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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

July 31, 2012 at 9:00 AM

The underwater world of the Elwha: a new ecosystem takes shape

Divers took the plunge last week to investigate the effects on the nearshore environment of dam removal on the Elwha River. Here is a video published by USGS of the dive.

For some amazing photos of what divers are seeing, check out this link.

The divers were returning to permanent transects they established before dam removal in and around the Elwha, in order to be able to survey and monitor how the sea floor is changing as dam removal progresses, notes Jeff Duda research ecologist with the US Geological Survey Western Fisheries Research Center in Seattle.

“We are identifying species and counting abundance of kelp, macroinverts and fish. Not salmon, they are higher in the water column.” Duda said. “But fish closer to the sea floor, such as gunnel.”

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USGS Scientific diver Steve Rubin begins video recording of a permanent seafloor transect that will be monitored before, during and after dam removal on the Elwha River.

Photo by Sean Sheldrake, EPA

“The idea is to see the sediment as it is coming out of the river and eventually the return of a more natural sediment regime in the future,” Duda said.”You see these dramatic photos of sediment plumes in the Elwha, but that is just what is happening on the surface. It is just the first ten feet or so. By and large the plume is buoyant.”

The real story is under the suface.

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The Elwha River seafloor on July 26, 2012, with an anemone and a field of tube worms and other aquatic life.

Photo by Sean Sheldrake, EPA

“Not as much deposition has happened as you would expect just looking at the plume. We were a little surprised. Glines Canyon has not come out yet and we will see a lot more then,” Duda said.

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July 21, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Salmon upstream in White Salmon for first time in 99 years

The Yakama Indian Nation and USGS confirmed this week that salmon are back in the upstream reaches of the White Salmon River for the first time in nearly a century. An adult steelhead jumps at BZ Falls on the White Salmon River, nine miles upstream of the former Condit Dam. Photo by Jeanette Burkhardt,…

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July 13, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Singing for your pleasure now: Swainson’s Thrush

Everyone has their favorite bird song. For me it is the haunting, plangent music of the Swainson’s Thrush. Heading up to the Bullitt Fireplace for a dinner picnic, I was delighted to be serenaded by this bird. Close by, easy to access, this hike is a great solution for those who have to get out of…

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