Monday, August 1, 2016

Eyes Over Puget Sound: It's getting warm out there!

Click here to view the July report

Blubbery beach bums?

This seal pup depends on Puget Sound beaches for rest
and safety. Photo courtesy of Padilla Bay NERR
It’s finally summer in the Northwest! We would expect to see beaches crowded with people on a warm day, but it’s not just people that enjoy the sand and sun. From the air, our fliers see a lot of seals hauled out along the shore! The specific areas they prefer to beach, called "haulout sites," are important for seals. Our WCC intern, Mattie, explains how they provide a place for seals to rest, give birth, nurse their young and provide protection from predators.

The heat is on!

Through June we saw air temperatures and sunlight that were higher than normal. Recent rain generally improved river flows. However, the Fraser river flow remains extremely low, reducing water exchange with the ocean. Water temperatures are still breaking records, yet dissolved oxygen levels are normal. Go to the report to see our data.

Glacial flour allows us to see how river plumes float over the saltier water,
resulting in complex patterns. Puyallup River plume, Commencement Bay

Go with the flow

River flow levels for the Puget Sound region have increased recently, compared to the 2015 drought year. Most of the snow is gone however, so meltwater comes primarily from glaciers. 

This thin, floating plume of glacial flour from the Puyallup River makes for dramatic imagery! It really highlights how river plumes can be complex and far-reaching.

South Sound inlets full of algae and jellies

Puget Sound algae are thriving with blooms observed in many South Sound inlets. Macro-algae is seen piling up on beaches and drifting in Central Sound. Jellyfish smacks are numerous in Eld and Budd Inlets. Mix together and our marine waters become quite colorful.

Here in Eld Inlet you can see the red-brown algae swirl dotted with large patches of jellyfish.

What's under the water?

A mollusc without a shell that looks like a worm?  This month, our Eyes Under Puget Sound taxonomists have featured a peculiar creature for the Critter of the Month: The Glistenworm. Learn what makes it shiny and more in our field impressions section of the report.

What's Eyes Over Puget Sound?

July 2016 Eyes Over Puget Sound
Click through the arrows to scan photos from July's flight,
or follow the link to Flickr to see them all.
Eyes Over Puget Sound combines high-resolution photo observations with data from our monthly monitoring stations, from our regional partners and from instruments we have on ferries. We use a seaplane to travel between many of our monitoring stations because they are so far apart.

Once a month, we take photos of Puget Sound water conditions and turn those out, along with data from our stations, in the monthly Eyes Over Puget Sound report.

By: Carol Maloy, Marine Monitoring Unit Manager

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