Water quality

Puget Sound is unique in the lower 48 Unites States because of its fjord-like physiography, inland extent, wide range of depths, and urbanized watersheds and shorelines. Limited exchange of seawater between sub-basins within Puget Sound can result in long residence times, potentially increasing the susceptibility of biota to contamination introduced through human activities. The varied habitats within Puget Sound support multiple life history stages of many species, potentially exposing sensitive life stages to contamination. There are multiple water quality concerns in Puget Sound:

  • Levels of toxic contaminants in biota that live or feed in Puget Sound.
  • The eutrophication of marine waters, producing hypoxic and anoxic regions.
  • Wastewater contamination, principally from combined sewer overflows or septic systems
  • Harmful algal blooms, which introduce toxins that enter the food web
  • Acidification of marine waters, and the adverse ecological effects that result.

Degradation of water quality in Puget Sound occurs through three primary mechanisms. The first is through the introduction of toxic contaminants, primarily comprising manufactured synthetic chemicals, but also including compounds that occur naturally that are concentrated in the local environment to toxic levels via human activities. The second is through human-caused changes in naturally occurring chemicals, compounds, or physical parameters (e.g., temperature, turbidity, nutrients, pH). The third is through introduction of new diseases or pathogens, or through other activities that cause an unnatural increase in disease organisms.

Sources:

Puget Sound Science Review

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report - September 17, 2018
9/24/2018

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report - September 17, 2018

Air temperatures have remained high with precipitation and river flows below normal, extending the summer’s unusual conditions. Water temperatures were warmer in August, perhaps too warm for bull kelp and some salmon species in South Sound. In contrast, Hood Canal, North Sound, and the San Juan Islands provide optimal growth temperatures for herring and salmon. Many terminal inlets of Puget Sound are experiencing extensive red-brown blooms. Jellyfish patches are developing in South Sound finger Inlets and remnants of floating macroalgae occur in the nearshore areas of South Sound and in Useless Bay. At times floating organic material we see from the air ends up on the shoreline were our BEACH team documents it.

Herring embryos. Photo courtesy of NOAA
9/20/2018

Climate change and ocean acidification may affect herring development

New research shows that warmer and more acidic oceans could lead to shorter embryos and higher respiration in Pacific herring.

Creosote removal project in Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
7/11/2018

Removal of creosote-treated pilings may assist herring recovery

Researchers are analyzing the harmful effects of creosote-treated wood pilings on Pacific herring and shellfish in Puget Sound. Studies show that piling removal projects can ease the impacts, but only if carefully done. 

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – June 28, 2018
7/3/2018

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – June 28, 2018

During June, near normal air temperatures and continued low precipitation have resulted in highly variable freshwater inputs to Puget Sound. A large Noctiluca bloom extends across the South Central Basin of Puget Sound. Coccolithophores are blooming in Hood Canal. Macroalgae is drifting as mats on the water in Port Madison, South Central Basin, and South Sound. They are also piling up on beaches in South and Central Puget Sound and Whidbey Basin. Juvenile fish are migrating out of the estuaries and meeting a complex thermal habitat. New infrared images tell the story. Meet our ocean acidification expert, Stephen Gonski.

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – May 22, 2018
6/12/2018

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – May 22, 2018

Rainfall in May was extremely low: The third lowest amount ever recorded. Rivers are responding differently depending upon whether they received water from rain or snow, which is melting rapidly. With projected drier and warmer conditions, can the remaining snowpack maintain healthy streamflows this summer? Seawater is already getting saltier than normal in response to the lack of rain. We see algal blooms in many colors. What is that orange stuff out there? It’s a Noctiluca bloom and organic material drifting at the surface stretching from South to Central Sound and Whidbey Basin.

Bay Mussels (Mytilus trossulus) on Edmonds Ferry Dock. Photo [cropped]: brewbooks (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/brewbooks/8840874065
5/11/2018

Bay mussels in Puget Sound show traces of oxycodone

State agencies tracking pollution levels in Puget Sound have discovered traces of oxycodone in the tissues of native bay mussels (Mytilus trossulus) from Seattle and Bremerton area harbors. The findings were presented at the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle. 

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – April 19, 2018
4/25/2018

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – April 19, 2018

By March, regional impacts of large-scale climate patterns normalized, and air temperatures, precipitation, and coastal downwelling were below normal. April brought abundant rain and rivers responded. With La Niña returning to ENSO-neutral conditions, will the favorable snowpack maintain beneficial streamflows through summer? In 2018, water conditions in Puget Sound are mostly expected, except in Hood Canal where conditions only changed recently. Many rivers and field drainage ditches release sediment. A strong red-brown bloom is present in Sinclair Inlet, a bright- brown bloom in Padilla Bay (Joe Leary Slough), and a bright green bloom in Bellingham Bay. It is colorful out there! You might see our team on the water sampling sediments this month.

	Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – Winter 2018
3/21/2018

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – Winter 2018

Large-scale climate patterns and local weather patterns are returning to more normal conditions. La Niña helped build a favorable snowpack, projected to persist well into spring due to cooler weather. As a consequence, stream flows are largely normal. In Puget Sound, we see again normal water conditions and observe early spring blooms in Central Sound, northern Hood Canal, and Whidbey Basin. Herring are spawning in Admiralty Reach and further north. Salmon Bay in Seattle continues to have frequent oil sheens on the water.

Report cover
3/9/2018

Sediment Quality in Puget Sound: Changes in chemical contaminants and invertebrate communities at 10 sentinel stations, 1989–2015

A 2018 report from the Washington State Department of Ecology presents results from 27 years of sampling sediments and benthic invertebrates at 10 long-term stations throughout the greater Puget Sound area every year from 1989 through 2015.

