Low oxygen waters lurking in southern Hood CanalOctober 23rd, 2009 by cdunagan
Dissolved oxygen in southern Hood Canal has dropped to dangerously low levels, and the table appears to be set for a fish kill if we get strong winds out of the south. See my story in today’s Kitsap Sun.
It seems a lot of experts are surprised that we have reached
this level of low oxygen, considering that we were seeing
near-record high oxygen levels earlier this year. See a
story I wrote in August.
Although we have had low-oxygen problems in Hood Canal for years, monitoring buoys installed a few years ago now allow us to see what is happening at the moment and to describe the conditions in some detail.
In 2006, for the first time, scientists were able to show the factors leading up to a fish kill. Until then, it was only reasoned speculation. What may be equally troubling, however, is the level of stress that sea creatures are coming under before and after a fish kill — or if none occurs at all.
I didn’t mention it in my story, but oxygen levels at Twanoh and probably up toward Belfair are even lower than at Hoodsport. Lower Hood Canal is an area where the oxygen is so chronically depleted that fluffy mats of bacteria can be seen growing on the bottom at times when no other life can survive.
I feel that I need to express my disappointment with some of the comments posted to my story. To write this piece, I took note of the monitoring buoys; I pulled together observations of divers and others; and I even informed a few officials about the conditions that were developing.
I told this story straight, basing it on facts and observations that I gathered. Yet some people apparently chose to believe that my writing had something to do with taxation, government control, funding for Puget Sound Partnership, another costly study or hysterical tactics by environmental wackos.
I suppose I should be used to cynical comments by now, and I am glad that one person took the time to say he was pleased that I was “telling it like it is.” I just thought people would like to know of the dire conditions facing sealife in southern Hood Canal and what might occur if a south wind blows.