European settlers established port cities at Seattle, Vancouver, and Victoria. As such, they were protected from the Pacific Ocean storms. The name Salish Sea is officially recognized in both Canada and the United States. It was approved by the USA in 2009 and by Canada in 2010.

The name ‘Salish’ refers to the Coast Salish indigenous peoples (first nations) who live in southwest British Columbia, and northwest Washington state and share a common linguistic and cultural origin. Their history dates back to 8,000 BC. Today, the Coast Salish are seen as one of the main cultural and linguistic branches of a larger group known as Salishan or Salish. American and European explorers first encountered the Salishan people along in the Northwest coast in the late 18th century. The first detailed information about these peoples was obtained by the Clark & Lewis Expedition of 1804-1806.

This vast area is also home to Bigg’s & southern resident killer whales, migrating humpback & gray whales, minke whales, porpoise, dolphin, seals, sea lions, birds and many other diverse marine species.

The Importance of the Salish Sea

The Salish Sea is home to the most diverse marine species & inhabitants in the world. All of this abundant marine life is made possible by the constant flow of nutrient-rich waters which supply the ‘life-blood’ for all living things beneath the ocean’s surface. The following videos, produced by the BBC, are perfect for illustrating in detail how one of nature’s greatest events takes place.

…its important role in the ocean. If after an Eagle Wing Tours eco-adventure out at sea you wish to experience first hand this world beneath the waves, we highly recommend a visit to the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea out in Sidney, BC. The centre is an aquarium and marine education centre that showcases the amazing ecosystem of the Salish Sea. They operate as a not-for-profit community facility that is self-supporting through donations, admission fees, and grants. The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is funded, governed and owned by the New Marine Centre Society.

One of many marine mammals that rely on the bloom of nutrients is the ultimate apex predator: the orca.  The southern resident killer whales (SRKW) are the only orca population that has been listed as endangered by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. They have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 2005. They are fFeeding Whale in The Salish Searequently referred to as the “killer whales of the Salish Sea”, “the fish-eating orcas”, and/also the “SRKW” population. There are currently 73 individuals that make up this small population (as of November 2019). Tokitae, a captive Southern Resident killer whale likely from L pod, would be the 74th member of this endangered clan. Unlike other resident orca communities, these Salish Sea killer whales are one clan (J) that consists of 3 pods (J, K, L) with several matrilines within each pod.

Researchers at the Center for Whale Research have been tracking the southern resident population since April 1976 using very detailed photo-identification. As a result of accurate ID reports, the southern residents have been seen as far south as central California, and as far north as the coast of Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands).