Preserving Biodiversity in the Pacific Northwest

Biodiversity around the Pacific Northwest is considered at risk because of human-related activities such as dam building and increased development. We focus our efforts on reducing the impact human activity is having on the species that call our local waters home. 
Protecting At-Risk Species
We’re working to better understand how to protect salmon, orcas, and other vulnerable wildlife. By working with government entities, we’re focusing on the removal of unnecessary dams in order to support salmon populations and provide benefits to local communities. We’re also supporting research to better understand the link between orca diet, nutritional stress, and reproductive health. 

Salmon Habitat Recovery and Preservation

Dams are having an alarming impact on the health of salmon populations all around the Pacific Northwest – especially Chinook salmon. This is particularly concerning because Southern Resident Killer Whales have a diet that’s 80% Chinook salmon. We’re partnering with different groups to remove key dams and promote salmon recovery.

Dam Removal Projects

Pacific Northwest salmon populations are at 10% of their historic levels. They’re also extinct in 40% of the rivers they once inhabited. To help improve salmon recovery rates we’re teaming with American Rivers and The Tulalip Tribes of Washington. Together, we’re working with local partners and governments to remove the Middle Fork Dam and the Pilchuck Dam. These projects will allow fish to access historical habitat and serve as a springboard for restoring rivers in Washington and around the Northwest.

American Rivers, The Tulalip Tribes of Washington, Resources Legacy Fund, City of Bellingham, Nooksack Indian Tribe, Lummi Nation, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries Restoration CenterU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Puget Sound Partnership, City of Snohomish, Environmental Protection Agency

Preserve Bristol Bay

The Bristol Bay eco-region is one of America’s most wild and productive landscapes. It is also home to the largest remaining sockeye salmon run and the foundation of one of the last remaining salmon-based, indigenous cultures. As such, tens of thousands of fishing, processing, tourism, and guided recreation-based jobs depend on it. But this ecosystem is threatened by the development of an open-pit gold and copper mine called the Pebble Mine. We provide support to Alaska-based groups as they seek to communicate the threats this mine poses to the Alaskan way of life.

Alaska Heritage Campaign, Alaska Venture Fund, Native American Rights Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, SalmonState, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, and the Wild Salmon Center

Salmon Safe Development

Storm water runoff is the primary source of pollution in Puget Sound. It carries with it heavy metals, pesticides, and petroleum products that adversely impact marine life. Salmon Safe works with landowners, developers, contractors, and municipalities to strategically apply market-based tools and incentives. Through Salmon-Safe certification and green building practices, the resulting improved water quality can increase salmon survival rates.*

Salmon-Safe, Bullitt Foundation, Boeing, King County

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Researching Salmon and Orcas

Mortality rates among young Chinook, coho and steelhead salmon have risen dramatically. So we’re working to gather key information and vital data to better understand what’s threatening their survival.

Salish Sea Marine Survival Project

The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project aims to understand the decline and support the recovery of juvenile salmon populations in the Salish Sea (the combined marine waters of Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia). This is critical, because these populations have experienced up to a 10-fold decline in marine survival compared to coastal populations. This U.S.-Canada collaboration synthesizes information from more than 60 organizations and is committed to providing management recommendations based on these findings.*

Long Live the KingsPacific Salmon Foundation

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Prey, Vessel and Toxin Effects on Southern Resident Killer Whales

The population of Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW), who consume 80% of their diet from salmon, is at 30-year low. We know the main threats include a lack of prey, contaminants, and vessel noise disturbance. To improve the collection of relevant data, Prof. Sam Wasser and his team at the Center for Conservation Biology, University of Washington are comparing stress, nutrition, and reproductive hormones in SRKW feces as well as developing more efficient methods to measure toxins and microbiome in those same samples. The results of these studies will yield key information about whether a lack of prey is the primary reason for the declining SRKW population, providing policy makers with important data to inform management actions.*

University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology

Automated Aerial Photo Analysis of Southern Resident Killer Whales

Our Automated Aerial Photo Analysis of Southern Resident Killer Whales Project seeks to understand the health of Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW). This is important because, so far, gathering data to determine the cause has been limited to using slow, expensive, labor-intensive photography-based tactics. We’re partnering with SR3 to develop advanced machine learning techniques and an associated end-user tool to help automate the process of collecting orca drone imagery and turn it into actionable metrics. The improved tools will allow users to better interact with the data to see trends and inform policy decisions. This work, and other machine learning work, will transition from Vulcan to the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in the fall of 2021. This move will combine world-class research, engineering, product resources and talent to create greater positive impact, as envisioned by the late Paul G. Allen.

SR3 SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation and Research