PUGET SOUND /ˈpjuːdʒɪt/ is a sound along the northwestern coast
U.S. state of Washington , an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, and
part of the
Salish Sea . It is a complex estuarine system of
interconnected marine waterways and basins, with one major and two
minor connections to the open Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Juan de
Admiralty Inlet being the major connection and Deception Pass
Swinomish Channel being the minor.
Water flow through
Deception Pass is approximately equal to 2% of the
total tidal exchange between
Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de
Puget Sound extends approximately 100 miles (160 km) from
Deception Pass in the north to
Olympia, Washington in the south. Its
average depth is 450 feet (140 m) and its maximum depth, off
Jefferson Point between Indianola and Kingston , is 930 feet (280 m).
The depth of the main basin, between the southern tip of Whidbey
Tacoma, Washington , is approximately 600 feet (180 m).
Since 2009, the term
Salish Sea has been established by the United
States Board on Geographic Names as the collective waters of Puget
Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Strait of Georgia.
Sometimes the terms "Puget Sound" and "
Puget Sound and adjacent
waters" are used for not only
Puget Sound proper but also for waters
to the north, such as
Bellingham Bay and the
San Juan Islands region.
The term "Puget Sound" is used not just for the body of water but
Puget Sound region centered on the sound. Major cities on the
Seattle , Tacoma , Olympia , and
Everett, Washington .
Puget Sound is also the second largest estuary in the United States,
Chesapeake Bay .
* 1 Names
* 2 Definitions
* 3 Geology
* 4 Hydrology
* 5 Flora and fauna
* 6 History
* 7 Transportation
* 8 Environmental issues
* 9 Prominent islands
* 10 See also
* 11 References
* 12 Further reading
* 13 External links
George Vancouver gave the name "Puget's Sound" to the waters
south of the
Tacoma Narrows , in honor of
Peter Puget , a Huguenot
lieutenant accompanying him on the
Vancouver Expedition . This name
later came to be used for the waters north of
Tacoma Narrows as well.
An alternative term for Puget Sound, still used by some Native
Americans and environmental groups, is Whulge (or Whulj), an
anglicization of the
Lushootseed name x̌ʷə́lč, which means "sea,
salt water, ocean, or sound."
Puget Sound as all the waters south of three
entrances from the
Strait of Juan de Fuca . The main entrance at
Admiralty Inlet is defined as a line between
Point Wilson on the
Olympic Peninsula , and
Point Partridge on
Whidbey Island . The second
entrance is at
Deception Pass along a line from West Point on Whidbey
Island, to Deception Island, then to Rosario Head on
Fidalgo Island .
The third entrance is at the south end of the
Swinomish Channel ,
Skagit Bay and
Padilla Bay . Under this definition,
Puget Sound includes the waters of
Hood Canal , Admiralty Inlet,
Possession Sound ,
Saratoga Passage , and others. It does not include
Bellingham Bay , Padilla Bay, the waters of the
San Juan Islands or
anything farther north.
Another definition, given by NOAA , subdivides
Puget Sound into five
basins or regions. Four of these (including
South Puget Sound )
correspond to areas within the
USGS definition, but the fifth one,
called "Northern Puget Sound" includes a large additional region. It
is defined as bounded to the north by the international boundary with
Canada, and to the west by a line running north from the mouth of the
Sekiu River on the Olympic Peninsula. Under this definition
significant parts of the
Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of
Georgia are included in Puget Sound, with the international boundary
marking an abrupt and hydrologically arbitrary limit.
According to Arthur Kruckeberg, the term "Puget Sound" is sometimes
used for waters north of
Admiralty Inlet and Deception Pass,
especially for areas along the north coast of Washington and the San
Juan Islands, essentially equivalent to NOAA's "Northern Puget Sound"
subdivision described above. Kruckeberg uses the term "
Puget Sound and
Snowcapped peaks are a backdrop to many
Puget Sound scenes; here
Mount Rainier is seen from
Gig Harbor .
