Lost Fishing Gear Project Featured on NBC News (VIDEO)

A crew with NBC News recently tagged along with a group of fishermen as they ventured into the Pacific Ocean to remove ghost fishing gear -- 640,000 tons of which is lost, abandoned or discarded in the world’s oceans every year.

The California Lost Fishing Gear Project was started by the SeaDoc Society’s founding Director, Kirsten Gilardi, who continues to run the project from SeaDoc’s administrative base at the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, UC Davis. The work is funded by state and federal grants in California.

Buy SeaDoc's Kids Book for a Child in Need

The SeaDoc Society will soon publish a book for young readers titled Explore the Salish Sea: A Nature Guide for Kids. This week we launched an Indiegogo campaign that allows you to buy a copy of the book for a child who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

Our goal is to make the book available to every 5th and 6th grader in the Salish Sea regardless of their ability to pay. (SeaDoc will distribute the purchased books). It’s a great opportunity for SeaDoc supporters to invest in the next generation!

Low-income families are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation. We want to make sure every kid has the opportunity to fall in love with the Salish Sea, because its health depends on the next generation.

Please consider supporting the Indiegogo campaign today and help us spread the word! Visit the Indiegogo page: www.explorethesalishsea.com.

The book, written by SeaDoc Science Director Joe Gaydos and board member Audrey Benedict, is filled with beautiful photos and compelling stories about this unique inland sea. It will be in stores and Amazon on April 17!

In the meantime, let’s gift them to the next generation! Learn more on our Indiegogo page.

Explore the Salish Sea: A Nature Guide for Kids (2018)

Order at your  local bookstore  or on  Amazon .

Order at your local bookstore or on Amazon.

We want Explore the Salish Sea: A Nature Guide for Kids to be available to every 5th and 6th grader in the Salish Sea regardless of ability to pay. We're piloting that effort by providing the books to students at Camp Orkila on Orcas Island. To buy a book for a student, support SeaDoc on GiveOrcas.

About the book

The SeaDoc Society has published a book for the next generation. Filled with beautiful photography and engaging stories, Explore the Salish Sea: A Nature Guide for Kids inspires children to explore the unique marine ecosystem that encompasses the coastal waters from Seattle's Puget Sound up to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Georgia Strait of British Columbia.

Discover the Salish Sea and learn about its vibrant ecosystem in this engaging non-fiction narrative that inspires outdoor exploration. Filled with full-color photography, this book covers wildlife habitats, geodiversity, intertidal and subtidal sea life, and highlights what is unique to this Pacific Northwest ecosystem. The book was written by SeaDoc Science Director Joe Gaydos and board member Audrey Benedict.

Early praise for Explore the Salish Sea

The Seattle Times

Explore the Salish Sea, a new nature guide for kids, is a lavishly illustrated exploration of the waters that connect Washington and British Columbia. The book encourages kids to get out and explore, and to think about ways to help take care of the Salish Sea every day. More than gee-whiz facts, the book is aligned with Washington state core science-learning standards to step kids through the fundamentals of the ecology of the Salish Sea.


Explore The Salish Sea is a nature guide for kids. It’s about the unique marine ecosystem that connects Puget Sound with Canada. It’s aimed at fifth and sixth graders and based on a previous edition made for adults.

Port Townsend Marine Science Center

“Joe’s new book is beautiful and, while it was primarily designed for fifth graders, it teaches us all that we can -- and must -- make a difference for the health of the Salish Sea and the living things that depend on it,” said Janine Boire, Executive Director. "He is able to connect the science for people in ways that move us to action."

Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association

#2 on the Early and Middle Grade category


#1 in the Children's Environmental & Ecology category

Catch Joe and Audrey at a local book event:

JOSEPH K. GAYDOS is chief scientist for the SeaDoc Society, a marine science and conservation program focused on the Salish Sea. He is a licensed wildlife veterinarian and has a PhD in wildlife health. For over a decade he has been studying the fish and wildlife of the Salish Sea.

AUDREY DELELLA BENEDICT is a biologist, writer, and passionate advocate for the conservation of the global ocean and Arctic and alpine environments the world over. She is founder and director of Cloud Ridge Naturalists, a nonprofit natural history educational organization now in its fourth decade. She is currently a member of the board of the SeaDoc Society and served for nearly a decade as a trustee for the Colorado chapter of The Nature Conservancy, from which she received the prestigious One Conservancy Award in 2003 for her work in Ecuador. Audrey splits her time between her home at 9,000 feet along the Colorado Front Range and her off-grid cottage on San Juan's Frost Island.

