Species Protection

photo by: Mark Gardner

There are 113 endangered species in the Salish Sea.

Friends of the San Juans works to protect critical habitats and endangered species in the following ways:

  • Advocate for Safe Shipping
  • Petition the government to add critical species to the endangered and threatened lists.
  • Strengthen legal protection for our critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales, Cherry Point Herring, and the Island Marble Butterfly.
  • Science and mapping, and restoration to protect shoreline ecosystems for eelgrass, forage fish and salmon.

The orca whale is a beloved symbol of the Pacific Northwest. The San Juan region’s Southern Resident population is in serious decline due to huge decreases in salmon population, and increases in chemical pollutants and underwater noise pollution. The success of the orca is strongly tied to the region’s economic success, as well as to the success of the broader ecosystem on which the orca depends.

The Salish Sea was once home to one of the largest salmon populations in the world. It has experienced devastating loss of salmon due to development and unsustainable fishing practices. Chinook population are at 10% or less of their historic numbers. San Juan County’s waters and beaches provide the food (forage fish) and shelter (eelgrass) for salmon on their way out to sea and on their return.

Forage fish are small fish that feed on microscopic plants and animals. They are essential to the marine food web. Without them we would see less salmon, seabirds, and whales. The Cherry Point herring (near Bellingham) are the most genetically divergent herring population in Washington. They are reproductively isolated due to unique spawning locations and timing. Once considered Washington’s largest population of herring, Cherry Point herring populations have plummeted by 90% over the last three decades and are struggling to recover.

Eelgrass is a seagrass that is a haven for crabs, fish, and other wildlife. Eelgrass provides habitat, nursery grounds, and food. It also mitigates wave energy and trapping fine sediments.

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Joan and I love this tiny corner of paradise and know that Mother Nature needs all the help she can get. We are solidly friends of the Friends of the San Juans.

Jon and Joan Christoffersen

members, Shaw Island