Eyes Over Puget Sound: More squishies, less crunchies

Front cover of Eyes Over Puget Sound shows view of Commencement Bay from above.
In this month's edition of Eyes Over Puget Sound we continue to see record warm water temperatures and low oxygen readings in our marine monitoring stations all across the Sound. These continue to be the warmest temperatures on record since 1989! On top of that, we're reading record low streamflows. This means harsh conditions for marine life:

Warm water + warm air + low rivers = harsh conditions for Puget Sound

More squishies, less crunchies

Water contains streaks of white labeled “jellyfish,” red water marked “bloom,” and a tiny white spot labeled, “boat.”

A large increase in jellyfish were seen in the finger inlets of Budd and Eld inlet.

We saw a lot of jellyfish during this flight over Puget Sound. What does that mean? Although they're fascinating to look at, jellyfish can indicate changes in the lower food web. Many people consider them a dead end to the food chain because they aren't eaten by many other species.

When it comes to zooplankton, we've got two ends of the spectrum. The "crunchies," like small fish and shrimp, that are high in fatty acids and oils. Then, we've got the "squishies," like jellyfish, that are gelatinous and not nearly as nutritious for important species such as salmon.

It's as if Puget Sound critters have been put on a diet when they're experiencing warm water and low dissolved oxygen. For us to see a boom in jellyfish populations, we suspect there is less nutritious food for the rest of the animals in the food web.

Four images: moon snail, sea star, clam, and snail in coral.

Meet some intertidal filter feeders

Continue to learn about the creatures that live in the rocky intertidal part of Puget Sound.

From butter clams to moon snails to sunflower stars, this place where the waters meet the land is full of strange and wonderful life. Our WCC AmeriCorps intern Brook introduces you to these animals in this month's Personal Field Impressions section.

Blooms paint the waters gold

Abundant sun and unusually warm water temperatures are fueling phytoplankton and zooplankton blooms in many areas. We saw bright orange Noctiluca blooms surfacing in Commencement Bay and around Port Madison and many other parts of Puget Sound.

Streaks of orange algae paint Puget Sound near Tacoma.

Our team saw this large Noctiluca bloom in Commencement Bay as they flew across Puget Sound.