Ocean acidification in Washington waters

We play an important role in monitoring the conditions and health of marine waters. Ocean water is becoming more acidic because of carbon pollution from human activities. This process, known as ocean acidification, is having negative impacts on marine animals, particularly shellfish.


Puget Sound is vital to Washington and the national economy. People in Washington and around the world depend on the state's marine resources.

Ocean acidification is a problem

Scientists predict that ocean acidification will continue in the future, which could cause problems for many important species in Washington, including people. The recovery of orca, salmon, and other marine life is dependent on a healthy Puget Sound. Marine waters are suffering from excess carbon and nitrogen pollution from human sources, and excess nutrients from the ocean.

Oxygen levels in many parts of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea are below levels needed for marine life to thrive. The waters are becoming more acidic and affecting the food web, putting commercial fisheries at risk. This issue requires our direct attention to advance our understanding about the challenges and to find effective solutions.

What’s at risk

Puget Sound is the second largest estuary in the U.S. and is a cultural, recreational, and economic hub. The vibrant commercial and recreational shellfish industry is experiencing adverse effects from ocean acidification. This is expected to get worse over time.

Orca and fish populations are declining. Invertebrates & other marine life are suffering from a lack of oxygen and acidifying waters.

Puget Sound waters are becoming more corrosive. This makes it hard for shellfish and other marine life to form shells.

Marine life depends on dissolved oxygen for survival. Dissolved oxygen is consistently reaching dangerously low levels throughout Puget Sound.