The Budd Inlet sewage treatment plant. Photo courtesy of LOTT Clean Water Alliance
3/6/2018

Sewage treatment plant in Olympia a leader in nitrogen removal

A regional sewage-treatment system in Thurston County has helped contain  low-oxygen problems in Budd Inlet as the population continues to grow. The system cleans up some of the effluent for replenishing groundwater supplies.

The rapid growth of a red-orange algae, Noctiluca scintillans, dramatically colors the waters of Puget Sound near Edmonds on May 16, 2013. Such algae blooms have been seen more frequently in recent years. Photo: Jeri Cusimano via WA Ecology (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/ecologywa/8744775119
2/28/2018

Dead plankton leave clues to a food-web mystery

High amounts of elements such as nitrogen can cause blooms of phytoplankton that sometimes trigger perturbations throughout the food web. This occurs most often in the spring and summer after the long, dark, cloudy days of winter begin to fade.

A sharp boundary appears as sediment-laden freshwater is discharged from British Columbia's Fraser River into the Salish Sea. Fresh water, which is less dense than salt water, spreads in a shallow (approximately 1 m deep) plume at the sea surface. Photo: Ed McNichol, Ocean Networks Canada (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/oceannetworkscanada/8711686267
2/28/2018

Puget Sound circulation triggers low-oxygen conditions at different times and in different places

The amount of oxygen in the Salish Sea is dependent on water circulation which distributes chemical elements such as nitrogen through the system.

Image describing low oxygen "dead zones"; image courtesy of NOAA
2/26/2018

How the state assesses low oxygen in Puget Sound

Under the federal Clean Water Act, states are required to assess the quality of their surface waters and compile a list of polluted water bodies. The law mandates cleanup plans to address pollution and other water-quality problems. This article describes how this process works in Washington state for dissolved oxygen. 

Report cover
12/19/2017

2017 Addendum — Ocean Acidification: From Knowledge to Action

The Washington Marine Resources Advisory Council has released an addendum to the 2012 report Ocean Acidification: From Knowledge to Action. The original report established a statewide strategy for addressing ocean acidification in Washington. The addendum identifies updates based on emerging science and management practices and is intended to be a companion to the 2012 report. 

Puget Sound marine Waters 2016 report cover
12/12/2017

2016 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

The Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program has released its sixth annual Marine Waters Overview. The report provides an assessment of marine conditions for the year 2016 and includes updates on water quality as well as status reports for select plankton, seabirds and fish.

A dying female coho salmon in the Lower Duwamish spotted by Puget Soundkeeper volunteers in October 2017. Photo: Kathy Peter
12/5/2017

What is killing the coho?

Researchers are trying to determine which chemicals in stormwater are contributing to the deaths of large numbers of coho salmon in Puget Sound. It has prompted a larger question: What exactly is in stormwater anyway?

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report, October 31, 2017
11/7/2017

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report, October 31, 2017

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.

2017 State of the Sound report cover
11/2/2017

2017 State of the Sound

The 2017 State of the Sound is the Puget Sound Partnership’s fifth biennial report to the Legislature on progress toward the recovery of Puget Sound by 2020. The document reports on both the status of the Partnership's recovery efforts and the status of a suite of ecosystem indicators.

Image of tidal motion in SSM (72 hr animation, April 06); Exaggerated vertical scale to visualize SSM domain-wide tidal motion
9/27/2017

The Salish Sea Model

The Salish Sea Model is used to predict spatial and temporal patterns in the Salish Sea related to factors such as phytoplankton, nutrients and Dissolved Oxygen. It is a collaborative effort between the Pacific Northwest National Lab, the Washington State Department of Ecology and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Report cover
9/5/2017

Water sampling and testing for formaldehyde at Northwest fish hatcheries

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. 

	Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report August 28, 2017
9/1/2017

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report August 28, 2017

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.

English Sole (Parophrys vetulus) in Puget Sound. Photo: biodiversityguy https://biodiversityguy.smugmug.com/Underwater/Reference-List-Photos-of/i-3GgD5hB/A
8/25/2017

PCBs in fish remain steady while other toxics decline

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
8/25/2017

Monitoring helps to reveal hidden dangers in the food web

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.

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
8/4/2017

Are we making progress on salmon recovery?

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.

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – July 24, 2017
7/27/2017

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – July 24, 2017

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.

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – June 6, 2017
6/8/2017

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – June 6, 2017

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.

Celebrating a community harvest at Drayton Harbor. Photo: Jack Kintner
3/7/2017

Bringing the shellfish back: How Drayton Harbor overcame a legacy of pollution

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.

Benthic invertebrates range in size from those easily seen with the naked eye to those that cannot be spotted without the use of a microscope. Photo: Christopher Dunagan
1/17/2017

Healthy stream, healthy bugs

Many groups have been formed around the goal of saving salmon, but few people talk about a concerted effort to save microscopic creatures. Whether or not a pro-bug movement catches on, future strategies to save salmon are likely to incorporate ideas for restoring streambound creatures known as benthic invertebrates.

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – December 2016 Review
1/3/2017

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – December 2016 Review

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?

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – November 22, 2016
11/29/2016

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – November 22, 2016

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.

Fluoxetine hydrochloride. Photo: Meg (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/disowned/1125134972
11/9/2016

Concerns rise over rogue chemicals in the environment

Drugs like Prozac and cocaine have been showing up in the region’s salmon. But these are just some of the potentially thousands of different man-made chemicals that escape into the Salish Sea every day, from pharmaceuticals to industrial compounds. Now the race is on to identify which ones pose the greatest dangers.

