Marine habitat

The Marine System encompasses all coastal areas not appreciably diluted by freshwater (surface salinities seldom falling below 30 ppt), including open coastal areas, straits, and euhaline inland waters.  It can extend from the outer edge of the continental shelf to (1) the landward limit of tidal inundation or wave splash or (2) the seaward limit of the Estuarine System.

Source:

Dethier, M.N. 1990. A marine and estuarine habitat classification system for Washington State. Natural Heritage Program, WA DNR, Olympia, WA. 60 pp.

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Salmon smolts. Photo courtesy of Governor's Salmon Recovery Office
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Noise from ocean-going ships can harm marine life. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
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Harbor seals at haulout site. Photo courtesy of WDFW: http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildwatch/sealcam/.
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Map image of Puget Sound and surroundings. Courtesy of USGS.
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Sea lion sunbathing between meals in Seattle's Eliott Bay. Photo: Johnny Mumbles (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/mumbles/3283168713
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Toxic algal blooms are sometimes associated with invasive plankton. Photo: Eutrophication&Hypoxia (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/48722974@N07/5120831456
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Salish Sea snapshots: Invasive species and human health

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Rhinoceros Auklet carrying sand lance. Photo by Peter Hodum.
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Carcinus maenas. Photo: Brent Wilson (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/59048895@N06/5409329320/
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Green crabs could impair Puget Sound shellfish operations

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

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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
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Harmful algal blooms in the Salish Sea

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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. 

Monitoring devices deployed by NOAA for detecting harmful algal blooms. Photo by Rachael Mueller.
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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. 

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

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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. 

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

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.  

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

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

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

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

Birch Bay characterization and watershed planning pilot – taking action

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

report cover: Analysis of  Effective Regulation and Stewardship Findings
12/17/2015

A review of Puget Sound marine and nearshore grant program results, Part 1

A 2015 report from the University of Washington Puget Sound Institute summarizes and reviews 14 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.

Report cover for State of Knowledge: Climate Change in Puget Sound
11/16/2015

State of Knowledge: Climate Change in Puget Sound

A 2015 report from the University of Washington provides the most comprehensive assessment to date of the expected impacts of climate change on the Puget Sound region.

11/3/2015

2015 State of the Sound

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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.

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

Puget Sound: a uniquely diverse and productive estuary

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

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

2014 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

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

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

2014 state of salmon in watersheds executive summary

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

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. 

Harbor porpoise. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
8/5/2015

Increased harbor porpoise mortality in the Pacific Northwest, USA: understanding when higher levels may be normal

A 2015 paper in the journal Diseases of Aquatic Organisms examines potential causes of increased harbor porpoise strandings in Washington and Oregon.  

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.

Figure 31-1. Red circles show the locations of 79 stations sampled during the water properties survey in April, June and September/October (page 147).
7/27/2015

State of the physical, biological and selected fishery resources of Pacific Canadian marine ecosystems in 2014

An annual State of the Pacific Ocean meeting is held to review the physical, biological and selected fishery resources and present the results of the most recent year’s monitoring in the context of previous observations and expected future conditions. The workshop to review conditions during 2014 took place at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney, B.C. on March 10 and 11, 2015, with over 100 participants both in person and via webinar.

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 1986 report cover image
7/20/2015

1986 State of the Sound

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

State of the Sound 1988 report cover image
7/20/2015

1988 State of the Sound

The State of the Sound report is prepared every two years by the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority to provide a comprehensive, easily understandable summary of the current conditions of water quality and related resources in Puget Sound.

2009 State of the Sound report cover image; Puget Sound Partnership
7/20/2015

2009 State of the Sound

In the 2009 State of the Sound report, the Partnership 1) documents the current status of the ecosystem, 2) explains the performance management system we are putting in place to manage recovery efforts in a systematic way and our progress to date in developing the system, and 3) presents an overview of funding and anticipated results for the 2009-11 biennium, as well as accomplishments in 2007-09 biennium.

2011 SSEC abstract book cover
7/7/2015

2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

The 2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference was held October 25 to 27 at the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia. This event brought together a diverse group of government officials, community leaders, First Nations and tribal members, environmental managers, scientists and academics to learn from each other about the state and threats to the shared ecosystem. Over 950 delegates attended.

Fisherman cleaning and filleting a fish. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
7/7/2015

Subsistence fishing in a 21st century capitalist society: From commodity to gift

A 2015 paper in the journal Ecological Economics evaluated “personal use” and subsistence use of seafood among commercial operators in Washington and California, as well as the extent, range, and species diversity of noncommercial wild ocean seafood subsistence harvests. 

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

The 2012/2013 Action Agenda for Puget Sound

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

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

The 2014/2015 Action Agenda for Puget Sound

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

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

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

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

6/7/2015

Dissolved oxygen and hypoxia in Puget Sound

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

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.

