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Coast Salish and U.S. Geological Survey 2009 Tribal Journey water quality project

September 30, 2010

The Salish Sea, contained within the United States and British Columbia, Canada, is the homeland of the Coast Salish Peoples and contains a diverse array of marine resources unique to this area that have sustained Coast Salish cultures and traditions for millennia. In July 2009, the Coast Salish People and U.S. Geological Survey conducted a second water quality study of the Salish Sea to examine spatial and temporal variability of environmental conditions of these surface waters as part of the annual Tribal Journey. Six canoes of approximately 100 towed multi parameter water-quality sondes as the Salish People traveled their ancestral waters during the middle of summer. Sea surface temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity were measured simultaneously at ten-second intervals, and more than 54,000 data points spanning 1,300 kilometers of the Salish Sea were collected. The project also synthesized Coast Salish ecological knowledge and culture with scientific monitoring to better understand and predict the response of coastal habitats and marine resources. Comparisons with data collected in 2008 reveal significantly higher mean surface-water temperatures in most subbasins in 2009 linked to record air temperatures that affected the Pacific Northwest in July 2009. Through large-scale spatial measurements collected each summer, the project helps to identify patterns in summer water quality, areas of water-quality impairment, and trends occurring through time.