Recent Top Stories
Unraveling the Mysteries of Salmon Survival
Posted: February 19, 2019
An international team of scientists is braving the cold, rough waters of the Gulf of Alaska aboard a Russian research vessel on a mission to collect data about some of the biggest mysteries of Pacific salmon: Where do they go at sea? What do they eat when they're out there? And what determines whether they live or die? The data should help the team provide more accurate forecasts of salmon returns to west coast rivers.
Male Killer Whales Hunt More Often Than Females
Posted: February 5, 2019
A new report shows that male killer whales dive for fish more often than females -- likely due to their greater metabolic needs. The study also shows, however, that not every hunt by a killer whale is successful. Researchers used temporary suction-cup tags to collect data from 21 whales over a four-year period, and will analyze the data to learn more about how vessel noise and traffic might affect the whales' foraging habits.
Marine Waters in Puget Sound Returning to Normal
Posted: December 19, 2018
A new report from the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program's Marine Waters Workgroup finds that the unusually warm water temperatures that prevailed in Puget Sound since 2014 finally cooled off in 2017. Although water temperatures recovered, the populations of many marine animals throughout the food web are still lower than usual in the region. In addition, the region experienced both the wettest spring and driest summer ever recorded in 2017.
Are Salmon Losing Their Sense of Smell?
Posted: December 18, 2018
Salmon depend on their incredible sense of smell to help them hunt, avoid danger, and find their way home after years at sea. New research from NWFSC and the University of Washington indicates that, as the oceans continue to absorb carbon from the atmosphere, this may affect salmon's ability to process smells. In particular, the study showed that they become less afraid of smells that normally signify danger, making them more vulnerable to predators.
West Coast Survey Collaborates with Saildrone to Test New Technologies
Posted: November 16, 2018
A landmark study combined new onboard survey technologies with the capabilities of a small fleet of saildrones. Simultaneous observations of krill, fish, marine mammals, and seabirds from Vancouver Island to Southern California will help us better understand the impacts of predators on fish populations.
Why Salmon Need Side Channels
Posted: November 13, 2018
New research shows that one of the best ways to recover threatened Chinook salmon may be to restore the winding side channels that once gave young fish essential rearing habitat and refuge from high winter flows. Using fine-scale river maps and salmon population data, researchers created models showing that more complex rivers (those with side channels as well as deep pools, log jams, and other protective features) helped stabilize salmon numbers.
Marine Science Internships for Veterans
Posted: November 9, 2018
Two veterans will mark this Veterans' Day as part of research teams at NOAA Fisheries' Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC), one focused on the ecological response to dam removal and the other on the effects of ocean acidification. NWFSC's internship program for veterans, known as the Washington Veterans Corps Fisheries Program, offers veterans a foothold toward a career in marine science, while also supplementing the Science Center's research staff.
West Coast survey for coral and sponge habitat
Posted: October 31, 2018
Scientists are using underwater vehicles to survey deepwater coral and sponge habitat and collect baseline data on essential fish habitat during a month-long cruise along OR and CA on the NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada. Stay tuned for more about this collaborative cruise involving NOAA's NWFSC and SWFSC, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and US Geological Survey.
Posted: October 31, 2018
This new underwater feature was discovered a few days before Halloween off the West Coast in an area called La Cruz Canyon. The image was taken from an ROV during a research cruise aboard the NOAA ship Bell M. Shimada to study deep sea corals and sponges. The "witch's hat" is a lava-like solidified asphalt mound formed below the sea surface. Such features form when heavy hydrocarbons are released at the sea floor, creating flow features like lava flows.
Documenting the Diversity of Shellfish Beds
Posted: October 19, 2018
Oyster beds are home to more than just oysters, a new collaborative research project shows. Scientists from NOAA Fisheries and partners worked with shellfish growers to place GoPro cameras around Puget Sound, capturing hundreds of hours of video and showcasing a diversity of species, including sharks, crabs, flatfish, and salmon. Shellfish aquaculture is vital to Washington's economy; we're beginning to see how it helps the marine ecosystem, too.
