Eyes Over Puget Sound

The Washington Department of Ecology distributes a monthly report combining high resolution aerial photographs with satellite and ground-truthed monitoring data for Puget Sound surface conditions.

Eyes Over Puget Sound August 2017 report cover
Eyes Over Puget Sound August 2017 report cover

The float plane prepares to take off. Photo by Jeff Rice for the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.Ecology's Marine Monitoring Unit takes monthly samples at 40 core stations throughout the Puget Sound region. During a transit flight between stations, monitoring team member Dr. Christopher Krembs takes photographs of surface water conditions in the Sound. These high-resolution images are combined with satellite photos, ferry data between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. and measurements from instruments moored in the Sound to create the Eyes Over Puget Sound report.

The report observes changes in water conditions that can be seen on the surface, such as algal blooms, wildlife activity, and oil spills, and provides contextual and interpretive data. Reports are released within two days of observations and have been published monthly since April 2011.

Learn more about Eyes Over Puget Sound at WA Ecology

Download surface conditions reports (PDF)

Eyes Over Puget Sound: surface conditions report, Oct 31, 2017 EOPS_October_31_2017

New Release: After a dry and sunny summer extending well into October, air temperatures are cooler than normal and precipitation has increased allowing rivers to regain strength. Despite a dry summer, Puget Sound is fresher this year than the past 17 years. As of September, warmer temperatures remained in South Sound. In October, surface water in the Straits however began to cool and the influence of rivers can be seen in our ferry data. Leaves drift on the water in South Sound and smaller blooms are confined to inlets as the productive season winds down. Meet our new intern and discover if Puget Sound really has sea spiders.

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Warm air temperatures, abundant sunshine, and drier conditions persisted. River flows are lower in the north. Puget Sound waters are still fresher than in the past 17 years from the combination of abundant spring rain and weak upwelling bringing less salty water from the ocean. July upwelling was stronger, however. Warmer water temperatures are notable in parts of Central Sound, accompanied by large rafts of drifting macroalgae. Diverse blooms in colors of green, orange and red-brown are present in many inlets. Jellyfish abundance is lower this year. Find out how we assess if the benthos is changing. 

Publication No. 17-03-072



July had warm air temperatures, sunshine, and an abundant snowpack. Previous months had higher river flows (bringing freshwater) and weak upwelling (low delivery of saltier water) which resulted in very low salinities in Puget Sound, especially in the South Sound. Water temperatures are expected and warmer in Central Sound. Above normal sunshine has made Puget Sound biologically very active! Intense and unusual blooms color Hood Canal (coccolithophores) and south sound inlets. Large mats of organic material containing macro-algae drift at the surface. Many schools of fish are visible though jellyfish were absent.

Publication No. 17-03-071


Cooler and wetter conditions early in 2017 have set the stage for a favorable supply of freshwater. River flows are all above normal due to melting of the abundant snowpack from warmer May air temperatures. This is creating significantly fresher conditions in Puget Sound surface waters. Algae blooms are limited to some yellow-green blooms growing in bays near the Kitsap Peninsula and blooms near estuaries of the Skagit, Stillaguamish, and Puyallup Rivers. Red blooms are present in rivers feeding into Willapa Bay. Also see what is “blooming” in the sediments of Puget Sound.

Publication No. 17-03-070


The year 2016 in pictures: After two years of very warm air and record high water temperatures starting with the Blob (2015) and followed by El Nino (2016), temperatures have fallen and remain slightly warmer than normal in Puget Sound. Very low summer river flows (e.g., Fraser River) reflect climatic predictions for the NW. Record temperatures and low salinities occurred alongside observations of abundant jellyfish, floating macro-algae, and Noctiluca blooms. Surprisingly, only South Sound developed very low summer oxygen levels in 2016. In the fall, La Niña came with a punch, rain increased, and air temperatures dropped. Will this be an unusual La Niña?

Publication No. 16-03-079

ENSO is in a cold phase (La Niña) and it is wetter and warmer than normal. Strong precipitation in October greatly improved Puget Sound streamflows. At the coast, we had strong downwelling. As a result, water temperatures, salinities, and oxygen in Puget Sound are returning to normal. While surface water in Puget Sound has cooled, it is still warmer than in the Straits. Surprisingly, masses of suspended sediment occurred east of Steamboat Island in Totten Inlet. We continue to see large jellyfish aggregations in finger Inlets of South Sound and slowly fading red-brown blooms.

