Padilla Bay Site Profile

The Ecology of Padilla Bay, Washington:
An Estuarine Profile
of a
National Estuarine Research Reserve

Douglas A. Bulthuis

March 2013

Bibliographic Citation
Bulthuis, Douglas A. 2013. The Ecology of Padilla Bay, Washington: An Estuarine Profile of a National Estuarine Research Reserve. Washington State Department of Ecology, Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Mount Vernon, Washington. 186 pp.

The purpose of this document is to provide an overview of the existing state of knowledge about the ecology of Padilla Bay through a review of the literature. This includes peer-reviewed articles, published and un-published reports and unpublished data on Padilla Bay through 2006/2007. Padilla Bay has been the focus of many studies and investigations. Some of these studies covered a broad geographical area with one or two sampling sites in Padilla Bay; others focused specifically on Padilla Bay. These studies were carried out by students, Padilla Bay staff, and visiting scientists. This document is not a comprehensive review of those studies, but it does seek to introduce the reader to what is known about Padilla Bay and summarize the principle findings relevant to the bay from these studies. Research and monitoring in Padilla Bay continues and the state of our knowledge and understanding of the bay is dynamic. This document is an overview of studies completed through 2006/2007 and is, thus, an indication of the state of knowledge about Padilla Bay at that time. Since 2007, the document has been revised to address editorial suggestions, formatting issues, and figure revisions, and has been re-formatted in preparation for printing. Additional studies and knowledge since 2007 have not been incorporated into this review.

This document begins with an introduction to Padilla Bay in its institutional setting as a National Estuarine Research Reserve and its setting within Puget Sound and estuarine science, in general. Chapter 2 describes the environmental setting of Padilla Bay including the geology, geomorphology and climate of the area and current land use in the watershed. Chapter 3 includes the hydrology and water quality in the watershed, tides and currents in Padilla Bay, and water quality and contaminants in the bay. In Chapter 4 the biological and ecological literature is reviewed by grouping studies by the various ecological communities in Padilla Bay. The predominant community in Padilla Bay is the eelgrass community and this community, or its constituent populations, has been the focus of the majority of studies in the bay. In addition to the communities, there are some plants and animals that are particularly important or of special interest in Padilla Bay. Studies on these biota are reviewed in Chapter 5. Chapter 6 is a brief outline of the research and monitoring programs at Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and a compilation of the research and monitoring gaps that have been identified in the course of this review. The literature cited serves as a bibliography of the publications, reports, and theses about Padilla Bay up to 2006/2007.