Eyes Over Puget Sound: A look at 2016 in photos

After two years of very warm air and record-high water temperatures, Puget Sound is close to normal. Between the Blob warming our waters in 2015 and the past year of El Niño, we're still a bit warmer than usual, but we're in better shape than we've seen in some time.

See our 2016 in pictures report.

Learn about how the global climate affects water quality, see the impacts warmer waters had on the Sound, and compare photos from flights throughout 2016 in this year-end summary.

Colorful peninsula with houses, cliffs, and a lake in the middle. Silt swirls in the water nearby.

Nov. 2016 — Squaxin Passage

Silty bay with forest in background and brown slough in foreground. The slough has several streams and a couple of human-cut channels.

Feb. 2016 — Willapa Bay

We had some major rains this year! They sent mud and runoff into our rivers, downstream, and out into the Sound. Two thousand sixteen began and ended with sediment dynamically painting our waters.

Different colors of silt paint the waters in a large swirl in Liberty Bay.

Sept. 2016 — Liberty Bay

The very low summer river flows we experienced last year reflected climate predictions for the northwest. Our rivers are like a cold faucet: turned up high, their flow keeps waters cool, moving, and full of oxygen. With the river taps turned way down, marine waters don't get mixed as much, which causes warmer temperatures and higher salinities. As a result, we saw abundant jellyfish, floating macro-algae, and Noctiluca blooms.

Inlet shows water of many colors. Most clearly, there is the red of Noctiluca algae and white streaks denoting jellyfish smacks.

Sept. 2016 — Budd Inlet

Narrow bay is streaked with red, white, green, and turquoise waters.

Aug. 2016 — Eld Inlet

Surprisingly, only South Puget Sound developed very low summer oxygen levels in 2016. By fall, La Niña came with a punch! This brought more rain and cool air temperatures. But the question remains: will this be an unusual La Niña?

View from a Puget Sound beach coated with macroalgae, bright great seaweed.

July 2016 — Edmonds Underwater Park

What's Eyes Over Puget Sound?

The monthly Eyes Over Puget Sound report combines high-resolution photo observations from a seaplane with data from our monitoring stations, from our regional partners, and from instruments we have on ferries.