Overviews

General descriptions of topics of interest (such as ROVs or Major Ports in Puget Sound, fact sheets, tribes of the Salish Sea, etc.).

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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.

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

How the state assesses low oxygen in Puget Sound

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

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. 

Map image of Puget Sound and surroundings. Courtesy of USGS.
2/6/2017

Puget Sound's physical environment

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.

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

Flame retardants

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

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

Harmful algal blooms in the Salish Sea

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

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

Harmful algal blooms in Puget Sound

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

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. 

Puget Sound. Photo: S.N. Johnson-Roehr (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/snjr22/4095840433
2/18/2016

Water and nutrient circulation in Puget Sound

Complex physical processes such as hydrology, nutrient cycling, and sediment transport are linked to water circulation patterns in Puget Sound. 

Waves crashing on the Puget Sound Photo: MikeySkatie (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeyskatie/5473869676
2/17/2016

Climate and ocean processes

This overview discusses the processes that control ocean and climate characteristics. Topics include atmospheric forcing, precipitation patterns, oscillation trends, coastal upwelling, and climate change.

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. 

Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIA). Map: Kris Symer. Data source: WAECY.
2/15/2016

Geographic boundaries of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea

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. 

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.  

The Puyallup River outside Orting, WA. Photo: Lindley Ashline (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/91625873@N04/22035924720
2/12/2016

Land cover conversion and ecosystem decline

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. 

Salmon fishing at Fauntleroy. Photo: Washington State Dept of Transportation (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/3999467495
2/1/2016

Human dimensions

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. 

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

Stormwater facts

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

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

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

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

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

Persistent contaminants in Puget Sound: Overcoming a toxic legacy

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

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

2015 Puget Sound Fact Book

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

9/23/2015

Tribes of the Puget Sound and Salish Sea regions

The following list includes Native American tribes and First Nations of the Salish Sea region.

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

Puget Sound: a uniquely diverse and productive estuary

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

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.

6/7/2015

Dissolved oxygen and hypoxia in Puget Sound

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

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.

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

Benthic Invertebrates of Puget Sound

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

5/21/2014

Regional investigations into the effects of CECs

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

5/21/2014

Regional monitoring of CECs in the Salish Sea

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

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).

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

Contaminants of emerging concern in the Salish Sea

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

Tidal turbines like this one developed by OpenHydro, Ltd. will be installed in Puget Sound in mid 2015 as part of a demonstration project. Sustainable, large-scale development of tidal energy will require studying and learning from these early-stage projects. Image source: OpenHydro, Ltd./DCNS
3/25/2014

Tidal energy in Puget Sound

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.  

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.
The Puget Sound Model at the UW School of Oceanography
3/19/2014

The Puget Sound Model summary

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. 

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.

2/7/2014

The IEA framework in the Puget Sound Partnership Biennial Science Work Plan

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."

2/7/2014

Salish Sea Natural Area Conservation Plan

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.

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. Photo courtesy of NOAA and the Pacific Tides Party.
2/7/2014

San Juan County Best Available Science Synthesis

A summary of data on ecosystems designated as Critical Areas (formerly Environmentally Sensitive Areas) in San Juan County, including recommendations for management.

2/5/2014

Envision Skagit

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. 

Chinook salmon. Image courtesy of NOAA.
2/5/2014

Lead Entities for salmon recovery in Puget Sound

Lead Entities are local organizations in Puget Sound that develop salmon recovery strategies and priorities for the region on a watershed-based scale.

Submerged marsh in Fisher Slough. Image courtesy of NOAA.
2/5/2014

Floodplains by Design

Floodplains by Design identifies floodplains in Puget Sound with multiple benefit potential and use information on flood risk to inform ecosystem restoration. 

2/4/2014

The Willamette Valley-Puget Trough-Georgia Basin Ecoregional Assessment

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.

PSNERP logo
2/4/2014

Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project

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. 

Puget Sound drainage area. Image courtesy of the Washington Department of Ecology.
2/3/2014

Puget Sound Watershed Characterization Project

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.

A bald eagle in Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
2/3/2014

West Coast Governors' Alliance Integrated Ecosystem Assessment

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.” 

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. 

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.

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

About the Eyes Over Puget Sound monitoring program

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

Image courtesy of NOAA.
6/11/2013

Major ports in Puget Sound: fact sheet

The following fact sheet represents economic and environmental activities of major ports in the Puget Sound region. This is a living document and may be updated as new information becomes available. 

