The Sinking of the ALEUTIAN ISLE

On Saturday, August 13th the fishing vessel ALEUTIAN ISLE sank off the west side of San Juan Island. Our hearts go out to the people on board who were directly affected by the accident, and our sincere thanks go out to everyone who has been involved in the rescue of the crew and the response to the spill, as well as the whale scientists and boat operators who are on standby to conduct whale deterrence operations should they be needed to keep whales away from the oil spill.

As of August 25th, the F/V ALEUTIAN ISLE remains more than 200 feet underwater and there’s still the risk of a bigger oil spill from the thousands of gallons of fuel and oil products that remain onboard. We will all be able to take a deep sigh of relief when these oil products have been safely removed from the boat.

Our hope is that this oil spill will not have additional, long-term environmental and cultural impacts, and that it will provide an opportunity to improve both oil spill and wildlife response requirements and resources in San Juan County and statewide. We’ll provide more information and let you know what you can do to improve oil spill prevention and spill response preparedness when the response to this oil spill has been completed, and the threat of a larger spill has been averted.

If you see any impacted wildlife as a result of this spill, please call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Hotline: 1-800-22-BIRDS. Do not attempt to capture any wildlife!

The USCGC SWORDFISH monitors the oil spill on Saturday, August 13.
Photo taken from San Juan County Park by Lovel Pratt.

Here’s how to stay informed:

The Department of Ecology’s incident-specific webpage is regularly updated.

You can also watch the briefing that was provided to the San Juan County Council on August 19th here.

Updates from the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest:




U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest Press Releases:

Update #1, 08/14/2022 
Update #2, 08/15/2022 
Update #3, 08/17/2022
Update #4, 08/17/2022 
Update #5, 08/18/2022
Update #6, 08/19/2022
Update #7, 08/22/2022

Media Coverage:

National Fisherman: “Sunken fishing boat to be raised near Washington’s San Juan Island”

Cascadia Daily News: “Aleutian Isle fishing vessel still underwater 10 days later”

Journal of the San Juan Islands: “DEM statement on Aleutian Isle response”

Cascadia Daily News: “Saturday fuel spill dissipating, but environmental concerns remain: Juvenile salmon present in the waters at high risk

Fox 13 News: “Day 6 of San Juan oil spill brings new troubles

Vancouver City News: “Worst-case scenario for Southern Resident Killer Whales ‘narrowly avoided’: expert

Cascadia Daily News: “San Juan fuel spill response a ‘wake-up call’. Continued fallout from Saturday’s diesel spill”

FOX 13 Seattle: “Clean up efforts continue after diesel, oil spill near San Juan Island; scientists concerned about orcas”

KUOW: “‘Incredibly lucky:’ Endangered orcas dodge diesel spill off San Juan Island”

I have supported the mission of the Friends of the San Juans through the years because it is a citizen-advocacy organization devoted to protecting, preserving, and restoring the natural shorelines and native habitats in the San Juans and surrounding waters through science and education for generations to come.

Bob Porter

member, Lopez Island