Puget Sound Ecosystem

southsoundSmall organisms that live in sediments at the bottom of Puget Sound have generally declined over the past 10 years, leaving experts to wonder about the overall health of the Sound. A just released report concluded that sediments in Central Puget Sound showed declining health from 1998 to 2009.

State Department of Ecology’s Valerie Partridge says the overall decline in sediment health is important because it is an indicator of the health of Puget Sound. Total numbers of benthic (bottom-dwelling) invertebrates and the variety of species were determined to be lower in Liberty Bay, Dyes Inlet and Sinclair Inlet than in the rest of Central Puget Sound.

For Central Puget Sound…an area from Whidbey Island to Tacoma’s commencement Bay, the adversely affected area increased from 7 percent to 28 percent over 10 years. The cause of the decline in benthic organisms is not easily explained. Toxic chemicals measured in the study were generally unchanged over the 10-year period. Benthic organisms are important because they help support the entire food web. The loss of benthic organisms appears to be a mystery, especially in places like Poulsbo’s Liberty Bay, where every sample showed that bottom-dwellers were fewer in number and species.

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June 12, 2013/KMAS News