Eyes Over Puget Sound: Conditions still favorable for fish growth

View of Pilot in cockpit of plane, with words over

New Eyes Over Puget Sound report now available

Once a month, we take high-resolution photos of Puget Sound water conditions, using seaplane to travel between our long-term monitoring stations. We publish these, along with monitoring station data, in the Eyes Over Puget Sound report.

During our monthly flight in October, we saw plumes of river water starting to flow into Puget Sound. Though recent rainfall was higher than expected, river flows remained lower than they were at this time in 2018.

Temperatures still support salmon and herring

After a warm spring and summer, October air temperatures dropped to historic lows for the month. However, water temperatures remained warm enough in South and Central Sound for anchovies to spawn and to support optimal growth for herring and salmon in Whidbey Basin. This could be good news for Puget Sound’s food web.

Rafts of wrack ride the waves

Overhead shot from airplane of Puget Sound, showing Hat Island in middle, Anacortes in background, and organic debris throughout the Sound

Organic debris in North Sound.

By the end of October, many red-brown algae blooms vanished from South Puget Sound, yet some waters were still green with other phytoplankton. The red-brown blooms still painted Henderson and Sinclair Inlets, as well as Sequim Bay.

In some places, we watched rafts of organic debris drift on the water’s surface. These were especially evident in South Sound, Whidbey Basin, East Sound, Discovery Bay, Bellingham Bay, and Padilla Bay. Macroalgae rafts were clearly visible around the islands of the North Sound, accumulating at the edges of tidal gullies.

Feature – Marine Waters Report

Readers of Eyes Over Puget Sound may also find the Puget Sound Marine Waters 2018 overview to be of interest. This latest annual report details the effects of a changing climate in Puget Sound for 2018. We update this overview report as part of our participation in the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program’s Marine Waters Work Group. It is published by the Puget Sound Partnership.