Eyes Over Puget Sound: Fall arrives with hordes of jellyfish

Fall is here, but our September Eyes Over Puget Sound flight showed us that Puget Sound is still at record-high water temperatures. Some rain has returned to our region, but air temperatures are warm, and river flows remain unusually low.

Front cover of Eyes Over Puget Sound shows many jellyfish swimming beside a dock.
Warm waters and sunny conditions fostered green tides throughout the sound, raising a stink along some local beaches. Learn more in our Personal Field Impressions section. 

Calm water from above with whitish stripes. Labels indicate “plume,” “internal waves,” “plane shadow,” and “dust on lens.”

Waves create stripes of sediment in Bellingham Bay.

The good news? Puget Sound is saltier than normal, which allows oxygen-rich surface waters to more easily mix to greater depths. This means more oxygen for fish and other marine wildlife after a long and stressful summer. We did measure low oxygen in a couple places on our flight this month, such as the coastal bays, Hood Canal, and the southern end of Puget Sound.
This year's strange and prolific jellyfish blooms have continued. Large jellyfish groups were seen in the south end of the Sound, the Kitsap Peninsula and the waters near Orcas Island. 
We also observed unique patterns formed by sediment plumes in Bellingham Bay.