How Healthy is Hood Canal?
by Angela Schauer
Common Sense Mason
March 26, 2003
[On Tuesday, March 25, an evening presentation on the health of Hood
Canal explained in layman's terms the technical changes the canal
has been experiencing the past year and took a peek into its future.]
Problem: Oxygen level in Hood Canal
Jan Newton, Senior Oceanographer for the Department of Ecology (DOE),
takes samples daily on the Hood Canal. She presented 10 solid years
of study, along with studies going back to 1940. She concluded, "Nitrogen
entering the water from forest practices factor into reducing oxygen
levels when decomposition uses the oxygen."
Jan confessed that it is hard to tell what caused low oxygen levels
in 2002, but did say that "it was a sunny year ... more light
yields more phytoplankton."
Greg Bargman, Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW)
Marine Fisheries manager concluded, "The 2002 closure of fishing
for one month (Oct 21-Nov 30) probably will not be necessary in 2003.
There were no long-term effects from the drop in oxygen levels. None
on Salmon. None on Herring or smelt. In 2002 only the bottom fish
Brad Sele of Pt. Whitney Shellfish Lab with the WDFW reported, "There
were no short-term effects either. Harvests have already increased
over last year by February 2003." "We are not sure, not
sure if low oxygen caused the Brazoan Parasite that was highly present
in Hood Canal on the spotted shrimp."
1977 Spotted shrimp yield: 55,000 pounds
2002 Spotted shrimp yield: 147,000 pounds
Yield has been as high as 224,000 pounds
The DOE stated, "We are uncertain about the effects of the Skokomish
River as it comes into the Hood canal (meaning how much nitrogen is
brought in ... and also fresh water).