Species and food webs

Puget Sound hosts more than 100 species of seabirds, 200 species of fish, 15 marine mammal species, hundreds of plant species, and thousands of invertebrate species (Armstrong et al. 1976; Thom et al. 1976; Canning and Shipman 1995). Visit our species page for a full list. The array of species found in Puget Sound reflects its high productivity, the wide diversity of habitats present, and its unique geographic location at the interface of “northern” and “southern” ranges for many species. These species do not exist in isolation, but rather interact with each other in a variety of ways: they eat and are eaten by each other; they serve as vectors of disease or toxins; they are parasitic; and they compete with each other for food, habitat, and other resources.

There is no single food web in the Puget Sound ecosystem. Instead there are many marine food webs that reside in the soft-bottomed nearshore, in rocky-bottomed areas, in habitats dominated by eelgrass or kelp, and in pelagic areas as well. Similarly, there are terrestrial and freshwater aquatic food webs that occur in alpine habitats, mid-elevation and lowland forests, and rivers, lakes, and streams. The food webs in each of these areas are not discrete and independent, but rather are highly interconnected by organic matter sources, physical proximity, exchange of water, and organisms that change habitats during the course of their life cycles.

Food webs also change both in time and space due to variation in stratification, prey availability, organic-matter source availability and quality, and other local and regional conditions. In addition, some species occupy multiple places or play multiple roles in the food web depending on their life stage, size, habitats they occupy, and time of year.

Sources:

Sound Science: Synthesizing ecological and socioeconomic information about the Puget Sound ecosystem. Published 2007. Used by permission.

http://blog.pugetsoundinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/SoundScience2007.pdf

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii). Image courtesy of NOAA.
9/24/2018

Pacific herring

Pacific herring are a pelagic fish species found from northern Baja California to northern Honshu Island, Japan. They are found throughout the Puget Sound basin and are a mix of “resident” and “migratory” stocks. 

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.

Jeff Gaeckle measures the length of the eelgrass blades as part of a monitoring project near Joemma Beach State Park in South Puget Sound. Photo: Chris Dunagan
9/6/2018

Studies show challenges for eelgrass restoration

As critically important eelgrass declines in some parts of Puget Sound, scientists are trying to plant more of it. The health of the ecosystem may be riding on their efforts, but what they are finding is something that farmers have known for thousands of years: Getting something to grow may be harder than you think.

Yukusam the sperm whale in Haro Strait off of Turn Point Lighthouse, Stuart Island, WA. March 2018. Photo: Copyright Jeff Friedman, Maya's Legacy Whale Watching (used with permission) http://sanjuanislandwhalewatch.com/first-ever-sperm-whale-san-juan-islands/
8/13/2018

Marine mammals from distant places visit Puget Sound

The reasons for the surprise visits are unknown, but changes in environmental conditions here or elsewhere are one possibility.

J16 surfacing near Saturna Island, August 2012. Photo: Miles Ritter (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrmritter/7730710932
8/12/2018

For declining orcas, food is fate

Recent images of a mother orca appearing to grieve for her dead calf have brought worldwide attention to the plight of Puget Sound’s endangered Southern Resident orcas. As orca numbers decline, we look at how the effects of toxic chemicals on the whales are magnified even as the residents slowly starve from a general lack of Chinook salmon, their chief source of food. 

Chinook salmon leaping at the Ballard Locks in Seattle. Photo: Ingrid Taylar (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/taylar/29739921130
7/16/2018

New studies on emerging threats to salmon

Chemicals, disease and other stressors can increase a salmon's chance of being eaten or reduce its ability to catch food. We wrap up our series on the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project with a look at some of the lesser-known, but still significant factors contributing to salmon declines in the Salish Sea.

A harbor seal hunting anchovies. From Howe Sound Ballet video by Bob Turner: https://youtu.be/Ycx1hvrPAqc
7/9/2018

Could anchovies and other fish take pressure off salmon and steelhead?

A recent influx of anchovies into Puget Sound may have saved some steelhead from predators, but researchers seek more evidence to prove the connection. Our series on the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project continues with a look at these and other potential impacts from predators on the region's salmon and steelhead.

Juvenile salmon in seine. Photo courtesy: Long Live the Kings https://lltk.org/
7/2/2018

Size means survival for young salmon

Getting bigger faster can help save juvenile Chinook salmon from a gauntlet of hungry predators ranging from birds and marine mammals to larger fish. We continue our series on the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project with a look at what helps salmon grow and prepare for life in the open ocean. 

Screenshot of Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference website from 6/26/2018. https://wp.wwu.edu/salishseaconference/
6/26/2018

2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

The 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference took place April 4-6 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, WA. It featured 588 presentations across 17 topic areas.

A US Fish & Wildlife Atlantic employee displays an Atlantic Salmon with characteristic large black spots on the gill cover. Credit: Greg Thompson/USFWS (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/43322816@N08/9680675578
6/7/2018

Despite WA ban on farmed salmon, BC impacts may flow across border

A high-profile salmon escape led to a ban on salmon farms in Washington earlier this year. But just across the border, scientists say salmon farms in British Columbia expose migrating fish from Puget Sound to potential maladies like parasites, bacteria and dangerous viruses. They say simply getting rid of salmon farms in Washington does not put the potential impacts to rest. 

Pacific herring exposed to 50% urban stormwater runoff experienced stunted growth, unabsorbed yolk sacs, and smaller eyes than control seawater Photo credit: Louisa Harding, WSU
5/21/2018

Stormwater mimics oil spill's effect on Pacific herring

Pacific herring exposed to stormwater in Puget Sound show some of the same effects as fish exposed to major oil spills. Symptoms include heart and developmental problems.  

Giant Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera). Photo by Claire Fackler. Courtesy of NOAA.
5/3/2018

Kelp

Kelps are large seaweeds in the order Laminariales that form dense canopies in temperate rocky intertidal and subtidal habitats less than 30 m in depth. The kelp flora of the Pacific Northwest is one of the most diverse in the world.

Bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana), the only surface canopy species in the Puget Sound, observed in March 2018. Photo: Brian Allen
5/1/2018

Kelp continues steady decline in Puget Sound

Scientists are trying to learn how to restore Puget Sound’s diminishing kelp forests in an effort to stave off habitat loss for rockfish and other threatened species. We report on new findings presented at the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle. 

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.

Glaucous-winged gulls. Photo courtesy of James Hayward.
1/19/2018

Daily and annual habitat use and habitat-to-habitat movement by Glaucous-winged Gulls at Protection Island, Washington

A 2017 paper in the journal Northwestern Naturalist looks at distribution patterns for Glaucous-winged Gulls across associated habitats in the Salish Sea.  

Harbor Seals sunning on intertidal rocks of Puget Sound. Photo: Tony Cyphert (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/tony717/14630242564
1/17/2018

Study would explore changes to protections for seals and sea lions

As wildlife managers work to recover Puget Sound’s diminished Chinook population, a proposed white paper is expected to review the impacts of some of the salmon's chief predators. The study would include a section on potential management of seals and sea lions, prompting open discussion of a long taboo subject: Could officials seek to revise the Marine Mammal Protection Act — or even conduct lethal or non-lethal removal of seals and sea lions in some cases? Such actions are hypothetical, but we look at some of the ongoing discussions around the issue as prompted by a new resolution from the Puget Sound Leadership Council. 

Southern Resident killer whales and boats. Photo courtesy of NOAA
1/3/2018

Soundwatch: Eighteen years of monitoring whale watch vessel activities in the Salish Sea

A December 2017 article in the journal PLOS One reports that incidents and violations among whale watching vessels have increased in the Central Salish Sea since 1998.

Harbor porpoise. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
12/18/2017

Group characteristics, site fidelity, and photo-identification of harbor porpoises, Phocoena phocoena, in Burrows Pass, Fidalgo Island, Washington

A 2017 paper in the journal Marine Mammal Science examines harbor porpoise group structure and site fidelity in the Salish Sea. 