Room fire simulation shows burned furniture. Photo: Kecko (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/kecko/3648477592/
11/9/2016

Flame retardants

Efforts to reduce fire hazards over a half century ago have left an unintended trail of persistent environmental contaminants from flame retardant chemicals known as PBDEs. Bans and substitutes are still evolving.

Bay Mussels (Mytilus trossulus) on Edmonds Ferry Dock. Photo [cropped]: brewbooks (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/brewbooks/8840874065
10/10/2016

Salish Sea snapshots: Mussel memory

Scientists are testing ways to use transplanted shellfish such as mussels to monitor toxic contaminants in Puget Sound. 

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – September 26, 2016
9/29/2016

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – September 26, 2016

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.

Puget Sound Marine Waters 2015 report cover
9/27/2016

2015 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

The Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program released its fifth annual Marine Waters Overview this week. The report provides an assessment of marine conditions for the year 2015 and includes updates on water quality as well as status reports for select plankton, seabirds, fish and marine mammals.

Rhinoceros Auklet carrying sand lance. Photo by Peter Hodum.
9/20/2016

Salish Sea snapshots: Plastics in fish may also affect seabirds

Sand lance in parts of British Columbia are ingesting small pieces of plastic that may be passed through the food web.

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – August 24, 2016
8/29/2016

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – August 24, 2016

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.

Due to the 'Red Tide' misnomer, blooms of red-colored algae, like this Noctiluca sp. (a dinoflagellate) seen here in Eastsound, Washington (July 2016), can cause undue public concern about harmful algal blooms. Photo: Jordan Cole
7/26/2016

Harmful algal blooms in the Salish Sea

Formerly known as “Red Tide”, harmful algal blooms are a health concern for both wildlife and humans. The following is a brief review of some of these algae and their effects.

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – July 20, 2016
7/25/2016

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – July 20, 2016

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!

Monitoring devices deployed by NOAA for detecting harmful algal blooms. Photo by Rachael Mueller.
7/12/2016

Salish Sea snapshots: Detecting harmful algal blooms

Environmental samplers may provide early detection of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Puget Sound. This toxic algae is expected to increase as the climate changes, bringing with it new and potentially more severe outbreaks of shellfish poisonings. 

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – June 27, 2016
6/29/2016

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – June 27, 2016

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.

Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Photo: WDFW
6/17/2016

Contaminants higher in resident 'blackmouth' Chinook

Many of Puget Sound's Chinook salmon spend their entire lives in local waters and don't migrate to the open ocean. These fish tend to collect more contaminants in their bodies because of the sound's relatively high levels of pollution. 

6/11/2016

Protecting Puget Sound watersheds from agricultural pollution using a progressive manure application risk management (ARM) system

Throughout the Puget Sound region, impacted and poorly managed agriculture has been repeatedly advanced as a leading contributor to surface and ground water pollution, particularly during the winter months. A study conducted from 2010 - 2015 aimed to develop an Application Risk Management (ARM) System to minimize pollution from manure in Whatcom County. 

Puget Sound's orcas are among the most contaminated marine mammals in the world. Photo: Minette Layne (CC-BY-2.0) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_whale#/media/File:Orca_porpoising.jpg
5/18/2016

New theory rethinks spread of PCBs and other toxics in Puget Sound

Researchers are proposing a shift in thinking about how some of the region’s most damaging pollutants enter Puget Sound species like herring, salmon and orcas.

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – May 2, 2016
5/4/2016

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – May 2, 2016

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?

4/19/2016

Clean Water District Activities in Jefferson and Clallam Counties

This report summarizes activities and accomplishments completed under the grant PO-00J100-01 from September 13, 2010 to December 31, 2015. 

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – April 6, 2016
4/8/2016

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – April 6, 2016

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.

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – March 16, 2016
3/18/2016

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – March 16, 2016

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.

Salmon. Photo: Dan Hershman (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/hershman/497293505
2/29/2016

Contaminants of emerging concern in a large temperate estuary

A 2016 paper in Environmental Pollution identifies dozens of pharmaceuticals and other compounds that are accumulating in Puget Sound fish such as salmon.

Algal bloom. Photo: Eutrophication&Hypoxia (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/48722974@N07/5120831456
2/26/2016

Harmful algal blooms in Puget Sound

An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in a water system. While most are innocuous, there are a small number of algae species that produce harmful toxins to humans and animals.

2003 Seattle Marathon - Seward Park Photo: J Brew (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/brewbooks/1282527696
2/17/2016

Cleaning up Lake Washington

Lake Washington was heavily contaminated by untreated sewage until extensive pollution controls by the city of Seattle. 

FIGURE 2. Dorsoplanar computed tomography image of conjoined fetal twins in a harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) from San Juan County, Washington, USA. The arrow points to the fusion of the spines.
2/2/2016

Conjoined fetal twins in a harbor seal (Phoca vitulina)

This article describes the first known case of conjoined twins in a harbor seal. The case was documented in the Salish Sea region where harbor seals are often used as indicators of contaminant levels. However, researchers say their findings do not support that this anomaly was due to any common contaminants and hypothesize that the twinning was caused by disordered embryo migration and fusion. 

Stormwater flowing into catch basin carries contaminants to our waterways. Photo: Ben McLeod (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/benmcleod/420158390
2/1/2016

Stormwater facts

Runoff from rain and melting snow is one of the leading causes of pollution in Puget Sound. Here are selected facts related to stormwater, its prevalence, how it affects the Puget Sound ecosystem, and its environmental and economic impacts.

Mist from the breath of killer whales is collected at the end of a long pole then tested for dozens of different types of bacteria. Photo: Pete Schroeder
1/13/2016

Going viral: Concerns rise over potential impacts of disease on the ecosystem

From orcas to starfish to humans, disease affects every living creature in the ecosystem. Scientists are increasingly alarmed by its potential to devastate already compromised populations of species in Puget Sound.  