Continental ice sheets have repeatedly advanced and retreated from
Puget Sound region. The most recent glacial period , called the
Fraser Glaciation , had three phases, or stades . During the third, or
Vashon Glaciation , a lobe of the
Cordilleran Ice Sheet , called the
Puget Lobe, spread south about 15,000 years ago, covering the Puget
Sound region with an ice sheet about 3,000 feet (910 m) thick near
Seattle, and nearly 6,000 feet (1,800 m) at the present Canada-U.S.
border. Since each new advance and retreat of ice erodes away much of
the evidence of previous ice ages, the most recent Vashon phase has
left the clearest imprint on the land. At its maximum extent the
Vashon ice sheet extended south of Olympia to near Tenino , and
covered the lowlands between the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges.
About 14,000 years ago the ice began to retreat. By 11,000 years ago
it survived only north of the Canada–US border.
The melting retreat of the
Vashon Glaciation eroded the land,
creating a drumlin field of hundreds of aligned drumlin hills. Lake
Lake Sammamish (which are ribbon lakes),
Hood Canal ,
and the main
Puget Sound basin were altered by glacial forces. These
glacial forces are not specifically "carving", as in cutting into the
landscape via the mechanics of ice/glaciers, but rather eroding the
landscape from melt water of the Vashon Glacier creating the drumlin
field. As the ice retreated, vast amounts of glacial till were
deposited throughout the
Puget Sound region. The soils of the region,
less than ten thousand years old, are still characterized as immature.
As the Vashon glacier receded a series of proglacial lakes formed,
filling the main trough of
Puget Sound and inundating the southern
Glacial Lake Russell was the first such large recessional
lake. From the vicinity of
Seattle in the north the lake extended
south to the Black Hills , where it drained south into the Chehalis
River . Sediments from Lake Russell form the blue-gray clay
identified as the Lawton Clay. The second major recessional lake was
Glacial Lake Bretz . It also drained to the Chehalis River until the
Chimacum Valley , in the northeast
Olympic Peninsula , melted,
allowing the lake's water to rapidly drain north into the marine
waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which was rising as the ice
As icebergs calved off the toe of the glacier, their embedded gravels
and boulders were deposited in the chaotic mix of unsorted till
geologists call glaciomarine drift. Many beaches about the Sound
display glacial erratics , rendered more prominent than those in
coastal woodland solely by their exposed position; submerged glacial
erratics sometimes cause hazards to navigation. The sheer weight of
glacial-age ice depressed the landforms, which experienced
post-glacial rebound after the ice sheets had retreated. Because the
rate of rebound was not synchronous with the post-ice age rise in sea
levels, the bed of what is Puget Sound, filled alternately with fresh
and with sea water. The upper level of the lake-sediment Lawton Clay
now lies about 120 feet (37 m) above sea level.
Puget Sound system consists of four deep basins connected by
shallower sills. The four basins are
Hood Canal , west of the Kitsap
Peninsula , Whidbey Basin, east of Whidbey Island, South Sound , south
Tacoma Narrows , and the Main Basin , which is further
Admiralty Inlet and the Central Basin. Puget Sound's
sills, a kind of submarine terminal moraine , separate the basins from
one another, and
Puget Sound from the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Three
sills are particularly significant—the one at
Admiralty Inlet which
checks the flow of water between the
Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget
sound, the one at the entrance to
Hood Canal (about 175 ft or 53 m
below the surface), and the one at the
Tacoma Narrows (about 145 ft or
44 m). Other sills that present less of a barrier include the ones at
Blake Island ,
Agate Pass ,
Rich Passage , and
Hammersley Inlet .
The depth of the basins is a result of the Sound being part of the
Cascadia subduction zone , where the terranes accreted at the edge of
Juan de Fuca Plate are being subducted under the North American
Plate . There has not been a major subduction zone earthquake here
since the magnitude nine Cascadia earthquake ; according to Japanese
records, it occurred 26 January 1700. Lesser
Puget Sound earthquakes
with shallow epicenters , caused by the fracturing of stressed oceanic
rocks as they are subducted, still cause great damage. The Seattle
Fault cuts across Puget Sound, crossing the southern tip of Bainbridge
Island and under
Elliott Bay . To the south, the existence of a
second fault, the
Tacoma Fault , has buckled the intervening strata in
Puget Sound profiles of dense glacial till overlying
permeable glacial outwash of gravels above an impermeable bed of silty
clay may become unstable after periods of unusually wet weather and
slump in landslides.
