A lack of oxygen in southern Hood Canal is killing fish, crab and other marine life, according to Seth Book, a biologist with the Skokomish Tribe who has been monitoring the marine waterway.

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A lack of oxygen in southern Hood Canal is killing fish, crab and other marine life, according to Seth Book, a biologist with the Skokomish Tribe who has been monitoring the marine waterway.

Through the month of August, Book and other Skokomish staff have observed dead English sole and thousands of dead and dying eel pouts on the beaches. They also have found masses of dead cockles and butter clams, and on Friday, Book said he saw hundreds of crab along the beaches that were trying to get to the surface to breath.

“It’s a dead zone anywhere east of Sister’s Point to Belfair, Mason County. There’s very low oxygen at depth,” Book said.

In another area, off Hoodsport, upwelling had pushed the deep water to the surface, and a University of Washington buoy on Friday detected almost no oxygen in surface waters.

Over the years, Hood Canal has repeatedly had low-oxygen summers that resulted in die-offs, and this year is shaping up to be one of the worst. The long, narrow body of water has limited circulation that leads to the low oxygen levels known as hypoxia.

And over the past year, the warm marine water that has lingered in the Pacific Northwest —- known as “The Blob” — prevented a normal flushing of Hood Canal with oxygen rich water.

Skokomish shellfish staff first observed die-offs back in early July.

“One day there would be a fish kill, and the next day would be fine,” Book said.

The forecast of stormy weather in the next few days could intensify the die-offs, with southerly winds causing upwellings that push more of the low-oxygen water to the surface.