Thursday May 23, 2024

Hakai Magazine

In late August 2024, Steve Rubin, a fish biologist with the US Geological Survey, will dive into the frigid, briny water of the Juan de Fuca Strait, nearly two kilometers from the mouth of the Elwha River in Washington State. It will be Rubin’s 12th dive at the site since the Elwha Dam was breached in 2011, sending a century’s worth of accumulated sediment surging downstream.

The megatonnes of sediment that were released by the dam’s removal were expected to help rebuild the twists and turns of the Elwha River. But some feared that they might end up suffocating the coastal ecosystems near the delta.

During Rubin’s first postremoval dive, he documented kelp, algae, invertebrates, and fish. The changes he saw were striking: Where there had been dense kelp forests, there was now bare ocean floor. The water was opaque with suspended sediment. At some dive sites near the delta, he could hardly see his outstretched hand. “It’s hard to describe. In some of our sites, there was nothing—literally zero individuals of some of these kelp and algae species,” Rubin says.

Read more >

Link copied successfully