Low tide on
United States Geological Survey (USGS) defines
Puget Sound as a
bay with numerous channels and branches; more specifically, it is a
fjord system of flooded glacial valleys.
Puget Sound is part of a
larger physiographic structure termed the Puget Trough, which is a
physiographic section of the larger
Pacific Border province , which in
turn is part of the larger Pacific Mountain System .
Puget Sound is a large salt water estuary , or system of many
estuaries, fed by highly seasonal freshwater from the Olympic and
Cascade Mountain watersheds. The mean annual river discharge into
Puget Sound is 41,000 cubic feet per second (1,200 m3/s), with a
monthly average maximum of about 367,000 cubic feet per second (10,400
m3/s) and minimum of about 14,000 cubic feet per second (400 m3/s).
Puget Sound's shoreline is 1,332 miles (2,144 km) long, encompassing a
water area of 1,020 square miles (2,600 km2) and a total volume of
26.5 cubic miles (110 km3) at mean high water. The average volume of
water flowing in and out of
Puget Sound during each tide is 1.26 cubic
miles (5.3 km3). The maximum tidal currents, in the range of 9 to 10
knots , occurs at Deception Pass. Evening on
Puget Sound by
Edward S. Curtis
Edward S. Curtis , 1913
The size of Puget Sound's watershed is 12,138 sq mi (31,440 km2).
"Northern Puget Sound" is frequently considered part of the Puget
Sound watershed, which enlarges its size to 13,700 sq mi (35,000 km2).
USGS uses the name "Puget Sound" for its hydrologic unit
subregion 1711, which includes areas draining to
Puget Sound proper as
well as the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia, and the
Fraser River . Significant rivers that drain to "Northern Puget
Sound" include the Nooksack , Dungeness , and Elwha Rivers . The
Nooksack empties into Bellingham Bay, the Dungeness and Elwha into the
Strait of Juan de Fuca. The
Chilliwack River flows north to the Fraser
River in Canada.
Puget Sound are of the mixed type with two high and two low
tides each tidal day. These are called Higher High Water (HHW), Lower
Low Water (LLW), Lower High Water (LHW), and Higher Low Water (HLW).
The configuration of basins, sills, and interconnections cause the
tidal range to increase within Puget Sound. The difference in height
between the Higher High Water and the Lower Low Water averages about
8.3 feet (2.5 m) at Port Townsend on Admiralty Inlet, but increases to
about 14.4 feet (4.4 m) at Olympia, the southern end of Puget Sound.
Puget Sound is generally accepted as the start of the Inside Passage
Mount Rainier looms over the still waters of
Totten Inlet ,
one of the Sound's southern fjords.
Mason County, Washington .
FLORA AND FAUNA
See also: List of fishes of the
Important marine flora of
Puget Sound include eelgrass (Zostera
marina ) and kelp , especially bull kelp (
Nereocystis luetkeana ).
Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) Steelhead trout
Among the marine mammals species found in
Puget Sound are harbor
seals (Phoca vitulina). Orca (Orcinus orca) are famous throughout the
Sound, and are a large tourist attraction. Although orca are sometimes
Puget Sound proper they are far more prevalent around the San
Juan Islands north of Puget Sound.
Many fish species occur in Puget Sound. The various salmonid species,
including salmon , trout , and char are particularly well-known and
studied. Salmonid species of
Puget Sound include chinook salmon
(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), chum salmon (O. keta), coho salmon (O.
kisutch), pink salmon (O. gorbuscha), sockeye salmon (O. nerka),
sea-run coastal cutthroat trout (O. clarki clarki), steelhead (O.
mykiss irideus), sea-run bull trout (
Salvelinus confluentus), and
Dolly Varden trout (
Salvelinus malma malma).
Common forage fishes found in
Puget Sound include Pacific herring
(Clupea pallasii), surf smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus), and Pacific sand
lance (Ammodytes hexapterus). Important benthopelagic fish of Puget
North Pacific hake (Merluccius productus), Pacific cod
(Gadus macrocelhalus), walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma), and
the spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias). There are about 28 species of
Sebastidae (rockfish), of many types, found in Puget Sound. Among
those of special interest are copper rockfish (Sebastes caurinus),
quillback rockfish (S. maliger), black rockfish (S. melanops),
yelloweye rockfish (S. ruberrimus), bocaccio rockfish (S.
paucispinis), canary rockfish (S. pinniger), and
Puget Sound rockfish
Many other fish species occur in Puget Sound, such as sturgeons ,
lampreys , various sharks , rays , and skates .
