friday harbor labsMake no mistake, the sea is changing. Warming waters are causing some organisms to become more abundant, while undermining others’ ability to fight off disease. Invasive species, overfishing and mutated diseases are all signs and sources of changes to come. Increased acidity, whether from human activities like runoff and carbon emissions or from the upwelling of deeper waters, affects the ability of clams, oysters and fish to form shells and skeletons.

There is no place like the UW’s Friday Harbor Laboratories for scientists to explore these and other conditions.

Not only does the area provide an incredible range of creatures to study, but UW marine experts explain that, due to higher acidity and wide fluctuations in pH and temperature, the Salish Sea is showing changes today that aren’t expected to appear in the ocean for another 100 years.

“Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have known that,” says UW biologist Emily Carrington, who is studying coastal organisms and their responses to environmental fluctuations. She is in the process of making long-term measurements of weather and water conditions. “In retrospect, it’s really obvious,” she says. “To work at Friday Harbor is to look into the future of the ocean.”

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