A view from the San Juan Islands. Photo: Bureau of Land Management
5/6/2013

San Juan Islands National Monument

The San Juan Islands National Monument was established on March 25, 2013 by the Obama administration. 

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

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

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

Salish Sea map my Norm Maher. Courtesy of the SeaDoc Society.
4/2/2013

The Salish Sea

The Salish Sea extends across the U.S.-Canada border, and includes the combined waters of the Strait of Georgia, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound Basin and the San Juan Islands (see map).

The name Salish Sea was proposed by Bert Webber in 1989 to reflect the entire cross-border ecosystem. Both Washington State and British Columbia voted to officially recognize the name in late 2009. The name honors the Coast Salish people, who were the first to live in the region.

3/24/2013

Ecosystem-based management

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is an integrated, science-based approach to the management of natural resources that aims to sustain the health, resilience and diversity of ecosystems while allowing for sustainable use by humans of the goods and services they provide.

3/20/2013

Native American tribes of the Puget Sound watershed

This page includes links to information for Native American tribes with tribal lands found within the boundaries of the Puget Sound watershed.

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.

2/4/2013

Salish Sea tribes in Canada

This page includes links to information for First Nations living along the Salish Sea in Canada. First Nations peoples occupied what is now Canada prior to the arrival of Europeans and Americans, and over 50 cultural groups and unique languages are represented across the country.

11/26/2012

Puget Sound watershed hydrologic units

There are many ways of defining the boundaries of the Puget Sound watershed. Hydrologic unit codes (HUCs) are nationally standardized divisions that are often used by conservation agencies and national organizations.

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.

Open Standards Project Management Cycle. Graphic courtesy of Conservation Measures Partnership
9/19/2012

Open Standards

Open Standards seek to build a common language and framework for decision making and prioritization of conservation issues.

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

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

An independent review conducted by the Puget Sound Institute (PSI) is featured in findings by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology that there is currently “no compelling evidence” that humans are the cause for recent trends in declines in dissolved oxygen in Hood Canal.

9/13/2012

Upper Skagit Tribe

The Upper Skagit tribe includes descendants from 11 villages in the Upper Skagit and Samish watersheds. Although the tribe signed the treaty of Point Elliott, no reservation was established, and members refused to leave the region. Today, the tribe's population is scattered among different towns, including Sedro-Woolley, Mount Vernon, and Newhalem.

Upper Skagit Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Tulalip Tribes

The Tulalip reservation is located near Marysville, Washington. It was created after the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855, and currently has a population of 2,500 members. The entire tribal population is approximately 4,000 and growing. 

Tulalip Tribes Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community is descended from Coast Salish people that lived in and around the Skagit and Samish Rivers. Their reservation, about 15 square miles, is located on Fidalgo Island, between Skagit Bay, Padilla Bay, and the Swinomish channel.

Swinomish Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Suquamish Tribe

The Suquamish Tribe, whose ancestors have lived in the region for approximately 10,000 years, has 950 enrolled members. About half of them live on the Port Madison reservation, established in 1855 by the treaty of Point Elliott.

Suquamish Tribe Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Stillaguamish Tribe

The Stillaguamish Tribe is descended from the Stoluck-wa-mish River Tribe, who signed the treaty of Point Elliott in January 1855. Some tribal members moved to the Tulalip reservation, while others remained along the Stillaguamish River. The headquarters for the tribe are in Arlington, Washington.

Stillaguamish Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Squaxin Island Tribe

The Squaxin Island tribe is made up of several tribes from Squaxin Island and the surrounding inlets. Although no members of the tribe currently live on Squaxin Island year-round, it unites past and future generations and is still an important destination. The tribal headquarters are located in Kamilche.

Squaxin Island Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Skokomish Tribe

The Skokomish Tribe began as the Twana Indians, made up of nine communities living in and around the Hood Canal drainage basin.

Skokomish Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Sauk-Suiattle Tribe

The original homeland of the Sauk-Suiattle tribe covered the entire drainage area of the Sauk, Suiattle, and Cascade rivers. A village of eight traditional cedar longhouses at Sauk Prairie was destroyed by settlers in 1884. From a tribe of 4,000 in 1855, numbers dropped until 1924, when only 18 members remained. Currently, the tribe has around 200 members.

Sauk-Suiattle Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Quinault Indian Nation

The Quinault Indian Nation includes the Quinault and Queets tribes, as well as descendants of five other coastal tribes. The tribe's headquartes are located in Taholah, Washington.

