Thanks to 20 years of observations from thousands of citizen scientists, University of Washington researchers have discovered distinct patterns in the mass strandings of by-the-wind sailor jellies. Specifically, large strandings happened simultaneously from the northwest tip of Washington south to the Mendocino coast in California, and in years when winters were warmer than usual.Read more
Coral bleaching is a significant problem for the world’s ocean ecosystems: When coral becomes bleached, it loses the algae that live inside it, turning it white. Corals can survive a bleaching event, but while they are bleached they are at higher risk for disease and death. Now an international consortium of scientists, including Marine Biology instructor Jacqueline Padilla-Gamiño, has created the first-ever common framework for increasing comparability of research findings on coral bleaching.Read more
A new University of Washington and NOAA Fisheries study found that sea lions have the largest negative effect on early-arriving endangered Chinook salmon in the lower Columbia River. The results of this study will publish Oct. 18 in the Journal of Applied Ecology.Read more
The small subpopulation of polar bears in Kane Basin were doing better, on average, in recent years than in the 1990s. The bears are experiencing short-term benefits from thinning and shrinking multiyear sea ice that allows more sunlight to reach the ocean surface, which makes the system more ecologically productive.Read more
In their most recent book, Sarah Converse (unit leader, USGS Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and UW associate professor in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and Environmental and Forest Sciences) and her co-editors explore how managers can use a structured decision making approach to aid in solving natural resource problems.Read more
The next time you eat sashimi, nigiri or other forms of raw fish, consider doing a quick check for worms. A new study led by the University of Washington finds dramatic increases in the abundance of a worm that can be transmitted to humans who eat raw or undercooked seafood. Its 283-fold increase in abundance since the 1970s could have implications for the health of humans and marine mammals, which both can inadvertently eat the worm.Read more
When nearly 1 million common murres died at sea and washed ashore from California to Alaska in 2015 and 2016, it was unprecedented — both for murres, and across all bird species worldwide. Scientists from the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, the U.S. Geological Survey and others blame an unexpected squeeze on the ecosystem’s food supply, brought on by a severe and long-lasting marine heat wave known as “the blob.”Read more
Each year orcas consume more than 2.5 million adult Chinook salmon along the West Coast. Except for the endangered southern resident population in Washington, all other fish-eating orca populations that live along the coast, called “residents,” are growing in number. The rise of resident killer whales, and their appetite for large Chinook salmon, is driving a decline of the big fish.Read more
A new experiment by the University of Washington has found that some corals are more likely to eat microplastics when they are consuming other food, yet microplastics alone are undesirable. Two coral species tested responded differently to the synthetic material, suggesting variations in how corals are adapting to life with microplastics. The study was published Dec. 3 in the journal Scientific Reports.Read more
A population of humpback whales in the South Atlantic has rebounded from the brink of extinction.
Intense pressure from the whaling industry in the 20th century saw the western South Atlantic population of humpbacks diminish to only 450 whales. It is estimated that 25,000 whales were caught over approximately 12 years in the early 1900s.
Protections were put in place in the 1960s as scientists noticed worldwide that populations were declining.