Environmental Threats

Crab Team: Green Crab Monitoring Program

Jeff Adams, Marine Ecologist

The European green crab (Carcinus maenas) is considered one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species. Its impacts on the Washington Coast appear to have been minimal to date, but its potential effects on inland ecosystems are uncertain.

Following the discovery of green crab just west of Victoria, B.C., in 2012, WSG teamed up with the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and other partners to establish a volunteer monitoring program — the Crab Team — in Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This program works in tandem with an outreach campaign to increase the likelihood of detecting green crab infestations early.

Volunteers captured additional green crab in Westcott Bay, San Juan Island, and in Padilla Bay in September 2016. This is the first confirmed capture of a green crab along Washington’s inland shorelines, which was shortly followed by three additional findings in Padilla Bay, underscoring the value of a large scale, long-term monitoring program. Such early detection offers the best chance for controlling the green crab and protecting important natural resources.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer monitor:


Ocean Acidification Outreach, Presentations, Webinars

Meg Chadsey, Ocean Acidification Specialist

WSG has responded to the governor’s Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification by offering print and online outreach materials on acidification, conducting frequent public presentations, and working with NOAA to produce monthly webinars.
An online collection of ocean acidification (OA) curricula for K-12 classrooms is available and, in partnership with the Puget Sound Restoration Fund and Suquamish Tribe, WSG is helping the Bainbridge Island School District to incorporate OA course and fieldwork into their high school environmental science classes.

SoundToxins Monitoring for Harmful Algal Blooms

Teri King, Marine Water Quality Specialist


The SoundToxins partnership was conceived and initiated by the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC-NOAA) but is now co-directed by WSG. SoundToxin’s roster of partners has grown from four in 2006 to 23, some of which monitor more than one site along Puget Sound. The SoundToxins program aims to provide sufficient warning of harmful algal bloom (HAB) events to enable early or selective harvesting of seafood to minimize risk to human health and reduce economic losses to community stakeholders such as Puget Sound fisheries. SoundToxins is a robust citizen science project involving hundreds of community members that regularly document unusual bloom events and new species entering the Salish Sea. WSG specialists provide volunteer coordination, training and communication services for SoundToxins.

To ensure volunteers have current information to help with monitoring, the SoundToxins Manual was revised in 2016. While much of the material is highly technical, this manual also can help educate lay readers about HABs.

Early warning of HABs and adaptive monitoring

SoundToxins is assisting the State Department of Health by providing early warning of harmful algal bloom events with phytoplankton monitoring. The SoundToxins partnership, through its weekly monitoring of phytoplankton at sites around Puget Sound, enables state officials to target shellfish monitoring at those sites with the greatest risk of HAB toxicity. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or receiving additional information: