The Salish Sea is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean located in the Canadian province of British Columbia and the U.S. state of Washington. It includes the Strait of Georgia, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, and an intricate network of connecting channels and adjoining waterways.
The sea stretches from the channels of the Discovery Islands north of the Strait of Georgia to Budd Inlet at the south end of Puget Sound. It is partially separated from the open Pacific Ocean by Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula.
Much of the coast is part of the Pacific Northwest megalopolis. Major port cities on the Salish Sea include Vancouver, Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellingham, Port Angeles, and Victoria.
The Salish Sea hosts a diverse community of kelp species that provide large volumes of high quality habitat in areas with hard, rocky substrates. The largest of these kelp species include bull kelp and giant kelp.
Eelgrass meadows are abundant throughout the shallower regions of the sea.
The Salish Sea is home to 253 fish species contained within 78 families and 31 orders. These species encompass one myxinid, two petromyzontids, 18 chondrichthyans, two chondrosteans, and 230 teleosts.
In addition, the sea hosts 37 marine mammal species, most notably Steller sea lions, humpback whales, and orcas. While mammal-eating transient orcas are gradually increasing in population, fish-eating southern resident orcas have struggled to survive due to low salmon populations. In 2019, this orca population is at a 35-year low after three adult deaths and no surviving calves over three years, leaving only 73 whales in the community. In 2021 there may be an upsurge in the humpback whale population with a record 21 humpback calves spotted in Salish waters.
Sea otters have been increasingly observed within the Strait of Juan de Fuca.