For more information on species & ecosystem science:

Wildlife Science

Fish Science

Habitat Science


Project Leads


Photo of Todd Sandell standing in front of a river with trees in the background.


Research Focus

  • Forage fish biology
  • Estuarine ecology
  • Trophic processes in the Salish Sea
  • Disease ecology


  • Ph.D., Oregon State University, 2010
  • M.S., Oregon State University, 2000
  • B.S., Bowdoin College, 1992

Contact Information

Todd Sandell, Ph.D.
Senior Forage Fish Biologist

Dr. Todd Sandell leads the Department’s Pacific herring stock assessment efforts in Puget Sound, as well as coordinating scientific studies focused on the biology and ecology of other forage fish species. Since 2010 he has worked on a variety of NOAA research projects in the Snohomish River estuary, the San Juan Islands, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and from 2011-2014 he led a study of the estuarine fish community in Grays Harbor. Prior to moving to Washington, Todd worked at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (Oregon State University), where he went to sea aboard commercial fishing vessels and participated in the GLOBEC study of the Northern California Current. His graduate work at OSU investigated the disease ecology of juvenile salmon in the nearshore Pacific Ocean and Columbia River estuary. He has worked as a field biologist for 18 years and now serves as a pivotal member of the Puget Sound Marine Fish Science Unit at the WDFW, where he serves as a liaison to tribal, federal, and non-governmental collaborators.

Current projects include ongoing stock assessments of Puget Sound herring with significant time devoted to conducting spawn deposition surveys throughout Washington waters. Other projects include acoustic surveys, field work and analyses related to forage fish biology, and disease ecology. In 2016 we will also begin a year-long mid-water trawl survey of Puget Sound to assess pelagic fish abundance and distribution.

Current Research

Selected Publications

  • Sandell, T., Fletcher, J., McAninch, A., and T. Beuhrens. “Distribution, habitat utilization and emigration timing of juvenile salmonids in the Grays Harbor (WA) estuary.” In preparation for submission to Transactions of the American Fisheries Society.

  • Sandell, T., Fletcher, J., McAninch, A.,  Beuhrens, T. and M. Wait, Wild Fish Conservancy. “Grays Harbor Juvenile Fish Use Assessment.” Annual reports (2011-13) prepared for the Chehalis Basin Habitat Work Group, Grays Harbor County and the Washington State Salmon Recovery Office.

  • Sandell, T.A., David Teel, Joe Fisher, Brian Beckman and Kym C. Jacobson. 2015. "Renibacterium salmoninarum and trematode infections are associated with reduced growth of juvenile Chinook salmon in the Northeast Pacific.” Journal of Fish Diseases, Volume 38, Issue 4, 365–378.

  • Sandell, T. and K. Jacobson. 2011. “Comparison and evaluation of Renibacterium salmoninarum quantitative PCR diagnostic assays using field samples of Chinook and coho salmon.” Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, Volume 93, 129-139.