The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest (2015)

Buy the book at your  local bookstore  or on  Amazon .

Buy the book at your local bookstore or on Amazon.

SeaDoc's first book, The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest by Audrey DeLella Benedict and Joseph K. Gaydos (Sasquatch Books; $24.95; March 2015), combines a scientist's inquiring mind, dramatic color photographs, and a lively narrative of compelling stories. This is the first book of its kind to describe the Salish Sea, whose name was not even officially recognized until 2008. One of the world’s largest inland seas, the Salish Sea contains 6,535 square miles of sea surface area and 4,642 miles of coastline. Fashioned by the violent volcanism of the Pacific Rim of Fire, plate tectonics, and the sculptural magic wrought by Ice Age glaciers, the Salish Sea is a unique ecosystem home to thousands of different species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and macro-invertebrates=

Amongst breathtaking color photography, The Salish Sea takes a look at the region’s geology, fauna, and history, and ends with hope for the protection of its future. The reader is left with a sense of wonder for this intricate marine ecosystem and the life that it sustains.

A lingcod protects its eggs from predators

Every winter, male lingcod are tasked with the job of standing guard over their fertilized eggs. If left unguarded, the nest could be quickly decimated by predators such as rockfish, sculpin or kelp greenling.

SeaDoc Science Director Joe Gaydos recently went scuba diving off the coast of Edmonds, WA, where he and his dive partner happened upon a lingcod who was holding down the fort. As you can see in the video above, the lingcod quickly swam at Joe as he arrived. After that, the lingcod sent the same message to the other diver before returning to his post next to the eggs, where he'll largely remain until they hatch sometime in late winter or early spring. The newly hatched larvae will flow with ocean currents until they grow large enough to swim on their own. By summer they’ll settle into kelp or eelgrass beds.

Lingcod facts

  • Lingcod are only found on the West Coast of North America, from Alaska down to Baja.
  • They typically inhabit nearshore rocky reefs, but can go deeper as well.
  • Female lingcod mature at 3-5 years of age, while males mature around age 2.
  • Females produce more eggs as they grow older and larger.
  • Seals, sea lions and human fisherman are all predators for lingcod.
  • If a nest-protecting male is removed by a predator, the nest will also likely be lost in short order.

We will feature a different Salish Sea species each month. Subscribe to our monthly update to follow along.  

Salish Sea name gets recognition

inland waters of Puget Sound and Georgia Basin

The Georgia Basin, Puget Sound, and Strait of Juan de Fuca are all part of a larger marine ecosystem, the Salish Sea. This was recently officially recognized. In August, 2009 the British Columbia Geographical Names Office approved a resolution recommending the Geographical Names Board of Canada adopt the name contingent on approval by the United States Board on Geographic Names. The name was endorsed by the Washington State Board on Geographic Names in October, 2009 and the United States Board on Geographic Names approved the name on November 12, 2009

Bellingham biologist Bert Webber, who initially proposed the name in 1989, says, "A lot of the credit goes to ... the support Sea Doc has given to the name. "

In celebration, SeaDoc is giving out a free 11" by 17" full-color map of the Salish Sea to the next 100 people who sign up for our email newsletter. You can find the signup box at the top and bottom of this page.

(The map is similar to the image at the right, but updated.)

To learn more about the Salish Sea, visit our Salish Sea Facts page.

Artificial Intelligence and the Health of Killer Whales

For the past few years, SeaDoc has led an effort to compile individual health records for killer whales, with an eye toward better understanding threats across entire populations. Great strides have been made on that front, but the power of those records as a tool for research is about to go up a notch thanks to a grant from Microsoft as part of their AI for Earth program.

AI for Earth aims to amplify human ingenuity and advance sustainability with the goal of empowering organizations to thrive amid limited resources. SeaDoc will receive a seed grant that provides access to Microsoft Azure’s cloud-computing platform and assistance with artificial intelligence computing tools for data analysis.

"It is exciting to have Microsoft investing in recovery of southern resident killer whales but I'm even more fired up about what this is going to do for improving killer whale health," said SeaDoc Chief Scientist Joe Gaydos.

