Marine Life

Washington’s waters are home to an extraordinary community of marine plants and animals, including legendary salmon runs and three pods of resident killer whales. The world’s largest octopus, starfish, moon snail, and burrowing clam all reside in Washington. But the region’s species and habitats face challenges posed by shipping, dredging, overfishing, watershed development, industrial pollution, climate change, and exotic competitors and pathogens. 

Washington Sea Grant (WSG) field agents — and the volunteers they train — educate and inspire citizens in marine stewardship and monitor shoreline habitats for emerging threats. WSG supports a wide range of cutting-edge research into the impacts of human-caused environmental changes on species both humble and charismatic, from the bottom of the marine food web to the top.

Orcas

Community Engagement

WSG staff share their expertise with communities and individuals, enriching the public’s appreciation of Washington’s diverse marine ecosystems. WSG field staff organize, train, and coordinate volunteers in many projects that monitor and protect those habitats.

  • Marine Ecologist Jeff Adams is involved in the following activities:
    • monitoring shoreline ecosystem changes, including the spread of sea star wasting disease,
    • watching for European green crabs and other invasive species,
    • controlling the spread of nonnative crayfish in a local lake, and
    • introducing children and adults to local ecosystems through beach walks, tideflat tours, touch tanks at community festivals and many other experiences.
  • WSG’s Marine Fisheries Scientist, Ed Melvin, and colleagues have worked to reduce bycatch of the Short-tailed Albatross, an endangered species for which incidental takes potentially could cost fisheries hundreds of millions of dollars.