Orca Day Program

Learn all about Southern Resident Orcas and Bigg's Orcas. 

Research Project:

Water Quality 

Water Quality: The foundation for all plants and animals that depend on the Salish Sea – from algae to fish to marine mammals.


The Salish Sea's ecosystem is reliant upon the quality of the water in which all of the life depends. Analysis of the water at set locations can help provide a better understanding of the source, cause, and location of any water quality degradation. 


A variety of tools and equipment will be used by Guardians to measure and monitor water quality in the Salish Sea.  These are the same tools that local scientists and researchers are using, providing valuable experience with equipment and current research methods. 

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Water quality also affects people, at the beach, fishing, or digging clams, and indirectly when viewing the wildlife and scenery of the area.

The Salish Sea is unique in the lower 48 Unites States because of its fjord-like physiography, inland extent, wide range of depths, and urbanized watersheds and shorelines. 

Degradation of water quality in the Salish Sea occurs through three primary mechanisms: 

1. The first is through the introduction of toxic contaminants, primarily comprising manufactured synthetic chemicals, but also including compounds that occur naturally that are concentrated in the local environment to toxic levels via human activities.

2. The second is through human-caused changes in naturally occurring chemicals, compounds, or physical parameters (e.g., temperature, turbidity, nutrients, pH).

3. The third is through introduction of new diseases or pathogens, or through other activities that cause an unnatural increase in disease organisms.

Adapted from EPA's website on Marine Water Quality and the Encyclopedia of the Puget Sound.

Other interesting sources:

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the salish sea school   |   creating student leaders in marine conservation |   anacortes, wa


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