Friends’ Science Director Wins Salish Sea Science Prize

On April 28th, Tina Whitman, Science Director at Friends of the San Juans, was awarded the prestigious Salish Sea Science Prize, given biennially by the SeaDoc Society to prominent scientists whose work significantly contributes to the conservation of marine wildlife and the health of Salish Sea ecosystems.

“The Salish Sea Science Prize is designed to highlight the important role science plays in conservation by recognizing someone whose science has resulted in positive conservation outcomes. Whitman’s work exemplifies that spirit. Over the last two decades, Whitman’s collaborative work identifying and mapping nearshore marine habitats, prioritizing shoreline sites for protection and restoration, and incorporating these data into San Juan County planning has benefitted untold numbers of important marine species and habitats.“ — excerpt from SeaDoc Society's announcement of the Salish Sea Science Prize

Tina is one of the foremost regional experts on the vital marine habitats that line over 400 miles of shoreline throughout the San Juan Islands. For over 20 years, Tina has led Friends of the San Juans’ nearshore habitat research, protection, and restoration programs. Beginning in 2002, Tina conducted research and mapping of San Juan County’s eelgrass, bull kelp, forage fish spawning beaches, and shoreline modifications. Results are used to identify and prioritize restoration and protection actions needed for salmon and orca recovery, and improve land use decisions. Tina has implemented over 15 shoreline and coastal wetland restoration projects throughout the islands with both public and private landowners. She greatly assists in Friends role as a steward to the San Juans, ensuring that shoreline policy, permit, and enforcement programs achieve the protections required by law amidst ever-increasing development. In her spare time, Tina works with conservation partners to conserve high quality shorelines and educates waterfront landowners, shoreline managers, students, and the public.

“Anyone who has met Tina knows that she brings fierce intelligence, determination, and heartfelt commitment to everything she does at Friends. As a science-based organization, we simply would not be the same without her. Tina’s award as this year’s Salish Sea Science Prize recipient is richly deserved, and it’s an honor for me personally to get to work with her as part of our team at Friends of the San Juans.” — R. Brent Lyles, Executive Director, Friends of the San Juans

Friends is thrilled for Tina to be recognized by the SeaDoc Society for the incredible scientific impacts she has made for the health of the San Juan Islands and its surrounding waters. Friends of the San Juans, San Juan County, and the Salish Sea are lucky to have her perseverance and dedication focused here in our community. Previous recipients of the Salish Sea Science Prize include Ken Balcomb, founder and principal investigator at the Center for Whale Research, the Washington Sea Grant Crab Team for their work on invasive green crabs, and the Northwest Straits Foundation for their removal of derelict fishing gear.

“I feel so lucky to do this work in this amazing community of islands, ecosystems and people. I’m passionate about marine shorelines and all the benefits they provide to seabirds, fish, and marine mammals as well as to our strong sense of place and economy here in the San Juans. It’s such a privilege to be recognized for work that bridges science and policy.” Tina Whitman

From the first time we visited the islands, we were awe-struck by the natural beauty of this majestic setting: towering conifers, green meadows, beautiful lakes, forested mountains, all surrounded by the sound! Like any beautiful location, this magical environment could be “loved to death”, which is why it is so important that Friends of the San Juans is there to help us protect what we all love.

David and Geri Turnoy

members, Orcas Island