Puget Sound / Willapa Bay Expedition 2000

This was the second in a series of team-expeditions examining the marine fauna and flora of Washington State, with a eye to the level of invasion of marine habitats by nonindigenous species. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources Nearshore Habitat Program was again the primary sponsor of the expedition. Again, the field work comprised a rapid assessment survey by a group of taxonomic and nearshore specialists. Whereas the 1998 Puget Sound Expedition sampled primarily marinas, with a brief look at a few nearby intertidal habitats, the year 2000 Exotics Expedition emphasized cobble/sandy and muddy beach habitats, with a few additional marinas, and made an effort to sample several very-low salinity sites.

The Puget Sound / Willapa Bay Expedition 2000 took place May 17-23, 2000 and included more than 20 scientists (listed below), of whom about 15 were present each day. We sampled in three main regions: Elliott Bay, Puget Sound, in Seattle (2 days, 7 sites), Totten and Eld Inlets in south Puget Sound near Olympia (2 days, 6 sites), and Willapa Bay on Washington's outer coast (2+ days, 15 sites). In Willapa Bay, the team split into two groups, so that half could sample from an airboat, while the others approached different locations from land. The full sampling schedule with site names is given below.

Field work at Puget Sound sites (clockwise from upper left):
Magnolia Park in Seattle, Taylor Shellfish mussel raft in Totten Inlet,
Kennedy Creek in Totten Inlet, Steamboat Island at junction of Totten and Eld Inlets
Photographs by Kevin Li and Claudia Mills


For the Year 2000 Expedition, we tried for the first time to do lab work on the same days as collecting, which allowed the scientists to look at live, instead of preserved, material daily. Because of the distance between sites, this caused us to use three different lab facilities spaced around the region, at the University of Washington at Tacoma, the Evergreen State College in Olympia, and the Ocean Park Retreat Center at Willapa Bay. Although so much moving around caused extra packing and unpacking of gear, working on live material seemed to offer an advantage that far outweighed the disadvantages, and the grueling, several-day laboratory marathon that has characterized earlier expeditions was thus avoided.

By combining the results of the Year 2000 Exotics Expedition with that of the 1998 Puget Sound Expedition, the list of non-indigenous species for Puget Sound should now be more comparable to similar lists for other large estuary systems (San Francisco Bay and Chesapeake Bay). This time we made an effort to reach the shallow, often warmer and with low salinity, heads of bays and inlets around Puget Sound and Willapa Bay. Such habitats are considered by many scientists to be particularly vulnerable to colonization by alien/exotic species from abroad. Willapa Bay results will be interesting to compare with the findings from sites further north on the Washington outer coast sampled by the 2001 Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Expedition.

Field work at Willapa Bay sites (clockwise from upper left): Goose Point near Bay Center,
airboat transportation at Round Island, Stackpole Slough, Naselle River under the bridge
Photographs by Kevin Li and Claudia Mills.

Our findings, in brief:

The Puget Sound / Willapa Bay Expedition of 2000 was the sixth in a series of Rapid Assessment surveys for exotic marine organisms in California and Washington. Three regions in Washington State were sampled to capture a range of oceanographic conditions and patterns of human use: Elliott Bay and the Duwamish River estuary are located in the Central Basin of Puget Sound, near the City of Seattle; Totten and Eld Inlets are relatively protected bays in the Southern Basin of Puget Sound, with predominant aquaculture and residential land uses; Willapa Bay is Washington's largest outer coast estuary and is the state's largest aquaculture center. As in past surveys, our primary objective was to assess the status of exotic invasions within defined regions and habitat types through nonquantitative census methods. Secondary objectives were to obtain data for comparisons between habitats and regions, and for comparisons with past surveys; to obtain baseline data for future assessments of changes in invasion status and the effectiveness of prevention or control efforts; to detect new invasions and document significant range extensions; and to identify new species.