Puget Sound is home to numerous species of marine invertebrates,
including sponges , sea anemones , chitons , clams , sea snails ,
limpets crabs , barnacles starfish , sea urchins , and sand dollars .
Dungeness crabs (Metacarcinus magister) occur throughout Washington
waters, including Puget Sound. Many bivalves occur in Puget Sound,
such as Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) and geoduck clams (Panopea
Olympia oyster (Ostreola conchaphila), once common in
Puget Sound, was depleted by human activities during the 20th century.
There are ongoing efforts to restore Olympia oysters in Puget Sound.
Double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
There are many seabird species of Puget Sound. Among these are grebes
such as the western grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis); loons such as
the common loon (Gavia immer); auks such as the pigeon guillemot
(Cepphus columba), rhinoceros auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata), common
murre (Uria aalge), and marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus);
the brant goose (Branta bernicla); seaducks such as the long-tailed
duck (Clangula hyemalis), harlequin duck (Histrionicus histrionicus),
and surf scoter (Melanitta perspicillata); and cormorants such as the
double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus).
Puget Sound is home
to a non-migratory and marine-oriented subspecies of great blue herons
(Ardea herodias fannini). Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
occur in relative high densities in the
Puget Sound region.
It is estimated that more than 100 million geoducks (pronounced
"gooey ducks") are packed into Puget Sound's sediments. Also known as
"king clam", geoducks are considered to be a delicacy in Asian
U.S. Coast Survey nautical chart of Puget Sound, Washington
Territory, 1867 Puget Sound, Washington
George Vancouver explored
Puget Sound in 1792. Vancouver claimed it
for Great Britain on 4 June 1792, naming it for one of his officers,
Peter Puget .
After 1818 Britain and the United States, which both claimed the
Oregon Country , agreed to "joint occupancy", deferring resolution of
Oregon boundary dispute until the 1846
Oregon Treaty . Puget Sound
was part of the disputed region until 1846, after which it became US
American maritime fur traders visited
Puget Sound in the early 19th
The first European settlement in the
Puget Sound area was Fort
Nisqually , a fur trade post of the Hudson\'s Bay Company (HBC) built
Fort Nisqually was part of the HBC's
Columbia District ,
Fort Vancouver . The
Puget Sound Agricultural Company
, a subsidiary of the HBC, established farms and ranches near Fort
Nisqually. British ships such as the Beaver , exported foodstuffs and
provisions from Fort Nisqually.
The first American settlement on
Puget Sound was Tumwater . It was
founded in 1845 by Americans who had come via the
Oregon Trail . The
decision to settle north of the
Columbia River was made in part
because one of the settlers,
George Washington Bush , was considered
black and the
Provisional Government of Oregon banned the residency of
mulattoes but did not actively enforce the restriction north of the
Washington Territory was formed from part of Oregon Territory
. In 1888 the
Northern Pacific railroad line reached Puget Sound,
linking the region to eastern states.
A unique state-run ferry system, the
Washington State Ferries ,
connects the larger islands to the Washington mainland, as well as
both sides of the sound, allowing people and cars to move about the
Puget Sound region. View northwest from the Space
Needle , overlooking (left to right) Elliott Bay, Duwamish Head, Puget
Sound, and Restoration Point.
Environmental issues in Puget Sound
In the past 30 years there has been a large recession in the
populations of the species which inhabit Puget Sound. The decrease has
been seen in the populations of: forage fish , salmonids, bottom fish,
marine birds , harbor porpoise and orcas . This decline is attributed
to the various environmental issues in Puget Sound. Because of this
population decline, there have been changes to the fishery practices,
and an increase in petitioning to add species to the Endangered
Species Act . There has also been an increase in recovery and
management plans for many different area species.
The causes of these environmental issues are toxic contamination,
eutrophication (low oxygen due to excess nutrients), and near shore
* Anderson Island
* Fox Island
* Indian Island
San Juan Island
Fjords of Canada
Puget Sound AVA
Seattle Metropolitan Area
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