Active Projects

Some of our projects are long-term and might live here for years. Others are accomplished in a matter of weeks or months. Not every project makes it onto this list!

Studying contaminants in edible seaweed from the Salish Sea

Bull kelp

How safe is wild-harvested seaweed to eat? Seaweeds are a nutritious source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The harvest and consumption of various species of seaweed has historically been, and continues to be, important for the Coast Salish, and is gaining in popularity with non-tribal citizens interested in wild foraging. Unfortunately very little data are available on the levels of contaminants in local seaweeds, leaving native and non-native consumers of this food source in the dark about whether they are harvesting healthy nutritious food or are being exposed to potentially … [Read more...]

Economic benefits of SCUBA diving in no-take marine reserves

fish by janna nichols

There’s convincing science that no-take marine reserves help recover rockfish, abalone, and other threatened or endangered species that call these rocky habitats home. But what are the economic costs and benefits of marine reserves? Most of the existing data is about the costs of marine reserves. For example, marine reserves limit fishing, and therefore have a negative effect on the commercial and recreational fishing industry. But very little is known about the economic benefits of no-take marine reserves. A new SeaDoc project will quantify the economic benefit of appropriately … [Read more...]

Surf Smelt Recreational Harvest Study


Project update June 2014 On June 16, 2014, the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission released new smelt fishing rules that limit harvest in order to protect valuable species. The new policy: Adds a new 60,000-pound annual quota for the Puget Sound commercial smelt fishery. Reduces the commercial fishery by one day each week, allowing commercial fishing from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday during seasonal openings in each area. Closes inactive commercial smelt fisheries, including dip bag and purse seine, which have not been in use for at least 10 … [Read more...]

Coastal cutthroat trout in the San Juan Islands

Coastal-Cutthroat-by-J.-Galasow-562-326 (1)

Coastal or sea-run cutthroat trout are freshwater fish that also move into the marine waters to feed and are an important recreational fishery in many parts of the Salish Sea. Many people don't think of the San Juan Islands when they think of cutthroat trout, but they were historically caught in the area. Long-standing residents recall a time when these rare fish were much more abundant. While recent work documented cutthroat trout in some streams in the San Juan archipelago, little is known about the current status of coastal cutthroat trout in this area. Thanks to funding raised from … [Read more...]

Tracking changes in underwater fish and invertebrate populations

Photo by Ed Bierman

If you don't know what's happening, you can't learn from it. While most people can see change above the water (such as a forest clear cut), there aren't many people keeping an eye on the dramatic changes occurring below the surface of the ocean. And without details on what is happening, how can we know when you need to take action to correct negative trends? In October 2013, SeaDoc kicke off a project using trained citizen scientists to help study changes in subtidal fish and invertebrate populations. This ambitious multi-year intelligence-gathering effort will use recreational SCUBA divers … [Read more...]

Fishes of the Salish Sea


How many fish species use the Salish Sea? In which habitat types can you find certain species? Knowing the answers to questions as basic as this are fundamental to restoring an ecosystem. Yet currently we don’t have a scientific list of the fish species of the Salish Sea. This also was true for the birds and mammals of the Salish Sea until SeaDoc recently published that list. But stay tuned, we will soon also have a list of fishes thanks to a very generous private donation. Why is this so important? With this list, scientists will be able to document the occurrence of new species and the … [Read more...]

Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project


Lost fishing gear is commercial and recreational fishing gear -- nets, traps, pots, line -- that becomes lost or is discarded in the water. The gear ends up sitting on the sea floor, getting caught on rocky reefs, or floating in the water column. The majority of this lost gear does not decompose in seawater and can remain in the marine environment for years. Lost gear impacts the marine environment in several ways: it can continue to "catch" marine animals, which become entangled or trapped; it can damage the habitat upon which it becomes entangled or upon which it … [Read more...]