Oct 15, 2018 /

SMEA Summer: Watching people watch whales

By Celeste Barnes-Crouse
Boats, binoculars, and big whales: a recipe for my thesis research. When I came to SMEA, I knew I wanted to write a thesis to complete my degree. I knew it would be challenging, but I liked the idea and flexibility of designing my own research and contributing new information to the literature. I planned for my research to take place over the summer of 2018, and if I was going to be spending hours doing it then I wanted to like what I was doing. 

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Oct 9, 2018 /

SMEA Summer: Studying Fisheries Management Around the World (Literally)

By Priscilla Rivas
This summer, I was fortunate enough to intern in Rome, Italy with the Fisheries, Economics, and Institutions Branch (FIAP) at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). During my internship, I co-authored a paper about fisheries quota share programs, and worked with FAO employees focused on tenure and user rights in fisheries. Tenure and user rights relate to how individuals are able to utilize resources and have been increasingly studied in recent years, but there is a lot of debate surrounding exactly what the terms mean and what management policies capture these concepts. 

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Oct 1, 2018 /

SMEA Summer: Pursuing Passions in the PNW

By Tressa Arbow
What’s a SMEA student to do with a long list of goals and only one official grad school summer? As much as she can, if you ask me! So, this summer I divided my time between Swahili language classes, my role as NOAA Science Camp Coordinator for Washington Sea Grant, and preliminary data collection for my thesis.
Although I’m focused on Washington for my thesis, I’m ultimately hoping to apply my experience and the research skills I’m gaining in an international setting. 

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Sep 24, 2018 /

Letter from the Currents Editor

By Kelly Martin
The sun is setting earlier, rain is making its way back into the forecast, and the leaves are starting to turn shades of yellow: another school year at the University of Washington is here. As the incoming Editor-in-Chief of Currents, the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs (SMEA) student blog, this means making sure our staff is ready for another year of communicating timely marine and environmental research, news, and policy issues. 

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Jun 4, 2018 /

Clearing the Way for Salmon: The Difficult Path to Removing Dams in the Klamath Basin

By Spencer Showalter
Mark your calendars for 2020—it could be the beginning of the largest dam removal project in American history. While dams in California have been used for generations to stabilize long-term water availability to settlers, their inherent role of restricting flow affects humans and ecosystems downstream. Because of these impacts, four dams in the Klamath River Basin are slated to be removed in a $450 million project that would re-open 500 miles of spawning grounds to coho and Chinook salmon.  

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May 31, 2018 /

Simply Science, Part V: How the ocean gives us every other breath

By Samantha Farquhar
Take a breath….and thank the trees.
Now take another breath…..but this time thank the ocean.
Yes, the ocean. It has been estimated that 50% of the global oxygen supply comes from the ocean.
How does the ocean do this? By providing a home to plant-like organisms called phytoplankton.
Similar to trees, phytoplankton utilize the chemical process of photosynthesis. 

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May 28, 2018 /

Will your steelhead survive the Sound?

By Ashley Bagley
I’m avidly following my steelhead’s migration down the Skokomish River—so far it has migrated 34 miles from its rearing site, headed for the Pacific Ocean!
I recently decided to join a team and sponsor a steelhead in the name of conservation. Every spring, Long Live the Kings hosts its Survive the Sound campaign to increase awareness about steelhead survival and raise money for conservation efforts. 

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May 24, 2018 /

Simply Science, Part IV: Ghosts under the oyster bed: why the Washington Department of Ecology rejected a new pesticide for oyster farms

By Danielle Edelman
On April 9, 2018, the Washington State Department of Ecology (DoE) responded to a request from the Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association (WGHOGA) to approve the use of the pesticide imidacloprid to control burrowing ghost shrimp in oyster beds. Specifically, the WGHOGA had applied for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, a key component of the national Clean Water Act which allows for the discharge of chemicals and wastewater into the environment. 

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May 21, 2018 /

Ocean Acidification on the Half Shell: An SMEA Student’s Experience Running the “Boring” Booth at a Seafood Festival

By Danielle Edelman
A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting behind a table covered in bottles of sea water, pH-test kits, and posters with pictures of pitted and dissolving snail shells. I had a coffee in one hand and a bowl of steamed clams and mussels in the other. As I looked around at the booths next to mine, I spotted a family with two kids. 

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May 17, 2018 /

Simply Science, Part III: Dog Teams and Feces: The Unlikely Heroes of Orca Conservation

By Katie Keil and Kaitlin Lebon
This story is part III of the Simply Science Series, where we’re delving into research conducted in our own backyard
They’re local celebrities, Puget Sound hallmarks, key ecosystem players, and, unfortunately, endangered. Although they should be rebounding from (now banned) live harvest captures in the 1970s, the Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) population has remained relatively stable at low levels for years. 

