Blakely Island: Hub of marine biodiversity

Blakely Island, WA – Recent studies and ongoing conservation efforts highlight the thriving marine biodiversity around Blakely Island, part of Washington State’s San Juan archipelago. The island’s unique ecosystems are becoming increasingly well-documented thanks to collaborative research and restoration projects.

Rich Diversity of Marine Life

Blakely Island’s waters are home to a diverse array of marine species. Recent data from Seattle Pacific University (SPU) and the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group reveal the extent of this biodiversity:

Fish Species: Many types of Pacific salmon live around Blakely Island and they are really important to both the environment and the economy. There are also plenty of rockfish and cod in the rocky reefs and kelp forests. These fish are important for keeping ecosystem balance and supporting local fishing activities.

Invertebrates: The marine areas around the island are rich in invertebrates such as starfish, sea urchins and Dungeness crabs. These organisms are important to the ecosystem because they help keep the marine environment healthy and stable.

Bright green sea urchin, Dr long’s favorite (Photo taken by Duyen)
Small cute six legs starfish found on the beach of Blakely Island (Photo taken by Duyen)
Purple sea star located right on the rock at the beach (Photo taken by Duyen)

Marine flora: The large kelp forests around Blakely Island are extremely important. They provide food and shelter for many marine animals, including juvenile fish and invertebrates.

“Marine diversity refers to the variety of life forms within ocean and sea ecosystems, including different species of fish, mammals, invertebrates, plants, and microorganisms. It’s important because it ensures ecosystem stability, resilience, and productivity, which are crucial for maintaining healthy oceans that provide vital resources and services to humans and other life forms.” Dr Long said

Key Findings from 2008 to 2009 Data: Marine Diversity Thrives Around Blakely Island.

Crabs and Shrimp: The survey found ten Dungeness crabs that were too small to keep, making up 26.7% of the catch. It also recorded different kinds of shrimp, which are important in the marine food web.

Forage Fish: Pacific sand lance and surf smelt were also found, making up 26.7% and 13.3% of the catch. The presence of these small fish shows the ecosystem is healthy and can support larger animals.

Pacific Salmon: Chinook, chum, and pink salmon were noted in the survey, with frequencies of 6.7%, 13.3%, and 6.7%. These salmon are very important for the marine ecosystems around Blakely Island because they support many predators and scavengers.

The data shows that Blakely Island has a rich variety of marine life. Continuous research and monitoring are important to understand how these ecosystems work and to help with conservation. Seattle Pacific University’s Blakely Island Field Station is key in these studies, providing important information about the health and sustainability of the marine environment.

Educational Contributions

The SPU Blakely Island Field Station is a cornerstone for marine biology research and education. Offering courses like Marine Ecology and Marine Botany, the field station provides students with hands-on experience in studying the island’s marine life. These programs have been instrumental in generating valuable data and fostering a deeper understanding of marine biodiversity.

Dr Nelson talked about plants – Photo taken by Duyen
Dr Long and Dr Nelson discussed roadside plants – Photo taken by Duyen

Dr. Tim Nelson, a marine ecologist at SPU, emphasizes the importance of these programs: “Our students’ research has been pivotal in documenting the recovery of marine species in Thatcher Bay and understanding the broader ecological dynamics of Blakely Island.”

Future Prospects

The future looks bright for Blakely Island’s marine life. Keeping up with research and conservation efforts is important to deal with environmental problems and make sure these ecosystems stay healthy. There are plans for more research and restoration projects to keep helping the island’s environment. 

Blakely Island is a great example of how conservation and research can make a big difference. The rich marine life around the island helps us learn more about marine ecosystems and shows why it’s important to practice sustainable environmental methods.

Blakely Island Beach – Photo taken by Duyen

So, the detailed survey of marine life around Blakely Island has given us important information about how rich and complex its coastal ecosystems are. The many different species found show why it’s so important to protect this special habitat. As humans, we need to keep focusing on conservation to protect Blakely Island’s marine life. By working together to use sustainable practices, we can keep these valuable marine ecosystems healthy and thriving for ourselves and future generations.

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