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KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

Sing it with us, crabs: It’s getting hot in herre

Dungeness crab
Flickr Photo/Colleen Proppe (CC BY NC 2.0)/
Dungeness crab

There has been a significant change in the waters in Puget Sound, according to a new NOAA Fisheries report. In 2015, the temperatures rose more than any other year in recorded history.

Stephanie Moore: "New maximum records were set just about everywhere in Puget Sound in terms of water temperatures."

Biological oceanographer Stephanie Moore headed up the 2015 report by NOAA Fisheries.

She says across Puget Sound, shallow and deep water temperatures rose at a record pace above the 10-year mean.

Most locations rose by 2 degrees Celsius. In southern Hood Canal it was even higher, 7 degrees.

Moore says the warmer waters have already caused ecosystem changes. For one, it cut short theDungenesscrab season along the West Coast last year.

Moore: "We also saw changes in some of the bird and fish populations in Puget Sound, with a very poor year for Pacific herring, and also for a sea bird that is common in Puget Sound."

She says with rising water temps, we could eventually see a shift in what birds and mammals spend their time in Puget Sound.

The NOAA study pinpointed a few causes for the warmer waters in 2015: El Nino, heat waves, and a blob of warm water that made its way into Puget Sound.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reported on Puget Sound marine waters for the past five years.