Book cover for The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest
4/20/2015

New book focuses on the natural history of the Salish Sea

The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest brings together more than 230 extraordinary images of the Salish Sea. But don't call it a coffee table book. Its lush photos are backed by a serious scientific perspective on this complex and fragile ecosystem.

3/9/2015

Framework for prioritizing monitoring of CECs in the Pacific Northwest

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

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. 

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.

12/17/2014

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

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

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.

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. 

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

Pierce County shellfish watersheds project

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

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.

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. 

Coastal Management journal cover
7/3/2014

Collaboration within the Puget Sound marine and nearshore science network

A study published in the journal Coastal Management generates a broad description of the collaborative network among marine and nearshore researchers in Puget Sound and identifies incentives and barriers to collaboration.

Coastal Management journal cover
7/1/2014

Special issue of Coastal Management focuses on social sciences in Puget Sound recovery

The July 2014 issue of the journal Coastal Management focuses on the role of social sciences in Puget Sound ecosystem recovery. Articles range from political ecology to the development of human wellbeing indicators and directly address current Puget Sound restoration efforts. Guest editors include Encyclopedia of Puget Sound topic editor Kelly Biedenweg and Puget Sound Science Panel co-chair Katharine Wellman. The journal is co-edited by Patrick Christie of our editorial board. Extended abstracts of the articles will be available on these pages in coming weeks.

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. 

5/21/2014

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).

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

Nitrogen as an Eelgrass Stressor in Puget Sound

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

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

Videos: The Puget Sound Model

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

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

Contaminants of emerging concern in the Salish Sea

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

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.

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

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

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

4/1/2014

Statement on Salish Sea Harbor Porpoise Research and Management Needs

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

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

Reducing the risk of PCBs in sediments

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

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

Development of Puget Sound Benthic Indicators

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

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.

Black Scoter (Melanitta nigra). Photo by Dave Menke, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
1/28/2014

Marine and terrestrial bird indicators for Puget Sound

A December 2013 report identifies marine and terrestrial bird species for use as indicators within the Puget Sound Partnership's "Vital Signs" for ecosystem health. 

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. 

Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 2010. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
1/20/2014

Making science useful in complex political and legal arenas: A case for frontloading science in anticipation of environmental changes to support natural resource laws and policies

Scientists argue that environmental disasters are inevitable and that it is just a matter of when and where they will occur. "Our coasts and oceans routinely experience significant environmental crises," writes Dr. Usha Varanasi, who makes a case for staying ahead of the curve and "frontloading the science." Her 2013 paper in the Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy proposes a new model for ecological disaster planning and response, in which baseline ecosystem data and syntheses are collected in advance of possible incidents. 
 
Projected declines in snow season in days for middle elevations (4,000 to 5,000 feet) in the Cascade mountains in Oregon and Washington. Graph courtesy of UW Climate Impacts Group.
1/17/2014

Climate change impacts and adaptations in Washington State: Technical summaries for decision makers

A December 2013 report by the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group projects wide reaching change for the Puget Sound ecosystem and the Pacific Northwest. Lead author: Encyclopedia of Puget Sound climate change topic editor Amy Snover.

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.

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.

Beach near the Olympic Scuplture Park before restoration. Photo by Jason Toft
11/18/2013

Extended abstract: Ecological response and physical stability of habitat enhancements along an urban armored shoreline

This paper describes a multi-year effort testing whether shoreline enhancements at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle have improved conditions for fish and invertebrates as compared to armored shorelines.

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.

Hood canal watershed boundaries; image courtesy of the Puget Sound Partnership
11/4/2013

Developing human wellbeing indicators for the Hood Canal watershed

The University of Washington Puget Sound Institute and Stanford University in collaboration with the Hood Canal Coordinating Council report on efforts to select human wellbeing indicators relevant to natural resource management in the Hood Canal watershed.
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.

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.

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.

7/31/2013

Puget Sound Voices: Don Malins interview

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

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

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

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

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

Toxics research that changed Puget Sound history

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Vern Morgas (second from the left) and friends
5/31/2013

Puget Sound Voices: scuba pioneer

Vern Morgas remembers the early days of scuba diving in Puget Sound.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

State of the Sound cover image; Puget Sound Partnership
11/10/2012

2012 State of the Sound

The Puget Sound Partnership is charged with preparing a State of the Sound report every two years to inform the legislature and the public on the status of restoration efforts in Puget Sound.

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.

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

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

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

Puget Sound Marine Waters 2011
9/18/2012

2011 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

The Puget Sound Marine Waters 2011 report is now available. The report was produced by the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program and assesses the condition and quality of the waters of Puget Sound. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.