Quinault Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Quileute Tribe

The Quileute live along the Pacific Coast, in La Push, Washington. The tribe's historical territory stretched up and down the coast.

Quileute Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Puyallup Tribe

The Puyallup Tribe lives in one of the first areas in Puget Sound that was settled by Euro-Americans. For years, they were unable to exercise their fishing rights, until the U.S. vs. Washington court decision, which allowed them access to the usual and accustomed areas.

Puyallup Tribe Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe

The Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation covers 1,340 acres. Over half of the nearly 2,000 enrolled tribal members live on the reservation. Port Gamble Bay, the tribe’s ancestral home, has proven to be more resilient than other nearby water bodies, but it still carries a load of toxins from the Pope & Talbot sawmill, which operated on the bank for over 150 years.

Port Gamble S'Klallam Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Nooksack Tribe

The Nooksack are a tribe of about 2,000 members. After signing the Point Elliott Treaty in 1855, they lost ownership of much of their land in exchange for fishing and hunting rights. They were expected to move to the Lummi Reservation, but most refused, and they were eventually granted some homestead claims. Currently, around 2,400 acres remain in trust, administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. After the 1855 treaty, the tribe remained unrecognized until 1973. The tribe's name translates to "always bracken fern roots".

Nooksack Tribe Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Nisqually Tribe

The Nisqually tribe has over 650 enrolled members. Most live on or near the reservation, which was established by the Medicine Creek Treaty in 1854. According to legend, the Nisqually people migrated from the Great Basin thousands of years ago, crossing the Cascades and settling in what is now Skate Creek. The tribe is one of the largest employers in Thurston County.

Nisqually Tribe Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Muckleshoot Tribe

The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe is named after the prairie where the Muckleshoot reservation was established in 1857. The tribe’s members are descended from the Duwamish and Upper Puyallup people.

Muckleshoot Tribe Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Makah Nation

Makah tribal headquarters are located in Neah Bay, Washington. In the 1800s, the tribe numbered between 2,000 and 4,000, spread between five permanent villages on the Washington Coast. The Makah have a strong whaling tradition and close ties to the ocean.

Makah Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Lummi Indian Tribe

The Lummi tribe is one of the largest in Washington State, with over 5,000 members.

Lummi Tribe Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe lives on the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula, west of Port Angeles, in the lower Elwha River valley. The land was proclaimed the Lower Elwha Reservation in 1968, and the current tribal lands include approximately a thousand acres. Currently, the tribe has 985 enrolled members, with 395 living on the reservation.

Lower Elwha Klallam Area of Concern:

9/13/2012

Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe

The Jamestown S’Klallam tribe is one of several communities originating from the S’Klallam tribe (“strong people”), a cultural and linguistic group in the Salish Sea. The S’Klallam signed the treaty of Point No Point in 1855, which entitled them to a payment of $60,000 over 20 years and fishing rights at the “usual and accustomed places.” In 1874, a band of S’Klallams paid $500 for a 210-acre piece of land near Dungeness, which became the Jamestown community.

9/13/2012

Hoh Indian Tribe

The Hoh River (chalak'At'sit, or "the southern river") is central to the history, economy and culture of the tribe. Established in September of 1893, the Hoh Indian Reservation covers 443 acres of land on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula. The tribe shares a language with the Quileute. In 2010, additional land was transferred to the tribe under the Hoh Indian Tribe Safe Homelands Act, in order to allow the tribe to move to land outside the tsunami zone if necessary.

Hoh Tribe Area of Concern:

Coast Salish Canoe Journey 2009 landing in Pillar Point; photo by Carol Reiss, USGS
8/13/2012

Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), sometimes called Indigenous Knowledge, refers to cumulative knowledge and experience that indigenous cultures have of their environment. In the last thirty years, there has been growing interest in TEK as a resource for restoration and conservation projects.

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.

Moss Lake, part of a bog wetland complex in Moss Lake Natural Area. Photo by Jennifer Vanderhoof.
6/18/2012

King County wetland habitat

Wetlands are recognized as critical ecosystems for biodiversity because of their disproportional use by wildlife and exceptional habitats for plants. It is their unique combination of shallow aquatic habitats and adjacent terrestrial conditions extending over a wide range of geomorphic and elevational settings that accounts for their ecological complexity and resultant richness. Because of their landscape setting, each wetland tends to exhibit unique habitat types and characteristic arrays of species adapted to idiosyncratic conditions, products of each wetland’s ecological and evolutionary history.