Harbor seal photographed by Andreas Trepte. Available through a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.5 license.
12/1/2017

Influence of human exposure on the anti-predator response of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina)

A 2017 paper in the journal Aquatic Mammals reports that harbor seals in the Salish Sea are less concerned about predators when they become habituated to humans. 

A young resident killer whale chases a chinook salmon in the Salish Sea near San Juan Island, WA. Sept 2017. Photo: (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/21wV8rV
11/20/2017

Seals and sea lions may be slowing salmon recovery, hurting orcas

Increased consumption of Chinook salmon by seals and sea lions in the Salish Sea “could be masking the success of coastwide salmon recovery efforts,” according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports. Endangered resident orcas are said to be declining in part due to a lack of available Chinook, the orcas' preferred prey.

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.

Ptilosarcus gurneyi (with a striped  nudibranch) off Whidbey Island, WA;  photo by Jan Kocian.
10/3/2017

The Orange Sea Pen

The Orange Sea Pen, also called the Fleshy Sea Pen or Gurney’s Sea Pen, resembles a colorful autumn tree waving in the “breeze” of moving water currents. Article courtesy of the Washington Department of Ecology's Eyes Under Puget Sound series. 

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. 

Screenshot of archived SSEC 2016 website at http://www.wwu.edu/salishseaconference/archived/2016/
8/10/2017

2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

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

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

Salmon smolts. Photo courtesy of Governor's Salmon Recovery Office
7/20/2017

State of the salmon in watersheds 2016

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

Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias), a species typically found in Puget Sound marine waters. Image courtesy of NOAA.
7/18/2017

The pelagic (open water) food web

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

Dead salmon. Photo: Boris Mann (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/boris/3037705761
7/14/2017

The nearshore food web: Detritus

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

Eelgrass Data Viewer
6/20/2017

Puget Sound Eelgrass Monitoring Data Viewer

An interactive map created by the Washington Department of Natural Resources provides access to eelgrass monitoring data collected between 2000 and 2015 at selected sites in Puget Sound. 
Eelgrass at Alki Beach, Seattle. Report cover photo: Lisa Ferrier
6/15/2017

Eelgrass declines pose a mystery

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

Harbor seals at haulout site. Photo courtesy of WDFW: http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildwatch/sealcam/.
4/10/2017

Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) tolerance to vessels under different levels of boat traffic

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

Fir Island Farms habitat restoration monitoring in Skagit County. Project provides rearing habitat for young threatened Chinook salmon along with other wildlife. Copyright: Bob Friel
3/30/2017

Finding a strategy to accelerate Chinook recovery

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

Sea lion sunbathing between meals in Seattle's Eliott Bay. Photo: Johnny Mumbles (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/mumbles/3283168713
1/25/2017

Study says predators may play major role in chinook salmon declines

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

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.

report cover: Synthesis of 2011-2014 results and key recommendations for future recovery efforts: Final analysis report
12/6/2016

Puget Sound marine and nearshore grant program results, final analysis report

A September 2016 report from the University of Washington Puget Sound Institute provides an overview of key products, results, and recommendations presented in three previous reports reviewing 50 projects from the first four years of the Puget Sound Marine and Nearshore Grant Program.

Sunflower sea stars have all but disappeared from the Salish Sea due to sea star wasting disease. Photo courtesy of PLOS ONE
10/31/2016

Devastating transboundary impacts of sea star wasting disease on subtidal asteroids

A study in the journal PLOS ONE uses volunteer diver surveys to assess the impacts of sea star wasting disease in the Salish Sea. Data shows that sunflower sea stars were especially hard hit and have all but disappeared from the region. 

Toxic algal blooms are sometimes associated with invasive plankton. Photo: Eutrophication&Hypoxia (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/48722974@N07/5120831456
10/4/2016

Salish Sea snapshots: Invasive species and human health

Invasive species are considered a top threat to the balance of ecosystems worldwide. New discoveries of non-native green crabs in Puget Sound have highlighted that concern here at home, but invasive species can impact more than just the food web. Some introduced species can produce toxins that accumulate in shellfish or by directly infecting the human body.

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.

Carcinus maenas. Photo: Brent Wilson (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/59048895@N06/5409329320/
9/23/2016

Second invasive green crab found in Puget Sound

Another European green crab has been spotted in Puget Sound prompting concern that the species may gain a foothold in the region. 

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.

Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). Bellingham Bay, WA. Photo: Andrew Reding (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/seaotter/9509722373/
9/13/2016

The return of the pig

After an almost complete collapse in the 1970s, harbor porpoise populations in Puget Sound have rebounded. Scientists are celebrating the recovery of the species sometimes known as the "puffing pig." 

2013 Swinomish Tribe clam bake. Photo: Copyright Northwest Treaty Tribes https://www.flickr.com/photos/nwifc/9517621153
8/31/2016

Clam hunger

Social scientists around the Salish Sea are predicting the effects of environmental change through the lens of culturally important foods.

Pacific sand lance at rest on sand. Photo: Collin Smith, USGS. https://www.flickr.com/photos/usgeologicalsurvey/13378704834
8/18/2016

The secret lives of forage fish: Where do they go when we aren’t looking?

Some of the most important fish in the Salish Sea food web are also the most mysterious. Researchers have only begun to understand how many there are, where they go, and how we can preserve their populations for the future. A University of Washington researcher describes how scientists are looking into the problem.

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
8/2/2016

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. 

Carcinus maenas. Photo: Brent Wilson (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/59048895@N06/5409329320/
8/2/2016

Green crabs could impair Puget Sound shellfish operations

Concerns over the potential arrival of the European green crab have inspired a small army of volunteers. A search is underway for early signs of an invasion.

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/
8/2/2016

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.

A clump of cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) Photo: USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
8/2/2016

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. 

report cover: Analysis of invasive species, toxics, oil spill, and integrated risk assessment findings
8/1/2016

A review of Puget Sound marine and nearshore grant program results, Part 2

A July 2016 report from the University of Washington Puget Sound Institute summarizes and reviews 10 EPA-funded projects focusing on Puget Sound's marine and nearshore environments. The projects were conducted between 2011-2015 with support from the EPA's National Estuary Program.  The report is an analysis of findings on invasive species, toxics, oil spill, and integrated risk assessment.

Photogrammetry image of an adult female Southern Resident (J16) as she’s about to surface with her youngest calf, born earlier in 2015, alongside. Photo: NOAA Fisheries, Vancouver Aquarium
7/20/2016

Killer whale miscarriages linked to low food supply

New techniques for studying orcas have been credited with breakthroughs in reproductive and developmental research. Drones and hormone-sniffing dogs are helping scientists connect declines in food supply with low birth rates and poor health. Update: The research described in this 2016 article has now been published in the 6/29/17 issue of the journal PLOS ONE. 

Peter Hodum, conservation biologist from the University of Puget Sound counts rhinoceros auklets and tufted puffins around Protection Island, WA (in the background). Photo: Scott Pearson, WDFW
7/11/2016

Marine bird science in Puget Sound

Birds serve as useful indicators of ecosystem change and ecosystem health, biodiversity, condition of habitats, and climate change. Many people and organizations have their eyes on marine birds in Puget Sound.

A steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the Cascade River, WA, 2014. Photo: © Morgan Bond http://www.morganhbond.com/
6/30/2016

Advances in technology help researchers evaluate threatened Puget Sound steelhead

New, smaller acoustic tags will allow scientists to track steelhead migrations in Puget Sound in ways that were once impossible. Will they provide answers to the mysterious decline of these now-threatened fish? 

Key hypotheses include bottom-up and top-down processes and additional factors such as toxics, disease, and competition.  Graphic: Michael Schmidt, Salish Sea Marine Survival Project
6/29/2016

Mystery remains in deaths of young salmon

The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project has mobilized dozens of organizations in the U.S. and Canada to find an answer to one of the region's greatest mysteries. What is killing so many young salmon before they can return home to spawn? A series of talks at the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference brought together some of the latest research. 

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. 

