General descriptions of topics of interest (such as ROVs or Major Ports in Puget Sound, fact sheets, tribes of the Salish Sea, etc.).
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.
Under the federal Clean Water Act, states are required to assess the quality of their surface waters and compile a list of polluted water bodies. The law mandates cleanup plans to address pollution and other water-quality problems. This article describes how this process works in Washington state for dissolved oxygen.
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.
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.
The Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP) is an independent program established by state and federal statute to monitor environmental conditions in Puget Sound.
The Puget Sound ecosystem is shaped by its physical environment. This article looks at Puget Sound's geologic history as well as dynamic factors such as the flow of its rivers and currents.
Efforts to reduce fire hazards over a half century ago have left an unintended trail of persistent environmental contaminants from flame retardant chemicals known as PBDEs. Bans and substitutes are still evolving.
Formerly known as “Red Tide”, harmful algal blooms are a health concern for both wildlife and humans. The following is a brief review of some of these algae and their effects.
An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in a water system. While most are innocuous, there are a small number of algae species that produce harmful toxins to humans and animals.
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.
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.
Decaying organic matter plays an important role in marine ecosystems.
Complex physical processes such as hydrology, nutrient cycling, and sediment transport are linked to water circulation patterns in Puget Sound.
This overview discusses the processes that control ocean and climate characteristics. Topics include atmospheric forcing, precipitation patterns, oscillation trends, coastal upwelling, and climate change.
Lake Washington was heavily contaminated by untreated sewage until extensive pollution controls by the city of Seattle.
The boundaries of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea are not always consistently defined by scientists and government agencies. This article clarifies the distinctions between oceanographic and watershed-based definitions of these geographic areas.
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.
Land cover conversion through human development was listed as a leading cause of ecosystem decline in the 2014 Puget Sound Pressures Assessment, a document supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and prepared by more than 60 of the region's scientists.
This content initiates a description of the social dimensions of the Puget Sound system with a short list of facts about population growth trends, how humans interact with and depend on the Puget Sound ecosystem for their wellbeing (in the broadest sense), and the large-scale policies and individual human activities that have the greatest potential impact on the Puget Sound ecosystem.
Runoff from rain and melting snow is one of the leading causes of pollution in Puget Sound. Here are selected facts related to stormwater, its prevalence, how it affects the Puget Sound ecosystem, and its environmental and economic impacts.
Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) range from pharmaceuticals, personal care products and food additives to compounds used in industrial and commercial applications. These compounds are not typically removed from wastewater and are flushed into waterways throughout the world in significant amounts. This article describes how scientists are measuring the presence of these contaminants along with their potential impacts in Puget Sound, the Columbia River and elsewhere.
The Lower Duwamish Waterway in Puget Sound was designated a Superfund cleanup site in 2001. Its legacy of contamination predates World War II and the waterway continues to pollute Puget Sound through stormwater runoff.
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.
The following list includes Native American tribes and First Nations of the Salish Sea region.
Puget Sound is the second largest estuary in the United States. Today, we understand that estuaries—where freshwater and saltwater merge—are among the most productive places for life to exist.
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.
Hypoxia, defined as dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations less than 2 mg / L, has become widespread throughout estuaries and semi-enclosed seas throughout the world (Diaz 2001).
This paper summarizes a 2014 report ranking the greatest human-caused threats to the Puget Sound ecosystem.
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.
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.
Several research groups in the region are investigating biological markers and/or impacts of Contaminant of Emerging Concern (CEC) exposure in different organisms. An abstract describing each study is included below. Also included are links or contact details for further information about each project.
Several studies have been performed to determine the occurrence of selected Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in the environment.
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).
Thousands of different compounds are produced and used as part of our daily lives. Examples include pharmaceuticals (NSAIDs, birth control pills, etc), personal care products (sun screen agents, scents, preservatives, etc), food additives (artificial sweeteners) and compounds used in industrial and commercial applications (flame retardants, antibiotics, etc). Advances in analytical methods have allowed the detection of many of these compounds in the environment.
Scientists have identified the strong underwater currents of Puget Sound's Admiralty Inlet as a potential source of electricity for nearby utilities. The following article describes some of the basic principles and mechanisms of tidal energy.
The Puget Sound Model was designed and built in the early 1950s at the University of Washington School of Oceanography as a research and teaching tool for understanding Puget Sound circulation patterns. The following text was written by Puget Sound Model co-creator John H. Lincoln (1915-2001) and is provided courtesy of the University of Washington School of Oceanography.
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.
The 2009-2011 Biennial Science Work Plan specifies the use of the IEA framework by the Puget Sound Partnership "to refine indicators, assess risks, and evaluate strategies, integrating marine, nearshore, and terrestrial efforts."
The Salish Sea Natural Area Conservation Plan is a project of the Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) established in 2007 by the Canadian government, which helps non-profit, non-government organizations protect sensitive areas. The process involves selecting biodiversity targets and determining measures of conservation success.
A summary of data on ecosystems designated as Critical Areas (formerly Environmentally Sensitive Areas) in San Juan County, including recommendations for management.
Envision Skagit is a partnership between Skagit County and various local and regional organizations. The county is using a land use model as a tool to engage the community about natural resource planning and decisions.
Lead Entities are local organizations in Puget Sound that develop salmon recovery strategies and priorities for the region on a watershed-based scale.
Floodplains by Design identifies floodplains in Puget Sound with multiple benefit potential and use information on flood risk to inform ecosystem restoration.
The Willamette Valley-Puget Trough-Georgia Basin Ecoregional Assessment considers 833 conservation targets identified by expert teams, proposing that if those targets are represented in an ecoregion, a majority of species, including those which lack data, will be included.
The Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project (PSNERP) works to assess the health of Puget Sound nearshore environments and provides strategies for their protection and restoration.
This project is a coarse-scale, systematic characterization of different areas within the Puget Sound watershed, aimed at providing a framework for land use discussions.
The West Coast Governor's Alliance on Ocean Health, a regional collaboration to protect and manage U.S. West Coast ocean and coastal resources, was launched in September of 2006. This collaboration began an integrated ecosystem assessment (IEA) covering the entire coast, comprised of six regional IEAs (R-IEAs) in Washington, Oregon, and California. The R-IEAs evaluate a range of management objectives and establish “a harmonized set of standards and indicators for ocean health, including metrics for ecological integrity, ecosystem services, and socioeconomic conditions.”
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.
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.