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May 14, 2018 /

Frankenfish: Beyond the Myth

Size difference between a conventional Atlantic salmon and a GE salmon and at 12-months old Credit: AquaBounty Technologies, Inc.

By Katie Keil
On April 26, 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an application for a genetically engineered (GE) salmon facility in Indiana, paving the way for “frankenfish” to be commercially produced on US soil for the first time. These “frankenfish”, containing genetic information from three different species, were first demonstrated in 1989 but have had difficulty garnering consumer support. 

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May 10, 2018 /

Simply Science, Part II: Coral Bleaching

By Stephanie Wolek
We’ve all heard about the issues with our planet’s coral reefs—they’re being damaged by pollution, climate change, habitat loss, and a seemingly endless list of other human-driven factors. It’s easy to become discouraged when hearing about the latest coral losses and some articles have gone so far as to (mistakenly!) declare reefs dead. There’s good news and bad news. 

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May 7, 2018 /

Americans tell Park Service to take a hike: public outcry propels NPS to rethink fee increases

By Kaitlin Lebon
We at Currents have talked extensively on public participation and its vital role in how our government works. Participation through the public comment process is easy thanks to tools like the Public Comment Project, which organizes proposed regulations by topic and links to the commenting platform. Those seeking to make political influences as an average citizen through public comments can find step-by-step infographics here. 

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May 3, 2018 /

Simply Science, Part I: Introduction

By Mackenzie Nelson & Allison Brown
In graduate school, the volume of scientific articles and ocean science and policy topics we read about is astounding. Many of us joke that our eyes have gotten worse since taking our first class because of all the reading we do on our computers. I personally have upped my prescription since starting in the fall of 2016 and nearly everyone in the class of 2018 who started without a prescription has now gotten one. 

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Apr 30, 2018 /

Scoop the Poop: It’s Your Environmental Doody (pun intended)

By Nyssa Baechler
You have probably seen the many different iterations of the same signs: some ask, some tell, and some threaten by using pleasantries, profanity, or puns to get you to pick up your dog’s poop. Whether the signs make you giggle or gasp, the message is clear —Be responsible and scoop the poop! However, the entire reasoning behind the signs might not be so clear. 

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Apr 23, 2018 /

It’s a big ocean so step up and share the knowledge

By Allison Brown and Nick Wehner
It is no secret that academic papers can be jargon-filled and boring. But they are still full of useful information about what works in marine management and in science. The lack of papers on what doesn’t work is a topic for another blog post. Unfortunately, academic papers are out of reach for most of the people who could use that information. 

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Apr 16, 2018 /

Where has all the good sand gone?

By Mackenzie Nelson
It was a badge of honor, a trophy of a summer well-spent. The sand that collected on the floor of my car and hid in the crevices between the seats indicated how I had taken advantage of my proximity to the beach. I let it follow me home, sticking to the bottoms of my feet as I would make my way through the dunes at the end of a day in the sun. 

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Apr 9, 2018 /

Pause for Motivation

By Alex Gustafson
Time often seems to move quickly, and the pace expected for completing projects or goals can diminish the time we have available to congratulate ourselves. This is especially true as graduation approaches for some, and the end of the school year for all. I believe it is important to genuinely reflect on our experiences and take time to appreciate what we do in order to maintain our perspective, our motivation, and ultimately the quality of our work. 

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Apr 2, 2018 /

In Defense of Aquaculture: An Argument for a Sustainable Seafood Future

By Danielle Edelman
In August 2017, a massive net pen failure released thousands of Atlantic salmon into the waters of Puget Sound. This event prompted a renewed surge of energy for the many residents, lawmakers, advocacy groups, and businesses which oppose the development of net pen salmon aquaculture in Washington. From the cancellation of Cooke Aquaculture’s Port Angeles farm lease, to the signing of a bill on March 22, 2018 to eliminate the farming of non-native finfish in state waters, the future of finfish aquaculture in Washington is beginning to look grim. 

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Mar 28, 2018 /

Manta rays – They’re just like us

By Jessica Knoth
Chimpanzees preen in front of mirrors, elephants inspect themselves in reflective surfaces, and dolphins name themselves with individual whistles. Surprisingly, manta rays are in the same category as these charismatic mammals when it comes to intelligence tests. A recent study found that giant manta rays display the distinct behaviors humans assign to self-awareness. Manta rays are in the elasmobranch family of cartilaginous fishes that include sharks and skates. 

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