Studies suggest that western sandpipers depend on biofilm for close to 60% of their diet. Storey's Beach, Port Hardy, BC. Photo:  Nicole Beaulac (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicolebeaulac/26579296150
6/1/2016

Salish Sea 'slime' vital for shorebirds

It turns out that a gooey substance known as biofilm is a big deal for Salish Sea shorebirds, providing critical food for some species. But could a proposed port expansion in Vancouver threaten this slimy resource?

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.

The Tufted Puffin is among 125 species of concern found in the Salish Sea. Photo: Peter Hodum.
4/20/2016

The growing number of species of concern in the Salish Sea suggests ecosystem decay is outpacing recovery

The number of species of concern in the Salish Sea is growing at an average annual rate of 2.6%, according to a report published in the proceedings of the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver, B.C.

Black Scoter (Melanitta negra), one of seven new birds added to a Salish Sea-wide list of species of concern. Photo courtesy of USGS.
4/16/2016

Conference snapshot: The number of species of concern in the Salish Sea is growing steadily

The number of species of concern in the Salish Sea is growing at an average annual rate of 2.6%, according to a report published in the proceedings of the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver, B.C.

A 6-year-old killer whale from L pod, known as L-73, chases a Dall’s porpoise in this historical photo taken in 1992. Photo: Debbie Dorand/Center for Whale Research
4/14/2016

Resident killer whales sometimes attack porpoises but never eat them

The mysterious practice of killing porpoises may have a useful function, but it has yet to be fully explained, according to orca researcher Deborah Giles.

Spawning Surf Smelt. Fidalgo Bay. Photo: Copyright Jon Michael https://www.flickr.com/photos/-jon/5892559865
3/22/2016

Spawning habitat for forage fish being lost to rising tides

Where shoreline bulkheads remain in place, the loss of spawning habitat used by surf smelt is likely to reach 80 percent.

Cattle Point Beach, San Juan Island, WA. Photo: Travis S. (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/baggis/8089171175
3/22/2016

Forage fish are losing places to lay their eggs

Rising sea levels are expected to exacerbate habitat loss caused by bulkheads, according to studies in the San Juan Islands.

Storm surges against the bulkheads protecting beach houses at Mutiny Bay, WA. Photo: Scott Smithson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/dtwpuck/15725058917
3/22/2016

Shoreline armoring's effect on the food web

The removal of shoreline armoring in Puget Sound has become a priority for state and federal agencies, but until recently there have been relatively few scientific studies of armoring's local impact. New research looks at the pronounced biological and ecological effects of these common shoreline structures, especially for tiny beach-dwelling creatures that make up the base of the food web.

Sternaspis affinis
3/21/2016

The dumbbell worm

The genus Sternaspis is comprised of sedentary invertebrates with short and thick anterior setae. The dumbbell worm (Sternaspis affinis) can be found on the West Coast of North America, from Alaska to the Gulf of California.

British Columbian Doto
3/21/2016

Sea slugs: The British Columbian Doto

The Doto is a species of sea slug, also known as a nudibranch. It is a marine gastropod in the family Dotidae. This species was first discovered in British Columbia and has been reported as far south as Santa Barbara, California.

Cactus worm
3/19/2016

The cactus worm

Priapula are a small phylum of small, worm-like animals found in Puget Sound. They occur in most seas, both tropical and polar, at a variety of depths, from shallow coastal waters to as far down as 7,200 meters. 

Stylatula elongata
3/16/2016

The slender sea pen

Sea pens are marine cnidarians that belong to the order Pennatulacea. They are colonial organisms, composed of specialized polyps.

Close up of Phocoena phocoena. Photo: AVampireTear (CC BY-SA 3.0) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Daan_Close_Up.PNG
3/8/2016

Disappearance and return of harbor porpoise to Puget Sound

A 2016 technical report from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Cascadia Research Collective details the decline of the harbor porpoise in Puget Sound in the 1970s and reports that species numbers have increased over the past twenty years likely due to outside immigration.

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.

Young adult herring from Puget Sound.Margaret Siple/University of Washington
2/25/2016

Population diversity in Pacific herring of the Puget Sound

A 2016 paper in the journal Oecologia describes how individual herring populations in Puget Sound exhibit a portfolio effect, collectively influencing and stabilizing the region’s population as a whole. 

Common starfish feeding on mussels. Photo: James Lynott (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlynott/11715880653
2/24/2016

Food web dynamics: competition and invasive species

Competition occurs when individuals of different species struggle to obtain the same resource in an ecosystem (such as food or living space). Adaptations, such as physical mutations and behavior modifications, can help an organism outcompete its competitors. 

Early morning meal. Photo: jdegenhardt (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdegenhardt/2771107305
2/24/2016

Food web connections beyond the marine areas of Puget Sound

Food webs are natural interconnections of food chains and depict what-eats-what in an ecological community. While Puget Sound represents a specific food web, the organisms that reside within that web often travel outside the region. In this way, one community's food web can be drastically affected by a change in a neighboring ecosystem.

Dead salmon. Photo: Boris Mann (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/boris/3037705761
2/23/2016

Transfer of nutrients in the ecosystem

Decaying organic matter plays an important role in marine ecosystems. 

Returning sockeye salmon packed gill-to-gill in the viewing windows at the Ballard Locks fish ladder. Photo: Ingrid Taylar (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/taylar/7511895940
2/18/2016

Salmon live in a topsy-turvy world upstream of the Ballard Locks

Chinook, coho and sockeye salmon, along with steelhead trout, live in the Lake Washington watershed and navigate a treacherous route through the Ballard Locks on their way to Puget Sound.

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. 

Bear eats salmon. Photo: Robert Voors (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/robert_voors/1303192433
2/15/2016

Food webs

The health of an ecosystem is tied closely to the health of its food webs. This article provides an overview of the concept, origin, and characteristics of a food web and how predator and prey relationships are shaped in the Salish Sea.  

A graph shows an increase in published papers related to anthropogenic noise
2/11/2016

Impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine life: Publication patterns, new discoveries, and future directions in research and management

A 2015 review in Ocean & Coastal Management looks at trends in research related to anthropogenic noise and its affect on a wide variety of marine organisms, from whales and fish to invertebrates. The review includes case studies from the Salish Sea. 

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. 

Pathogen-free herring are reared from eggs to allow a wide range of experiments on infectious organisms at the Marrowstone Marine Field Station. Photo: Christopher Dunagan
1/13/2016

Disease in herring threatens broader food web

Pacific herring have long been considered an essential part of the Puget Sound food web. Now, studies are beginning to reveal how diseases in herring could be reverberating through the ecosystem, affecting creatures large and small. We continue our coverage of the ecological impacts of disease in Puget Sound with this look at the region's most well-known forage fish.

Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Photo: Eric Engbretson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1/13/2016

Are diseases playing a role in salmon decline?

Chinook, coho and steelhead populations in Puget Sound have declined dramatically over the past 30 years. In some cases, counts of fish returning to the rivers are just a tenth what they were in the 1980s. While many possible causes of this decline are under consideration, some researchers are focusing on the combined effects of predators and disease. This article continues our coverage of the ecological impacts of disease in Puget Sound.

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.  

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.

An illustration of the fourhorn poacher (Hypsagonus quadricornis). Copyright: Joseph R. Tomelleri
10/19/2015

List of Salish Sea fish grows to 253 species

Researchers updating a 1980 fish catalog have found evidence of 37 additional fish species in the Salish Sea. This information, accompanied by hundreds of detailed illustrations, is seeding a new reference book expected to gain wide use among scientists, anglers and conservationists.

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.

Fishes of the Salish Sea report cover
9/30/2015

Fishes of the Salish Sea: a compilation and distribution analysis

A 2015 NOAA report creates an updated and comprehensive list of the fishes of the Salish Sea. 

Harbor porpoise surfacing. Photo: Erin D'Agnese, WDFW
9/25/2015

Harbor porpoise in the Salish Sea

In the 1940s, harbor porpoise were among the most frequently sighted cetaceans in Puget Sound, but by the early 1970s they had all but disappeared from local waters. Their numbers have since increased, but they remain a Species of Concern in the state of Washington. This in-depth profile looks at harbor porpoise in the Salish Sea, and was prepared by the SeaDoc Society for inclusion in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. 

