December 6, 2023
After working at Washington Sea Grant (WSG) for more than 30 years, Teri King, aquaculture and marine water quality specialist, has moved on to her next chapter.
King joined WSG in 1990. Over the next three decades, she built an innovative program of outreach and technical assistance around the issues of shellfish aquaculture and Puget Sound water quality, reaching thousands who shared her passion for healthy marine waters and resources. Her program has helped to develop aquaculture best practices, enhance shellfish resources, monitor marine waters, reduce pollution, and protect coastal environmental health, all while building a strong foundation of longstanding partnerships around the region.
King’s many contributions to WSG, the University of Washington, and broader aquaculture communities during her tenure have been impactful. Among her accomplishments, she developed the “Septic Sense” program to help homeowners reduce pollution into Puget Sound; managed SoundToxins, a diverse partnership of aquaculture businesses, environmental learning centers, tribes and volunteers working together to minimize the impacts of harmful algal blooms; provided technical assistance to hundreds of aquaculture farms and businesses; created the State of the Oyster Study to train waterfront property owners to test the safety of their shellfish; developed training programs for proper seafood handling; organized the annual Conference for Shellfish Growers; and conducted groundbreaking research published in science publications. .
The impact of King’s work is deeply felt in Washington and beyond. She organized more than 1,000 outreach events for children and adults, from beach walks and cleanups to workshops on low-impact gardening, home septic systems, and shellfish monitoring. In 2012, the state was able to open Lynch Cove to shellfish harvesting for the first time in 25 years, a demonstration of King’s work with residents through the State of the Oyster Study and other programs. In 2013, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s SoundToxin team identified rising levels of Dinophysis, which causes diarrhetic shellfish poisoning. The team alerted NOAA and the Washington Department of Health, triggering enhanced shellfish tissue sampling and likely preventing illnesses. King’s timely assistance to a family-owned shellfish farm once prevented the loss of 300,000 oysters from summer mortality. These and other successes point to King’s special ability to not only act on scientific information, but also to make it understandable and accessible to others.
Though King has left WSG, she remains active in Washington’s aquaculture scene. She is now working as the Washington and Oregon Regional Aquaculture Coordinator for NOAA’s West Coast Regional Office. “My new position will allow me to continue working with WSG and the aquaculture community, and also grow professionally,” King says.
WSG is grateful for the legacy that Teri built in serving Washington’s coastal communities. WSG will be working over the coming months to fill the vacancy left by her departure and looks forward to continuing many of the programs she started. The SoundToxins program is now under the leadership of WSG marine water quality specialist Michelle Lepori-Bui. Stay tuned for more information about the Conference for Shellfish Growers scheduled for March 2024.
Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.