Marine Protected Areas within Puget Sound

Sund Rock Conservation Area

WAC 220-16-480: "The 'Sund Rock Conservation Area' is defined as those waters and bed lands enclosed by a line originating at the shore of Hood Canal, at the mouth of Sund Creek (47° 26.4' N, 123° 7.1' W), thence due east to 123° 6.9' W, thence due south to 47° 26' N, thence due west until it intersects the beach, thence north along the ordinary high water line to the point of origin, including all of the underwater feature known as Sund Rock." Effective since 1994.

(Note: this is the same map as used for the Octopus Hole CA)

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Links to other imagery about this site

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A view to the NNE of an access to the area, located in a cove near its south end (left) and a closeup of the sign (right).

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Image of the rocks on the beach at latitude 47° 26' N, thus determining the southern edge of the area.
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 None None
Subtidal 71.20 28.81
Total 71.20 28.81

 

Prominent and unique features

The Sund Rock Conservation Area is one of three marine reserves in southern Hood Canal that were established to protect rare natural bedrock and boulder habitats. The subdital portions of the area consist of three discrete, subtidal rocky habitats consisting of rock walls and boulder fields. There are silt and mud habitats separating these features and occurring offshore at a depth of 80 feet (mllw). Sand and mud flats occur inshore in the northern half of the conservation area and these habitats support an eelgrass bed. In the photic zone (to approximately 30 feet, mllw), bladed kelps such as Laminaria saccharina and foliose red algae grow on the rocky habitats and provide substantial cover for fish and invertebrates. The site was previously used as an anchorage for a salmon net pen and significant debris can be found on the bottom from these activities. In December 2001, a derelict fishing vessel was suspiciously sunk in the northern portion of the conservation area. The upland and shorelines consist of forested zones giving rise to steep, rocky slopes, or to a cobble-rock strand along a small bay. The upland is privately owned, however, a private road leads to the bay in the center of the conservation area. Recreational divers can access this road by paying a fee.

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

Sund Rock supports fish and invertebrate communities that are typically found on rocky habitats in Washington's inland marine waters. Copper rockfish (Sebastes caurinus) are abundant at the site, and the site also supports brown (S. auriculatus), yelloweye (S. ruberimus) , vermilion (S. miniatus), black (S. melanops), Puget Sound (S. emphaeus) and quillback (S. maliger) rockfishes. Wolfeel (Anarrichthys ocellatus) and lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) are also common at Sund Rocks as are three species of surfperches including pile perch (Rhacochilus vacca), striped seaperch (Embiotoca lateralis), and shiner perch (Cymatogaster aggregata). Blackeye goby (Coryphopterus nicholsii) inhabit much of the rock and sand interfaces throughout the conservation area. Dominant invertebrate species include giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini), red sea cucumber (Parastichopus californicus), red sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus), sunflower seastar (Pisaster helianthoides), red rock crab (Cancer productus), and squat lobster (Munida quadrispina). Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) can be seen foraging in the conservation area and sea ducks and sea birds may be observed within the boundaries of the conservation area.

Programs in place to manage the site

WDFW regulations prohibit recreational and commercial fishing at the Sund Rocks Conservation Area, and WDFW manages the site as fully-protected marine reserve for non-tribal citizens. The taking of all species of invertebrates and fishes is prohibited by WDFW regulations.

Volunteer efforts are very important at this site. An active dive community uses the site with some people diving it regularly on at least a weekly basis. The volunteers have provided signage and onsite observations of activities in the site. They have contacted WDFW regarding potential problems and changes at the site.

The upland access to the site is privately maintained and divers may enter the site by paying a fee. Divers have placed semi-permanent buoys to mark significant features of the park.

The enforcement of the harvest restrictions is relegated to the Enforcement Program of WDFW. Information on the site boundaries and restrictions is found in WDFW's Sport Fishing Pamphlet and formal regulations are published at the State of Washington's Administrative Code available on the state's web site. In addition, WDFW is developing specific pamphlets describing each of its marine reserves.

WDWF scientists include Sund Rocks as part of their marine reserve monitoring efforts. The site is visited several times per year when the scientists perform a census of the fish living on the two southern rocky habitats. During these surveys, all fish are identified, counted, and measured. The areas of the rocky habitats have been measured so fish densities can be assessed and compared to previous surveys or other areas.

Issues of concern

The lower end of Hood Canal has been subject to low dissolved oxygen events. In 2002, the dissolved oxygen content dropped very low in the shallow and mid-depth zones of this portion of the Canal. Sessile organisms died and mobile organisms underwent major behavioral changes. Volunteers notified WDFW and department divers surveyed the lower Canal to determine the extent of the problem. The Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE) is investigating the contributing factors (oceanography, enrichment of southern Hood Canal, weather patterns, etc.) to the low dissolved oxygen event and indications are this phenomenon may be a periodic event plaguing the waters of southern Hood Canal.

The sinking of a derelict fishing vessel raises concerns regarding the naturalness of the site and preserving the ecological and scientific integrity of the Sund Rocks Conservation Area. The Department of Natural Resources manages most of the state's subtidal lands and has a program to deal with derelict fishing vessels, but no action has been taken to remove the vessel.

Members of the Skokomish Tribe actively fish the shores and waters of southern Hood Canal. Occasionally, these treaty fishers will use gill nets that drift through the reserve or are anchored from the reserve's shore. These and other fishing activities are guaranteed by court mandates and there has been no cooperative agreement between state and tribal managers to limit tribal fishing in the marine reserves in southern Hood Canal.

Performance measures

This area is part of the network of sites being developed by WDFW to manage rocky habitat species. As such, WDFW marine fish staff is evaluating it as it develops.

Biological performance measures include:

  • Sizes of principle marine fish increasing or staying the same
  • Densities of rockfishes, lingcod, wolfeel, and surfperches, increasing or remaining moderately high
  • Increasing or high levels of fish reproduction