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Marine Protected Areas within Puget Sound

Saltwater State Park Marine Preserve

WAC 220-16-880: "Saltwater State Park Marine Preserve" is defined as those waters, bedlands, and tidelands of Saltwater State Park within a line projected from the northernmost marker at the DNR high tide line through 122°19'39.02"W, 47°22'25.14"N; then to 122°19'44.14"W, 47°22'26.11"N; then to 122°19'45.91"W, 47°22'21.54"N; then to 122°19'40.86"W, 47°22'20.60"N; then to the southernmost marker on the shoreline and back along the high tide line to the northernmost marker. Effective since 5/1/2009.


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Links to other imagery about this site

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A view to the west of the entrance to the beach.

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Looking westerly from near the mouth of McSorley Creek.

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Looking north from the southern boundary.

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Looking south from the northern boundary.
Recreational Restrictions / Openings
Species Status Comments, notes...
Salmon Closed  
Trout Closed  
Bottomfish Closed  
Shellfish Closed  
Forage Fish Closed  
Unclassified Closed  
 
Commercial Restrictions / Openings
Species Status Comments, notes...
Salmon Closed  
Bottomfish Closed  
Shellfish Closed  
Forage Fish Closed  
Unclassified Closed  

 

Geographic Statistics

Area Type Acres Hectares
Intertidal 4.50 1.82
Subtidal 6.11 2.47
Total 10.61 4.30

 

Prominent and unique features

The main attraction is 1,445 feet (440 m) of saltwater beachfront, including a sandy swimming beach and rocky tideflats. The interdidal habitat at Saltwater State Park is composed primarily of course sand and gravel with some mud near the mouth of McSorley Creek. The boundary of the protected area encompasses most of the park’s 1,445 feet of shoreline. Subtidally, the MPA consists of shallow sandy bottom habitat that extends for about 300 yards offshore before dropping steeply into the depths of current swept East Passage between the mainland and Maury Island. Near the crest of the drop-off, there is an artificial reef constructed of large boulders, cobble, and concrete pilings. The reef is a popular destination for scuba divers. Subtidal tire bundles were once present in abundance at this site. Efforts to remove them were largely effective; however, some scattered tires remain. The MPA is closed to all harvest. Beach angling for salmon and cutthroat trout is popular just outside the MPA boundaries and commercial subtidal geoduck harvests occur in tracts adjacent to the MPA boundaries.

Description of fish, bird, and mammal resources at the site

Adult salmon migrate to the area to spawn in McSorley Creek. There are expansive eelgrass beds in the shallow subtidal zone that provide nursery habitat for a variety of fish including perch, tube-snouts, herring, flatfishes, and migrating juvenile salmon. Adult flatfishes and schools of adult perch are common further offshore and kelp greenling, ratfish, and dogfish are seen on occasion over the sandy bottom areas. On the artificial reef, copper, quillback, and brown rockfish are common. Pelagic and deeper water rockfish species such as vermillion, black, and yellowtail are frequently seen. Large schools of adult pile and striped perch may be seen during the summer and fall. Other commonly viewed fish include lingcod, sculpins, painted greenling, and gunnels. Invertebrates include various species of nudibranchs, sea-stars, sea cucumbers, sand dollars, sea pens, and clams. Sea anemones are abundant on the artificial reef and octopus and squid also frequent the area. Commonly viewed birds include herons, ducks, and gulls. Eagles and osprey may also be seen. Harbor seals frequent the area, and porpoise, whales, and sea lions may be seen offshore on occasion.

Programs in place to manage the site

WDFW manages the site as a fully protected reserve and regulations prohibit recreational and commercial fishing within the MPA for all non-tribal citizens.

Issues of concern

The site has very high diver use and the potential for human disturbance of the fish populations by this visitation is unknown, though the artificial reef was constructed specifically as an attractant to recreational scuba divers. Commercial geoduck harvests occur just outside the MPA boundaries. The offshore boundaries of the MPA are not well marked and this has led to some confusion among commercial geoduck harvesters and recreational fishers who have been known to occasionally cross into the MPA. The lack of adequate offshore markers makes it difficult for commercial and recreational harvesters to ensure that they are in compliance with MPA harvest restrictions and adds difficulty to enforcement. The effects of commercial harvests that occur adjacent to the MPA on marine life within the reserve boundaries are not known.

Performance measures

Authorities at Saltwater State Park report a dramatic increase in park use by scuba divers since the artificial reef was constructed and the area was designated as an MPA. The effects of harvest restrictions within the MPA on areas outside the MPA that are subject to legal harvest are not known. The artificial reef was rapidly populated by adult rockfish, lingcod, and other fish after its construction. The origin of these fish is unknown and they are presumed to have arrived from some other location with suitable habitat. It is assumed that a large proportion of these recently arrived fish have, or will, become reef residents and contribute to overall regional productivity. There are no systematic monitoring efforts or studies aimed at evaluating the performance or effectiveness of the Saltwater State Park MPA at this time.