Fig 1. The six projects assessed are located on both sides of the Canadian / United States border, which bisects the Salish Sea and its watershed.
1/4/2016

Evaluating threats in multinational marine ecosystems: A Coast Salish first nations and tribal perspective

A 2015 paper in the journal PLoS ONE identifies ongoing and proposed energy-related development projects that will increase marine vessel traffic in the Salish Sea. It evaluates the threats each project poses to natural resources important to Coast Salish first nations and tribes.

Birch Bay. Photo by Jeff Rice
12/21/2015

Birch Bay characterization and watershed planning pilot – taking action

A 2015 report from the Whatcom Conservation District and Whatcom County describes a pilot watershed characterization study focusing on the Terrell Creek and Birch Bay areas. The report and related appendices are available for download. 

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – December 14, 2015
12/16/2015

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – December 14, 2015

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.

Woodard Creek Basin water resource protection study report cover
11/9/2015

Guiding growth-healthy watersheds: Woodard Creek Basin water resource protection study

An EPA-funded study by the Thurston Regional Planning Council identified recommended strategies and actions to protect and improve water quality and aquatic resources in the Woodard Creek  Basin. 

McLane Creek Basin water resource protection study report cover
11/9/2015

Guiding growth-healthy watersheds: McLane Creek Basin water resource protection study

An EPA-funded study by the Thurston Regional Planning Council identified recommended strategies and actions to protect and improve water quality and aquatic resources in the McLane Creek  Basin. 

Black Lake Basin water resource protection study report cover
11/5/2015

Guiding growth-healthy watersheds: Black Lake Basin water resource protection study

An EPA-funded study by the Thurston Regional Planning Council identified recommended strategies and actions to protect and improve water quality and aquatic resources in the Black Lake Basin. 

11/3/2015

2015 State of the Sound

The 2015 State of the Sound is the Puget Sound Partnership’s fourth biennial report to the Legislature on progress toward the recovery of Puget Sound by 2020. The document reports on both the status of the Partnership's recovery efforts and the status of a suite of ecosystem indicators.

Sucralose, an artificial sweetener, is a good tracer of wastewater. It is present at low levels throughout the Puget Sound [1].
10/28/2015

Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) in the waters of the Pacific Northwest

Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) range from pharmaceuticals, personal care products and food additives to compounds used in industrial and commercial applications. These compounds are not typically removed from wastewater and are flushed into waterways throughout the world in significant amounts. This article describes how scientists are measuring the presence of these contaminants along with their potential impacts in Puget Sound, the Columbia River and elsewhere.

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – October 6, 2015
10/8/2015

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – October 6, 2015

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!

Lower Duwamish Waterway dredging on Superfund site. Photo: Gary Dean Austin (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/49648789@N08/17069420399/
10/5/2015

Persistent contaminants in Puget Sound: Overcoming a toxic legacy

The Lower Duwamish Waterway in Puget Sound was designated a Superfund cleanup site in 2001. Its legacy of contamination predates World War II and the waterway continues to pollute Puget Sound through stormwater runoff.

2015 Puget Sound Fact Book report cover
10/2/2015

2015 Puget Sound Fact Book

The 2015 Puget Sound Fact Book brings together statistics and other information about the health and makeup of the Puget Sound ecosystem. Areas of focus include climate change, geography, water quality, habitats, human dimensions and regional species. The fact book was prepared for the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Puget Sound Partnership.

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – September 21, 2015
9/23/2015

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – September 21, 2015

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.

Puget Sound portion of a 1798 chart showing "part of the coast of N.W. America : with the tracks of His Majesty's sloop Discovery and armed tender Chatham / commanded by George Vancouver, Esqr. and prepared under his immediate inspection by Lieut. Joseph Baker." Credit: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
9/18/2015

Puget Sound: a uniquely diverse and productive estuary

Puget Sound is the second largest estuary in the United States. Today, we understand that estuaries—where freshwater and saltwater merge—are among the most productive places for life to exist.

Puget Sound marine waters 2014 report cover
9/13/2015

2014 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

A report from NOAA and the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program provides an overview of 2014 marine water quality and conditions in Puget Sound from comprehensive monitoring and observing programs.

2014 state of salmon in watersheds report cover
9/13/2015

2014 state of salmon in watersheds executive summary

This report documents how Washingtonians have responded to the challenges of protecting and restoring salmon and steelhead to healthy status. It also serves as a tool to summarize achievements, track salmon recovery progress through common indicators, and identify data gaps that need to be filled.

Conference proceedings cover image
9/1/2015

Puget Sound Water Quality Conference Proceedings

The Puget Sound Water Quality Conference was held in Seattle, Washington, on September 30 and October 1, 1983. It included prominent speakers from the Puget Sound region, other parts of the United States, and Canada.

Appendix 5. Map of Skykomish/Tye River Control Locations 2014
8/21/2015

Protection and enhancement of riparian buffers in WRIA 7 through restoration and stewardship

The final report on a knotweed removal and native plant project from grant PO-00J08401 to King County DNR for the grant entitled: Protection and enhancement of the riparian buffers in WRIA 7 through restoration and stewardship.

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – August 4, 2015
8/6/2015

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Surface Conditions Report – August 4, 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.

Chemistry of Puget Sound waters report cover
8/6/2015

Chemistry of Puget Sound waters and influencing factors

This 1954 report present the results of a geochemical investigation, based on existing data, of the waters of Puget Sound. Rivers draining into the Puget Sound and upwelled water moving in at depth from Juan de Fuca Strait are the chief sources of the chemical constituents in Puget Sound.