Publication No. 16-03-078

September is jellyfish season and they are everywhere in southern Puget Sound! Sunny, warm, and dry conditions promoted strong late-summer plankton blooms in colors of red, green, and brown, now widespread in many bays. In contrast, Central Sound looks clear with low algal activity. Southern Puget Sound has large floating mats of organic material and developed lower oxygen in August. Meet the Critter of the Month - The Sweet Potato Sea Cucumber.
Publication No. 16-03-077
In July, conditions were normalizing, yet river flows remained lower, continuing into August. July also saw lower oxygen appearing in southern Puget Sound. By August, jellyfish are occurring in high numbers in Eld and Budd Inlet. South Puget Sound has Noctiluca drifting at the surface in large orange lines in many places and red-brown blooms widespread in finger inlets, as well as in Sinclair Inlet. Central Sound surface-water temperatures are high, still in the 60s, and algae are abundant. See what we are measuring to understand ocean acidification in Puget Sound.
Publication No. 16-03-076

New Release: Through June, air temperatures and sunlight were higher than normal. Recent rain generally improved river flows. However, the Fraser river flow remains extremely low, reducing water exchange with the ocean. Water temperatures are still breaking records, yet dissolved oxygen levels are normal. Coastal bays are influenced by upwelling and exhibit lower oxygen and higher salinities. Puget Sound algae are thriving with blooms observed in many South Sound inlets. Macro-algae is seen piling up on beaches and drifting in Central Sound. Jellyfish smacks are numerous in Eld and Budd Inlets. Our fliers notice seals hanging out at the beach!

