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Watersheds, rivers and streams

Central Puget Sound

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Central Puget Sound Watershed

Puget Sound Nearshore Environments

Nearshore Environment Logo Beyond the Beach:
Learn more about the Nearshore Environment


Eelgrass BedsThe nearshore environment covers the most productive waters of Puget Sound. The nearshore encompasses a wide range of habitat types, from marshes and sandflats to kelp and eelgrass beds and upland areas. Ron Thom, a scientist from Battelle Marine Sciences Laboratory, defines the nearshore as "the intertidal portion of the ecosystem that encompasses the tidally influenced portions of rivers and streams. The nearshore extends down to the depth where light can no longer support photosynthetic plants on the bottom."


Bull KelpOn January 21st, 1999 The Central Puget Sound Watershed Team hosted an extremely successful workshop designed to highlight the integral role nearshore habitats play in our watershed ecosytems, particularly to salmon and other species.

Decision makers, regulators, agency staff, non-governmental organizations and others involved with watershed planning and restoration efforts attended the day-long workshop. Scientists provided morning presentations to give an overview of nearshore processes and threats to nearshore habitat. Afternoon panel discussions focused on policy and regulatory issues, case studies, and perspectives on the future of nearshore habitat.

The morning science panel used the following graphic representations of the nearshore environment as educational tools to help explain nearshore physical and biological workings and to discuss stressors to the system.

Click here to view the graphics as a slideshow, or browse through them below.

Nearshore Processes

Salmon Use - Large RiverSalmon Use- Large River

Processes - Large River MouthLarge River Mouth Processes

Processes- Stream MouthStream Mouth Processes

Processes- Accreting BeachAccreting Beach Processes

Summary of Nearshore ProcessesSummary of Nearshore Processes

Typical Differences-
Before and After Development

Stream Mouth

Undeveloped Stream Mouth  
Before Development


Developed Stream Mouth 
After Development



Accreting Beach

Undeveloped Accreting Beach 
Before Development


Developed Accreting Beach 
After Development


Eroding Bluff

Undeveloped Eroding Bluff 
Before Development


Developed Eroding Bluff 
After Development


Summary of Nearshore Environments

Undeveloped Nearshore Environments 
Before Development


Developed Nearshore Environments 
After Development