An estuarine habitat occurs where salty water from the ocean mixes with freshwater from the land. The water is generally partially enclosed or cut off from the ocean, and may consist of channels, sloughs, and mud and sand flats. River mouths, lagoons, and bays often constitute estuarine habitat. Within any estuary, there is a salinity gradient that determines to a large extent what plants and animals are present. In Puget Sound, it is difficult to differentiate between marine habitat and estuarine habitat, since salinity fluctuates with the seasons and tides. The Department of Natural Resources established a geographical boundary in 1990, drawing a line from Green Point, on Fidalgo Island, to Lawrence Point, on Orcas, and calling all waters to the east estuarine habitat, and water to the east marine (with some exceptions: Dungeness Bay, Sequim Bay, and various coastal estuaries such as Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay).
Tim Essington1, Terrie Klinger2, Tish Conway-Cranos1,2, Joe Buchanan3, Andy James4, Jessi Kershner1, Ilon Logan2, and Jim West3
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 they are a year-round predator.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wetlands are recognized as critical ecosystems for biodiversity because of their disproportional use by wildlife and exceptional habitats for plants. It is their unique combination of shallow aquatic habitats and adjacent terrestrial conditions extending over a wide range of geomorphic and elevational settings that accounts for their ecological complexity and resultant richness. Because of their landscape setting, each wetland tends to exhibit unique habitat types and characteristic arrays of species adapted to idiosyncratic conditions, products of each wetland’s ecological and evolutionary history.
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.
"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.