An Expedition: Conservation of BC's Salish Sea

An Expedition: Conservation of BC's Salish Sea

Ross Dixon Nov 13, 2018

Ocean sunset

The Gulf Islands are located in the Salish Sea, a labyrinth of remarkable coastal waterways. From shallow embayments to deep fjords, rocky reefs and soft river deltas, these waters provide countless places for marine plants and animals to live. When these geographic features are combined with varying amounts of sunlight, salt and oxygen, have created a food web so rich that it supported the world’s smallest and largest creatures for millennia. Even more compelling is the extent to which endemic (locally unique and native) species occur on the coast: Two-thirds of the mammal species and subspecies that are found only in BC occur nowhere else in the province but the coast.

Marine Mammals

Twenty-seven species of marine mammals have been observed in the Salish Sea. Thirteen of them can be found regularly. For these animals, the Salish Sea serves a multitude of purposes—feeding, breeding, resting, overwintering, or simply as a migratory corridor. Some species, such as killer whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins, range widely, but others, such as sea otters, are more closely associated with specific areas.

Harbour seals hauled out on a rock

Wings over the Salish Sea
Bonaparte gulls flying on the BC Coast

The Salish Sea lies along the path of the Pacific Flyway, a critical migratory route for millions of marine and terrestrial birds that stretches from South America to the high Arctic. The Salish Sea region provides habitat to more than 170 species of marine birds, offering food, shelter, a place to find mates, socialize, moult, and overwinter. Some of these birds are year-round residents and others are visitors as they move around the margins of the Pacific Ocean and beyond. In addition to marine birds, the Salish Sea watersheds are home to land-based bird species. Although no exact numbers are available, roughly 130 species of land-based birds inhabit the terrestrial areas bounded within the Salish Sea watersheds

The People

Dr Paul Paquet
Dr. Paul Pauquet is recognized as a world authority in conservation science, Paul brings to us over 30 years applied research experience. He has published not only seminal works in Conservation Biology but also broadly using ecological, geographical, and ethical approaches.
Dr Paquet has also worked extensively on real-world management and conservation, which according to him depends largely upon human attitudes. He serves on many international government and NGO advisory committees dedicated to conservation of carnivores, including the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of IUCN-World Conservation Union, the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, WWF International, and the European Union. He is a long-time fellow of World Wildlife Fund Canada. Paul was a founder and director of the Conservation Biology Institute, Corvallis, Oregon. Most important to Dr Paquet, however, is the contributions he makes as Senior Scientist for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

About Raincoast Conservation Foundation

Raincoast’s mission is to protect the land, waters and wildlife of coastal British Columbia. 

Within the Salish Sea, Raincoast’s conservation efforts include research and advocacy to support the recovery of the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population.  For more than a decade, Raincoast has been using science, public education and the courts to try and protect Canada’s endangered population of salmon-eating killer whales. With their Chinook salmon stocks in serious decline and targeted by fisheries, and a noisy and polluted ocean, they face extinction under existing conditions. The good news is they can recover if these conditions are reversed. Paul has co-authored  two Population Viability Analyses (PVAs) on the SRKWs. A PVA can be a powerful analysis that evaluates and ranks threats to wildlife populations and assesses the likely effectiveness of recovery options. This research shows that SRKW could be functionally extinct (less than 30 individuals) with a century existing under conditions.  Conversely, reducing vessel traffic (small and large boat noise and disturbance) and increasing Chinook abundance increases their likelihood of long-term survival.

Island Solitude in a quite bay

Salish Sea Conservation Expedition with 

Bluewater AdventuresRaincoast Conservation Foundation 

Join us this April for a unique trip to explore the Gulf Island’s and Salish with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, a charity dedicated to science-based conservation on the British Columbia coast. Partial proceeds of this trip go directly towards the protection of BC's Salish Sea.

April 23 - 27, 2019 (5 days) $3435 per person 

(+$300 sustainability fee & 5% GST )

Visit for more information or to book.


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