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.

Glaucus-winged gull. Image courtesy of USGS.
9/2/2015

Evidence shows that gulls are shifting their diets from marine to terrestrial sources

A 2015 article in the journal Environmental Science and Technology presents additional isotopic evidence that glaucus-winged gulls in the Salish Sea are shifting their diets from marine to terrestrial sources due to human impacts. Scientists hypothesize that declining forage fish may be the cause. 

All scenarios project warming for the 21st century. The graph shows average yearly temperatures for the Pacific Northwest relative to the average for 1950-1999 (gray horizontal line). The black line shows the average simulated temperature for 1950–2011, while the grey lines show individual model results for the same time period. Thin colored lines show individual model projections for two emissions scenarios (low: RCP 4.5, and high: RCP 8.5)[ ], and thick colored lines show the average among models projecti
8/12/2015

Future scenarios for climate change in Puget Sound

The University of Washington Climate Impacts Group has been analyzing the potential effects of climate change in Puget Sound. The projections below represent some of their most recent reporting about expected conditions in the region over the next 50 to 100 years. Support for this article was provided by the Puget Sound Partnership.

Report cover image
8/8/2015

Conservation and ecology of marine forage fishes— Proceedings of a research symposium, September 2012

The symposium was held on September 12–14, 2012, at the University of Washington, Friday Harbor Laboratories campus. Sixty scientists, graduate students, and fisheries policy experts convened; showcasing ongoing research, conservation, and management efforts targeting forage fish from regional and national perspectives.

Report cover
8/8/2015

Geographical distribution of Puget Sound fishes: maps and data source sheets

Volume 1: Family Petromyzontidae (lampreys) through family Syngnathidae (pipefishes). Volume 2: Family Percichthyidae (temperate basses) through family Hexagrammidae (greenlings). Volume 3: Family Cottidae (sculpins) through family Molidae (molas).
A baseline assessment report cover page
7/28/2015

A baseline assessment of priority invasive species in the Puget Sound Basin

The baseline assessment summarizes the status and trends of 15 priority invasive species, as identified by the Washington Invasive Species Council, within the Puget Sound Basin.

Figure 1.  General Conceptual Model of Puget Sound Recovery (page 2).
7/27/2015

Biennial Science Work Plan for 2011-2013

This report, Priority science for restoring and protecting Puget Sound: a Biennial Science Work Plan for 2011-2013, identifies priority science and monitoring questions needed to coordinate and implement effective recovery and protection strategies for Puget Sound.

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.

Sound Science 2007 report cover image
7/21/2015

Sound Science 2007

Sound Science: Synthesizing Ecological and Socio-economic Information about the Puget Sound Ecosystem summarizes what we know about the greater Puget Sound ecosystem and what we think could happen in the future given present trajectories and trends.

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.

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.

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. 

Figure 1. Tufted puffin (photo by Peter Hodum).
6/22/2015

Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its status report on Tufted Puffins: Washington State Status Report for the Tufted Puffin (2015)

6/4/2015

Atlas of seal and sea lion haulout sites in Washington

A 2000 report from the Washington Department of Fish and  Wildlife provides information on haulout sites for harbor seals, Steller sea lions, California sea lions, and northern elephant seals located in Washington waters. 

Juvenile coho salmon. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
5/28/2015

Spatial and temporal patterns in smolt survival of wild and hatchery coho salmon in the Salish Sea

Scientists say low marine survival rates threaten Puget Sound coho salmon populations. A 2015 article in the journal Marine and Coastal Fisheries reports that wild cohos in the Salish Sea had higher smolt survival rates over a 30 year period than hatchery coho salmon. Smolt survival in the Strait of Georgia during that time declined faster than it did in Puget Sound. 

Sample map of “Year of Emergence”, depicting where and when there is projected to be noticeable differences in number of days per year with daily maximum temperature exceeding 90°F (32.2°C) compared to 1950-1999, for a moderate rate of climate change, high emissions scenario and high management sensitivity, according to the BCSD5 climate data source.
5/19/2015

Time of emergence of climate change signals in the Puget Sound Basin

A December 2014 report from the University of Washington examines when and where climate change impacts will occur in the Puget Sound watershed.

An example of a search query for climate impacts in King County, WA
5/19/2015

Online resource identifies 'time of emergence' for Puget Sound climate impacts

When and where will we see the impacts of climate change in Puget Sound? A web-based tool factors in dozens of site-specific variables for watersheds throughout the Pacific Northwest. The resource was developed by the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group with support from the EPA, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Center for Data Science, University of Washington-Tacoma.

Jellyfish surround a floatplane pontoon. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology.
5/11/2015

Forty years of change in forage fish and jellyfish abundance across greater Puget Sound, Washington (USA): anthropogenic and climate associations

A 2015 paper in the Marine Ecology Press Series reports a trend toward more jellyfish and less of some forage fish species in Puget Sound. The paper analyzes more than 40 years of state data, and assesses potential human causes for the shift.

Report cover
5/7/2015

State of Washington status report for the tufted puffin

A 2015 report from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reviews information relevant to the status of the tufted puffin in Washington and addresses factors affecting this status. 

Harbor seal photographed by Andreas Trepte. Available through a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.5 license.
5/5/2015

Foraging differences between male and female harbor seals present challenges for fisheries management

A 2015 article published in the Marine Ecology Progress Series identifies intraspecific differences in diet between harbor seals in the Salish Sea, suggesting implications for marine reserve management. 

Report cover
4/22/2015

Status and trends for seagrasses in Puget Sound from 2010-2013

A 2015 report from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources summarizes the status and trends for native eelgrass and other seagrasses in Puget Sound from 2010-2013.

Harbor porpoise. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
3/3/2015

Living in the fast lane: rapid development of the locomotor muscle in immature harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena)

A study in the Journal of Comparative Physiology shows that muscle development necessary for diving can take several years to mature in harbor porpoises. Scientists argue that this may make immature harbor porpoises more vulnerable than adults to impacts from boat traffic or other disturbances. 

Yelloweye rockfish. Photo by Brian Gratwicke; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://www.flickr.com/photos/19731486@N07/5624404677
2/23/2015

Using stakeholder engagement to inform endangered species management and improve conservation

A 2015 paper in the journal Marine Policy examines surveys of Puget Sound anglers to provide baseline information related to rockfish conservation. 

Beringmöwe - Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens). Photo: Von B. Walker CC-BY-2.0 http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/display/14742443
1/30/2015

A century of change in Glaucous-winged Gull populations in a dynamic coastal environment

A 2015 paper in the journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications describes century-long trends in Glaucous-winged Gull populations in British Columbia.

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.

18-year-old L92 Crewser male resident orca, born 1995, and kayaker. Photo: Andrew Reding (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/seaotter/9259744196/
1/21/2015

Stimulus-dependent response to disturbance affecting the activity of killer whales

A 2015 paper presented to the International Whaling Commission compares the impacts of kayaks and powerboats on killer whale populations.

Cirratulus spectabilis (Phylum Annelida, Class Polychaeta, Family Cirratulidae) – This polychaete annelid is known as a “sphaghetti worm” because of the tangled mass of branchia (gills) emerging from the segments. These are used for respiration. The number and placement of these are distinctive for each species in this family. (Photo: Maggie Dutch)
1/14/2015

Taxonomic guides to benthic invertebrates of Puget Sound

A 2014 Washington State Department of Ecology report provides a taxonomic guide for Puget Sound sediment-dwelling invertebrates (benthos). Surveys of these species are used to monitor the health of the foodweb, as well as levels of toxic contaminants in the seafloor.

Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). Photo courtesy of National Park Service.
1/7/2015

Population structure and intergeneric hybridization in harbour porpoises Phocoena phocoena in British Columbia, Canada

A 2014 paper in Endangered Species Research suggests that harbour porpoises inhabiting coastal waters of southern British Columbia constitute a single genetic population, which should be reflected in management decisions.

