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The Puget Sound Nearshore

Our restoration focus area is the land-marine water interface within the Puget Sound. Perhaps you have walked along a beach in Puget Sound, stood on a bluff above the shoreline to enjoy the view, or have observed marine life while SCUBA diving off-shore.  All of these occur in an area called the nearshore.  To learn more about the nearshore and other terms we use when talking about the nearshore, click on the options below.

Puget Sound
Natural Processes
Ecosystem Functions


Why Study the Puget Sound?

Puget’s Sound’s size, shape, and location make it a unique place that should be protected.  Some distinctive characteristics of Puget Sound are:

  • Carved by retreating glaciers during the last ice age
  • Steep, irregular coastline with narrow beach and deep waterways
  • Tidal extremes that can vary as much as 21 feet (4.6 meters) resulting in a significant area that is sometimes land, sometimes sea.
  • Valuable area for many plants and animals to live, eat, and reproduce
  • High primary productivity that serves as the basis for the food web that supports many economically and culturally important species
  • Provides resiliency to changing sea level

Did You Know
Puget Sound
is an Estuary

Estuaries are bodies of water that are formed when freshwater from rivers flows into and mixes with saltwater from the ocean.

Puget Sound is the second largest estuary in the United States behind the Chesapeake Bay.  It is considered one large estuary, and contains multiple smaller estuaries. 

Go to Restore America’s Estuaries for more information about estuaries.

Where is
the Salish Sea?

Puget Sound is part of a larger system of inland marine waters that span the international boundary between Washington and British Columbia.  The Salish Sea extends from Desolation Sound in the north to Puget Sound and includes the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Salish Sea Facts

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Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project
Updated July 2016