UW News

October 9, 2015

Puget Sound Fact Book offers fun factoids, major research results for lay readers

UW News

How long would it take to walk the entire shoreline of Puget Sound? Which species are at risk here, and to what depths can the most adept bird and mammal divers reach? How much population growth can we expect in the next decade?fact book cover page

A new resource published this week explores these questions and many more in the 2015 Puget Sound Fact Book, published by the Puget Sound Institute at UW Tacoma. The online publication brings together stray “who knew?” tidbits, interesting factoids and maps as well as major study results and published data to offer a condensed, robust picture of what’s at play in Puget Sound.

The resource is intended for decision and policy makers, journalists, educators and the general public.

“There are a lot of elements that go into understanding Puget Sound,” said Jeff Rice, managing editor at the institute and editor of the new publication. “The fact book really represents an overview of what we know about this place and what we can offer to people who are interested in the subject.”

The Puget Sound Partnership, one of the book’s funders along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, tasked the institute with creating a resource to help the agency’s communication efforts about Puget Sound. Rice and others then asked more than two dozen local scientists and writers a weighty question: What do we really need to know about Puget Sound and related recovery efforts?

The 124-page fact book presents answers to that question, laid out in a series of easy-to-read essays on broad topics such as species of birds, fish, marine mammals and shellfish; nearshore and open-water food webs; human influences on the Sound; and climate change. Specific subtopics range from stormwater effects on salmon, sea-level rise, key local industries, annual rainfall, threatened bird species, killer whales that live in Puget Sound and various strategies to protect and restore the waterway. Experts, many from the UW, served as writers and editors of each essay.

The report focuses on the state-defined boundaries of Puget Sound, but acknowledges the broader Salish Sea region, which extends across the U.S.-Canada border and reflects the entire cross-border ecosystem.

A section on climate change offers an overview of how conditions such as flooding and snowpack, harmful algal blooms, ocean acidification and sea-level rise will likely alter the landscape in coming years. It previews a new synthesis report to be released in coming weeks describing the state of the Puget Sound region under climate change.

The fact book will live on the Puget Sound Institute’s Encyclopedia of Puget Sound website, which began a few years ago as an updatable resource for the region. The institute’s editorial board intends to update sections of the new fact book as needed and perhaps will release a new edition each year.

UW contributors include researchers from the School of Oceanography, the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, Climate Impacts Group, Puget Sound Institute and Washington Sea Grant.