Underwater Cameras Show Glimpse of Marine Life at High Tide

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is using underwater cameras to see how shellfish-growing equipment on tidelands plays a role as habitat for critters at high tide.

The tribe has various shellfish-growing operations on its tidelands in Sequim Bay, including a tumble bag system for oysters and clam nets, so it’s an ideal place to study this concept, said Liz Tobin, the tribe’s shellfish biologist.

“We want to know how the marine life interacts with, and perhaps benefits from, these structures,” Tobin said. “The cameras show observations that we can’t get from snorkeling, beach seining or other methods of collecting information underwater.”

A waterproof camera is secured on a post within an aquaculture area. A second camera is placed as a control site. The cameras record everything in view for two minutes, every 10 minutes, over three hours of the peak of a high-tide cycle over a two-day period. These recordings will be taken regularly through the summer.

“The tribe aims to grow shellfish in a sustainable manner that balances economic viability and conservation,” Tobin said. “The footage that we collect will help us better understand the ecological interactions with shellfish cultivation gear and inform future growing activities.”

The research is part of a project overseen and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington Sea Grant and The Nature Conservancy.


Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe shellfish biologist Liz Tobin sets up an underwater camera on the Sequim Bay tidelands, within the tribe’s oyster tumble bag system. Photo: Tiffany Royal