Estuary and Nearshore Monitoring: Shannon Kirby, Skokomish Tribe; Matt Kowalski, Skokomish Tribe; Amy Georgeson, Washington Dept. of Health

Shannon Kirby – habitat monitoring

Skokomish’s Habitat Program includes monitoring vegetation, eelgrass, invertebrates, shellfish surveys, and water chemistry.

Vegetation monitoring is a big part of what I do – photo points show from 2008-2014 starting with mud flats and has come back with plush vegetation. We’re also seeing soil changing and higher salinity rates in soil.

Eelgrass is the new buzzword – a lot of agencies doing eelgrass studies. USGS used single beam sonar to map the eelgrass in the seafloor and we’re seeing increases in some areas and decreases in some areas. DNR has been doing similar work for more than a decade and has seen eelgrass patches double in size.

Sediment delivery and accretion is another measurement we do – we have sediment pins throughout the estuary and every year we measure how much sediment we’re getting through those areas and after every major flood. Shortly after restoration we had sediment coming through and the areas is now starting to become better habitat for shellfish.

Bugs! We collect bugs in the estuary and lavage salmon stomachs to see what they’re eating. Control sites see much more abundant variety of insects. other sites, no insects at all.

We’re using water data loggers, looking at connectivity, temperature and water level.

USGS contracted by the tribe to do bathymetry of the seafloor. Hope to get more information by doing dives with cameras.

Shellfish survey – shellfish techs -doing a lot of work with their surveys. Seeing mussels coming in the last few years and football fields of grass.

Matt Kowalski – fish use monitoring

2012 was first full year of sampling.

The first big obstacles was having a limited amount of “before” sampling. There had been some hobby sampling but there was very little access for fish behind the old dikes.

We started with our first phase, calling it the Initial Response phase – right after things opened up with the dike removal, this phase is conducting four years of sampling – fish can get into the channels and channels were still forming. This will be considered our baseline.

Currently in third year and will be wrapping up the initial response phase and have the first four years of data.

After that, I’d like to keep it rolling for another four years, call it the Developing Response phase. see if more fish as the area has developed.

Sampling methods – large channels and small channels sampling

large channels uses a boat, greater than 10 M area and use 100′ beach seine, 10 sets, all in one day, four days a month, back-to-back days

small channel – want to know if fish are getting way up there in the small channels. less than 10M area, use 50′ seine, span channel with seine, block off end with another seine and catch fish that way

Only can do small channel in restoration areas, not control. 1 day a month – 8 small channels sites

What are we looking for?

Species richness – are we seeing more in control or restoration? we’re seeing more in control areas.

Qualitatively – which species are we seeing in which areas? mostly just have salmon everywhere.

Distribution – the number of salmon present in each site. Have seen chum at all sites, so we know salmon can access all our sites. Goal is is to see each species in each site.

Residence time – number of months species is present in catch sample

Fish size/growth – taking fork length of the first 20 from each set

What’s working?

We’re getting out there and catching fish and getting data. We’re seeing some patterns emerge in control vs. restoration. A pleasant surprise is that the distribution is doing well. We’re finding chum everywhere so they can get to our samples ties, so hopefully they’ll get to all of them.

Amy Georgeson, Washington Dept. of Health, Marine water quality monitoring,

Annas Bay – Shellfish growing area –

DOH is responsible for classification for shellfish growing areas in WA State and there are 13 alone in Hood Canal and Annas Bay is one of them.

We look at shoreline impacts, marine waters safety, weather tides and currents.

need min of 30 samples – looking for fecal coliform, but also salinity and water temp

Annas Bay – shellfish growing area
13 stations within Annas Bay.
all are meeting water quality standards except for one which is a newly requested site, which is still undergoing sampling.

We monitor 12x a year and try to figure out how flooding impacts the shellfish growing area.

in addition marine water monitoring, we look looks at impacts to/from septic, farms and fisheries.

In 2009 there was a huge human waste spike and had to do an emergency closure but it’s been regulated now.