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Fragile shell. Joe Doe (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/47104521@N08/4590994484/

Scientists from NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) developed publicly searchable database of nearly 3,000 Puget Sound species to study whether species having calcium carbonate shells are more or less vulnerable to ocean acidification. Their findings question previous assumptions that shell-building organisms are more vulnerable.


Report cover

Formaldehyde is often used to control parasites on hatchery salmon and trout. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology conducted a joint study of formaldehyde concentrations in effluent from hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest. 


English Sole (Parophrys vetulus) in Puget Sound. Photo: biodiversityguy https://biodiversityguy.smugmug.com/Underwater/Reference-List-Photos-of/i-3GgD5hB/A

A new study shows a surprising decline in some toxic chemicals in Puget Sound fish, while levels of PCBs increased in some cases. Scientists say the study shows that banning toxic chemicals can work, but old contaminants remain a challenge as they continue to wash into Puget Sound.


WDFW biologists sorting and measuring fish from PSEMP's index sites in the Duwamish River and near the Seattle Waterfront. Photo: WDFW

Toxic chemicals have been showing up in Puget Sound fish for more than a century, but consistent testing over the past 30 years has helped to reveal some unusual patterns of pollution.


Screenshot of archived SSEC 2016 website at http://www.wwu.edu/salishseaconference/archived/2016/

The 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference took place April 13-15 at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver BC. Over 1100 scientists and policy experts attended.


Dean Toba, a scientific technician with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, operates the agency’s screw trap on the Skagit River. The trap helps biologists estimate the number of juvenile salmon leaving the river each year. Photo: Christopher Dunagan, PSI

In recent decades, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to restore habitat for Puget Sound salmon. In this article, we look at how scientists are gauging their progress. Are environmental conditions improving or getting worse? The answer may depend on where you look and who you ask.


Salmon smolts. Photo courtesy of Governor's Salmon Recovery Office

A biennial report produced by the Governor's Salmon Recovery Office provides stories and data about salmon, habitat, and salmon recovery in Washington, including Puget Sound.


Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias), a species typically found in Puget Sound marine waters. Image courtesy of NOAA.

The marine habitat of Puget Sound can be divided up into nearshore, benthic (associated with the sea floor), and pelagic (open water) habitats. This article focuses on the pelagic habitat within the Puget Sound. This article was prepared as part of the 2015 Puget Sound Fact Book produced by the University of Washington Puget Sound Institute. 


Dead salmon. Photo: Boris Mann (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/boris/3037705761

Detritus, or dying or decaying matter, is a central component of the nearshore food web in Puget Sound. This article was prepared as part of the 2015 Puget Sound Fact Book produced by the University of Washington Puget Sound Institute. 


Anna Smith Park, Bremerton WA – May 2017

The Kitsap Regional Shoreline Restoration Program is an effort to protect and restore the Puget Sound nearshore by supporting willing landowners who wish to remove bulkheads on their shorelines. The Kitsap Regional Shoreline Restoration Program was funded by Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Puget Sound Watershed Assistance Program, Grant #PO-00J08501-0.


Eelgrass Data Viewer
An interactive map created by the Washington Department of Natural Resources provides access to eelgrass monitoring data collected between 2000 and 2015 at selected sites in Puget Sound. 

Eelgrass at Alki Beach, Seattle. Report cover photo: Lisa Ferrier

Scientists want to know why eelgrass is on the decline in some areas of Puget Sound and not others. The answer will affect future strategies for protecting one of the ecosystem’s most critical saltwater plants.


The Qwuloolt estuary hydrology restored by breaching a century old levee. WRP easement land in the foreground. Photo: USDA

When rivers spill into Puget Sound, they provide some of the most productive habitat in the ecosystem. The ebb and flow of the tides creates a perfect mix of fresh and salt water critical for young salmon. But over the past 100 years, the region’s tidal wetlands have declined by more than 75%. Now a coalition of state and federal agencies has a plan to bring them back.


The University of Washington Tacoma has spurred sustainable urban development including re-purposing of historic buildings, new housing, a museum and retail district, multi-use trails, and light rail transit. Photo courtesy: UW Tacoma

The state of Washington estimates that the Puget Sound area will grow by more than 1.5 million residents within the next two decades. That is expected to have profound effects on the environment as more and more people move to undeveloped areas. The race is on to protect this critical rural habitat, but planners say what happens in the cities may be just as important.


Report cover

A 2017 report from the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program presents an overview of selected recent monitoring and research activities focused on toxic contaminants in the Salish Sea. 


PSEMP logo

The Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP) is an independent program established by state and federal statute to monitor environmental conditions in Puget Sound. 


Noise from ocean-going ships can harm marine life. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

A 2017 article in the online journal Authorea reports that a comparatively small portion of ships produce much of the ocean's underwater noise.


2016 aerial view of completed Calistoga Reach levee project in Orting, WA. Image courtesy: CSI Drone Solutions and Washington Rock Quarries, Inc. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H_NK6U2_zw

A new approach to flood control is taking hold across Puget Sound. Rivers, scientists say, can be contained by setting them free. Conservationists hope this is good news for salmon recovery.


Harbor seals at haulout site. Photo courtesy of WDFW: http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildwatch/sealcam/.

Vessel traffic is increasing in the Puget Sound region. A 2017 article in the journal Aquatic Mammals looks at the potential impacts that increasing vessel disturbance may have on resident harbor seal populations and how future management decisions may need to look at variable buffer zones related to level of human activity.


Fir Island Farms habitat restoration monitoring in Skagit County. Project provides rearing habitat for young threatened Chinook salmon along with other wildlife. Copyright: Bob Friel

As threatened Chinook populations in Puget Sound continue to lose ground, the state is looking to new strategies to reverse the trend. In the Skagit watershed, the scientists — and the fish — are among those leading the way. 


A screenshot of the online story

A 2017 course at the UW Jackson School of International Studies examined how to create alliances between the Tulalip Tribes and non-tribal millennials through improved intercultural communication. The students in the course produced a multi-media story describing their experiences. 


Celebrating a community harvest at Drayton Harbor. Photo: Jack Kintner

After a long struggle with pollution, Drayton Harbor has reopened to year-round commercial oyster harvesting for the first time in 22 years. Here’s how the community cleaned up its act, potentially showing the way for shellfish recovery throughout Puget Sound.


Image courtesy of Nisqually Indian Tribe

This report describes how funding from the Environmental Protection Agency's National Estuary Program provided fiscal support to allow the Nisqually Indian Tribe to participate in all aspects of the Puget Sound Management Conference. Activities included participation on the region's Ecosystem Coordination Board, The Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council, a local South Sound LIO (AHSS), Treaty Rights at Risk efforts and various committees and meetings to support the outcomes of the Puget Sound Action Agenda.


Map image of Puget Sound and surroundings. Courtesy of USGS.

The Puget Sound ecosystem is shaped by its physical environment. This article looks at Puget Sound's geologic history as well as dynamic factors such as the flow of its rivers and currents.


Sea lion sunbathing between meals in Seattle's Eliott Bay. Photo: Johnny Mumbles (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/mumbles/3283168713

A new study shows that increased populations of seals and sea lions are eating far more of Puget Sound’s threatened chinook than previously known, potentially hampering recovery efforts for both salmon and endangered killer whales.