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Record-breaking warmer and fresher water in Puget Sound. May-June conditions are more unusual than last year. Recent rain brought river flows close to normal but water exchange in Puget Sound remains weak due to low Fraser River flow. Phytoplankton blooms and organic material are visible in some areas of Central and South Sound but not in others. Noctiluca, while absent in Central Basin, was reported in unusual places. Jelly fish occur only in some south sound bays. Follow our BEACH program kick off, discover the Stinkworm, and find good underwater visibility for diving.
Publication No. 16-03-074
Spring air temperatures are higher - it has been sunny and dry. The snowpack is quickly disappearing as temperatures are up to 7 °F warmer at higher elevations. Snowmelt-fed rivers are running very high. How does this affect water quality in Puget Sound? A strong spring phytoplankton bloom extends across Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Water temperatures are still higher than normal and jellyfish are already numerous in southern inlets. The high biological activity is causing organic material to drift at the surface and wash onto beaches. Do you know how fast a Sand Star can move?
Publication No. 16-03-073
Despite warmer air temperatures, normal snowpack in the mountains suggest that summer freshwater flows into Puget Sound might be higher than last year. As of April, the spring plankton bloom has extended across Central and South Puget Sound. Ferry data shows chlorophyll increasing after March 25 and expanding across the area. With water temperatures above normal as a carry-over from 2015, jellyfish patches are numerous in inlets of South Sound and in Sinclair Inlet, unusual for this time of year. Check out the tiny burrowing ostracods as well as our Washington Conservation Corps Intern analyzing seawater oxygen.
Publication No. 16-03-072
In response to warm and wet conditions, rivers have been running high. Salinity in Puget Sound is notably lower. Below a cooler surface, water temperatures remain high, especially in Hood Canal. We still see numerous jellyfish patches in Puget Sound inlets. Phytoplankton blooms are going strong in Hood Canal and Henderson Inlet, and picking up elsewhere. Many places showed long stretches of suspended sediments nearshore, a sign of potential shore erosion. Check out the critters inhabiting the sediments of Puget Sound.
Publication No. 16-03-071
January air temperatures and precipitation were above normal as El Nino conditions prevail. This winter our snowpack is in much better shape, though we’ve lost some snow from the stint of warm weather. More rain and higher river flows have lowered salinities in Puget Sound and coastal bays. Nonetheless, water temperatures in Puget Sound remain at record-breaking highs. Jellyfish patches are numerous in finger inlets of South Sound and signs of phytoplankton blooms are visible in coastal bays. When conditions limit flying, Ecology’s research vessel gets the job done.
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The year 2015 in pictures: Jellyfish patches persisted through the entire year in response to the exceptionally warm water caused by the Blob. Sediment loads are high as snow melts fast in the winter of 2015. Unexpected phytoplankton species occur in some bays in spring. Noctiluca, jellyfish and macro-algae appear in high numbers when rivers drop to record-low flows in early summer. Low river flows slow the renewal of in Puget Sound throughout summer and fall and jellyfish patches reach record highs.
Publication No. 15-03-080
As coastal and regional conditions gradually normalize in response to a fading Blob and increased rain, the big question remains. Will the snow in the mountains stay there or come down prematurely and lower salinity in Puget Sound like last winter? Cascade snowpack is currently below normal. The El Niño at the equator is still brewing! Major rivers transport large amounts of suspended sediments and soil into Puget Sound, also seen in our ferry sensor data. Our flight team gets in the pool for safety training.
Publication No. 15-03-079
Puget Sound is starting to normalize in response to fall conditions with cooler air temperatures, rain, and recovering river flows. We are seeing fewer algal blooms, jellyfish, and macro-algae as salinities become more normal. Yet warm waters persist and El Nino and the Blob are likely to affect Puget Sound throughout the winter. The Nisqually River fared better through the drought than other rivers and best management practices have been improving its water quality. EOPS and ferry monitoring gain recognition with a national award for innovation!
Publication No. 15-03-078
Air temperatures are warm and Puget Sound continues to show record high water temperatures. Some rain has returned to our region, yet river flows remain unusually low. Puget Sound is saltier than normal allowing oxygen-rich surface waters to more easily mix to greater depths. Lower oxygen was measured only in the Coastal Bays, Hood Canal, and South Sound. Large jellyfish aggregations continue in South Sound, the Kitsap Peninsula, and East Sound (Orcas Island). Sediment plumes in Bellingham Bay form unique patterns. Warm waters and sunny conditions fostered green tides, raising a stink along some local beaches.
Publication No. 15-03-077
EOPS_August_8_2015, Unusually warm water temperatures continue in central and south Puget Sound. River flows remain lower than normal, especially the Fraser and Skagit rivers. Thus, with estuarine circulation much weaker, Puget Sound waters stay put. Mats of organic debris persist in Central Sound near Port Madison. Red-brown and brown blooms are now very strong in southern inlets and jellyfish patches are exceptionally numerous and large. Explore media coverage of unusual Puget Sound conditions including jellyfish.
Publication No. 15-03-076
EOPS_July_6_2015, Unusually warm water temperatures continue in central and south Puget Sound while Willapa Bay returns to expected water temperatures as a result of stronger coastal upwelling. Extensive mats of organic debris develop in many places, particularly in Central Sound overlapping with a fading Noctiluca bloom. King County confirms Noctiluca and shares plankton species information. Red-brown and brown blooms are going strong in southern inlets and around the San Juan Islands. Our inspiring WCC Intern gets on boats, into the air, and to the lab.
Publication No. 15-03-075
EOPS_June_8_2015, Record warm water temperatures and low oxygen continue in Ecology’s Puget Sound marine monitoring station network. Record low stream flows result in visibly low river discharge into Puget Sound, in particular for the Puyallup River. Abundant sun and unusually warm water temperatures fuel phytoplankton blooms in many areas. Bright orange Noctiluca blooms are surfacing in the Commencement Bay area and around Port Madison. Finger inlets of South Sound support extensive patches of jellyfish.
Publication No. 15-03-074
EOPS_April_29_2015, Warm waters from “The Blob” in Puget Sound combine with drought conditions as warm air has left little snow to feed the rivers. Water temperatures throughout Puget Sound are the highest in 25 years and oxygen is exhibiting record lows. High suspended sediment in the north is still coming in from the Fraser River. Otherwise, the surface waters appear very clear due to recent low river flows and weak blooming activity. A red bloom is present in Sinclair Inlet and in some confined bays. Patches of jellyfish, however, are going strong in inlets of South Sound and Sinclair Inlet. What does this all mean for salmon? Get to know some intertidal critters!

Publication No. 15-03-073

EOPS_March_24_2015, Puget Sound is feeling the heat! Starting in October, temperatures are the highest on our record since 1989. Salinity and oxygen are much lower. Recent rains have rivers flowing high. Aerial views show dramatic sediment loads from rivers mixing into otherwise blue water. But don’t be fooled – by summer, snow-fed rivers are expected to run significantly below normal, with implications for Puget Sound water quality. For details, explore the special Drought Effects segment. Spring blooms are visible only in some confined bays. Jellyfish are going strong in finger inlets of South Sound. Glimpse Puget Sound’s glacial history.