Mountain goats are commonly found in alpine habitat. Photo by Jennifer Vanderhoof.
6/18/2012

King County subalpine and alpine habitat

Except for a very small area in the SE corner of the County, the subalpine and alpine habitats are located in the North Cascades Ecoregion that occupies the NE quarter of King County. This ecoregion is composed of steeply dissected valleys that rise precipitously to the subalpine (montane) forests, meadows, and parklands and, in a short distance more, to the alpine ridges and peaks of the Cascade Crest. The habitats that typify this high-elevation zone are among the most undisturbed habitats remaining in King County.

The Snoqualmie River. Photo copyright King County.
6/18/2012

King County rivers and streams

The diversity of streams in the county is a reflection of the diversity of its geography. From the small rivulets that begin high in the Cascade Mountains, to the brooks that flow gently across the lowlands, to the five major rivers of the county, there are over 4,800 kilometers (3,000 miles) of perennial streamcourses in King County.

A section of Griffin Creek. Photo copyright King County.
6/18/2012

King County riparian habitat

Riparian habitats are often characterized by particular trees and shrub species that line the banks of most rivers and streams in the lowlands and foothills of King County.

Seagrass meadows provide valuable habitat. Photo by Randy Shuman.
6/18/2012

King County marine habitat

King County contains four major marine habitats: backshore, intertidal and shallow subtidal, deep subtidal, and riverine/sub-estuarine. Descriptions of each of these habitats and the types of flora and fauna associated with them are provided below.

Red alder, a deciduous species that often grows in disturbed areas. Photo copyright King County.
6/18/2012

King County lowland habitat

The history of land use in King County has produced a lowland and foothill landscape of bewildering variety. The once continuous forest of western hemlock, Douglas-fir, and redcedar has given way to a patchwork of lawns, parks, playgrounds, woodlots, greenbelts, old fields, croplands, tree farms, and remnant forests set amid a landscape of urban, suburban, rural, and commercial uses, all joined and, at the same time, separated by a vast network of roads and communication corridors.

Canada geese, commonly seen in Lake Washington. Photo by Jennifer Vanderhoof.
6/18/2012

King County lake habitat

The natural biodiversity of the lakes of King County is strongly influenced by geography. The county runs from the Cascade mountain crest to the shores of Puget Sound, covering all three different Level III ecoregions (Puget Lowland, North Cascade, and Cascade). The geology, elevation, climate, and ecology in these three ecoregions are all different, and these differences in environmental factors determine the natural biodiversity of the lakes and also influence the risks, vulnerability, and impacts to that biodiversity.

Aerial view of the Vashon Island shoreline.
6/18/2012

The Puget Lowland ecoregion

Ecoregions provide a useful framework and background for the discussion of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environs of the county. The discussion of ecoregions is based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ecoregion conventions, which result in units similar to European biogeographical regions because they denote areas of general similarity in ecosystems.

King County map, showing incorporated land and major water bodies. Copyright King County.
6/18/2012

The North Cascades ecoregion

Ecoregions provide a useful framework and background for the discussion of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environs of the county. The discussion of ecoregions is based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ecoregion conventions, which result in units similar to European biogeographical regions because they denote areas of general similarity in ecosystems.

King County map, showing incorporated land and major water bodies. Copyright King County.
6/18/2012

The Cascades ecoregion

Ecoregions provide a useful framework and background for the discussion of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environs of the county. The discussion of ecoregions is based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ecoregion conventions, which result in units similar to European biogeographical regions because they denote areas of general similarity in ecosystems.

5/21/2012

Pollution control strategies for Puget Sound

Pollution of the rivers, creeks, bays, and open waters of Puget Sound comes from a variety of sources and travels along many pathways. Spilled oil products and fuel, deposition of air pollutants, legacy toxic pollutants, disease-bearing and illness-causing organisms from failing and poorly maintained on-site sewage treatment systems, fertilizers, erosion, and the runoff from roads and parking lots all find their way into the waters of Puget Sound, where they harm fish and wildlife and create direct health risks to people. Polluted waters reduce ecosystem services – shellfish closures, beach closures, impacts to recreation, impairments to sources of drinking water, loss of cultural resources, consumption warnings for fish, and low oxygen conditions that kill marine species. Increasing numbers of people, cars, and pavement mean more pollutants enter our waterways in higher concentrations, and at a faster rate. Pollutants also enter waterways directly through point source discharges from commercial and industrial sites.

