Salish Sea | KNKX

Salish Sea

Raynell Morris, left, director of the Lummi Nation’s Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office, listens as Lawrence Solomon (second from left), secretary of the Lummi Nation’s Business Council, announces the new name for the Southern Resident orcas.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Earlier this summer, the Lummi Nation came to Seattle and launched a campaign to protect and revitalize the Salish Sea. The tribe is based near Bellingham, at the heart of that body of water, which extends from Puget Sound to Desolation Sound in Canada and out past Vancouver Island into the Pacific Ocean.

Whale watchers at Lime Kiln Point State Park on San Juan Island sighting members of the J and K pods of southern resident orcas on Friday July 5th after an absence of nearly 8 weeks.
Jeanne Hyde / Whale of a Purpose Blog

Whale scientists have spotted several Southern Resident orcas off the west side of San Juan Island, in Haro Strait. The sighting comes after an unprecedented absence that had many worried.  

Westridge Marine Terminal of the Trans Mountain pipeline in the suburb of Vancouver.
Craig McCulloch / KNKX

The TransCanada pipeline and opponents have filed their final submissions to Canada’s energy regulator. This second review of the proposed pipeline expansion, which would see dramatically increased oil tankers in the Salish Sea, was ordered by a court last year.

This May 2018 photo shows the Kirkeholmen oil tanker anchored outside the Kinder Morgan Inc. Westridge oil terminal in Vancouver, Canada, at the end of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
Jeremy Hainsworth / AP file

  

Canada’s energy regulator has issued draft recommendations concerning the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and its impacts on marine life. The expansion would see a dramatic increase in tanker traffic through the Salish Sea and Puget Sound.

In this Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015 photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA) a new baby orca swims alongside an adult whale, believed to be its mother, about 15 miles off the coast of Westport, Wash.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Candice Emmons / AP Photo

Environmental law in the U.S. regulates pollution, but often doesn’t protect the things we love.  A movement to change that by securing so-called "rights of nature" is taking hold globally – and locally, too.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Communities concerned about marine health in Washington and British Columbia will take part Saturday in a Salish Sea Day of Action.   

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Beyond the Frame – To Be Native is the name of a series of exhibits around the region, honoring the 150th birthday of Seattle photographer Edward S. Curtis.

Curtis is a controversial figure. He sought to document Native American cultures, based on the belief that they would soon vanish. 

A new book is out that will likely be of interest to anyone who has just moved to the region and maybe even to some old-timers.  

Explore The Salish Sea is a nature guide for kids. It’s about the unique marine ecosystem that connects Puget Sound with Canada. It’s aimed at fifth and sixth graders and based on a previous edition made for adults. Both books use lots of colorful photos and facts to showcase the abundant life that depends on the Salish Sea.

Phoung Lee / AP Photo

The Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion “will be built,” according to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who says it’s in the national interest. However, opposition in British Columbia caused the company on Sunday to put the $7-billion dollar project on hold till the end of May, citing too much uncertainty.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Opposition groups are applauding an announcement from Kinder Morgan Canada. The oil giant has put expansion of its Trans Mountain Pipeline on hold until the end of May as the company seeks clarity on a path forward.

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

More than 1,300 scientists, policy makers and other interested parties are attending next week’s Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle.

The meeting happens every two years and alternates between the U.S. and Canada.  This year, the 30th anniversary since the first one took place in 1988, there’s an emphasis on ecosystem recovery across the international border.

Courtesy Long Live the Kings

One of the biggest mysteries among people working on salmon recovery in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea is what happens to juvenile fish once they head for the ocean. Survival rates of Chinook, Coho and Steelhead have all declined since the 1980s, but resource managers don’t know why.

A new grant from Microsoft is using artificial intelligence to greatly improve the computer models used to tackle the question.

Cristina Mittermeier / Sea Legacy

The Great Barrier Reef, the Galapagos Island, the Great Wall of China: These are all geographic treasures, internationally recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. Washington State has one: the Olympic National Park. A nonprofit in Canada is now petitioning its federal government to add the Salish Sea to that list.                       

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

A colorful totem pole has hit the road from Bellingham on a 5,000-mile journey, meant to shine a spotlight on threats to the health of the Salish Sea. The Lummi Totem Pole Journey will make stops in Seattle and Tacoma this weekend. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

One day nearly a decade ago, a Canadian-born colleague came knocking at cartographer Stefan Freelan’s door.

Bert Webber, a professor of Geography and Environmental Social Sciences at the time, was trying to spread the word about a newly-named body of water. He asked Freelan to help him by making a map of the Salish Sea.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Bert Webber is the man who coined the phrase "Salish Sea." He is a professor emeritus from Huxley College at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

Webber says while it may be easy to see the Salish Sea as separate waterways, those waterways actually make up one ecosystem that goes beyond political borders.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Residents of Western Washington and British Columbia likely recognize bodies of water like Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia. However, many people don’t realize that what were once perceived as individual waterways are now widely considered one ecosystem. That body of water is called the Salish Sea.

John Zilavy

Imagine walking for three days to make a statement about a cause you care for deeply. That’s what people joining the "Walk to Protect & Restore our Salish Sea" will do this weekend. 

C. Brown/COASST

Marine scientists are on alert as hundreds of seabirds have been washing up dead on local beaches.  Since May, the bodies of more than 300 rhinoceros auklets have been collected around the eastern side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  

Washington’s Protection Island Wildlife Refuge, near Port Townsend, is home to one of the world’s largest known colonies of the puffin-like bird, which is named for its unique appearance.

(Tessica Truang is on the right. Kathleen Yang is on the left.)
Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Opposition to the proposed expansion of a pipeline in Canada took center stage Friday in British Columbia.

Canada’s National Energy Board heard testimony from several parties, including a Seattle lawyer representing four Washington state tribes. None of the parties scheduled to go before the board on Friday morning were in favor of the project.

Vladimir / Flickr via Compfight

A small non-profit in the San Juan Islands has taken the lead in an international campaign to protect the Salish Sea from adverse effects of shipping.

Currently, proposals for 14 new or upgraded export facilities for fossil fuels in British Columbia and five in northwestern Washington could dramatically increase shipping traffic through local waters.

Roger Tabor / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Survival rates for salmon and steelhead in Puget Sound have plunged since the 1970s, and a big new international study is aiming to figure out why.

Liam Moriarty / KPLU News

The northern tip of the Salish Sea is the place where the Campbell River on Vancouver Island empties into Georgia Strait. 

In the final segment in our series “Reflections on the Water,” KPLU environment reporter Liam Moriarty talks with Darren Blaney, a wood carver and former chief of the Homalco First Nation, which is based in Campbell River.

Liam Moriarty / KPLU

Human activity has taken a heavy toll on the Salish Sea. And efforts are underway across the region to restore depleted stocks of everything from salmon to eelgrass.

This week, as part of our series “Reflections on the Water,” KPLU environment reporter Liam Moriarty visits a project in the little town of Bowser, British Columbia. He sits on a beach with Ken Kirkby, who heads an innovative community nonprofit that’s been restoring a crucial type of habitat : underwater forests of bull kelp. 

Vessel Zodiac Corporation

Commuters on I-5 may see something a little different on Thursday: a truck carrying a 114-foot, tall ship's mast. It's for the Bellingham-based historic schooner Zodiac.

The Zodiac lost its old mast and boom last September in an incident near Lummi Island.

Sheila Malcolmson
Liam Moriarty / KPLU

There are more than a thousand islands in the Salish Sea. Some of them are home to good-sized towns, others are inhabited only by wildlife. Either way, the island experience is one of the signatures of this region.

This week in our series “Reflections on the Water,” KPLU environment reporter Liam Moriarty takes a ferry to Gabriola Island, in British Columbia, population about 4,000. He talks with Sheila Malcolmson about the joys and challenges of island living.