For more information on species & ecosystem science:

Wildlife Science

Fish Science

Habitat Science


Marine Toxic Contaminants

Species Monitored

The Fish Component monitors species from Puget Sound, which are abundant, widely distributed, and economically and/or ecologically important. Various life history traits affect whether fish are exposed to and accumulate contaminants, including:

  • trophic level - the higher the level an animal feeds in the food web, the more likely it is to accumulate some contaminants;
  • longevity - the longer an animal lives, the more time it has to be exposed to contaminants;
  • home range - the smaller the home range, the easier it is to link contaminant exposure to a contaminant source;
  • habitat - the potential for contaminant exposure may be affected by the habitat an animal occupies. For example, demersal1 and benthic2 fish will have more contact with contaminated sediments than a pelagic species;
  • fat (lipid) content – some contaminants are fat soluble (lipophilic), therefore, species with higher fat content will have greater potential to accumulate lipophilic contaminants.

Fish and Wildlife monitors a variety of species with different life history traits to give a broad overview of contaminants in Puget Sound fishes. Currently, we monitor contaminant levels in nine species: English sole (Pleuronectes vetulus), copper rockfish (Sebastes caurinus), quillback rockfish (S. maliger), brown rockfish (S. auriculatus), coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), Pacific herring (Clupea harengus pallasi), Pacific staghorn sculpin (Leptocottus armatus), Dungeness crab (Cancer magister) and to a lesser extent chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha). Click picture for life history traits relative to contaminant exposure.

Click picture for life history traits relative to contaminant exposure

Rockfish species
English sole
Pacific herring
Salmon species
Staghorn sculpin
Dungeness crab


  1. Living near or on the bottom of the sea, or in very deep water.
  2. Living on or closely associated with the bottom of a body of water.