Marine Water photo

Marine Water Quality Monitoring

Water Surface Conditions

The water surface reflects many processes that occur below the surface. Within two days of observation we report on visible features near the surface. These range from algae blooms, oil sheens to whales. Covering the scale from satellites, aerial photographs and measurements in the water we offer broader context for our observations.


We release the EOPS report within two days of observation.
EOPS gives you news on current surface conditions of Puget Sound. EOPS is a pdf document and organized by sections to reflect different scales of observations.

 Eyes Over Puget Sound
  1. Condition summary (information at a glance),
  2. Personal flight observations,
  3. Weather conditions,
  4. Water column measurements,
  5. Aerial photographs,
  6. En route ferry data,
  7. Satellite images,
  8. Mooring data.

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Ecology's Marine Monitoring Unit conducts a variety of marine observations, including monthly sampling at 40 core monitoring stations. We use a floatplane to cover our widely distributed station network. We take photos of Puget Sound water conditions during a routine transit flight between the Kenmore base and Olympia. “Eyes Over Puget Sound” is the result, and an example of how we are optimizing our resources to monitor Puget Sound. “Eyes Over Puget Sound” combines high-resolution photo observations with satellite images, en route ferry data between Seattle and Victoria BC, and measurements from our moored instruments.

If you are looking for ferry data and satellite images go here...

Spatially-nested monitoring of Puget Sound: Characterizing surface water quality over multiple scales

Marine waters of Puget Sound and the greater Salish Sea are an important natural resource for people living in Washington State. Changes in water quality occur in response to both evolving ocean conditions and regional alternations of the environment by humans. To protect Washington's marine waters Ecology must quickly and accuratley inform the public and other stakeholders about present water qualtiy conditions. It is critically important to understand and report on the frequency, duration, and scale of processes that affect marine water quality.

Conventional monitoring programs often collect high-resolution data in a single dimension, i.e., X/Y, time, or depth. Due to the ephemeral nature, immense scale, and complexity of estuarine processes interpreting these data can be challenging without additional contextual information.

To develop products over larger space and time scales Ecology deployed a Turner Designs C3 fluorometer in a seachest system onboard the Victoria Clipper IV, a passenger ferry traveling daily between Seattle, Washington and Victoria, British Columbia. Since May 2010 the C3 has provided measurements of:

  • Chlorophyll fluorescence (to monitor algae abundance)
  • Turbidity (to monitor water clarity)
  • Temperature (to monitor water circulation and habitat conditions)
  • Colored Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM) fluorescence (to monitor river and stormwater discharge)

  • Ferry data are used in combination with data from the European Space Agency’s MERIS ocean color satellite which provides estimates of chlorophyll, CDOM, and suspended sediment concentrations, as well as other indices of algae abundance.

    Ecology is developing methods to use data from this unique ferry-based monitoring program to validate satellite products and to complement its other marine monitoring activities. These products provide a cost-effective way to extend Ecology’s monitoring capabilities and improve our ability to characterize, understand, and predict marine water quality throughout Puget Sound.