A total of seven different local organizations will receive more than $1.4 million in funding to improve salmon habitat in the San Juan Islands of Washington, our main sea kayaking base. This is great news for our orca whales as their most important food source are salmon, especially locally bred chinook. All five species of Pacific salmon are now on the endangered species list in the lower 48 states, a situation that threatens our entire marine ecosystem with collapse.
It should not be surprising that the resident-type killer whales living in the same region are also officially listed as endangered. Current trends, if not reversed, could see orcas disappear from the Pacific Northest’s Salish Sea sometime between 40 to 200 years. Sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands will never be the same if our killer whales aren’t there to share the waters with. Much of the excitement and mystery of a San Juan Island kayak tour will vanish with the orca whales.
The Salmon Recovery Funding Board has selected the following groups to receive grants: Friends of the San Juans, San Juan Preservation Trust, Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group, San Juan County, University of Washington, Washington Water Trust, and Wild Fish Conservancy.
Grantees will be contributing resources of equipment and labor to make the public funds go further. Funding comes from the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund and is matched by state funds. Information about the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Recreation and Conservation Office is available online at www.rco.wa.gov.
Photo by Astrid Van Ginniken / Center for Whale Research