Image from report (page 140)
8/6/2015

Presence, distribution and fate of toxicants in Puget Sound and Lake Washington

Toxicant pretreatment planning study technical report C1: Presence, distribution and fate of toxicants in Puget Sound and Lake Washington was published in October 1984.

2012 State of Salmon in Watersheds Executive Summary report cover
7/21/2015

2012 state of salmon in watersheds executive summary

Salmon recovery demands both dedication among people with different interests, and sustained resources. This biennial report tells the story of the progress made to date and the challenges ahead.

State of the Sound 1986 report cover image
7/20/2015

1986 State of the Sound

This is the first State of the Sound Report. It summarizes much of what is known about the Puget Sound basin—its history, economy, human population, land uses and other factors influencing its water quality.

State of the Sound 2004 report cover image
7/20/2015

2004 State of the Sound

The State of the Sound 2004 provides answers about the health of Puget Sound and Washington State’s work to protect it. 

State of the Sound 2007 report cover image
7/20/2015

2007 State of the Sound

State of the Sound 2007 takes a scientific look at the health of Puget Sound and the status of its marine life, habitats, water quality and climate. The report tracks more than two dozen environmental indicators that provide insight into the health of the Sound and threats to that health.

1990 Puget Sound Update report cover page
7/20/2015

1990 Puget Sound Update

This is the first annual report of the Puget Sound Ambient Monitoring Program (PSAMP); it briefly describes PSAMP, explains the significance of each type of measurement, and provides initial interpretation of the results.

1991 Puget Sound Update report cover page
7/19/2015

1991 Puget Sound Update

This is the second annual Puget Sound Update. Findings from the first two years of the Puget Sound Ambient Monitoring Program (PSAMP) form the basis of this report. This report briefly describes PSAMP, explains the significance of each type of monitoring, and discusses the results. It provides some background on the workings of the Puget Sound ecosystem and the history of contamination problems in the Sound. 

1992 Puget Sound Update report cover page
7/19/2015

1992 Puget Sound Update

The 1992 Puget Sound Update is the third annual report of the Puget Sound Ambient Monitoring Program (PSAMP). It reports the results of sampling undertaken in 1991, the most current year for which the data have under gone analysis and quality assurance tests. 

1993 Puget Sound Update report cover page
7/19/2015

1993 Puget Sound Update

The 1993 Puget Sound Updatethe fourth annual report of this programevaluates the data collected by PSAMP in 1992 (the most recent year for which the data have undergone quality assurance review and interpretation) and compares these data to past information on Puget Sound water quality.

Fecal contamination graphic (page 39)
7/18/2015

1994 Puget Sound Update

The 1994 Puget Sound Updatethe fifth annual summary report of this programevaluates the data collected by the PSAMP in 1993 (the most recent year for which the data have undergone quality assurance review and interpretation) and compares these data to past information on Puget Sound.

1998 Puget Sound Update report cover page
7/17/2015

1998 Puget Sound Update

This is the sixth Puget Sound Update, a report for residents of the region about the overall health of Puget Sound. The conclusions in the Update are based mainly on scientific results of the Puget Sound Ambient Monitoring Program (PSAMP).

Ecology’s core river and stream monitoring stations in the Puget Sound basin. (page 18)
7/17/2015

2000 Puget Sound Update

This seventh Puget Sound Update is based primarily on the findings of the Puget Sound Ambient Monitoring Program (PSAMP). The PSAMP is a long-term effort to investigate environmental trends, improve decision-making and prevent overlaps and duplication in monitoring efforts. The results of the PSAMP are supplemented by the findings of many other efforts to evaluate the condition of Puget Sound’s waters, sediments, nearshore habitats and biological resources.

2002 Puget Sound Update report cover page
7/17/2015

2002 Puget Sound Update

This Puget Sound Update is the eighth report of the Puget Sound Ambient Monitoring Program (PSAMP) since the program was initiated in 1988 by the State of Washington.

2007 Puget Sound Update report cover page
7/13/2015

2007 Puget Sound Update

The Puget Sound Update is a technical report that integrates results of PSAMP and other scientific activities in Puget Sound focused on marine life and nearshore habitat, marine and freshwater quality, and toxic contamination.

Puget Sound's Health 1998 report cover page
7/13/2015

Puget Sound's Health 1998

In 1996 the Washington State Legislature decided that, in order to effectively target protection efforts in the future, it was time to evaluate how well current efforts to protect Puget Sound are working.

Puget Sound's Health 2000 report cover page
7/10/2015

Puget Sound's Health 2000

This is the Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team’s second report on key indicators of Puget Sound’s health. This report has been prepared in response to the Washington State Legislature’s request to evaluate efforts to protect Puget Sound. This second report includes updated information on the 12 indicators originally presented in 1998 as well as information on five new indicators.

Puget Sound's Health 2002 report cover page
7/7/2015

Puget Sound's Health 2002

This is the Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team's third report on key indicators of Puget Sound's Health. We prepared the report in response to the Washington State Legislature's request to evaluate efforts to protect Puget Sound. The report includes updated information on the 17 indicators presented in 2000 as well as information on two new indicators.

The 2012/2013 Action Agenda for Puget Sound cover page
7/4/2015

The 2012/2013 Action Agenda for Puget Sound

The Puget Sound Action Agenda lays out the work needed to protect and restore Puget Sound into the future. It is intended to drive investment and action. The 2012 Action Agenda is the result of over a year of work with state and federal agencies, tribal governments, local governments, representatives of the business and environmental caucuses, and other interested partners. It builds on the first Action Agenda, created in 2008, and progress since then.

