Georgia Basin

Map of Georgia Basin“The Georgia Basin is an international water body that encompasses the marine waters of Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The coastal drainage of the Georgia Basin is bounded to the west and south by the Olympic and Vancouver Island mountains and to the north and east by the Cascade and Coast mountains. At sea level, the Basin has a mild maritime climate and is dryer than other parts of the coast due to the rain shadow of the Olympic and Vancouver Island mountains. At sea level, air temperatures range from 0o to 5oC in January and 12o to 22oC in July, and winds are typically channeled by the local topography and blow along longitudinal axes of the straits and sounds. Winds are predominantly from the southeast in winter and the northwest in summer.”



Book cover for The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest

New book focuses on the natural history of the Salish Sea

The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest brings together more than 230 extraordinary images of the Salish Sea. But don't call it a coffee table book. Its lush photos are backed by a serious scientific perspective on this complex and fragile ecosystem.

Beringmöwe - Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens). Photo: Von B. Walker CC-BY-2.0

A century of change in Glaucous-winged Gull populations in a dynamic coastal environment

A 2015 paper in the journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications describes century-long trends in Glaucous-winged Gull populations in British Columbia.

Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). Photo courtesy of National Park Service.

Population structure and intergeneric hybridization in harbour porpoises Phocoena phocoena in British Columbia, Canada

A 2014 paper in Endangered Species Research suggests that harbour porpoises inhabiting coastal waters of southern British Columbia constitute a single genetic population, which should be reflected in management decisions.

Southern Resident Killer Whales in Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of NOAA

Acoustic quality of critical habitats for three threatened whale populations

A 2013 article in the journal Animal Conservation compares the effects of increasing anthropogenic noise to habitat loss for endangered fin, humpback and killer whales in the Salish Sea.

 Figure 1 from Masson and Perry 2013 identifies the area of focus for the Strait of Georgia Ecosystem Research Initiative.

Report: Strait of Georgia ecosystem research initiative

A paper published in the August 2013 issue of Progress in Oceanography provides a summary and overview of the Strait of Georgia Ecosystem Research Initiative, an effort by Fisheries and Oceans Canada "to facilitate integrated research on the Strait of Georgia ecosystem."

Canary rockfish. Photo by Tippy Jackson, courtesy of NOAA.

Proposed designation of critical habitat for the distinct population segments of Yelloweye Rockfish, Canary Rockfish, and Bocaccio

The National Marine Fisheries Service has released a Draft Biological Report proposing designation of critical habitat for yelloweye rockfish, canary rockfish, and bocaccio in the Salish Sea. Download the full report and supporting data.

Screenshot of 2013 Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report

Report: 2013 Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report

The 2013 Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report was prepared jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada. View the complete report, or read the Executive Summary below.


Western Grebe; image by mikebaird, courtesy of Encyclopedia of Life

Paper: Citizen science reveals an extensive shift in the winter distribution of migratory Western Grebes

A June 19, 2013 paper in the journal PLoS ONE hypothesizes that regional declines in Western Grebe populations may be related to decreasing numbers of forage fish. Using citizen science data from 36 years of bird counts, researchers were able to look at population trends up and down the entire West Coast, finding that abundance of grebes decreased in the Salish Sea but increased in southern California. North American population declined by 52% overall.

MoSSea snapshot of sea surface temperature over the full model domain around May 15, 2006; image courtesy of PRISM

Water quality model development and application in Puget Sound and Georgia Basin

A recent summary includes information compiled in Winter 2013 by the modeling workgroup of the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP). It describes several ecosystem modeling efforts in the region.

Salish Sea map my Norm Maher. Courtesy of the SeaDoc Society.

The Salish Sea

The Salish Sea extends across the U.S.-Canada border, and includes the combined waters of the Strait of Georgia, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound Basin and the San Juan Islands (see map).

The name Salish Sea was proposed by Bert Webber in 1989 to reflect the entire cross-border ecosystem. Both Washington State and British Columbia voted to officially recognize the name in late 2009. The name honors the Coast Salish people, who were the first to live in the region.

Northern Sea Otter. Photo: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Species of concern in the Salish Sea

The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound species library now includes a list of species of concern in the Salish Sea watershed. The list was created by Joe Gaydos and Nicholas Brown of the SeaDoc Society, and was released as a paper presented as part of the Proceedings of the 2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver, BC.