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Encyclopedia of Puget Sound


Invasive species in Puget Sound

The SS El Yunque cargo ship sits idle at the Port of Tacoma. Photo: Kris Symer

Nearly half of the invasive species in Puget Sound's marine waters have been found within the last 20 years. Among the most common pathways for invaders are ships and boats that may carry thousands of tiny hitchhikers. Our series looks at this growing threat and some of the species of top concern.  To be notified of new Salish Sea Currents stories, subscribe to the Puget Sound Institute eNews.

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Invasive stowaways threaten Puget Sound ecosystem

Gaps in regulations could allow invasive species to hitch a ride on ships and boats. We report on some of the potential impacts, and how state and federal agencies are trying to solve the problem. 

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A state inspector boards a container ship at the Port of Seattle to check on ballast water and determine whether procedures were followed to reduce the risk of invasive species being released into Puget Sound.  Photo: WDFW

Building a baseline of invasive species in Puget Sound

Almost twenty years ago, volunteer biologists began an intensive survey for invasive species in the marine waters of Puget Sound. In a little over a week of hunting, they found 39 such species, including 11 never before seen in the region.

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The orange-striped Asian anemone (Diadumene lineata) was commonly observed in Shelton during the 1998 Puget Sound Expedition. Photo: James Koh (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jameskoh/3835201631/

Invasive marine species: Washington state priorities

The Washington Invasive Species Council evaluated more than 700 invasive species in and around Washington, considering their threats to the state’s environment, economy, and human health. They included terrestrial plants and animals, aquatic plants and animals (both freshwater and saltwater), insects and diseases. In the end, the council listed 50 “priority species” for action, including five marine animals and two marine plants, along with one virus that infects fish. 

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A clump of cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) Photo: USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database