Rivers and Estuaries, Where Freshwater and Sea Meet

Thousands of streams, from the smallest rivulets to the mighty rivers, feed Puget Sound. King County’s environmental program explains the importance of rivers and streams in this way: “Many of our Pacific salmon and trout species are anadromous—meaning they are born in our streams, they migrate to the ocean to feed and grow into mature adults, and then they return to their natal stream to spawn. These fish, therefore, are both freshwater and marine species, depending on the time of year.”

The return of these seagoing fish to their natal waters is a sight to behold. In countless places around the Sound, visitors can walk to the water’s edge and watch the mighty fish as they work their way up their native streams to a gravelly place where the female will deposit their unfertilized eggs and the males will deposit their sperm.

More than a century and a half of dam building and road construction has blocked fish passage up and down numerous streams. Meanwhile, 80 percent of tidal marshes and river estuaries in the Sound were diked and drained to take advantage of the rich agricultural soils and flats, easily developed terrain.

We Are Puget Sound, opens a new window is a book and multimedia campaign that celebrates the diverse people and communities working to restore the Salish Sea--and helping everyone find their place in this movement.

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