Location and species

The Salish Sea is a unique inland sea and watershed encompassing Puget Sound, Washington State, to Desolation Sound, Canada.  Endangered Southern Resident Killer whales, Bigg’s (transient) Killer Whales, Minke whales, Gray Whales, Humpback Whales, Fin Whales, Harbor Porpoises, Dall’s porpoises, and Pacific White-sided Dolphins are regularly sighted.

Cetaceans in the Salish Sea

The applicant site believes that overall the Salish Sea is a good example of ecotourism. The Center for Whale Research is in its 40th year- one of the longest studies in the world. The Whale Museum – the first devoted to the whales, not whaling, developed whale watching guidelines- Be Whale Wise, which are now used worldwide. The Whale Museum also started Soundwatch- monitoring and educating private and commercial vessels on respectful whale watching guidelines and regulations. The Whale Museum also credentials and trains Marine Naturalists and volunteers, elevating professional standards in recognition of Marine Naturalists. The local community is a major part of the ecotourism industry.


The challenge is to increase awareness regionally and worldwide for the extraordinary biodiversity of the Salish Sea. Major metropolitan cities – Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver British Columbia, are part of this place and can be good examples of trans-human-boundary management of the impacts, being stewards and respectfully co-existing with all the life here.

Many people don’t realise the marine park industry and captivity began by taking the Killer Whales that live here. The population is still trying to recover. Today the biggest struggle for these Southern Resident Killer Whales is finding enough Chinook Salmon to survive. As awareness increases, research and salmon habitat restoration is happening. Many people don’t know that nine cetacean species are in these waters. When people have a respectful, meaningful, increased awareness experience of a whale, porpoise, dolphin, by sea or by land, they are much more likely to become stewards of their own place.

Lead Applicant:

OnBoard Tours Whales and SSAMN– Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalists