Salish Sea: What’s in a name?By nfortier | February 10th, 2009 | Category: Blog, Science Conference Blog, Society |
On Monday Feb. 9th, I attended the Puget Sound Georgia Basin Ecosystem Conference in downtown Seattle. While there was a lot of good information on future plans for the area, there seemed to be a lot of hype about the Salish Sea. As I explored the conference, nearly every presentation I attended discussed the Salish Sea to some extent.
In fact, the motto of the conference this year was: “The future of the Salish Sea… A call to action!”
Never heard of the Salish Sea? That’s because you won’t find it on any regular map. As of now, it’s not even really the name of the sea.
Curious to find out more on this term, I met with Bert Webber, a former professor at Western Washington University who was presenting a poster on the topic.
While being unfamiliar with a term that was being used throughout the conference was a little embarrassing, after a short discussion with Bert, I felt a little better.
“Well don’t feel bad, a lot of people are unaware of the movement at this point,” he said.
Pheww. Thanks Bert.
As I quickly learned at the conference, scientists and researchers alike seem to have adopted the name into their common language. It showed up in several different project and presentation titles.
According to Mr. Webber, the inland sea that consists of the Puget Sound, Georgia Strait, and Strait of Juan de Fuca, has never had an official name, and was once referred to as the “Western Sea”. Even indigenous peoples only had names for regions surrounding the sea, and have never agreed on a single name.
Now, with the degradation of resources, marine life, and ecosystems surrounding the “Salish Sea”, Bert feels giving it an official name will help to remind people that, though it can be broken into regional areas, the body of water is connected and any change to one area affects the others.
As for the current names, he feels they can still be used when referring to the specific regions, but that Salish Sea can be somewhat of an “umbrella” term for the region as a whole. He says that nothing will be done to to effect the history or significance of the current names, but that the connection between them should be exploited.
Since the sea crosses the border of the U.S. and Canada, both the Province of British Columbia Geographic Names Office and the Washington State Board on Geographic Names must agree to the renaming for it to officially take effect.
Comments on the topic will be considered at the Washington Board meeting in Olympia on May 15th. Mr. Webber encourages anyone who cares for the Puget Sound, and it’s surrounding areas, to put in their 2 cents at the meeting, and help give the sea an official name.