As of October 2001, 40 exotic species have been identified from the 2000 Expedition. Most of
these are native to the North Atlantic or the Northwestern Pacific region, and most were
introduced to the Northeastern Pacific with oysters imported for aquaculture, as ship fouling
organisms or in ballast water. Among the three regions, 15 exotic species were collected in each of the Elliott Bay and Totten/Eld Inlet regions, and 34 exotic species were collected in Willapa Bay. The apparent ecological dominance by exotics was slightly greater in Totten/Eld Inlets than in Elliott Bay, and much greater in Willapa Bay; thus the greatest number and extent of invasions was found in the least physically-altered system. The shipment and planting of oysters for commercial aquaculture is considered to be a possible mechanism responsible for introducing onto the Pacific Coast 35 of the 40 exotic species collected by the Expedition. In contrast, ballast water is considered a possible transport mechanism for 13 of the species, and all ship-associated mechanisms together (ship-fouling, solid ballast and ballast water) for 28 of the species. All of these mechanisms would also be effective at moving organisms between bays on the Pacific Coast.

How to get a copy of the final report:

The report of the Washington State Exotics Expedition 2000 (a rapid assessment survey of exotic species in the shallow waters of Elliott Bay, Totten and Eld Inlets, and Willapa Bay) was released in October 2001 and is now available in both .pdf format directly on the web and in print form. Click here to download the entire document on the web, or here for a second location, or write for a paper copy to the Nearshore Habitat Program, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, 1111 Washington Street SE, PO Box 47027, Olympia, WA 98504-7027; telephone 360-902-1100.

The NIS results of the 1998 Puget Sound Expedition are also available on the web, or in printed form from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and are also on the web in abbreviated list form (which contains corrections over the paper copy). A peer-reviewed version is now published in Marine Bioinvasions: Proceedings of the First National Conference (2000).


Schedule for the Puget Sound / Willapa Bay Expedition - May 17-23, 2000.
Expanded site descriptions are available on another page here with links to photographic images in the Washington State Department of Ecology Shoreline Photo database on the web - these (10,000) photographs were taken between 1992 and 1997.

May 16 (Tuesday) Assemble the team in Seattle.

May 17 (Wednesday) ELLIOTT BAY
Low tide -0.5 ' at 1125 (Seattle prediction).

1. Bell Harbor Marina, Pier 66 (8:30-9:30 am)
2. Myrtle Edwards Park, in front of Elliott Bay Fishing Pier
(10:30-11:10 am)
3a. Sandy north-facing beach south of Pier 90
(10:50-11:50 am)
3b. Smith Cove (north of Pier 91)
(11:45 am)
4a. Magnolia Park beach, north Elliott Bay
(12:30-1:25 pm)
4b. Elliott Bay Marina, north Elliott Bay
(3:40-5:00 pm)

Afternoon and evening lab work at University of Washington Tacoma.

May 18 (Thursday) ELLIOTT BAY
Low tide -0.9 ' at 1156 (Seattle prediction).

5. Duwamish River, western channel across from Kellogg Island (9:30-10:40 am)
6. Seacrest Park, Duwamish Head, south Elliott Bay
(10:50-11:50 am)
7a. Turning basin, Duwamish River
(12:40-1:20 pm)
7b. Duwamish Yacht Club marina, Duwamish River
(1:45-2:15 pm)

Drive to Olympia. Afternoon and evening lab work at the Evergreen State College.

May 19 (Friday) TOTTEN INLET
Low tide -1.1 ' at 1328 (Seattle prediction + 1 hour).

8a. Taylor Shellfish boat ramp, Totten Inlet (9:20-9:50 am)
8b. Taylor Shellfish mussel rafts, Gallagher Cove, Totten Inlet
(10:00-11:10 am)
9. Kamilche Point at junction of Little Skookum Inlet and Totten Inlet
(12:30-1:40 pm)
10. Kennedy Creek at head of Totten Inlet
(2:25-3:15 pm)

Afternoon and evening lab work at the Evergreen State College.

Low tide -1.1 ' at 1402 (Seattle prediction + 1 hour).

Morning lab work at the Evergreen State College.

