This version of the Puget Sound Science Update provides an initial evaluation of habitat indicators, but is not intended to be comprehensive. Highlights include evaluation of marine and interface habitats (area and condition), as well as evaluation of a number of indicators of freshwater and terrestrial habitats condition. Many measures of habitat condition, especially those relating to water quality, were addressed under the PSP Water Quality goal.
Marine habitats occur in coastal areas where surface salinities are typically above 30 ppt (Dethier 1990). This may include open water, nearshore environments, straights and inland waters.
Dethier, M.N. 1990. A marine and estuarine habitat classification system for Washington State. Natural Heritage Program, WA DNR, Olympia, WA. 60 pp.Displaying 1 - 39 of 39
Giant Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera). Photo by Claire Fackler. Courtesy of NOAA.
Photo by Jaime Ramos. Courtesy National Science Foundation.
Three distinct groups of killer whales (Orcinus orca) occupy the coastal waters of the northeastern Pacific. These groups—northern and southern residents, transients, and offshores—are distinguished by diet, behavior, morphology, and other characteristics. Among these, Southern Resident and transient killer whales commonly are found in Puget Sound. Northern residents and offshore killer whales rarely enter Puget Sound (Wiles 2004, Kriete 2007), and therefore are not described in detail here.
Tim Essington1, Terrie Klinger2, Tish Conway-Cranos1,2, Joe Buchanan3, Andy James4, Jessi Kershner1, Ilon Logan2, and Jim West3
Sediment health in Central Puget Sound has shown a recent steep decline, according to a report by the Washington Department of Ecology. The report compares monitoring data over a ten-year period between 1998/1999 and 2008/2009.
Researchers monitored populations of benthic invertebrates, sediment-dwelling organisms that depend on an environment free of pollutants, as part of the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Project (PSEMP). The report shows that adversely affected invertebrates were found across 28% of the region, compared with 7% ten years prior.
Puget Sound science owes a debt to the researchers and explorers who got there first. We profile some of these important figures in an occasional series we call Puget Sound Voices. This month, we feature Vern Morgas, one of Puget Sound's first scuba divers.
[Editor's note: This global review on seabird bycatch in gillnet fisheries has some similarities for the Salish Sea, where bycatch may be down due to reduced gillnet fisheries. However, better data are needed to quantify the impact to diving birds in the Salish Sea.]
The incidental catch of seabirds in gillnet fisheries: A global review. Biological Conservation. June 2013, Volume 162, Pages 76-88.
Washington State Status Report for the Killer Whale (Orca). March 2004.
This report summarizes the status of Washington's four recognized killer whale (Orcinus orca) populations: southern residents, northern residents, transients, and offshore. The author discusses major threats to the whales, including declining prey availability and pollutants in their environment. The report, which came out in 2004, was produced as a first step in listing the killer whale on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's register of endangered, threatened, and sensitive species.
The full report can be seen in the sidebar, and is also available here.
The Washington Department of Ecology's Marine Monitoring Unit distributes a monthly report combining high resolution aerial photographs with satellite and ground-truthed monitoring data for Puget Sound surface conditions.
Influence of sex and body mass on harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) diving behavior. MS Thesis. Western Washington University. 2013.
A recent master's thesis prepared at Western Washington University discusses the impact of harbor seals on fish stocks in the San Juan Islands, where the seals are a year-round predator.
A paper in the May 2013 issue of The Condor [115(2):356–365, 2013] describes a repeatable and statistically robust approach to monitoring burrow nesting seabirds in the Salish Sea and the California Current that can be applied at single- or multi-island scales. The approach can be applied to both relatively common and important members of the seabird community like the Rhinoceros Auklet and to species of conservation concern like the Tufted Puffin.
NOAA has released a draft report establishing a common monitoring and adaptive management framework for Chinook salmon recovery in Puget Sound.
