Shellfish

The term shellfish refers to edible aquative invertebrates that have exoskeletons, or shells. Species in Puget Sound range from Dungeness crabs and oysters to shrimp and squid. 

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

OVERVIEW

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.

RELATED ARTICLES

Fragile shell. Joe Doe (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/47104521@N08/4590994484/
9/21/2017

Using mineralogy and higher-level taxonomy as indicators of species sensitivity to pH: A case-study of Puget Sound

Scientists from NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) developed publicly searchable database of nearly 3,000 Puget Sound species to study whether species having calcium carbonate shells are more or less vulnerable to ocean acidification. Their findings published in the journal Elementa question previous assumptions that shell-building organisms are more vulnerable.

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

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

After a long struggle with pollution, Drayton Harbor has reopened to year-round commercial oyster harvesting for the first time in 22 years. Here’s how the community cleaned up its act, potentially showing the way for shellfish recovery throughout Puget Sound.

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

Salish Sea snapshots: Mussel memory

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

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. 

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.

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.

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

Salish Sea snapshots: Detecting harmful algal blooms

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

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.

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

Birch Bay characterization and watershed planning pilot – taking action

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

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.

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.

Conference proceedings cover image
9/1/2015

Puget Sound Water Quality Conference Proceedings

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

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

1986 State of the Sound

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

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

1993 Puget Sound Update

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

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

1994 Puget Sound Update

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

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.

2013 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview
9/11/2014

2013 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

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

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

Shedding new light on eelgrass recovery

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

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.

Geoduck (Panopea generosa). Image courtesy Washington Sea Grant.
12/8/2013

Effects of geoduck aquaculture on the environment—a synthesis of current knowledge

A November 2013 literature review by Washingtom Sea Grant synthesizes the state of the science of geoduck clams and the potential environmental impacts of geoduck aquaculture in the Puget Sound region.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.