Eight aquatic reserves, managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources, have been established to protect important ecosystems on state aquatic lands. In most reserves, area residents work with state, local and tribal officials and nonprofit groups to develop and carry out management plans, including scientific research.
Washington state aquatic reserves
Eight aquatic reserves, managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources, have been established to protect important ecosystems on state aquatic lands.
In most reserves, area residents work with state, local and tribal officials and nonprofit groups to develop and carry out management plans, including scientific research.
The aquatic reserves in the order they were established include:
- Maury Island 2004
- Cypress Island 2007
- Fidalgo Bay 2008
- Cherry Point 2010
- Protection Island 2010
- Smith and Minor Islands 2010
- Nisqually Reach 2011
- Lake Kapowsin 2016
State aquatic reserves lean heavily on citizen scientists
Eight aquatic reserves in Puget Sound are being studied by volunteers working under the direction of state experts. Washington Department of Natural Resources manages the reserves with guidance from nearby communities.
A tale of two islands: Resilience to a severe marine heatwave at two Pacific seabird colonies (author summary)
A 2023 paper in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series examines seabird reproductive and dietary response to a severe marine heat wave affecting the California Current ecosystem from 2014 to 2016. The study involved rhinoceros auklet colonies on Destruction Island (California Current) and Protection Island (Salish Sea). The paper's first author Eric Wagner describes some of the findings from the study in this informal summary.
Whir! Chunk! Capture! The art of tagging rhinoceros auklets on Protection Island
Where do Protection Island's rhinoceros auklets go to find their food? Scientists hope GPS tags will offer new insight into the bird's still mysterious foraging behavior. Biologist and science writer Eric Wagner reports from the field.
Notes from the field: The Illusion of abundance
Biologist and science writer Eric Wagner recently returned from a trip to observe pigeon guillemots on Protection Island. He wonders: How much do we really know about the health of seemingly abundant bird populations?
A health check for seabirds
Scientists are still trying to understand what caused the deaths of thousands of rhinoceros auklets in the Salish Sea in 2016. Some studies point to disease as a central factor in that incident and potentially other large seabird die-offs along the coast. That is prompting a deeper look at what makes these birds sick, and how local populations are faring. We followed a group of researchers as they gave a health checkup to a breeding colony of rhinoceros auklets on Protection Island.