The 2014/2015 Action Agenda for Puget Sound cover page
6/23/2015

The 2014/2015 Action Agenda for Puget Sound

The Puget Sound Actiona Agenda is a shared plan for Puget Sound recovery resulting from a collaboration by state and federal agencies, tribal governments, local governments, business and environmental groups, and others. 

Cover image for Limnology and Oceanography volume 60
6/18/2015

An inland sea high nitrate-low chlorophyll (HNLC) region with naturally high pCO2

A 2015 paper in the journal Limnology and Oceanography presents new data on ocean acidification in the Salish Sea.

6/7/2015

Dissolved oxygen and hypoxia in Puget Sound

Hypoxia, defined as dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations less than 2 mg / L, has become widespread throughout estuaries and semi-enclosed seas throughout the world (Diaz 2001). 

3/9/2015

Framework for prioritizing monitoring of CECs in the Pacific Northwest

The Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP), along with partners from the US EPA Columbia River Program and USGS Oregon Water Science Center, have developed a framework for prioritizing monitoring of Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in the Pacific Northwest.

Report cover photo by Victor Mesny.
1/29/2015

Climate change vulnerability and adaptation in the North Cascades Region, Washington

A 2014 report by the North Cascadia Adaptation Partnership identifies climate change issues relevant to resource management in the North Cascades, and recommends solutions that will facilitate the transition of the diverse ecosystems of this region into a warmer climate.

Alaska Airlines 737 taking off from Sea-Tac Airport with Mt Rainier and Central Terminal in background. Photo: Port of Seattle by Don Wilson
1/23/2015

Airport offers a glimpse at tightening stormwater regulations

How does one of the West's busiest airports deal with extreme stormwater, and what does that mean for water quality standards in the rest of the state?

Report cover photo.
1/7/2015

Shellfish restoration and protection in Kitsap Public Health District

A 2014 report by the Kitsap Public Heath District describes the goals and achievements of the Shellfish Restoration and Protection Project including: increasing harvestable shellfish growing areas, establishing a routine shoreline monitoring program, improving water quality, and increasing education of water quality and shellfish protection.

12/17/2014

Development of a stormwater retrofit plan for Water Resources Inventory Area (WRIA) 9: Comprehensive needs and cost assessment and extrapolation to Puget Sound

A 2014 King County report projects the capital and maintenance costs of the stormwater treatment facilities that would be needed, within WRIA 9 and the Puget Sound region, to fully comply with the Clean Water Act. 

Raindrops on a cafe window.  Photo: Jim Culp (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimculp/7140363701
12/17/2014

Stormwater fixes could cost billions

Pollution from stormwater has been called one of the greatest threats to Puget Sound. How much will it cost to hold back the rain? A new EPA-funded study says the price could reach billions per year, a figure that dwarfs current state and federal allocations.

Stillaguamish River (North Fork) valley
12/17/2014

Influence of climate and land cover on river discharge in the North Fork Stillaguamish River

A 2014 report prepared by the Stillaguamish Tribe analyzes potential causes of changes in peak and low flows in the Stillaguamish River basin. 

Report cover.
12/14/2014

Reestablishing Olympia oyster populations in Puget Sound, Washington

A 2005 report from the Washington Sea Grant Program describing the history and current state of native Olympia oysters including their ecology, history with human interactions, prefered habitat, and reestablishment efforts in the Puget Sound region.

Olympia oysters. Photo: VIUDeepBay (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/viucsr/5778358466
12/11/2014

Gifts from the sea: shellfish as an ecosystem service

The shellfish industry is a cornerstone of the Puget Sound economy, but the region's famed mollusks provide more than just money and jobs. They offer what are called ecosystem services—a wide variety of benefits that humans derive from an ecosystem.

Report cover.
12/10/2014

Native shellfish in nearshore ecosystems of Puget Sound

This 2006 technical report for the Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership describes how shellfish have high ecological, economical, cultural, recreational value, however human activity is threatening their existence by altering their native habitat with changes in land use, shoreline modifications, stormwater, sewage and industrial discharge.

Blue mussel, Mytilus edulis. Photo: Andreas Trepte (CC BY-SA-2.5) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Blue_mussel_Mytilus_edulis.jpg
10/30/2014

Pierce County shellfish watersheds project

A report from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department describes the results of a project to address threats to water quality in Pierce County, focusing on shellfish areas most at risk.

Eastsound Constructed Wetland flyer
10/24/2014

Managing growth in island communities

A 2014 San Juan County report addresses sustainable growth planning, pollution prevention, and mitigation actions in the Eastsound and Westcott Bay areas.

Gorst Creek Watershed Characterization, regional context map 2-1
10/23/2014

Comprehensive watershed plan for sustainable development and restoration of the Gorst Creek watershed

A 2014 report explains the development of a comprehensive land use plan that is based on the ecological values and functions of the Gorst Creek Watershed in southeast Kitsap County.

Stormwater flowing into catch basin carries contaminants to our waterways. Photo: Ben McLeod (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/benmcleod/420158390
10/7/2014

Citizens now the leading cause of toxics in Puget Sound

New research presented at the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference shows that some of the greatest dangers to Puget Sound marine life come from our common, everyday activities. These pervasive sources of pollution are so woven into our lives that they are almost invisible to us, but it’s becoming impossible to ignore their effects.

2013 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview
9/11/2014

2013 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

A report from the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program provides an overview of 2013 marine water quality and conditions in Puget Sound from comprehensive monitoring and observing programs.

