Shared Water
Land & Sea

Over The Shoreline

From a satellite above the state of Washington, we see the jagged arms of Puget Sound. Etched by glaciers over thousands of years, the Sound shoreline is a convoluted, forked edge over 2,000 miles long.

Puget Sound from space.
Flying over Puget Sound. Photo by Wolf Bauer.

"Cold, deep, steep-shored, home to salmon and lipstick-orange starfish, the Sound lies between the Cascades and the Olympics."

Tom Robbins, "Another Roadside Attraction."

Mt. Rainier. Photo by Wolf Bauer.

Puget Sound Shorelines: An Overview

  • Cold
    Although there are variations within Puget Sound, most marine waters of the Pacific Northwest are cold (45ºF to 55°F) and turbulent. Twice daily, about 1.46 cubic miles of water pulses in and out of Puget Sound with the tides.
  • Deep
    Gouged and scoured by glaciers, Puget Sound is deep. In the northern Sound, depths of 600 to 800 feet are typical. In the southern Sound, depths of 300 feet are common.
  • Steep-shored
    Bluffs and narrow beaches rim most of Puget Sound. Many bluffs are made of glacial and interglacial sediments ­ layers of sand, cobble, and clay. Eroding bluffs provide most of the building materials for beaches along the Sound.
  • Between Mountains
    Puget Sound and the branches of the Strait of Juan de Fuca form a trough between the Cascade and the Olympic mountains.
  • Home to Wildlife
    A wide variety of wildlife inhabits Puget Sound's shores; 14 species of marine mammals, 31 species of waterfowl, 57 species of birds, and over 70 species of terrestial wildlife.
  • Home to Starfish
    Puget Sound shorelines harbor complex communities of sea stars, anemones, worms, algae, seagrass meadows, and many species of shellfish.
  • Home to Salmon
    Seven species of salmon spend all or part of their lives in Puget Sound. Estuaries and shallow nearshore waters shelter and nourish young salmon on their way to the sea.
  • Home to People
    3.8 million people call the Puget Sound region home.

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    Comments? E-mail: Shellyne Grisham