Beach seine on Bainbridge Island
On Bainbridge Island, Washington, USGS scientists (left to right) Theresa "Marty" Liedtke, Lisa Gee, Ryan Tomka, and Collin Smith hauling a sampling net—called a beach seine—over an eelgrass (Zostera marina) bed. Surf smelt and sand lance spawn on the upper intertidal areas of beaches in Puget Sound. As their eggs develop and they transform into juvenile fish, they reside near the beach for an unknown period of time. The movements and distribution of these juvenile fish after the spawning period are poorly understood. USGS investigated the use of nearshore habitats—such as this eelgrass bed—by juvenile stages of surf smelt and sand lance because nearshore areas are commonly used as nursery and rearing grounds for other species. The primary goal was to investigate the possible use of eelgrass habitats by the juvenile life stages of these forage fish by comparing their abundance in eelgrass areas with their abundance in areas without eelgrass.