Who says dead fish tell no tales? These dead fish have a tale to tell indeed, a tale of a waterway in decline.
Hood canal in Western Washington was the site of a major fish kill this week. Divers observed dying fish swimming near the surface, gasping for oxygen. Failing, they expired in front of the shocked eyes of the divers.
Hood canal is not near a major population center; humans are fairly sparse on the shore. This fishhook shaped fjord was once home to fabulous ocean ecosystems, and my father used to drive hours to dive in it's rich underwater worlds. Now all that's left is a sad reminder. Go here for a Hood canal map.
How did we get in this mess, and what's to be done? There are no easy answers, since the major problem seems to be non-point runoff of nitrogen from dispersed human sources. Leaky septic tanks, lawn fertilizer, and modest waste like grass clippings and food thrown to seagulls are blamed, and it's a big effort to tidy up all of that.
One of the main things we must do is mourn the decline of a place once-great, so we don't forget what we've lost. Otherwise, we'll see things get worse and we'll accept a pathetic fishless place as just the way things are.
photo: Erika Schultz/Seattle Times