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.

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.

Clam gardens, while all being characterized by a level terrace behind a rock wall in the lower intertidal, are diverse in their shapes and sizes. Photo: Amy S. Groesbeck.Clam gardens, while all being characterized by a level terrace behind a rock wall in the lower intertidal, are diverse in their shapes and sizes.
12/5/2014

Ancient clam gardens of the Northwest Coast of North America

Northwest Coast First Peoples made clam garden terraces to expand ideal clam habitat at tidal heights that provided optimal conditions for clam growth and survival, therefore enhancing food production and increasing food security.

Purple sea star. Photo by brewbooks. Creative commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).
12/3/2014

Virus associated with sea-star wasting disease

A virus is the likely cause of sea-star die-offs on the Northeast Pacific Coast and in Puget Sound, according to a November 2014 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Z. japonica at Padilla Bay in Puget Sound. Photo by Jeff Rice.
11/24/2014

Ecological effect of a nonnative seagrass spreading in the Northeast Pacific: A review of Zostera japonica

A 2014 literature review in the journal Ocean & Coastal Management suggests negative effects of nonnative eelgrass on the native species. 

Closeup of herring spawn on kelp. Photo credit: Tessa Francis
11/7/2014

Habitat limitation and spatial variation in Pacific herring egg survival

Puget Sound herring reproduction is not limited by the amount of suitable spawning vegetation, according to a November 2014 paper in the journal Marine Ecology. The article points to terrestrial or marine variables as likely determinants of egg loss.

Seattle's central waterfront at sunset. Photo: Michael Matti (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelmattiphotography/9090323308/
10/29/2014

Brighter future for salmon at downtown seawall

The decaying seawall along Seattle’s waterfront is providing scientists with an opportunity to improve long-lost habitat for migrating salmon. It could also show the way for habitat enhancements to crumbling infrastructure worldwide. One University of Washington researcher describes the project.

Southern resident orcas. Photo: NOAA http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/cetaceans/killerwhale_photos.htm
10/28/2014

Seeking higher calories for Puget Sound killer whales

A 2014 paper decribes how monitoring the energy density of key Pacific salmon species could affect the recovery of northern and southern killer whales through fisheries management.

Birds that dive and forage for fish in the Salish Sea, including this western grebe, are 11 times more likely to experience population declines than other birds in the area, a UC Davis study found. Photo courtesy of UC Davis. All rights reserved.
10/16/2014

Assessing ecological correlates of marine bird declines to inform marine conservation

Birds that dive for fish while wintering in the Salish Sea are more likely to be in decline than nondiving birds with less specialized diets, according to a 2014 study led by the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis. The study, published in the journal Conservation Biology proposes that long-term changes in the availability of forage fish are pushing the declines.

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.

Nisqually Reserve Fish Sampling March 2012. Photo: Michael Grilliot, DNR (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/wastatednr/6834386824
9/9/2014

No salmon left behind: The importance of early growth and freshwater restoration

The growth and survival of young salmon in streams, river deltas and floodplains are seen as crucial pieces of the salmon recovery puzzle. In part two of this two-part series, researchers at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle say the complexities of the salmon life cycle require new coordination among scientists.

Chinook Salmon (juvenile) Photo Credit: Roger Tabor/USFWS. https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/6093338474
8/28/2014

What is killing young salmon in Puget Sound?

Scientists say Puget Sound’s salmon are dying young and point to low growth rates in the marine environment as a possible cause. In part one of this two-part series, scientists consider threats facing young salmon in the open waters of Puget Sound.

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.

Western grebe. Public Pier, Blaine, WA. Photo: Andrew Reding https://www.flickr.com/photos/seaotter/10298390254
7/22/2014

Declines in marine birds trouble scientists

Why did all the grebes leave? Where did they go? And what does their disappearance say about the health of the Salish Sea? Seasonal declines among some regional bird species could hold important clues to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Pigeon Guillemots at Zangle Cove. Photo by Bobbie Moody.
7/17/2014

Pigeon Guillemot Foraging and Breeding Survey in and Near the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve

A 2014 report describes a research and monitoring study of Pigeon Guillemot conducted in and near the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve. 

Harbor seal vocalizing on rock. Credit: G.E. Davis
6/23/2014

Harbor seal species profile

Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are the most commonly seen marine mammals in the Salish Sea and can be found throughout the region year round. They have been intensively studied within the Salish Sea and this species profile provides an overview of what is known about them. It was produced for the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound by the SeaDoc Society. 

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. 

The Canary Rockfish is one of the 119 species listed in a new paper from the SeaDoc Society as "at risk." Photo by Tippy Jackson, courtesy of NOAA.
5/22/2014

Species of Concern within the Salish Sea nearly double between 2002 and 2013

Approximately every two years, the SeaDoc Society prepares a list of species of concern within the Salish Sea ecosystem. The following paper found 119 species at risk and was presented as part of the proceedings of the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, April 30 – May 2, 2014, Seattle, Washington. 

5/15/2014

Marine Protected Areas in Puget Sound

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been present in Puget Sound since the early 1900s, although most were established after the 1960s (Whitesell et al. 2008, Van Cleve 2009). By 1998 there were at least 102 intertidal and subtidal protected areas in Puget Sound, created and managed by at least 12 different agencies or organizations at the local, county, State and Federal level (Murray and Ferguson 1998).

Sockey salmon. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
4/10/2014

Measuring Socio-Cultural Values Associated with Salmon in the Quinault Indian Nation

A 2014 report describes a study of socio-cultural values associated with blueback salmon in the Quinault Indian Nation. The blueback salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) is a unique strain of sockeye that returns primarily to the Quinault river system.

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)

Cover page for A Marine and Estuarine Habitat Classification System for Washington State
3/19/2014

Defining and describing Puget Sound shore types

Species and their habitats are a foundation of the ecosystem framework, but there is currently no generally agreed upon habitat classification system for Puget Sound. The closest thing for its marine and nearshore environments may be Dr. Megan Dethier’s 1990 resource A Marine and Estuarine Habitat Classification System for Washington State. Much of the work for that document was done in the general vicinity of Puget Sound, and it has been an influential resource for major habitat mapping efforts in the region, such as Shorezone.
Kelp crab on eelgrass. Photo courtesy NOAA Photo Library
3/10/2014

Host demography influences the prevalence and severity of eelgrass wasting disease

A paper in the February 2014 journal Diseases of Aquatic Organisms examines the effect of leaf age on wasting disease in eelgrass across sites in the San Juan Archipelago. Co-author: Encyclopedia of Puget Sound topic editor Joe Gaydos. 

Salish Sea Hydrophone Network locations and 2011
 orca sightings from the Orca Network Whale Sightings Network. Source: Salish Sea Hydrophone Network and Orca Network.
2/11/2014

Salish Sea Hydrophone Network and Orca Network

The Salish Sea Hydrophone Network and Orca Network are two citizen science projects dedicated to furthering our understanding of abundance, distribution, behavior, and habitat use by the endangered population of Southern Resident Killer Whales, also called orcas. The Hydrophone Network lets the public listen for orcas through their computers and phones, while the Orca Network gathers and disseminates sightings of orcas as they move between Puget Sound, the Fraser River, and the Pacific Ocean.

Oyster shell cultch containing seed oysters is washed onto a public beach. Image courtesy of WDFW.
1/28/2014

Report: Evaluating the effects of bivalve filter feeding on nutrient dynamics in Puget Sound

A January 2014 USGS report discusses approaches for measuring the effect of bivalves on nutrient availability in different regions of Puget Sound.

Graphic of the IEA loop. Credit: NOAA
1/27/2014

Ecological assessments in the Salish Sea

Ecological assessments (sometimes referred to as "conservation assessments") typically identify and evaluate the ecological attributes of an ecosystem. There is no single type of ecological assessment, but the following list includes an informal inventory of related efforts in the Salish Sea. This list does not include Ecological or Environmental Impact Assessments, which are targeted to specific land uses. This is a living document and will be updated as more information becomes available and as needs arise. 