Inside the Eelgrass beds. Photo: Eric Heupel (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/eclectic-echoes/7654885752
8/8/2014

Shedding new light on eelgrass recovery

Scientists say eelgrass, an unassuming flowering plant found just off shore in Puget Sound, is vital to the health of the ecosystem. They also say the plant is declining. New and increasingly urgent efforts to restore it brought a group of researchers to the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference.

Harbor seal pup. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
8/6/2014

Age, region, and temporal patterns of trace elements measured in stranded harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardii) from Washington inland waters

A 2014 article in the journal Northwestern Naturalist shows how Harbor Seal tissues can reflect regional and temporal trends in contaminants in Puget Sound.

Coastal Management journal cover
7/3/2014

The Sound Behavior Index: A Management Tool for Behavioral Aspects of Ecosystem Restoration

This paper appears in the July 2014 issue of the journal Coastal Management, which focuses on the role of social sciences in Puget Sound ecosystem recovery.

Amphipholis squamata (Phylum Echinodermata, Class Ophiuroidea) – This is a brittle star, commonly known as the “brooding snake star”. (Sandra Weakland, Brooke McIntyre photo)
6/17/2014

Benthic Invertebrates of Puget Sound

A list of over 1800 benthic infaunal invertebrates is now available on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. The list was prepared as part of the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Marine Sediment Monitoring Program (MSMP).  This program, initiated in 1989, is one component of the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program, a collaborative effort dedicated to monitoring environmental conditions in Puget Sound. 

5/21/2014

Regional investigations into the effects of CECs

Several research groups in the region are investigating biological markers and/or impacts of Contaminant of Emerging Concern (CEC) exposure in different organisms.  An abstract describing each study is included below.  Also included are links or contact details for further information about each project.

5/21/2014

Regional monitoring of CECs in the Salish Sea

Several studies have been performed to determine the occurrence of selected Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in the environment.

Eelgrass in Dumas Bay, Central Puget Sound 2013. Photo courtesy of DNR.
5/6/2014

Nitrogen as an Eelgrass Stressor in Puget Sound

Although overall eelgrass abundance appears to be stable in Puget Sound, some local areas are showing declines. A 2014 report from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources looks at the potential impact of increased nitrogen on eelgrass health.   

Blue dye is used to illustrate currents in the Puget Sound Model at the UW School of Oceanography. Video screenshot: copyright Richard Strickland and Encyclopedia of Puget Sound
4/29/2014

Videos: The Puget Sound Model

The Puget Sound Model was designed and built by the University of Washington School of Oceanography in the early 1950s to simulate the tides and currents of Puget Sound. A series of videos produced by the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound describes its construction and operation.

CECs include thousands of commonly used chemical compounds. Photo courtesy of EPA.
4/22/2014

Contaminants of emerging concern in the Salish Sea

Thousands of different compounds are produced and used as part of our daily lives.  Examples include pharmaceuticals (NSAIDs, birth control pills, etc), personal care products (sun screen agents, scents, preservatives, etc), food additives (artificial sweeteners) and compounds used in industrial and commercial applications (flame retardants, antibiotics, etc).  Advances in analytical methods have allowed the detection of many of these compounds in the environment.

FIGURE 2: Patterns of covariation between pCO2 and temperature (upper), oxygen (middle), and salinity (lower panels) in Hood Canal and Admiralty Inlet, Washington.
4/1/2014

Seasonal Carbonate Chemistry Covariation with Temperature, Oxygen, and Salinity in a Fjord Estuary: Implications for the Design of Ocean Acidification Experiments

A 2014 paper in the journal PloS One analyzes a large carbonate chemistry data set from Puget Sound as a basis for identifying control conditions in ocean acidification experiments for the region.

4/1/2014

Statement on Salish Sea Harbor Porpoise Research and Management Needs

Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) are one of the most frequently sighted cetaceans in the Salish Sea. Anecdotal information, possibly supported with stranding encounter rate data, suggests that harbor porpoise may have increased in Puget Sound, or have shifted their distribution back to Puget Sound relative to earlier decades.

Harbour porpoise stranded due to bycattch. Source: Jan Haelters
4/1/2014

Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena vomerina): Washington inland waters stock

Harbor porpoises were once common in Puget Sound, but had all but disappeared from local waters by the 1970s. Regular and numerous anecdotal sightings in recent years show that populations of these cetaceans are now increasing and may be approaching their former status. The attached document from NOAA Fisheries describes harbor porpoise numbers and their geographic range in Puget Sound as of 2011. 

HARBOR PORPOISE (Phocoena phocoena vomerina): Washington Inland Waters Stock (NOAA Fisheries 2011)

PCBs are leading culprits in the decline of Southern Resident Killer Whales in Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
3/17/2014

Reducing the risk of PCBs in sediments

A 2014 paper in the journal Water Research sheds new light on a novel ‘in place’ treatment option that effectively lowers risk by reducing the activity of PCBs in sediment.

A 2010 documentary describes efforts to protect and restore the Puyallup watershed.
3/12/2014

Water Undone: The Efforts to Save the Puyallup River Watershed

A 2010 video by the University of Washington Tacoma describes efforts to protect and restore the Puyallup watershed. 

2/7/2014

Development of Puget Sound Benthic Indicators

A Washington State Department of Ecology report establishing benthic indicators for Puget Sound. Benthic macrofauna are known to be good indicators of the status of marine environments, and benthic indices are often used as an assessment tool.

Herring spawn research in Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of NOAA
12/12/2013

An inventory of scientific research associated with Puget Sound recovery from 2011-2013

Every two years the Puget Sound Partnership is required to assess the status of scientific research relating to the recovery of Puget Sound, in a document knows as the Biennial Science Work Plan (BSWP). Among other tasks, this entails making an inventory of all ongoing research projects in the current biennium (2011-2013). We are posting this (draft) inventory of recovery-relevant research projects here to make the information generally available.

