Tag Archives: Salish Sea facts

Name ‘Salish Sea’ offers new possibilities for description

“Salish Sea” is now the official name for our inland waterway that stretches across more than 1,400 square miles of Western Washington and British Columbia. See my story in today’s Kitsap Sun.

<em>Salish Sea watershed</em><small> EPA graphic</small>
Salish Sea watershed
EPA graphic

The question now is whether the name will catch on and be used more frequently.

One application that comes to mind is the description of the three pods of killer whales known as Southern Residents. I’ve often referred to these animals as the orcas that frequent Puget Sound. That’s because “Southern Residents” have little meaning to the average reader, who wishes to know why they are “southern” and what I mean by “residents.”

It so happens that the Salish Sea just about defines the range of these whales for a large percentage of the year.

Now I may refer to them as the killer whales that frequent or mainly reside in the Salish Sea — including much of the summer in the San Juan Islands, with winter and fall stints into Puget Sound.

I’m not sure how else I will use this term, but I no longer feel constrained by the idea that the Salish Sea is not a real name and has never been defined by any authority.

Here are some facts about the Salish Sea provided by the SeaDoc Society. (I’ve converted meters to feet and kilometers to miles.)

  • Coastline length, including islands: 4,642 miles
  • Total number of islands: 419
  • Total land area of islands: 1,413 square miles
  • Sea surface area: 9,942 square miles
  • Maximum depth: 886 feet
  • Number of different marine animals species estimated: 20 species of mammals, 128 species of birds, 219 species of fish, and over 3000 species of invertebrates
  • Number of species listed as threatened, endangered or are candidates for listing: 64
  • Total watershed area, not counting the upper Fraser River area (See Stefan Freelan): 42,000 square miles