Killer whales and boat in Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
1/12/2014

NOAA's draft guidance for assessing the effects of anthropogenic sounds on marine mammals

In December 2013 NOAA released what it classifies as a "Highly Influential Scientific Assessment" of the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammals. The comment period on the draft assessment extends until March 13, 2014. 

Photo courtesy of USGS
12/30/2013

Report: Study panel on ecosystem-based management of forage fish in Puget Sound

Forage fish represent a critical link in the Puget Sound food web and help to sustain key species like salmon, marine mammals and sea birds. But the region’s forage fish may be vulnerable on a variety of fronts, according to a new study panel report from the University of Washington Puget Sound Institute. Download the panel's summary and proposed research plan.

Southern Resident Killer Whales in Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of NOAA
12/30/2013

Acoustic quality of critical habitats for three threatened whale populations

A 2013 article in the journal Animal Conservation compares the effects of increasing anthropogenic noise to habitat loss for endangered fin, humpback and killer whales in the Salish Sea.

Ribbon seal sighted on January 11th, 2012 a dock on the Duwamish River, Seattle, Washington (credit Matt Cleland)
12/19/2013

Ribbon seals in the Salish Sea?

Can Puget Sound claim a new species? Ribbon seals were not previously thought to venture into the Salish Sea, but a series of sightings in Puget Sound in 2012 expands their potential range. Scientists are keeping an eye out for future sightings. 

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.

Puget Sound Salmonid Habitat Monitoring Inventory and Recommendations
11/27/2013

Puget Sound salmonid habitat monitoring inventory and recommendations

An October 2013 report released by the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program inventories and assesses monitoring activities of Puget Sound's ESA-listed salmon and steelhead stocks and habitats.

Book cover for "Elwha: A River Reborn" by Lynda Mapes
11/20/2013

Puget Sound Voices: Exhibit traces Elwha restoration

The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound spoke with Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes about the exhibit Elwha: A River Reborn, which opened at the University of Washington Burke Museum on November 23rd. The exhibit is based on the book of the same title by Mapes and photographer Steve Ringman, and tells the story of the largest dam removal in U.S. history.  

Gray whale (photo by Chris Johnson).
11/13/2013

Gray Whale (Eschrichtius robustus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Common sharp-tailed snake (photo by Bill Leonard).
11/10/2013

Common Sharp-tailed Snake (Contia tenuis)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Oregon Vesper Sparrow (photo by Rod Gilbert).
11/10/2013

Oregon Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus affinis)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

. Slender-billed white-breasted nuthatch (photo by Rod Gilbert).
11/10/2013

Slender-billed White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis aculeata)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Loggerhead Shrike in Grant County, Washington (photo by Joe Higbee).
11/10/2013

Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

 

Black-backed woodpecker (photo by Joe Higbee).
11/10/2013

Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Male white-headed woodpecker in Yakima County (photo by Joe Higbee).
11/10/2013

White-headed Woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Vaux’s swift (photo by Curt Young).
11/10/2013

Vaux's Swift (Chaetura vauxi)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Flammulated owl (photo from Greg Lasley, USGS).
11/8/2013

Flammulated Owl (Otus flammeolus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Figure 1. Yellow-billed cuckoo (© David Speiser, www.lilibirds.com).
11/8/2013

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Bald eagle at Blue Lake, Sinlahekin WLA (photo by Justin Haug).
11/8/2013

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). Image courtesy of NOAA.
11/5/2013

Paper: Food habits of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) in two estuaries in the central Salish Sea

This paper discusses the dietary habits of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) in two estuaries in Puget Sound.

Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens). Photo courtesy of USGS.
11/5/2013

Glaucous-winged gulls as sentinels for ecosystem change

This thesis discusses the Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens) as an indicator of ecosystem change in the Salish Sea region.

White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca). Image courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
11/5/2013

Geographic and temporal variation in diet of wintering White-winged scoters

White-winged scoters (Melanitta fusca) are a species of sea duck that spend much of their time in northern marine environments. This paper investigates how dietary changes occur in response to changing availability of prey and the effect of those dietary changes on scoter condition and reproductive success, among other variables.

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.

Surf scoters in Padilla bay, seen through a spotting scope. Photo from the Washington Department of Ecology.
10/30/2013

Surf scoter (Melanitta perspicillata) and prey size

This paper examines the importance of prey size to shifting scoter populations in two bays in north Puget Sound.

Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). Photo by Peter Davis, US Fish and Wildlife Service.
10/25/2013

Brucella pinnipedalis infections in Pacific harbor seals in Washington State

This paper discusses Brucella pinnipedalis infections in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) in Washington state and transmission to humans and other wildlife. The disease poses a threat to endangered populations and may be exacerbated by organic pollutants.

Littorina subrotundata. Photo by L. Schroeder.
10/23/2013

Newcomb's Littorine Snail (Littorina subrotundata)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Island marble perched on the host, field mustard (Brassica campestris). Photo by Thor Hansen.
10/23/2013

Island Marble (Euchloe ausonides insulanus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Olympic mudminnow. Photo by Roger Tabor, USFWS.
10/23/2013

Olympic Mudminnow (Novumbra hubbsi)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Peregrine falcon. Photo by Brian Caven.
10/23/2013

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington

Taylor's checkerspot. Photo by D. Stinson.
10/22/2013

Taylor's Checkerspot (Euphydryas editha taylori)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Streaked horned lark. Photo by Rod Gilbert.
10/22/2013

Streaked Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris strigata)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Northern spotted owl in the Olympic Mountains. Photo by Rod Gilbert.
10/22/2013

Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Mardon skipper. Photo by Rod Gilbert.
10/16/2013

Mardon Skipper (Polites mardon)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Male and female Steller sea lions. Photo by Andrew Trites.
10/16/2013

Steller Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Photo courtesy University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology; conservationbiology.net
10/16/2013

Potential effects of the interaction between marine mammals and tidal turbines – an engineering and biomechanical analysis

A paper presented at the European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference in Aalborg, Denmark describes the potential effects of a tidal turbine strike on an endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale in Puget Sound (SRKW). A tidal turbine is proposed for deployment in Admiralty Inlet in Island County. 

The Seaeye Falcon used by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Photo courtesy WDFW.
10/15/2013

WDFW Remotely Operated Vehicle captures species and habitats on the sea floor

A camera on board a remotely operated vehicle scans the floor of Puget Sound capturing digital video of underwater marine life.  Selected clips of Plumose sea anemones, Pacific halibut, Pacific cod, Sea stars, and North Pacific spiny dogfish are now available for public viewing.

10/15/2013

Reports: Steller Sea Lion status reports

This page includes documents and links related to the status of Steller Sea Lion in Washington state and the Salish Sea region. 

10/1/2013

Presentations: 2013 study panel on ecosystem-based management of forage fish in Puget Sound

Download presentations from the Study Panel on Ecosystem-based Management of Forage Fish held August 25, 2013 at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Lab, San Juan Island.

Figure 1. Map of study area. Map depicts the four receiver arrays: Hood Canal Bridge (HCB), Mid Canal (MCL), Admiralty Inlet (ADM), and Strait of Juan de Fuca (JDF). Lower insets show single receiver locations for each year.
9/17/2013

Paper: A floating bridge disrupts seaward migration and increases mortality of Steelhead smolts in Hood Canal, Washington State

A new study provides strong evidence of substantial migration interference and increased mortality risk associated with the Hood Canal Bridge for aquatic animals, and may partially explain low early marine survival rates observed in Hood Canal steelhead populations.

The Seaeye Falcon used by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Photo courtesy WDFW.
9/4/2013

Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) in Puget Sound

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are underwater robotic vehicles used for a variety of ocean surveys and operations. Both are used for deep-sea observation, mapping of underwater environments, and surveys of biodiversity and water quality trends. While ROVs are tethered to the user by a cord called the umbilical, which provides power as well as control and video signals, AUVs are programmed for a specific course and then set loose, operating without a tether.