2013 State of the Sound report cover
11/1/2013

2013 State of the Sound

The 2013 State of the Sound is the Puget Sound Partnership’s third report to the Legislature on progress toward the recovery of Puget Sound by 2020. The document reports on both the status of the Partnership's recovery efforts and the status of a suite of ecosystem indicators.

8/13/2013

2012 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

The Puget Sound Marine Waters 2012 Overview from the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program synthesizes conditions measured in 2012 and has been expanded to include observations on seabirds that rely on marine waters. Read an excerpt below, or download the full report.

7/31/2013

Puget Sound Voices: Don Malins interview

The audio files below are excerpts from a May 2013 interview with Donald Malins, former Director of the Environmental Conservation Division of NOAA Fisheries. Research by Malins and his colleagues in the 1970s and mid-1980s revealed high levels of industrial toxics in sediment-dwelling fish in Puget Sound, leading to the creation of Superfund sites in the Duwamish Estuary and Commencement Bay. Read a full profile of Donald Malins. The interview was conducted by Richard Strickland and Randy Shuman in cooperation with the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound as part of the Puget Sound Voices series. Additional assistance was provided by Jake Strickland. 

A "spy hopping" Southern Resident killer whale in the San Juan Islands. Image courtesy of NOAA.
7/30/2013

Report: Potential effects of PBDEs on Puget Sound and Southern Resident Killer Whales

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 and the National Marine Fisheries Service Northwest Region have released a report describing results from a series of technical workgroups about the potential effects of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) on Puget Sound and Southern Resident killer whales.

Don Malins examines a fish during a research trip to the Duwamish estuary. Photo circa 1987. Photographer unknown.
7/30/2013

Toxics research that changed Puget Sound history

In the 1970s and 1980s, research from a division of NOAA's Montlake Lab suddenly and irreversibly changed the way scientists and the public viewed the health of Puget Sound. Their discoveries of industrial toxics in the region's sediment-dwelling fish led to the creation of two Superfund sites, and new approaches to ecosystem management across the Sound. The man at the forefront of this research was Dr. Donald Malins, featured here as part of the Puget Sound Voices series.

Screenshot of 2013 Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report
7/19/2013

Report: 2013 Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report

The 2013 Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report was prepared jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada. View the complete report, or read the Executive Summary below.

 

The float plane prepares to take off. Photo by Jeff Rice for the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.
6/19/2013

About the Eyes Over Puget Sound monitoring program

Once a month, Washington State Department of Ecology marine scientists take to the air to obtain high-resolution aerial photo observations and gather water data at the agency's monitoring stations and via state ferry transects. This provides a visual picture of the health of Puget Sound, which they call Eyes Over Puget Sound or EOPS.

6/17/2013

Interacting coastal based ecosystem services— recreation and water quality in Puget Sound

This paper uses water quality data to examine the relationship between environmental condition and recreational use of parks in Puget Sound.

Photograph of sediment-covered rocks in the lower Elwha River just upstream of the river mouth at the Strait of Juan de Fuca (June 20, 2012, Chris Magirl).
6/12/2013

Suspended-sediment concentrations during dam decommissioning in the Elwha River, Washington

This document was prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service. Download the entire report, or read the Introduction below. Portions of this document were originally published in June 2013 and were updated in February 2014. 

 
 
Benthic invertebrates are indicators of sediment health. Photo by D. Hyrenbach, NOAA.
6/4/2013

Report: Sediment quality in Central Puget Sound

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.

MoSSea snapshot of sea surface temperature over the full model domain around May 15, 2006; image courtesy of PRISM
4/11/2013

Water quality model development and application in Puget Sound and Georgia Basin

A recent summary includes information compiled in Winter 2013 by the modeling workgroup of the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP). It describes several ecosystem modeling efforts in the region.

Olympia oysters in Washington. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
3/23/2013

Native shellfish in nearshore ecosystems of Puget Sound

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.

Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). Photo by Peter Davis for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
12/11/2012

Harbor seals

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.

Giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) is one of the fastest growing organisms on earth. Cultivating kelp and other algae could help offset ocean acidification. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
12/6/2012

Sweetening the waters - the feasibility and efficacy of measures to protect Washington’s marine resources from ocean acidification

Washington State's ocean acidification initiative began with the launch of Governer Christine Gregoire's Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification in December 2011. The initiative is the first of its kind in the country, and a report commissioned by the Global Ocean Health Program was released in November 2012. The report is a first step towards assessing and improving the tools at hand.

Map of the Hood Canal Action Area; courtesy Puget Sound Partnership
9/19/2012

PSI review finds minimal evidence for human impacts on Hood Canal hypoxia

An independent review conducted by the Puget Sound Institute (PSI) 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.

Puget Sound Marine Waters 2011
9/18/2012

2011 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

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. 

Benthic macroinvertebrates are visible to the naked eye. Photo by Jo Wilhelm, courtesy King County.
6/25/2012

Featured resource: Puget Sound Stream Benthos

Puget Sound Stream Benthos is a data management project which monitors benthic invertebrates in streams and rivers in the Puget Sound region. The system is maintained and operated by King County and was the result of a joint effort between King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.

Adult female Rana aurora during fall migration of 2005 in Puget Sound (Hayes, Marc 2005).
5/29/2012

Red-legged frogs in the Puget Sound watershed

The Northern Red-legged Frog is described here relative to its local behavior, habitat, threats and morphology.

5/2/2012

Marine fecal bacteria

Fecal bacteria are found in the feces of humans and other homeothermic animals. They are monitored in recreational waters because they are good indicators of harmful pathogens that are more difficult to measure.