Data from toxicity tests of the pore water extracted from Puget Sound sediments were compiled from surveys conducted from 1997 to 2009. Tests were performed on 664 samples collected throughout all of the eight monitoring regions in the Sound, an area encompassing 2,294.1 km2. Tests were performed with the gametes of the Pacific purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, to measure percent fertilization success as an indicator of relative sediment quality. Data were evaluated to determine the incidence, degree of response, geographic patterns, spatial extent, and temporal changes in toxicity. This is the first survey of this kind and magnitude in Puget Sound. In the initial round of surveys of the eight regions, 40 of 381 samples were toxic for an incidence of 10.5 %. Stations classified as toxic represented an estimated total of 107.1 km2, equivalent to 4.7 % of the total area. Percent sea urchin fertilization ranged from >100 % of the nontoxic, negative controls to 0 %. Toxicity was most prevalent and pervasive in the industrialized harbors and lowest in the deep basins. Conditions were intermediate in deep-water passages, urban bays, and rural bays. A second round of testing in four regions and three selected urban bays was completed 5–10 years following the first round. The incidence and spatial extent of toxicity decreased in two of the regions and two of the bays and increased in the other two regions and the third bay; however, only the latter change was statistically significant. Both the incidence and spatial extent of toxicity were lower in the Sound than in most other US estuaries and marine bays.
Additional publication details
Toxicity of sediment pore water in Puget Sound (Washington, USA): a review of spatial status and temporal trends