Canary rockfish. Photo by Tippy Jackson, courtesy of NOAA.
8/13/2013

Proposed designation of critical habitat for the distinct population segments of Yelloweye Rockfish, Canary Rockfish, and Bocaccio

The National Marine Fisheries Service has released a Draft Biological Report proposing designation of critical habitat for yelloweye rockfish, canary rockfish, and bocaccio in the Salish Sea. Download the full report and supporting data.

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.

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.

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.

 

Rock Sole (Lepidopsetta bilineata); image courtesy Freshwater and Marine Image Bank, University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections
7/9/2013

Paper: Shifts in the estuarine demersal fish community after a fishery closure in Puget Sound, Washington

This paper looks at 21 years of data on estuarine demersal fish in Puget Sound, assessing changes in population after the closure of bottom trawl fisheries.

Image copyright Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International, www.batcon.org
7/6/2013

Yuma Myotis (Myotis yumanensis)

This article originally appeared in the State of Washington Bat Conservation Plan. Further information is available from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Image copyright Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International, www.batcon.org
7/5/2013

Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)

This article originally appeared in the State of Washington Bat Conservation Plan. Further information is available from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Image copyright Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International, www.batcon.org
7/5/2013

Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)

This article originally appeared in the State of Washington Bat Conservation Plan. Further information is available from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Closeup of herring spawn on kelp.
6/27/2013

Field notes: Are Puget Sound herring limited by loss of eelgrass?

Could recent declines in Puget Sound herring be linked to decreases in native eelgrass? Biologist Tessa Francis reports on a new study that may provide insight into the health of one of the region's most iconic forage fish.

Western Grebe; image by mikebaird, courtesy of Encyclopedia of Life
6/26/2013

Paper: Citizen science reveals an extensive shift in the winter distribution of migratory Western Grebes

A June 19, 2013 paper in the journal PLoS ONE hypothesizes that regional declines in Western Grebe populations may be related to decreasing numbers of forage fish. Using citizen science data from 36 years of bird counts, researchers were able to look at population trends up and down the entire West Coast, finding that abundance of grebes decreased in the Salish Sea but increased in southern California. North American population declined by 52% overall.

Orca whale in Puget Sound. Image courtesy of NOAA.
6/20/2013

Paper: Spatial and temporal analysis of killer whale (Orcinus orca) strandings in the North Pacific Ocean and the benefits of a coordinated stranding response protocol

A new paper by Puget Sound area scientists from the SeaDoc Society and their collaborators represents the most complete summary to date of killer whale (Orcinus orca) strandings in the North Pacific. The authors analyzed stranding records dating back to 1925, obtained from scientists worldwide, finding that very few whales are stranded (an average of ten a year over the last twenty years). However, most of those strandings result in death. Only 12% of stranded whales survive.

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.

Greater scaup (Aythya marila). Photo by Donna Dewhurst, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
5/23/2013

Paper: The incidental catch of seabirds in gillnet fisheries— A global review

Seabird populations are declining worldwide. This paper looks at the impact of gillnets on bird populations.

Killer whale (Orcinus orca). Photo by Joseph Gaydos.
5/23/2013

Report: Washington State status report for the Killer Whale

This 2004 report looks at the status of Washington's four killer whale populations.

Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). Photo courtesy of WDFW.
5/22/2013

Influence of sex and body mass on harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) diving behavior

A master's thesis prepared at Western Washington University discusses the impact of harbor seals on fish stocks in the San Juan Islands, where the seals are a year-round predator.

Rhinoceros Auklet carrying sand lance. Photo by Peter Hodum.
5/22/2013

Paper: A model approach for estimating colony size, trends and habitat associations of burrow-nesting seabirds

A paper in the May 2013 issue of The Condor [115(2):356–365, 2013] describes a repeatable and statistically robust approach to monitoring burrow nesting seabirds in the Salish Sea and the California Current that can be applied at single- or multi-island scales. The approach can be applied to both relatively common and important members of the seabird community like the Rhinoceros Auklet and to species of conservation concern like the Tufted Puffin.

Fringed Myotis. Photo © Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International, www.batcon.org
5/18/2013

Report: Washington State Bat Conservation Plan

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recently released a Bat Conservation Plan for the 15 species of bats found in Washington State. All but four of these species occur within the greater Puget Sound watershed1, including:

5/15/2013

Photos: Swinomish shellfish harvesting and research

Browse a collection of shellfish photos provided by the Swinomish Tribe.

5/8/2013

Database: Transport and fate of nutrient and pathogen loadings into nearshore Puget Sound

With funding from the EPA (EPA Interagency Agreement DW-13-923276-01), scientists at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the University of Washington used a field and quantitative modeling ‘source-transport-fate’ assessment approach to classify the vulnerability of shellfish growing areas to closures caused by watershed and marine-derived pathogens. Based on the historical prevalence of nutrient pollution, shellfish closures, and phytoplankton blooms in commercial and recreational shellfish growing area, the project focused on three nearshore sites--the Hamma Hamma (WRIA 16), Dosewallips (WRIA 16) and Samish (WRIA 3).

Drawing of Ocean Phase Chinook (king) salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
5/1/2013

NOAA report establishes Chinook monitoring framework

A new Chinook monitoring framework is designed to build cooperation among managers and policymakers working across the Puget Sound watershed. The report, prepared by an independent team of scientists and released by NOAA, includes a regionally specific, common classification system for Chinook habitats and key ecological attributes. 

4/22/2013

Puget Sound Chinook Salmon recovery: a framework for the development of monitoring and adaptive management plans

The Puget Sound Recovery Implementation Technical Team has released a draft of a NOAA technical memorandum describing frameworks for adaptive management and monitoring of Chinook salmon in Puget Sound. Download the report.

Eelgrass bed. Photo: NOAA
3/26/2013

Eelgrass

Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) is an aquatic flowering plant common in tidelands and shallow waters along much of Puget Sound’s shoreline. It is widely recognized for its important ecological functions, and provides habitat for many Puget Sound species such as herring, crab, shrimp, shellfish, waterfowl, and salmonids.

Pacific herring. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
3/23/2013

Marine forage fishes in 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.

School of juvenile chinook/king salmon. Photo: USFWS/Togiak National Wildlife Refuge (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_alaska/6479109041/
3/23/2013

Juvenile Pacific Salmon in Puget Sound

This technical report produced for the Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership on Valued Ecosystem Components (VEC) summarizes existing knowledge of salmon use of nearshore habitats in order to help protect and restore these habitats.

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.

Wolverine (Gulo gulo). Photo: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
3/18/2013

Wolverine (Gulo gulo)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Figure 1. Olympic marmot. Photo by Rod Gilbert.
3/18/2013

Olympic Marmot (Marmota olympus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Keen's myotis. Photo by Bat Conservation International.
3/18/2013

Keen's Myotis (Myotis keenii)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Townsend's big-eared bat. Photo by Bat Conservation International.
3/18/2013

Townsend's Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Golden eagle. Photo by Jim Watson.
3/16/2013

Golden Eagle (Aquila chryseatos)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Clark’s grebe, left, is similar to the western grebe, right, but has white around the eye and a brighter yellow bill (photos by Joe Higbee).
3/16/2013

Western and Clark's Grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis and A. clarkia)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

 

Figure 1. Adult female western pond turtle with an attached radio transmitter and identifying number for population monitoring. Photo by Melissa Reitz.
3/16/2013

Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata, formerly Clemmys marmorata)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Western gray squirrel. Photo by Joseph V. Higbee.
3/16/2013

Western Gray Squirrel (Sciurus griseus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Upland sandpiper. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
3/14/2013

Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Figure 1. Sea otter (photo by USFWS).
3/14/2013

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

 

 

Sandhill Crane. Photo by Joseph V. Higbee.
3/14/2013

Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Figure 1. Mazama pocket gopher. Photo by Bill Leonard.
3/14/2013

Mazama Pocket Gopher (Thomomys mazama)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Adult marbled murrelet in breeding plumage. Pacific Southwest Research Station, U.S. Forest Service.
3/14/2013

Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Larch mountain salamander. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
3/14/2013

Larch Mountain Salamander (Plethodon larselli)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Grizzly bear. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
3/14/2013

Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

 

Members of the Teanaway pack, April 2011. Photo by U.S. Forest Service
3/14/2013

Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

 

Fisher released on the Olympic Peninsula. Photo by Jessica Hoffman.
3/14/2013

Fisher (Pekania pennanti)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Adult male common loon and chick on North Twin Lake, Ferry County, Washington. Photo by Dan Poleschook.
3/14/2013

Common Loon (Gavia immer)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Brown pelican. Photo by D. Stinson.
3/13/2013

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

American White Pelican, Grant County. Photo by Joe Higbee.
3/13/2013

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

 

Female Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa). Photo by Kelly McAllister.
3/9/2013

Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Northern Sea Otter. Photo: Alaska Department of Fish and Game
3/1/2013

Species of concern in the Salish Sea

The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound species library now includes a list of species of concern in the Salish Sea watershed. The list was created by Joe Gaydos and Nicholas Brown of the SeaDoc Society, and was released as a paper presented as part of the Proceedings of the 2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver, BC.

