The Whale Warning Flag flying at the Lime Kiln Lighthouse. Photo: Karin Roemers-Kleven

Boating with whales in the Salish Sea

In an effort to address vessel impacts to the endangered Southern Resident killer whales around the San Juan Islands, the County and San Juan County MRC piloted the use of a Whale Warning Flag in the summer 2018 boating season.

The MRC is now soliciting responses to a post-season survey, to measure public knowledge, attitude and actions related to boating with whales in the Salish Sea and the use of the Whale Warning Flag.

The survey is anonymous and open to all interested in participating, but particularly those who are residents and visitors to San Juan County. Click here to complete the survey or click here to learn more about what the San Juan MRC is doing to support the recovery of this endangered species.

The Northwest Straits Commission is a regional coordinating body comprised of people who care about the marine areas where they live, and who work together to protect and restore marine resources.

The Northwest Straits Commission carries out regional conservation projects and supports the work of seven Marine Resources Committees through funding, technical support, training and regional coordination.

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More About Us and the Northwest Straits Region »
  • Member Spotlight: Elsa Schwartz

  • Jefferson Rain Gardens - a community effort


    Jefferson MRC recently installed their second rain garden for the year, located in an area that gets a lot of stormwater flow from several streets and a large church parking lot. This rain garden is within a drainage basin that empties into Port Townsend Bay, reducing the amount of flow and contaminants getting into the water.

    Thanks to nearby residents for committing to serving as stewards of the new rain garden, the City of Port Townsend for waiving permit fees and donating site preparation work and materials, and to the more than 30 community volunteers who helped on the projects this year!

    This new rain garden adds another 560 square feet to the MRC's total - now over 6,500 square feet since 2014. The MRC is also testing new protocols for evaluating the effectiveness of rain gardens. The results are expected later this year. Learn more about their rain gardens on their website, or in a recent article from the Port Townsend Leader.

  • Fidalgo Shoreline Academy - Kelp Monitoring


    Among the great learning opportunities at the recent Fidalgo Shoreline Academy in Skagit County, one option for attendees was a sneak peek at what the MRC's kelp monitoring work can tell us about how our local kelp beds are doing over time. We know that kelp is an important part of the food web, and the work of the MRCs plays a vital role in documenting annual trends of kelp beds in the Northwest Straits region.

    Thanks to Helen Berry from WA Department of Natural Resources and Suzanne Shull from the Northwest Straits Commission for their joint presentation on our favorite brown macro algae. Their analysis of the current kelp trend shows gradual recovery following the 2014 El Nino event, where there were higher than average sea surface temperatures. With similar conditions predicted for the coming winter, the next few years of continued MRC kelp monitoring are critical. Says Shull, "We are entering our 5th year of monitoring – what an impressive commitment from these citizen science volunteers! Consistent long-term observations are allowing us to produce better multi-year analyses."

    Visit our website for more information on the regional kelp monitoring program.

  • Celebrating restoration successes in the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area


    Since designation of the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area in 2014, Snohomish and Island county MRCs and many other partners have focused their efforts on addressing the top threats to species and habitats in the area.

    Speaking to an audience of local Sound Waters Stewards volunteers last month, the two MRCs shared insights about the important role of citizen scientists, what restoration projects are underway in the area, and the many opportunities to get involved.

    You can learn more about the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area here, or watch this short video on Vimeo.

Member Spotlight: Elsa Schwartz

Island MRC

Elsa joined Island MRC in January 2015 after she became intrigued by the concept of Marine Resources Committees while studying at the University of Washington under Dr.Terrie Klinger, a former San Juan MRC member and Northwest Straits Commissioner. The idea of a localized, bottom-up approach to protecting and restoring marine resources appealed to her as she was forming a career around her love of the marine world. Elsa is the Senior Director of Restoration for Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), an Instructor of Marine Science at Trinity Lutheran College in Everett and is also a member of The Coastal Society and the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation.

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Upcoming Events

  • Dec


    December Northwest Straits Commission Meeting

    December 07
    10:00 AM-12:00 PM

    Open to the public.

    WebEx - Conference call