Publication No. 15-03-072

EOPS_February_17_2015, The ocean and air remain warm with sunshine and dry weather across the region. As a result, Puget Sound is a lot warmer going into the new year. Hood Canal is responding with temperatures warmer than previous measurements, breaking its low temperature stint. First signs of growing phytoplankton are coloring the water green. Patches of jellyfish are overwintering in finger inlets of South Sound. Tidal fronts and suspended sediment are visible amidst the stunning San Juan Islands scenery. A sediment-rich water mass is trapped in Rosario Strait. Check out the South Sound Estuarium and the many reasons we love Puget Sound!

Publication No. 15-03-071

EOPS_January_28_2015, Warm air and water temperatures and offshore winds have persisted since fall. Numerous and sizable jelly fish patches are still present in southern inlets of Puget Sound. Coastal waters were colored in shades of gray to brown by sediment and humic substances. Phytoplankton blooms were restricted to the surf zone. We were treated to artful views of meandering sloughs and gullies on exposed mud flats during low tide in Willapa Bay, interspersed with the geometry of shellfish management. Brown pelicans: a story of recovery.

Publication No. 15-03-070

EOPS_December_30_2014, The year 2014 in pictures: In 2014, Puget Sound and Hood Canal behaved distinctly different in temperature and dissolved oxygen. In Puget Sound, generally warmer conditions, abundant and diverse algal blooms, and large pools of organic material persisted along with lower oxygen, high jellyfish abundances, and a lot of suspended sediment. On the other hand, Hood Canal was colder, more oxygenated, and algae blooms were rare. People and planes: past and present.

Publication No. 14-03-080

EOPS_November_17_2014, A recent cold spell hits Puget Sound lowlands, interrupting this year’s warmer air temperatures. The warm ocean coincides with new maximum water temperatures observed throughout Puget Sound in October! Hood Canal’s higher dissolved oxygen and cold water anomalies are disappearing. November brings cold water from Whidbey Basin into Puget Sound with moderate levels of chlorophyll fluorescence. Abundant smacks of jellyfish in finger inlets of South Sound observed from our flight. Red-brown blooms remain strong in smaller bays of South Sound. Visible suspended sediments in the coastal estuaries from rain, wind, and waves. Playing in the water? Visit our BEACH program.

Publication No. 14-03-079

EOPS_October_29_2014, At the end of summer, water temperatures are still high, and salinities and dissolved oxygen are low in Puget Sound. Both sea surface temperature and upwelling off the coast are elevated (PDO and Upwelling indices) and the the Fraser River flow is low. This combination makes it an interesting fall. Very dense and large patches of jellyfish appear in finger inlets of South Sound. Red-brown blooms also remain strong in South Sound.

Publication No. 14-03-078

EOPS_September_16_2014, Sunshine and warmth continue into September. Upwelling is higher, yet low Fraser River flow reduces the likelihood of low-oxygen water moving into Puget Sound. Dissolved oxygen remains relatively high in Hood Canal and is lower elsewhere. Satellites show relatively warm water in the Strait of Georgia and Whidbey Basin and an extensive offshore bloom. Water temperatures also remain high in South Sound were red-brown plankton blooms and large smacks of jellyfish adorn the water surface. Explore what frequent blooms in smaller bays can tell us.


Publication No. 14-03-077

EOPS_August_18_2014, Sunshine and warm temperatures return after last week’s intense rain. The Puyallup and Nisqually Rivers are flowing high. Red-brown blooms and numerous patches of jellyfish remain strong in South Sound, Sinclair and Dyes Inlets, and Bellingham Bay, with brown-green blooms in Whidbey Basin. Macro-algae surface debris is very high in South and Central Sound. Hood Canal remains cooler but Puget Sound-wide temperatures are now warmer and less salty. Sea surface temperatures are above 15 °C, conditions favorable for some pathogens, and harmful algae blooms. Read about super colonies of by-the-wind sailors washing up on our shores.


Publication No. 14-03-076

EOPS_July_28_2014, Warmer and sunnier days result in higher than normal river flows from the Skagit and Nisqually. Biological activity in the water column is high. Abundant organic surface debris in Hood Canal, Padilla Bay, and many Inlets. Red-brown blooms in South Sound, Discovery Bay, and regions of Bellingham Bay. Different blooms in Skagit Bay, Padilla Bay, and Sinclair Inlet. Jelly fish are numerous in all southernmost South Sound Bays. Hood Canal remains cold but Puget Sound-wide temperatures are now warmer and less salty. Data from the Victoria Clipper and our sampling in the Strait provides important information on water exchange with the ocean.


Publication No. 14-03-075

EOPS_June_23_2014, Onshore winds have been keeping the Puget Sound lowlands cool and cloudy, but sunlight and warmer temperatures are returning. Large organic mats of surface debris in Hood Canal, Padilla Bay, and Lay Inlet; many are macro-algae. Strong red-brown blooms in Discovery Bay, East Sound, and parts of Georgia Basin. Sediment-rich water north of San Juan Islands. Jelly fish are increasing in numbers. Colder, saltier conditions in early 2014 and lower oxygen in Whidbey Basin, Central, and South Sound continue. Hood Canal remains unusually cold. Guest feature on phytoplankton monitoring, plus an in-depth look at our mooring program. Our technology now hitching a ride on the state ferries! Publication No. 14-03-074
EOPS_May_12_2014, The weather changed from cool, cloudy and southerlies, to sunny warm conditions and light northerly winds on Mother’s Day. At the water surface, blooms and large debris lines occur in Bellingham, Padilla, and Samish Bays, Hood Canal, East Sound, and the Straits, as well as the finger inlets of South Sound. Large amounts of sediment-laden water from Port Susan are flowing into Central Basin. Turquoise water mixing to the surface in places around the San Juan Islands. After some trouble-shooting of the hardware and communication system, we will resume collecting Victoria Clipper data next week. Meet Eyes Under Puget Sound: Sediment Monitoring Program at Ecology.

Publication No. 14-03-073

EOPS_April_21_2014, Air temperatures have been slightly warmer and river flows are higher. Blooms are present only in Whidbey Basin and isolated bays. The water column otherwise is relatively clear. Sediment rich water is entering from the Stillaguamish River. Debris lines were visible in Hood Canal and North Sound. Multiple reported oil sheens seen in Lake Washington Ship Canal. Generally, the year 2014 started colder and saltier throughout Puget Sound. Oxygen is lower in Whidbey Basin, Central and South Sound, but higher in Hood Canal. Upwelling favorable conditions stimulate a spring phytoplankton bloom off the Washington coast.

Publication No. 14-03-072

EOPS_March_24_2014, River flows are above normal and air temperatures are increasing slowly. The spring phytoplankton bloom is slow to develop with visible blooms limited to smaller bays such as Sequim and Bellingham Bays. Noctiluca observed in East Sound on Orcas Island, coinciding with high numbers of jellyfish. Debris lines are mostly confined to Hood Canal. Pockets of colder water observed in Central Sound and Hood Canal, likely from the colder, saltier conditions that developed during the winter in the northern regions. Oxygen is variable yet close to expected ranges. Sizable oil sheens were sighted in Gig Harbor and Carr Inlet.

Publication No. 14-03-071

EOPS_February_4_2014, Air temperatures have fallen due to unusually weak northern winds bringing in cold air. A dry beginning to winter causes low river flows. This dry winter brings new Puget Sound conditions with colder saltier waters observed in the northern regions. Oxygen has stabilized again within expected ranges. Suspended sediments along wind and wave exposed beaches add artful brushstrokes to the Puget Sound waterscape. Jellyfish are still going strong in Eld Inlet. Oil seen leaking from a boat in Commencement Bay and Ecology’s Spills Program responds. Our intern, Clifton, brings renewed passion to monitoring!

Publication No. 14-03-070

EOPS_December_31_2013, The year 2013 in pictures: Low oxygen conditions persisted from January into August and broke a two year anomaly of more favorable water quality conditions (lower temperature and salinity and higher dissolved oxygen). Dramatic Noctiluca blooms appeared one month earlier than normal (May), lasted for two months and coincided with lower oxygen. Large jellyfish patches persisted over the winter but then were less visible for the rest of the year. Large drifting algal mats appeared in August.

Publication No. 13-03-081

EOPS_November_21_2013, After weeks of clouds and warmer air, blue skies and cold temperatures set in. Strong tidal fronts and sediment-rich brackish plumes leave Whidbey Basin and move into Admiralty Reach. A pod of Orcas follows the edge of the plume heading north! Red-brown blooms continue in Henderson, Eld, and northern Budd Inlets. Long organic debris lines are numerous in northern Budd Inlet, Hood Canal, and in Central Sound north of Edmonds (Triple Junction). Conditions in the water column in Puget Sound continue to normalize after seven months of lower oxygen. Water is very clear for this time of the year, particularly in the north.

Publication No. 13-03-080

EOPS_October_28_2013, Puget Sound conditions are normalizing after seven months of lower oxygen. Calm, dry, cool, and foggy mornings abruptly changed on October 28 to sun and strong northerly winds. Red-brown blooms and abundant jellyfish in south Puget Sound inlets appeared as we flew to the coast. Blooms were still visible near ocean beaches and inner bays. Grays Harbor had abundant surface debris with green algae in North Bay. We spotted red-brown blooms in rivers and sloughs in Willapa Bay, as well as schooling fish near sandbanks. Many patches of suspended sediment appeared in shallow water unrelated to tidal currents and remain unexplained.

Publication No. 13-03-079

EOPS_September_11_2013, Sun and high air temperatures warrant en route ozone measurements for model validations. A furry visitor takes a rest on the float plane. Spotlight on our pilot, Joe Leatherman. High river flows lead to striking fronts of turquoise-colored water carrying glacial flour in many northeastern regions. Satellite and aerial images show widespread phytoplankton blooms in Whidbey Basin, Hood Canal, South Puget Sound, and West Bay of Orcas Island. Numerous large debris patches in Hood Canal, Central Sound, and South Sound Inlets. After two years of colder temperatures and higher oxygen, Puget Sound waters are returning to expected or lower dissolved oxygen levels.

Publication No. 13-03-078

EOPS_August_21_2013, Warm air temperatures and increases in flows from glacier-fed rivers give rise to dramatic images in the San Juan Islands. Warm surface temperatures in South Sound foster abundant red-brown blooms in southern inlets. Similar blooms are happening in the inlets of the Kitsap Peninsula. Large drifting algal mats in Central Sound, Sinclair Inlet, Hood Canal and Padilla Bay will likely end up on nearby shorelines soon. Jellyfish abundance has dropped. This year, dissolved oxygen levels in Puget Sound waters quickly decrease to levels of the previous decade.

Publication No. 13-03-077

EOPS_July_15_2013, Abundant sunshine gives rise to large algal mats in South Sound, Hood Canal, and Sinclair Inlet. Red-brown algal blooms dominate in Budd, Totten, and Eld Inlets and jellyfish begin to increase. Northerly winds push algal blooms from Whidbey and Central Basins past Seattle and a bloom in northern Hood Canal southward. Satellite thermal imagery shows patterns of near-surface mixing and injection of nutrients into the surface layer. Glacial-fed rivers deliver glacial flour into Commencement Bay, stratifying the water and supporting different colored phytoplankton blooms (green, brown, and red). Since the beginning of 2013, dissolved oxygen is dropping below expected values.

Publication No. 13-03-076

EOPS_June_17_2013, A stunning view of a second large Noctiluca bloom captures the attention of many living near Puget Sound. Favorable conditions support several regional phytoplankton blooms. Red-brown blooms in Port Townsend, Discovery Bay and Bellingham Bay. Large algal mats or organic material particularly in Samish Bay. Jellyfish patches increasing in Budd, Totten and Eld Inlets.

Publication No. 13-03-075

EOPS_May_20_2013, After 2-years of conditions favorable for water quality, with colder temperatures and higher oxygen, Puget Sound water conditions are closer to expected again. This year phytoplankton blooms and seasonal oxygen maxima are notable, while extensive Noctiluca blooms showed up early following a period high freshwater inputs and milder weather conditions. The Fraser River sediment influence is very strong north of San Juan Islands and warm, fresh water is entering Central Puget Sound from Whidbey Basin. In the past few weeks river flows and air temperatures have been higher than normal and now are decreasing.

Publication No. 13-03-074

EOPS_Apr_8_2013, For the last week sunshine was low and rivers and air temperatures have been higher than expected due to prevailing southerly winds. Heavy rains have resulted in long foam lines and large river plumes that are filled with sediment.  Jelly fish patches have persisted through the winter in smaller bays. Are higher oxygen conditions seen over the last 2 years starting to disappear?  We were busy in 2012 and spooled out 37 miles of CTD line to explore the depths of our estuaries!