Photo credit: Biopix, Caddisfly, Limnephilus politus CC BY-NC
2/14/2013

Indicator species

An indicator species is an organism whose presence, absence or abundance reflects a specific environmental condition. Indicator species can signal a change in the biological condition of a particular ecosystem, and thus may be used as a proxy to diagnose the health of an ecosystem. For example, plants or lichens sensitive to heavy metals or acids in precipitation may be indicators of air pollution. Indicator species can also reflect a unique set of environmental qualities or characteristics found in a specific place, such as a unique microclimate.

Pacific Treefrog; photo by James Bettaso, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
2/14/2013

Reports: Sauk-Suiattle amphibian surveys

The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe conducts annual surveys of amphibian egg masses in the Reservation Slough wetland near the Sauk River.

Canary Rockfish (Sebastes pinniger). Photo by Tippy Jackson, courtesy of NOAA.
2/7/2013

Report: Rockfish recovery in the Salish Sea

There are at least 28 species of rockfish in the Salish Sea, but their populations have declined in the past several decades. The proceedings from a 2011 rockfish recovery workshop in Seattle are now available.

Photo courtesy of NOAA
12/12/2012

Report: The effects of salmon fisheries on Southern Resident Killer Whales

A recent report by an independent science panel reviewed data on the effects of salmon fisheries on Southern Resident Killer Whale populations. The report was released on November 30, 2012 and was commissioned by NOAA Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Killer whale (Orcinus orca). Photo courtesy of NOAA.
12/11/2012

Killer whales in Puget Sound

Three distinct groups of killer whales (Orcinus orca) occupy the coastal waters of the northeastern Pacific. These groups—northern and southern residents, transients, and offshores—are distinguished by diet, behavior, morphology, and other characteristics. Among these, Southern Resident and transient killer whales commonly are found in Puget Sound. Northern residents and offshore killer whales rarely enter Puget Sound (Wiles 2004, Kriete 2007), and therefore are not described in detail here.

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.

Bald eagle (Haliaetus leucocephalus). Image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
12/11/2012

Bald eagles

The Puget Sound region has the highest densities of bald eagles in Washington. Breeding pairs initiate nesting activities in January or February. 

Brandt's cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus). Photo by Finley and Bohlman, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
12/10/2012

Marine birds

More than 70 bird species regularly utilize Puget Sound during some or all stages of their life histories, but only a portion of these are actively being investigated.

Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta). Image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
12/10/2012

Salmonids in Puget Sound

Fish in the family Salmonidae (salmon, trout, and charr) play potentially integral roles in the upland freshwater, nearshore and pelagic marine ecosystems and food webs of Puget Sound.

Brown rockfish (Sebastes auriculatus). Image courtesy of NOAA.
12/8/2012

Rockfish

Approximately 28 species of rockfish are reported from Puget Sound, spanning a range of life-history types, habitats, and ecological niches.

Pacific Hake (Merluccius productus). Image courtesy of NOAA.
12/8/2012

Bentho-pelagic fish in Puget Sound

Bentho-pelagic fish utilize both bottom habitats and shallower portions of the water column, often feeding in shallow water at night and moving to deeper water to form schools during the day.

Moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita). Photo by Hans Hillewaert, courtesy of USGS.
12/8/2012

Jellyfish

Recent worldwide increases in the abundance of some jellyfish have been associated with human-caused disturbances to the environment such as eutrophication, overfishing and climate warming.

Dungeness crab (Cancer magister). Photo courtesy of NOAA.
12/8/2012

Dungeness crabs in Puget Sound

Dungeness crabs are an important resource in Puget Sound for recreational, commercial, and tribal fisheries. They utilize a variety of habitats over the course of their lives, and are vulnerable to shifts in ocean temperature and water quality.

Pinto abalone. Photo courtesy of Dave Cowles, Walla Walla University.
12/8/2012

Pinto Abalone in Puget Sound

Pinto abalone are the only abalone species found in Washington State.

Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas). Photo by Don Rothaus, courtesy of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
12/8/2012

Bivalves in Puget Sound

Many types of bivalves, both native and non-native, flourish in Puget Sound. These species are a crucial part of the Puget Sound ecosystem and are also important for commercial fisheries.

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.

Giant Pacific Octopus; Photo by Kip F. Evans
11/9/2012

Giant Pacific Octopus

GIANT PACIFIC OCTOPUS (Enteroctopus dofleini) is the largest species of octopus in the world. It is found in the northern Pacific Ocean from the northwest coast of the continental United States to Japan, including Puget Sound.

State of Our Watersheds Report
10/2/2012

Report: 2012 State of Our Watersheds

The State of Our Watersheds Report is produced by the treaty tribes of western Washington, and seeks to present a comprehensive view of 20 watersheds in the Puget Sound region and the major issues that are impacting habitat.

Protection Island. Image courtesy of NOAA.
9/21/2012

Protection Island

Protection Island, a National Wildlife Refuge in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, provides important habitat for seabirds and marine mammals.

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. 

Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii). Image courtesy of NOAA.
9/14/2012

Forage fish in Puget Sound

Forage fish occupy every marine and estuarine nearshore habitat in Washington, and much of the intertidal and shallow subtidal areas of the Puget Sound Basin are used by these species for spawning habitat.

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.

Great blue heron fishing. Photo: Leo Shaw, The Seattle Aquarium.
2/16/2012

Food Web

Puget Sound hosts more than 100 species of seabirds, 200 species of fish, 15 marine mammal species, hundreds of plant species, and thousands of invertebrate species. These species do not exist in isolation, but rather interact with each other in a variety of ways: they eat and are eaten by each other; they serve as vectors of disease or toxins; they are parasitic; and they compete with each other for food, habitat, and other resources.

2/16/2012

Herbivores and detritivores in Puget Sound

Many consumer organisms in Puget Sound are both herbivores and detritivores. Zooplankton and benthic invertebrates that are scavengers, herbivores, or detritivores are considered jointly in this article. Some of these organisms can be predatory as well. Hundreds of invertebrates and fish species have a planktonic larval stage that eats plants and occupies the nearshore and offshore pelagic waters of Puget Sound.

Photo: Leo Shaw, The Seattle Aquarium.
2/16/2012

Mid-level consumers in Puget Sound

A variety of animals, including invertebrates, fish, mammals, and birds, consume the suspension-feeders, filter-feeders, grazers, and detritivores that serve as a link between the primary producers and detrital pathways and the upper levels of the food web.

sea lions
2/16/2012

Top-level predators in Puget Sound

Fishes, birds, and mammals (including humans) serve as top-level carnivores in the Puget Sound ecosystem. With the exception of humans, these organisms have a diet that consists almost entirely of fish or other vertebrates.

The invasive tunicate Styela clava. Photo: WDFW
4/23/2011

Intentional and unintentional introduction of invasive and non-native species

Non-native species are those that do not naturally occur in an ecosystem. A non-native species is considered invasive when it is capable of aggressively establishing itself and causing environmental damage to an ecosystem. Plants, animals, and pathogens all can be invasive.