NOAA

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Ever hear an orca speak? Ken Balcomb, who many regard as the godfather of whale conservation, captured their chatter using a hydrophone on San Juan Island: 

AP Photo/NOAA Fisheries Service, Candice Emmons

Following the release of a federal report on the state of endangered orcas, one local researcher says there's one factor that matters more to the whales' wellness than toxins and vessel traffic: fish. 

Ken Balcomb, who many regard as the godfather of whale conservation, is the director of the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor. For almost 40 years now, the center has been keeping track of every individual whale in the three pods that make up the southern resident population of the iconic orcas that live in Puget Sound.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A federal agency is weighing whether to protect endangered orcas in the waters off the West Coast.

NOAA Fisheries said Thursday it would consider a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity seeking to expand the critical habitat for southern resident killer whales.

Bellamy Pailthorp photo / KPLU News

Ocean health is at stake as Congress decides whether to confirm the next head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The nominee faced tough questions from Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, about funding for research of and adaptation to ocean acidification.

chasedekker photo / Flickr

  The charismatic black and white killer whales that spend their summers in Puget Sound will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has rejected a call to de-list resident orcas. 

Bellamy Pailthorp Photo / KPLU News

They’re the tools of modern-day warfare: unmanned aircraft systems better known as drones.

They’re also being tested to help carry out important scientific missions, including surveys of wildlife and marine debris in the National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula.

Photo courtesy of Washington State Dept. of Ecology

Carbon emissions are threatening Washington’s shellfish industry. That’s the concern of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, which meets today in Seattle.

Courtesy of University of Washington

A University of Washington research ship is sending amazing live video of the aftermath of an undersea volcanic eruption. The large volcano is about 300 miles due west of Astoria, Oregon.

Some scientists theorize life on our planet started at a place like this.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

NEWPORT, Ore. – A fleet of federal research ships is moving from Seattle to the Oregon coast. This weekend, state and local leaders in Newport are celebrating the transition with festivities. The state of Oregon kicked in nearly $20 million to help Newport lure the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific operation center from its long-time home.

From the Yaquina Bay Bridge, a huge bridge over the harbor, you can get a good view of the new NOAA pier. It can hold up to a half-dozen ocean-going ships.

Brianna / Flickr

The weather for the 4th of July this year is looking pretty good, with scattered clouds in the forecast and highs in the low seventies.  

That’s actually pretty typical, says Carl Carniglia with the national weather service in Seattle.  He looked back at local statistics from the late 1800s to the present and found the historical data contradicts the cliché of rainy weather for Independence day.

Brian Atwater / University of Washington

The same type of tectonic earthquake that hit Japan - involving the collision of plates that make up the Earth's crust - could happen in the Northwest.  Similar faults lie in the Cascadia subduction zone. 

The head of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington, John Vidale, told The Seattle Times' Sandi Doughton the Cascadia fault last ruptured in 1700.  Scientists believe it generated at magnitude 9 earthquake and a tsunami that may have been bigger than the one that battered Japan. 

AP

A task force convened by the federal government is recommending that wildlife agents get more aggressive about trapping and killing sea lions in the Columbia River.