The Salish Sea, which encompasses Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Strait of Georgia, is a unique bioregion unlike any other place on Earth. Covering roughly 6,900 square miles, the boundary lines of the Salish Sea extend inland to include all the watersheds with rivers and streams that flow directly into this sea. From its northernmost boundary in British Columbia, Canada, to its southernmost boundary in Puget Sound, Washington, the Salish Sea has been utilized by salmon since the receding of the glaciers roughly six million years ago. It is also the historical core summer habitat of the endangered Southern Resident orcas, but as salmon numbers have declined regionally, so has their seasonal foraging use of this area.
Some of the Salish Sea watersheds and rivers we will be covering over the next several days include:
The Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada
Northwest Washington State: the Nooksack River, the Skagit River, and the Snohomish River.
Puget Sound: the Green/Duwamish Rivers, the Puyallup River, and the Nisqually River.
Olympic Peninsula: The Elwha River
While there are many rivers, streams, and tributaries that provide essential habitat for salmon throughout the Salish Sea, the rivers we will touch on in this region were historically some of the greatest salmon producing rivers, sustaining a healthy Southern Resident orca population pre-colonialism.