Publication No. 13-03-073

EOPS_Mar_25_2013, Lower than expected air temperatures and sunshine are now both increasing; rivers are generally running high. Willapa Bay unfolds its beauty from a bird’s-eye view. The spring phytoplankton bloom is picking up in Puget Sound. A large red-orange-brown bloom persists in southern Hood Canal at a scale sufficient for the MODIS satellite to pick up. Jellyfish are still going strong in southern inlets. Ocean climate indices (PDO, NPGO and Upwelling Index) explain much of the variability in Puget Sound temperature, salt and oxygen. Nutrients, however, are steadily increasing while sub-surface algal pigments (chlorophyll a) are declining!

Publication No. 13-03-072

EOPS_Feb_26_2013, The weather has been relatively cloudy, warm and dry. We found less debris in the water but saw several large tidal eddies and suspended sediment plumes. Jellyfish continue to go strong this winter. We also observed early algae blooms in Hood Canal and Eld Inlet as well as multiple oil sheens in Seattle waterways. Listen to our marine flight technician discuss EOPS on the radio.

Publication No. 13-03-071

EOPS_Jan_15_2013, The pattern of colder and fresher Puget Sound water persists. Jellyfish aggregations continue to persist in Budd Inlet. Debris lines are numerous and long. There are multiple oil sheens in Seattle waterways. CDOM (colored dissolved organic matter) sensor and en route ferry thermosalinograph provide an important tracer for freshwater entering Puget Sound from Whidbey Basin.

Publication No. 13-03-070

EOPS_Dec_13_2012, The weather has been warm, cloudy with weak winds from the south. Surface water temperatures range from 8.5-9.5°C. River flows are dropping below expected levels, yet the seasonal increase in freshwater can be clearly seen. Debris lines are numerous near river estuaries. Algal biomass is down but jellyfish aggregations continue to go strong in terminal inlets.

Publication No. 12-03-081

EOPS_Nov_08_2012, Temperatures range  from 9-11°C.  Red-brown blooms and jellyfish continue in terminal inlets. Low fluorescence throughout Central Sound and Admiralty Inlet. Since 2011 much colder and much fresher and oxygen levels are up.

Publication No. 12-03-080

EOPS_Oct_08_2012, Low to moderate fluorescence in northern Puget Sound. Red-brown blooms, and large jellyfish aggregations in the inlets of South and Central Sound.  Dry weather and decreased thickness of the freshwater layer in Possession Sound.

Publication No. 12-03-079


EOPS_Sept_11_2012, River flows are below normal. Temperatures in Puget Sound are 12-14 °C.  Extensive red-brown blooms in Inlets of South and Central Sound.  Jellyfish are increasing in numbers. Low-moderate fluorescence in Central Sound.  In Possession Sound dissolved oxygen decreased by 1.1 mg/L.

Publication No. 12-03-078

EOPS_August_27_2012, Temperatures in Main Basin drop below 15 °C.  Marco algae in Central Sound. Red-brown blooms in South Sound Inlets and parts of Central Sound. Jellyfish patches increasing in size in Sinclair and Budd Inlets. Low-Moderate fluorescence and turbidity in Main Basin and Admiralty Inlet.

Publication No. 12-03-077

EOPS_July_31_2012, In the south a persistent marine layer over the lowlands keep conditions cooler.  River flows are high. Water temperatures approach 15 °C. High fluorescence in the Main Basin Extensive red-brown blooms in South Sound.  In Whidbey Basin, higher DO and algal bloom in surface waters.

Publication No. 12-03-076

EOPS_June_12_2012, Cool weather and river flows above normal.  A bonanza of red-orange Noctiluca streaks in Central Basin with reduced fluorescence south of Edmonds.  Strong red-brown bloom in Case Inlet. Higher DO levels in Whidbey Basin surface water. Oil sheen in Sinclair Inlet.

Publication No. 12-03-075

EOPS_May_14_2012, Warm, sunny weather with higher-than-normal river flows. Temperatures above 13 °C . Strong algal blooms South Sound and Central Basin and most smaller bays. Dissolved oxygen levels in surface waters decrease  despite high algae production. Abundant debris lines. Oil sheen in Lake Union.

Publication No. 12-03-074

EOPS_April_23_2012, Warm, sunny weather and higher-than-normal river flows. The freshwater layer in Whidbey Basin increased by 2 m. Abundant surface debris and algae blooms in river-fed inlets in South and Central Sound. Puyallup plume extends into Quartermaster Harbor.  New thermosalinograph installed on ferry.

Publication No. 12-03-073

EOPS_March_19_2012, Cool, wet, cloudy weather with higher-than-normal river flows. Spectacular river plumes, suspended sediment and wind extend far into the waterways. Surface debris abundant. The  freshwater layer in Whidbey Basin increased by 2 m matching high precipitation.

Publication No. 12-03-072

EOPS_February_27_2012, Little sunshine, cold air temperatures, and higher river flows. Freshwater plumes extend far into the waterways. Chilly surface temperatures in Central Sound. First blooms begin in South Sound. A thinner freshwater layer at Mukilteo suggests a low discharge of the Snohomish river.

Publication No. 12-03-071

EOPS_January_30_2012, Cloudy, slightly warmer-than-average air temperatures, and higher-than normal river flows. Freshwater plumes extend far into the waterways. Jellyfish from fall still persist in Budd Inlet. Chilly surface temperatures and pulses of high CDOM waters in Central Sound.

Publication No. 12-03-070

EOPS_December_05_2011, Less rain and sun and colder temperatures. Conditions are challenging for crew and instruments. Large jelly fish patches in Inlets: Budd, Sinclair, and Case. Central Sound algae bloom continues as temperatures fall and oxygen is still decreasing at places. Freshwater  water moves into Central Sound.

Publication No. 11-03-082

EOPS_November_15_2011, Good conditions  to be in the field Less rain, average temperatures and  not much sun. Temperatures continue to cool and blooms fade. Algae bloom still in northern Quartermaster Harbor. Jelly fish in Budd Inlet.

Publication No. 11-03-081

EOPS_October_17_2011, Morning fog shows that fall is here! Warm afternoons with colder nights make cooler-than-normal conditions. Temperatures decrease and blooms fade as the summer growing season comes to an end. Brown-red blooms still in Carr Inlet and Budd Inlet. Green bloom near Squaxin Island.

Publication No. 11-03-080

EOPS_September_12_2011, Warm temperatures, reminiscent  of summer. Brown-red blooms in Carr Inlet and Budd Inlet. Macro-algae aggregations in Central Sound. Green bloom NE of Bainbridge Island. High surface fluorescence throughout northern Central Sound; highest values east of Port Madison. Oil spill in the South Sound.

Publication No. 11-03-079

EOPS_August_08_2011, A Kaleidoscope of colors. Red-brown blooms in South Sound and Quartermaster Harbor, large patches of macro-algae  in Central Sound. Latest bloom in Central Sound shows signs of fading as waters begin to clear. Oxygen is beginning to decline.

Publication No. 11-03-078

EOPS_July_06_2011, Summer is here! Surface water temperatures have warmed to 14-15 °C. Widespread algae bloom in Main Basin. Puyallup River discharge is very large. Extensive phytoplankton blooms in Central and South Sound, large patches and strands of macroalgae  in South Sound/southern Central Sound.

Publication No. 11-03-077

EOPS_June_20_2011, A particularly great day for the coast flight.  Extensive Noctiluca bloom (confirmed by microscopy on 6-21-2011) in Central Basin of Puget Sound, red brown and turquoise blooms in South Sound. Decreasing dissolved oxygen (DO) values at Mukilteo and Manchester mooring stations.

Publication No. 11-03-076

EOPS_June_06_2011, Large blooms in South Sound and Main Basin with abundant macro-algae. Very complex surface water masses that meet at a triple point in Main Basin. Widespread algae bloom in Main Basin; surface water temperatures warmed in the last few days to 13-14 °C. Dissolved oxygen levels remain high.

Publication No. 11-03-075

EOPS_May_04_2011, Multiple algal blooms in South Sound and Main Basin. Ferry and satellite images confirm center of algae bloom in the Main Basin and indication of a bloom in Carr Inlet. Oxygen levels are increasing on moorings. Oil sheen in Colvos Passage.

Publication No. 11-03-074

EOPS_April_27_2011, Warmer and sunnier conditions give rise to enhanced oxygen production and algae growth in Whidbey and Central Basin.  Clear skies and water from Whidbey Basin has stimulated a large algae blooms. Whidbey Basin water is turbid with abundant dissolved organic matter.

Publication No. 11-03-073