For more information on species & ecosystem science:

Wildlife Science

Fish Science

Habitat Science


Poster showing the migration of PCBs into the Puget Sound and how the contaminants are bio-magnified from plankton to fish to marine mammals.
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Contaminants like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) can enter the food chain and bio-magnify to high levels in apex predators. Illustration courtesy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Ben Garrison and Sally Deneen).

Marine Toxic Contaminants

A Toxics-focused Biological Observing System (T-BiOS)

Our Mission:  Assess the effects of toxic contaminants on marine and anadromous species to help guide efforts to protect fish and shellfish health, ensure seafood safety, and promote ecosystem recovery.

WDFW's T-BiOS team monitors the geographic extent and magnitude of toxic contaminants in fish and other organisms living in Puget Sound, Washington's portion of the Salish Sea.  Our studies are designed to evaluate and track complex patterns of pollution across Puget Sound by using a number of indicator species representing a wide range of feeding strategies, movement patterns, and habitats.

We use data generated from these studies, some dating back to 1989, to evaluate the effects of these contaminants on the health of the Salish Sea's organisms.  Toxic chemicals covering a wide range of sources, toxicity, persistence, and bioaccumulation are measured to help us to understand where the problem areas are, and whether conditions are getting better or worse.  For more information, view a list of our publications and most recent results.

We also share our data with Washington's Department of Health to evaluate the safety of Salish Sea seafood for human consumption, and some data are used in the Puget Sound Partnership's Toxics in Fish Vital Sign to help track Puget Sound recovery.

Our T-BiOS team is a key participant in the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP), and we coordinate our research activities with our PSEMP partners tracking marine water quality and contaminants in Puget Sound sediments. T-BiOS staff also work closely with our long-term research partners at NOAA Fisheries on a number of projects related to the health of the Puget Sound and the Salish Sea.

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WDFW biologists sorting and measuring fish from PSEMP's index sites in the Duwamish River and near the Seattle Waterfront.

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Our Partners
PSEMP Logo Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program
Puget Sound Vital Signs Logo Puget Sound Vital Signs
Washington Department of Health Logo Washington State Department of Health
NOAA Logo NOAA Fisheries: Environmental and Fisheries Sciences Division