The Puget Sound Recovery Implementation Technical Team has released a draft of a NOAA technical memorandum describing frameworks for adaptive management and monitoring of Chinook salmon in Puget Sound. Download the report.
Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) is an aquatic flowering plant common in tidelands and shallow waters along much of Puget Sound’s shoreline. It is widely recognized for its important ecological functions, and provides habitat for many Puget Sound species such as herring, crab, shrimp, shellfish, waterfowl, and salmonids.
This is the executive summary from a technical report produced for the Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership on Valued Ecosystem Components (VEC). The entire document is included as a PDF with this summary.
Canadian and U.S. governments differ on special status for bocaccio in the Salish Sea.
A recent report by an independent science panel reviewed data on the effects of salmon fisheries on Southern Resident Killer Whale populations. The report was released on November 30, 2012 and was commissioned by NOAA Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Harbor seal numbers were severely reduced in Puget Sound during the first half of the twentieth century by a state-financed population control program. This bounty program ceased in 1960, and in 1972, harbor seals became protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and by Washington State.
More than 70 bird species regularly utilize Puget Sound during some or all stages of their life histories, but only a portion of these are actively being investigated.
Fish in the family Salmonidae (salmon, trout, and charr) play potentially integral roles in the upland freshwater, nearshore and pelagic marine ecosystems and food webs of Puget Sound.
Approximately 28 species of rockfish are reported from Puget Sound, spanning a range of life-history types, habitats, and ecological niches.
Bentho-pelagic fish utilize both bottom habitats and shallower portions of the water column, often feeding in shallow water at night and moving to deeper water to form schools during the day.
Recent worldwide increases in the abundance of some jellyfish have been associated with human-caused disturbances to the environment such as eutrophication, overfishing and climate warming.
Dungeness crabs are an important resource in Puget Sound for recreational, commercial, and tribal fisheries. They utilize a variety of habitats over the course of their lives, and are vulnerable to shifts in ocean temperature and water quality.
Pinto abalone are the only abalone species found in Washington State.
Many types of bivalves, both native and non-native, flourish in Puget Sound. These species are a crucial part of the Puget Sound ecosystem and are also important for commercial fisheries.
The Puget Sound Partnership is charged with preparing a State of the Sound report every two years to inform the legislature and the public on the status of restoration efforts in Puget Sound.
GIANT PACIFIC OCTOPUS (Enteroctopus dofleini) is the largest species of octopus in the world. It is found in the northern Pacific Ocean from the northwest coast of the continental United States to Japan, including Puget Sound.
The State of Our Watersheds Report is produced by the treaty tribes of western Washington, and seeks to present a comprehensive view of 20 watersheds in the Puget Sound region and the major issues that are impacting habitat.
Protection Island, a National Wildlife Refuge in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, provides important habitat for seabirds and marine mammals.
An independent review conducted by the Puget Sound Institute is featured in findings by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology that there is currently “no compelling evidence” that humans are the cause for recent trends in declines in dissolved oxygen in Hood Canal.
The Puget Sound Marine Waters 2011 report is now available. The report was produced by the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program and assesses the condition and quality of the waters of Puget Sound.
Audio recordings of rhinoceros auklets on Protection Island.
King County contains four major marine habitats: backshore, intertidal and shallow subtidal, deep subtidal, and riverine/sub-estuarine. Descriptions of each of these habitats and the types of flora and fauna associated with them are provided below.
They are sometimes called Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), or submersible drones. They glide like airships through the deeper channels of Puget Sound, and have become an important tool for a wide array of open ocean applications, including detection of marine mammals, military reconnaissance and the monitoring of environmental disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Puget Sound is the birthplace and key testing area of the Seaglider.
"Habitat" describes the physical and biological conditions that support a species or species assemblage and refers to conditions that exist at many scales. An oyster shell provides habitat for some algae and invertebrates, whereas cubic miles of sunlit water in Puget Sound comprise the habitat for many planktonic species.