study on microplastics. They’re teeny, tiny pieces of plastic that can be smaller than a grain of rice. 

The Ballard Locks link Puget Sound with Lake Washington and Lake Union.
KUOW Photo/Angela Nhi Nguyen

This year marks the 100th anniversary for the Ballard Locks and a new report says its age is showing. It faces a repair bill that could be from $30 million to $60 million.

Puget Sound water quality is monitored from the air by the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Flickr Photo/EcologyWA (CC BY-NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/Fnc4Ay

Four months after a disastrous wastewater spill in Puget Sound, water quality levels are normal.

Hundreds of millions of gallons of sewage and stormwater spilled from the West Point treatment plant near Discovery Park. Local lawmakers called it a disaster, and it cost King County millions of dollars in repairs.

Millions of tubular sea creatures called pyrosomes have taken over the Pacific Ocean in an unprecedented bloom that has scientists baffled.

These bumpy, translucent organisms look like sea cucumbers that range in size from six inches to more than two feet long. But they’re actually made up of hundreds of tiny animals knit together with tissue into a filter-feeding cylinder.

Thousands of tourists migrate to Seattle’s waterfront each year to experience the ferry rides, kitschy stores and sweeping views of Elliott Bay.

Jeff Cordell says they’re overlooking something that makes the waterfront even more special: filamentous microalgae.

“Brown scum,” he said on a recent visit at low tide, running a gloved finger through a carpet of slimey growth. “We love to see that. This is really good stuff.”

New research shows some of the orca populations that visit the Salish Sea are booming while the orcas who spend most of their time there are suffering. It comes down to what the different orcas eat.

Volunteers Brian Gregory and Victoria Poage count crab in a trap at a site near Seabeck, June 2016
Washington Sea Grant/Emily Grason

Scientists think they know what brought invasive green crab into Washington's inland waters last year.

In short: "the blob." That was the temporary expanse of abnormally warm water off the West Coast from 2013 to late 2015.

KUOW/John Ryan photo

Have you ever left a job where you were tempted to tell off your boss on your way out? After working for a quarter century at the Environmental Protection Agency, Michael Cox didn’t hold his tongue.


You’ve heard of Keystone XL, the controversial pipeline rejected by the Obama administration but approved this week by President Trump.

And you know all about Dakota Access. That’s the oil pipeline that became a rallying point for Native American rights and environmental activism.

It’s expected to be up and running in April.

But have you heard of TransMountain, which could soon be the biggest pipeline of them all?

King County officials are preparing to spend millions of dollars to find out what caused a recent wastewater disaster in Puget Sound.


King County Releases Findings On Sewage Plant Failure

Mar 7, 2017

King County released preliminary findings Tuesday 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.

First, an electrical failure shut down the pumps that move treated wastewater into the sound. While electricians were trying to fix that, devices that measure how much raw sewage is in the plant also failed. Tanks filled up, and the plant flooded.

Seattle and Puget Sound.
Flickr Photo/Shannon Kringen (CC BY SA 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1SvhrSN

Puget Sound may have a murky future.

The White House is proposing a 93 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency's budget for Puget Sound restoration. The proposal would cut the EPA’s overall budget by about $2 billion.

Nisqually tribe biologist Chris Ellings holds up a sample of plankton from Puget Sound.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The Trump administration has proposed cutting federal funding for restoring Puget Sound by 93 percent.


The High Mercury tanker, part of a fleet co-owned by Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, in Haro Strait with Vancouver Island in the background Feb. 15.
Courtesy of Jane Cogan

If one thing is clear from Wilbur Ross's financial disclosure forms, it's that the billionaire nominee for Secretary of Commerce lives in a world most Americans can only fantasize about.


KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Some Democrats in Congress say President Donald Trump's administration has broken the law in its handling of the Environmental Protection Agency.


This heat map produced by real estate company Trulia shows the commute times for Seattle residents. The warmer the color, the longer the commute away from Seattle's core.
Screenshot with permission from Trulia

About 236 people move to the Seattle area every day, according to the Puget Sound Regional Council.

This means more people driving to their jobs, some more than an hour. About 100,000 people commute to the region from Whidbey Island, Aberdeen, Mount Vernon and beyond, according to the regional council.

How a boat named Nap Tyme crashed into a ferry

Dec 6, 2016
A still from a video taken aboard a Washington state ferry as it crashed into Nap Tyme.
YouTube/Amanda Shuffield

How appropriate that the captain of Nap Tyme was sitting on the pot when a Washington state ferry rammed into the side of his boat.

“A convenient place considering how he must have felt at the time of collision,” said Jake Beattie, executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend.

The Canadian government approved a crude-oil pipeline project that is much larger than the one generating protests in North Dakota and could bring a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic to the Salish Sea.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Kinder-Morgan Transmountain pipeline expansion project. The pipeline currently brings crude from Alberta’s oil sands region to the coast of British Columbia.

Now the company is approved to more than double the pipeline’s capacity.

People gathered to listen to the announcement about the latest orca death brought signs calling for the breaching of the Snake River dams.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

It’s been a bad year for the southern orca community. Seattle’s Center for Whale Research says a second adult female has died. That brings the recent death toll to three.

Advocates for a healthier Puget Sound have long contended that it needs to be treated as a nationally significant water body, just like the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay.

Such recognition, they say, will attract more money and attention for improving the Sound’s environmental health.

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.


It's a gloomy prediction by Seattle weather forecasters: the storm coming this weekend could be one of the worst in Seattle's history.

Most wind storms make landfall close to Vancouver Island, hitting the coast the hardest. National Weather Service computer models predict this time the strongest winds could come inland.

Dungeness crab
Flickr Photo/Colleen Proppe (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/ajKVBW

There has been a significant change in the waters in Puget Sound, according to a new NOAA Fisheries report. In 2015, the temperatures rose more than any other year in recorded history.

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.

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