Shared Water
Land & Sea
Shared Waters  
Looking over British Columbia and the state of Washington, we see a vast inland sea. Canada and the United States share these waters.  
Puget Sound forms the southern end of the inland sea. To the north, the Strait of Georgia stretches into a long, deep channel. To the west, the Strait of Juan de Fuca connects Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia with the Pacific Ocean.

An Inland Estuary

The shared inland sea is an estuary. Water from the Pacific Ocean meets waters from rivers and streams. Rivers rush down from mountains and glaciers; the Cascades, the Olympics, the Vancouver Island, and Coast ranges.

Two rivers supply three quarters of the fresh water entering the inland sea: the Fraser, by far the largest, flows into the southern strait of Georgia; the Skagit river fans into northern Puget Sound.

Summer mudflats, Nisqually river delta.

Our two nations share the waters of the inland sea and the rich tapestry of life that inhabits them.

The Shared Marine Waters
of British Columbia and Washington.

Giant Green Anemone

Shared Waters: Concerns

Sunset on the inland sea. Photo by Wolf Bauer.
  • More People
    Two hundred years ago, about 10,000 people lived near the inland sea. Almost 7 million people are expected to share the shores and watersheds by the year 2010. Population growth is increasing pressure on marine ecosystems in the state of Washington and British Columbia. Some shoreline habitats are threatened and may be lost forever.
  • Shoreline Loss
    Inland sea shoreline areas are important zones for fish, birds and wildlife. Human development has already had an impact; an estimated 58 percent of the coastal wetlands along Puget Sound have been lost. The loss of coastal wetlands along Georgia Strait is estimated at 18 percent.
    Male harlequin duck, Salt Creek Park, Clallam County.
  • Threatened Species
    Several inland sea species are threatened or in danger of becoming extinct; numerous salmon stocks in Puget Sound and chinook salmon in the Strait of Georgia, lingcod in both countries, Pacific Hake in Puget Sound, harlequin ducks, harbor and Dall's porpoise, and raptors such as the osprey.
  • Shellfish and Sewage
    As the the population expands, more shellfish bed closures are occurring due to contamination from fecal coliform bacteria.
  • Saving Shorelines
    When natural shoreline is paved or lined with bulkheads and docks, the ecological damage can be permanent. The vast inland sea has limits. When people destroy shorelines today, these areas cannot provide fish and wildlife for people of the future.

    Related Links

    Puget Sound/Georgia Basin International Task Force, Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team. The governments of British Columbia and Washington have recognized that there are growing threats to our shared inland marine waters.

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