Shelton

Oxygen levels at record lows along Hood Canal

Oxygen levels at record lows along Hood Canal

There are new worries for Hood Canal as the oxygen levels in deep water are at record low levels.

Scientists say not enough new ocean water came into the canal this year, and that amounts to stale water.

Fish watching along the canal is good these days.

"Probably 25 ling cod up there, anywhere from 80 feet to the surface. And wolf eels out of their den, swimming around," said scuba diver Jay Cross.

But that could be a sign of trouble as fish are coming up, searching for oxygen.

Remember 2006? In the fall, fish and sea life ran out of stuff to breathe. Anemones died, too. Oxygen levels drop in summer and this year, we are starting with record lows.

Scientists say not all low-oxygen years result in fish kills; it didn't happen in 2004, when there were low levels.

"Whether that will happen this year - we don't know, because there are so many different factors," said Dr. Jan Newton, an oceanographer at the University of Washington. "It's like the perfect storm. We don't know if we will get those conditions this year, but it certainly is a cause for concern."

The unknowns are winds, temperatures, and ocean flow into the canal. And there's the human factor: fertilizer for lawns and plants.

Scientist and locals admit there's not much they can do about the forces of nature, but man adds to the problems here and those problems could be addressed.