5/21/2012

Restoration strategies for Puget Sound

In the course of building homes, businesses, roads, and infrastructure, the lands and waters of Puget Sound have been drastically modified. Levees, dams, and toxic deposits are obvious and have site-specific impacts. But less obvious are the cumulative changes from human land use activities, such as bulkheads, docks, permanent removal of native vegetation, and loss of native habitat in marine and upland areas. These activities have damaged the underlying processes that form beaches, keep rivers, estuaries, and forests healthy, and support species. Historically, the actions that led to ecosystem degradation were intended to improve the quality of life for Puget Sound residents, but with closed shellfish beds, flooding, species decline, and other impacts it is clear that ecosystem rebuilding efforts are needed.

5/21/2012

Protection strategies for Puget Sound

Puget Sound has been dramatically altered during the past 150 years. One-third of the shoreline has been armored, large areas of forestland and farmland have been paved or otherwise converted to other uses, and river systems have been altered by dams and levees. These actions were undertaken to produce other benefits, but they cumulatively damage and destroy the underlying ecological processes that enable Puget Sound to be healthy and productive. Human population growth and a changing climate in Puget Sound will exacerbate the threats to ecosystem health. To maintain or restore the structure and function of the Puget Sound ecosystem, it is imperative to identify and retain the important features of the ecosystem that still function well.

Seaglider in the open water. Photo courtesy of Seaglider Fabrication Center
5/19/2012

Seagliders in Puget Sound

They are sometimes called Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), or submersible drones. They glide like airships through the deeper channels of Puget Sound, and have become an important tool for a wide array of open ocean applications, including detection of marine mammals, military reconnaissance and the monitoring of environmental disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Puget Sound is the birthplace and key testing area of the Seaglider.

Shoreline armoring along railroad
5/17/2012

An overview of Shoreline armoring in Puget Sound

More then 700 miles of Puget Sound shoreline is considered to be "armored," and as much as four miles of new armoring is added each year.

WRIA boundaries in Puget Sound area
5/11/2012

Water Resource Inventory Areas in Puget Sound

The Washington State Department of Ecology and other state natural resources agencies have divided the Washington into 62 "Water Resource Inventory Areas" or "WRIAs" to delineate the state's major watersheds.

Satellite image of Western Washington
5/3/2012

Climate change impacts on water management in the Puget Sound region

Climate change is projected to result, on average, in earlier snowmelt and reduced summer flows, patterns that are not well represented in the historical observations used for planning and reliability analyses by water utilities.

Chief Sealth, known to settlers as Chief Seattle. Photo: E.M. Sammis/MOHAI.
5/3/2012

Modern Puget Sound timeline

The Puget Sound region has a long history that has shaped the culture and environment we experience today. View a timeline describing key events in the Puget Sound region dating from Washington statehood to the present.

5/2/2012

Marine fecal bacteria

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

Bluff failures contribute sediment to beaches
2/16/2012

Shoreline formation in Puget Sound

Puget Sound has over 4,000 km (2,500 miles) of shorelines, ranging from rocky sea cliffs to coastal bluffs and river deltas. The exchange of water, sediment, and nutrients between the land and sea is fundamental to the formation and maintenance of an array of critical habitat types.

2/16/2012

Puget Sound's climate

The climate of Puget Sound is a product of the interaction between large-scale wind and weather patterns and the complex topography of the region. Seasonal changes in the movement of moisture-laden air that collides with the sudden barrier of the Olympic and Cascade mountains bring Puget Sound the record-breaking precipitation for which it is so famous. These circulation and topographic differences also lead to remarkable climate differences within Puget Sound itself, influencing the species and habitats that are found in the Sound.

Whale watching boat in Puget Sound.
2/16/2012

Ecosystem services in Puget Sound

Ecosystem services are the “outputs” and experiences of ecosystems that benefit humans, and are generated by the structure and function of natural systems, often in combination with human activities. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a global effort to catalog and assess ecosystem status and functions, offers a useful classification scheme.

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

Habitats of the Puget Sound watershed

"Habitat" describes the physical and biological conditions that support a species or species assemblage and refers to conditions that exist at many scales. An oyster shell provides habitat for some algae and invertebrates, whereas cubic miles of sunlit water in Puget Sound comprise the habitat for many planktonic species.

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.