Coast Salish Tribal Journey Water Quality Project
Understanding how the mixing of ocean water and freshwater from watersheds, climate change, and shoreline development affect water quality is important to assess regional and site-specific impacts of ecosystems, fisheries, and human health.
The Coast Salish Nation in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey has developed a new strategy for examining ecosystem dynamics of the Salish Sea, through water-quality mapping and focused studies. In 2008, a multiyear monitoring study was intiated, combining science and cultural practices with the foundation of the study being the annual Tribal Journey. The Project is unique in monitoring water property variability at high temporal and spatial resolution to examine both landscape-scale and beach-specific patterns, particularly in shallow coastal areas where data are sparce.
Results of surface-water temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity measured every 10-seconds behind canoes are examined using GIS to help describe water-qualtiy variations across the Salish Sea during the summer when environmental stressors such as high air temperature, lower river flow, and biological productivity affect coastal water quality.
In 2009 and 2010 buoys were deployed at Nisqually delta, Nanaimo, Samish, and Suquamish to monitor water properties; temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity at 15-minute intervals over a course of several months surrounding the Tribal Journey. Measurements made at the water surface are examined with temperature data collected at depths of 1.5m, 2.5m, and at the bottom. Continuous measurements at the buoy sites show the tides and weather directly influence water-temperature and dissolved-oxygen from the water surface to the seafloor.
Water Column Profiles
In 2009 and 2010 support boats following the Tribal Journey from South Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and Southeast Georgia Basin measured water properties using SeaBird© Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth (CTD) with dissolved oxygen, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and turbidity sensors from the water surface down to the bottom at over 100 stations.
In 2009 and 2010 at each of the water column profile stations surface water samples were collected to examine dissolved nutrient nitrate, nitrite, ammonium, phosphate, and silicate concentrations.
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