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288 posts in Publications

‘The blob,’ food supply squeeze to blame for largest seabird die-off

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.”

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Resident orcas’ appetite likely reason for decline of big Chinook salmon

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.

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Precision mapping with satellite, drone photos could help predict infections of a widespread tropical disease

A team led by the University of Washington and Stanford University has discovered clues in the environment that help identify transmission hotspots for schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that is second only to malaria in its global health impact. The research, publishing the week of Oct. 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, uses rigorous field sampling and aerial images to precisely map communities that are at greatest risk for schistosomiasis.

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A Tunnel to the Twilight Zone: Blue sharks ride deep-swirling currents to the ocean’s midwater at mealtime

Last year, researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Applied Physics Lab at the University of Washington (UW) discovered that when white sharks are ready to feast, they ride large, swirling ocean currents known as eddies to fast-track their way to the ocean twilight zone—a layer of the ocean between 200 and 1000 meters deep (656 to 3280 feet) containing the largest fish biomass on Earth. Now, according to a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists are seeing a similar activity with blue sharks, which dive through these natural, spinning tunnels at mealtime. The eddies draw warm water deep into the twilight zone where temperatures are normally considerably colder, allowing blue sharks to forage across areas of the open ocean that are often characterized by low prey abundance in surface waters.

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What motivates people to join — and stick with — citizen science projects?

COASST citizen science volunteers identifying a seabird carcass in Ocean Shores, Washington.

One of the most established hands-on, outdoor citizen science projects is the University of Washington-based Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, COASST, which trains beachgoers along the West Coast, from California to Alaska, to monitor their local beach for dead birds. With about 4,500 participants in its 21-year history and roughly 800 active participants today, COASST’s long-term success is now the subject of scientific study in its own right. What makes people join citizen science projects, and what motivates people to stick with them over years?

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