Presently, several different investigations of biological problems are being investigated in virtually every major estuary in the United States, including the Puget Sound of the Pacific Northwest. These include, in no particular order, studies of changes occurring due to global climate change; studies investigating the effects of introduced species, particularly with regard to their effects on native species that are important in commercial and sports fisheries; studies examining the natural history of ecologically important species, such as, in Puget Sound, all the species of salmon, as well as other fishes and various crustaceans such as Dungeness crabs, and important mollusks such as geoducs, and of course, marine mammals such as killer whales, and sea lions. Also, there is an emergency study or series of studies trying to get some sort of handle on the immense mortality that is presently being seen in many sea star species along the entire West coast of the U. S. and Canada.
Jan Kocian, diving photographer extraordinare, and my co-author for this blog, has been actively surveying several marine subtidal areas in northern Puget Sound for some time, with the objective of obtaining photographic evidence of, particularly, the sea-star wasting disease epidemic. As is often the case in a study such as this, serendipity will rear its head, and wholly unexpected observations will be made.