How a new audio technology may ward off preying seals in Whatcom Creek

Podcast by Max Owens

A salmon swims in a creek. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.

Salmon populations are in trouble, and hungry seals aren’t helping — but Kathleen McKeegan wants to know if an underwater boombox might be the solution. McKeegan, a researcher and graduate student in the Biology Department at Western Washington University, is testing whether Targeted Acoustic Startle Technology (TAST) may limit seal predation.

Along with researchers from the conservation nonprofit Oceans Initiative, she deployed the device, which works by emitting sounds that startle seals, at the mouth of Whatcom Creek. And while she’s still analyzing the results, the initial findings are promising.

Max Owens is a graduate student in Creative Writing at Western Washington University. He has written for publications like “Cascadia Daily News,” “Climbing” and “The Gulch.” This is his first podcast for “The Planet.”



As the Pinto Abalone population declines, graduate students, like Lizzie Diehl, are researching ways to increase their numbers so the species is not lost for future generations.

Podcast by Catalina Lane

An abalone shell sits on a shelf. Photo courtesy of midnightcomm.

Catalina Lane is a senior at Western Washington University completing a double major in Environmental Education and Studio Art. She loves enjoying the outdoors, creating art and playing with her stubborn cat, Tiko.



How a Western graduate student Evan Paul is predicting peak flows in the Nooksack River to help local tribes and the salmon population.

Podcast by Augustine Vanden Brulle

A bird flies over the Nooksack River in Deming, Washington. Photo courtesy of OER Training.

Augustine Vanden Brulle is a Western Washington University student who is new to environmental reporting, but they hope to channel their interest into reporting on rivers and fisheries in the future.



The Planet Magazine

The Planet is Western Washington University’s award-winning quarterly environmental publication and the only undergraduate environmental magazine in the U.S.