What is the Salish Sea?

Named in honour of the Coast Salish peoples who have travelled this coast for millennia, this spectacularly beautiful inland sea encompasses some 17,000 sq km of water and almost 7,500 km of coastline. It’s a region defined by the flow of water. The nutrient-rich tidal inflow from the North Pacific continually mixes with the nutrient-rich outflow from rivers and creeks to create one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world!

Map: salishsea.org

Everything is interconnected

With habitats as diverse as rocky reefs, mudflats, deep fjords, eelgrass estuaries and lush kelp forests, the Salish Sea nourishes an astounding variety of plant and animal life. More than 3,000 species of invertebrates, 247 fish, 172 birds and 37 mammals depend on this region for part or all of their life cycle. Showing you how everything is connected is important to us. And to you. It helps us all appreciate the whales within the bigger ecological picture.

Sea lions

A continuum of life

We see killer whales, harbour porpoise and Dall’s porpoise year-round. In spring through fall, humpback, minke and grey whales come to feed. Seals, sea lions and river otters are common. Sea otters are occasional visitors. Gull and cormorant colonies and nesting sites for bald eagles, pigeon guillemots and black oystercatchers are found throughout the region. The food-rich waters are particularly important for wintering loons, cormorants, grebes, murres, gulls and ducks!

Our vessel 4 Ever Wild in Race Rocks Ecological Reserve

It’s dynamic but fragile

The diversity and complexity of marine life in the Salish Sea is truly extraordinary. But it’s a fragile world. It’s surrounded and increasingly influenced by more than eight million people, including large urban centres such as Vancouver, Seattle and Victoria. Habitat loss from shoreline development, overfishing, pollution, increased marine traffic and climate change are taking their toll at all levels of the coastal food web.

Humpback whale

You can help protect it!

Our hope is that your visit to the Salish Sea and its wonders will inspire and empower you to help protect it. Fulfilling a wildlife bucket list is one thing, but we go much further. On our tours, our goal is to engage you, to connect you to this special place on an emotional level. To make you care enough to make responsible environmental decisions in your daily lives, no matter where you live!

Sea otter