Deepwater Horizon Study: Unexpected Results
Posted: October 11, 2018
A new analysis of data on key Gulf of Mexico fish, shrimp, and crab species before and after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill found little sign of any long-term disruptions in abundance, a result that runs counter to food web models and laboratory studies on oil toxicology. This may be a "false negative" due to the nature of the dataset used in the analysis, as studies of individual animals after oil spills have shown that lasting impacts do occur.
New Lab Unlocks Opportunities for Future Scientists
Posted: October 4, 2018
For many students from high-poverty communities, becoming a scientist can seem like an impossible dream. Ocean Discovery Institute's new science education lab is bringing new opportunities to underserved youth in one San Diego community, forging a path for other communities to follow.
Help Save the Puget Sound Coho
Posted: October 3, 2018
Coho salmon are dying from toxic stormwater when they return to Puget Sound. Urban runoff from rooftops, roads, and other man-made surfaces is poisonous to coho, but there are things you can do to help! Watch informative videos and learn how you can become a citizen scientist by contributing to an interactive map.
Species Diversity and the "Portfolio Effect"
Posted: October 3, 2018
Which is more important for a healthy marine ecosystem, the diversity of species in a single spot or the distribution of species across a large area? NOAA's NWFSC and the University of Washington teamed up to find out, and their results have just been published. This work will help fishery managers gauge ecosystem health and better understand the effects of species diversity on fishing "portfolios" and income in the west coast groundfish fishery.
Warm Water Means Hungry Forage Fish
Posted: September 25, 2018
Forage fish such as anchovy and sardines have been forced to eat an energy-poor, low-nutrition diet due to the unusually warm temperatures across the Pacific Ocean in recent years. Instead of their preferred diet of plankton, the fish have been consuming jellies and other "junk food," leaving them smaller and in poorer body condition. This in turn makes these fish less nutritious to the seabirds, marine mammals, and other organisms -- including humans -- that feed on them.
Testing a New Sea Drone for HABs Forecasting
Posted: September 24, 2018
A new autonomous surface/underwater vehicle, the Submaran S10, is being deployed on a test mission to sample seawater for harmful algal bloom cells and toxins. This wind- and solar-powered vessel increases our capacity to sample the Juan de Fuca Eddy, one of the known initiation sites for HABs off the Washington coast, and contributes to the NOAA Pacific Northwest HABs Bulletin, a forecast system that supports the management of shellfisheries, clamming beaches, and human health.
Salmon Mural Unveiling
Posted: September 14, 2018
NOAA Fisheries' West Coast Region has been working with a local youth group, Lake City Young Leaders, to create a salmon mural in Lake City. All are welcome to join the Lake City community on Thursday, September 20, from 5-7 pm to celebrate Puget Sound and its salmon.
DTAGs Help Us Study Killer Whales at Night
Posted: September 7, 2018
Researchers from NOAA Fisheries will soon begin studying the nighttime behavior of Southern Resident killer whales using digital acoustic recording tags (DTAGs), which attach to the whales with suction cups. The DTAGs will help us better understand how much time the whales spend foraging and their use of sound, and will inform policies that might better protect the whales from vessel noise. DTAGs usually remain on the whales for one or two days before falling off on their own.
Southern Resident killer whale updates
Posted: August 20, 2018
Biologists are responding to an emaciated and ailing three year-old killer whale, J50 (also known as Scarlet), of the critically endangered Southern Resident population. Responders from NOAA Fisheries and partner organizations are working together to explore options and treatment. J35, an adult female (also known as Tahlequah), who carried her dead calf for over two weeks, is also being monitored.
Archived Top Stories
Robin Waples awarded 2018 Molecular Ecology Prize
Posted: August 14, 2018
The 2018 Molecular Ecology prize has been awarded to Robin Waples for his work on conservation biology and management, as the leading expert on approaches for using molecular markers to estimate and understand effective population size in natural populations and use of time series analyses. His studies have made important contributions to understanding fisheries populations and advanced the fields of conservation and evolutionary ecology.