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Photo via Puget Sound Restoration Fund/Cameron Karsten, Marc Shor and Lisa Merrill

Puget Sound is absolutely vital to the health of the Pacific Northwest, but the ever-increasing acidification of the oceans is taking its toll on our lovely waters.

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has granted $1.5 million to the Puget Sound Restoration Fund so researchers can “investigate seaweed cultivation” as one potential strategy to lessen acidification of the Sound. The project will be led by Dr. Jonathan Davis and Betsy Peabody at Puget Sound Restoration in collaboration with partners at the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The goal is to cultivate more seaweed in Puget Sound to help protect shellfish — dwindling oyster populations have been a huge problem for a while now — and other species in our polluted waters.

Allen’s Foundation presented the grant to the Puget Sound Restoration Fund at the Seattle Aquarium last week. The project has a five-year timeline.

Photo via Puget Sound Restoration Fund/Cameron Karsten, Marc Shor and Lisa Merrill
Photo via Puget Sound Restoration Fund/Cameron Karsten, Marc Shor and Lisa Merrill

“Collaborators in Washington State have made huge strides to spotlight the problem,” Peabody said in a release. “We need to make equally huge strides in developing strategies to mitigate these effects within marine systems, and this grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation gives us an incredible opportunity to do so.”

According to the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, “Over the last 150 years, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased from 290 ppm to 395 ppm, and as a result, the ocean is absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide and lowering surface water pH. Ocean acidification, together with changes in ocean temperature, salinity, and stratification, is impacting the global ocean ecosystem and potentially threatening marine food supplies.”

Many stories have been done on the environmental dangers to our waters, but this report by Oregon Public Broadcasting is a fantastic tutorial on everything that is wrong with Puget Sound — and what we can do to help fix it.

Watch this Puget Sound Restoration Fund video on restoring oyster populations to get a good idea of the type of work they do:

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