11. The Evergreen State College Beach, Eld Inlet (12:20-1:00 pm)
12. Steamboat Island at junction of Totten Inlet and Eld Inlet
(1:45-3:00 pm)
13. Mud Bay at head of Eld Inlet
(4:55-5:25 pm)

Drive to Willapa Bay (3 hours).

May 21 (Sunday) WILLAPA BAY
Low tide -1.0 ' at 1036 (Aberdeen prediction + 30 minutes).

14. Naselle River Bridge (9:15-10:00 am)
15. Goose Point near Bay Center
(10:45am-12:30 pm)
16. Port of Bay Center, small boat harbor
(1:10-1:45 pm)
17. Palix River "freshwater" site
(9:55-10:35 am)
18. Palix River pilings site
(10:50-11:05 am)
19. Oyster flats south of Wilson Point
(11:20-11:40 am)
20. Palix River Spartina control site and Palix River Bridge pilings
(12:00-12:20 pm)

Afternoon and evening lab work at Ocean Park Retreat Center.

May 22 (Monday) WILLAPA BAY
Low tide -0.7 ' at 1113 (Aberdeen prediction + 30 minutes).

21. Stackpole Slough in Leadbetter Point State Park (10:45am-12:00 noon)
22. Nahcotta Small Boat Basin, Port of Peninsula
(1:40-2:30 pm)
23. Omeara Point mudflat
(9:45-11:00 am)
24. Round Island
(11:20-11:50 am)
25. Bear River
(12:00-12:30 pm)
26. Shoalwater Bay
(1:00-1:15 pm)
27. Long Island, south end
(1:20-1:45 pm)

Afternoon and evening lab work at Ocean Park Retreat Center.

May 23 (Tuesday) WILLAPA BAY
Low tide -0.2 ' at 1152 (Aberdeen prediction + 30 minutes).

Labwork and data summaries all day at Ocean Park Retreat Center.

28. Leadbetter Point sandy beach (12:30-1:00 pm)

May 24 (Wednesday) WILLAPA BAY

Finish labwork and data summaries, cleanup Ocean Park Retreat Center.

John Chapman and Andy Cohen working up material at the Evergreen State College.
Photograph by Claudia Mills.


Helen Berry - Washington DNR Nearshore Habitat Group
Brian Bingham - Western Washington University (general invertebrates; teaches university students in north Puget Sound and NW Straits region)
Betty Bookheim - Washington DNR Nearshore Habitat Group
Kevin Britton-Simmons - University of Chicago and FHL (algae and invertebrates)
Jeb Byers - Friday Harbor Labs, University of Washington (ecosystem-level effects of exotic marine species)
John Chapman - Hadfield Lab, Oregon State University (small crustaceans; exotics)
Andy Cohen - San Francisco Estuary Institute (general invertebrates and exotics, especially San Francisco Bay)
Jeff Cordell - Fisheries, University of Washington (copepods and other small crustaceans)
Brett Dumbauld - Washington Dept. Fish Wildlife, Willapa Bay field station
Allan Fukuyama - Fisheries, University of Washington (bivalve molluscs)
Leslie Harris - Los Angeles County Museum (polychaete worms)
Alan Kohn - Zoology, University of Washington (molluscs; general invertebrates)
Kevin Li - King County Environmental Lab (amphipods and other small crustaceans)
Dave Milne - Evergreen State College (marine biology; teaches university students in south Puget Sound region)
Claudia Mills - Friday Harbor Labs, University of Washington (medusae and ctenophores)
Tom Mumford - Washington DNR Nearshore Habitat Group (algae)
Vasily Radashevsky - visiting scientist from Vladivostok, Russia (polychaete worms)
Dave Secord - University of Washington, Tacoma (marine ecology, sea anemones; teaches university students in south Puget Sound region)
Amy Sewell - Washington DNR Nearshore Habitat Group
Kathy Welch - Washington Dept of Ecology (polychaete worms)
Marjorie Wonham - Zoology, University of Washington (general invertebrates; Mytilus)
Jessica Barkas - undergraduate student in Zoology, University of Washington


This site is maintained by C. E. Mills; photographs should not be used without permission.
** This page was established May 2000; last updated 17 May 2002 **

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