Multiple organizations including Center for Whale Research, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, NOAA Fisheries, SeaWorld, SR3 - Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research, and marine mammal stranding networks all over the West Coast have been entering killer whale health data into a shared database being built by Lisa Clowers at the National Marine Mammal Foundation. This allows us to look at individual animal health, but the database also permits evaluation of trends, comparisons between populations, and evaluation of factors that contribute to disease, which can be extremely valuable in understanding threats at the population level. Currently the process is slow and definitely not real-time. But this latest grant from Microsoft has the potential to change that for the good of conservation.

The grant from Microsoft will permit us to do real-time data entry and evaluation, which will enable us to more quickly and effectively respond to threats. This is particularly important with a species like killer whales, where the added computing power and Microsoft's help in analyzing multiple complex factors will help us understand what causes disease and hopefully help prevent it too. Individual animal immune status, the disease agent itself, and a huge suite of environmental factors influence diseases so we have to address all of those simultaneously to know where we can improve things for the whales.

"We believe that artificial intelligence has incredible potential to accelerate efforts to conserve our planet,” said Bonnie Lei, project manager of Microsoft’s AI for Earth program. “We started AI for Earth to get AI tools and training into the hands of people around the world tackling environmental challenges. The SeaDoc Society has long worked to protect the health of marine wildlife and ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest, and we are pleased to award them a grant to use AI tools to better track and protect endangered whale populations."

We’re excited about this opportunity to further our killer whale health work, and we thank Microsoft for making these powerful tools available to us.

Photokunst Donates Ernie Brooks Photography Proceeds to SeaDoc


SeaDoc recently received a generous donation to celebrate the induction of renowned photographer and marine environmentalist Ernest “Ernie” H. Brooks II into the International Photography Hall of Fame.

The donation was made by Photokunst, a San Juan Islands organization that specializes in marketing fine art photography to galleries. The organization made a special collection of photos available at the Fragile Waters museum exhibition and donated a portion of the proceeds to SeaDoc Society. We thank Photokunst for the generous donation and Salish Sea passion, and we thank Ernie for his incredible work not only documenting marine ecosystems, but actively supporting their health as well.

Ernie has won international acclaim for underwater photography. His work has been exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Monterey Bay Aquarium Shark Exhibit, Yugoslavia 'Man in the Sea,' Our World Underwater, Smithsonian 'Planet Earth' and was also honored by the Smithsonian Institute.

The Brooks II prints, like the one pictured here, are archival pigment on paper photographs hand-signed by Ernie, matted and framed to archival standards.

Fellow inductees to the International Photography Hall of Fame include Harry Benson, Edward Curtis, William Eggleston, Anne Geddes, Ryszard Horowitz, James Nachtwey, Cindy Sherman, Kenny Rogers, and Jerry Uelsmann. The IPHF annually inducts notable photography industry visionaries for their artistry, innovation, and significant contributions to the art and science of photography.

Writing a Plan to Save the Tufted Puffin


A few years ago SeaDoc spearheaded writing a scientific report that got the tufted puffin listed as an endangered species in the state of Washington. It was an exciting bit of public-private collaboration that ushered along what can otherwise be a slow-moving process. SeaDoc’s latest visiting scientist, Thor Hanson, was instrumental in that effort, and we’re excited to have him on board as we shift our attention toward a tufted puffin recovery plan.

Hanson, an author and biologist who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, was the lead writer of the status report in collaboration with SeaDoc Society and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. His career in conservation biology has included research on birds, plants, primates, and bees, and he is the author of numerous popular and scientific articles and books.

Tufted puffin populations in Washington have plummeted in recent decades, from an estimated 23 thousand in the ‘80s to an estimated 3 thousand in 2009. Getting them listed as endangered was the crucial first step in a larger attempt to save the species.

“The next step in the agency process is to prepare a recovery plan,” said Hanson. “We’ll lay out specific goals and objectives to help bring puffins back. We want to protect and enhance the habitat – make everything as good as we can for puffins in Washington State.”

The recovery plan, which SeaDoc will share as it comes to fruition, will touch on everything from improving prey availably and protecting nesting habitat (puffins come to the outer coast and Salish Sea to breed) to public outreach and education.

The public-private partnership between SeaDoc and the WDFW is significant because the process for listing endangered species in Washington has become increasingly log-jammed over the years, mostly due to limited funding and a heavy load. Between 1990 and 2014 there were 27 scientific status reports prepared in Washington, which is about one per year. But new species kept getting added to the list of candidates, and by 2014 there were still 112 species waiting to be evaluated.

The main issue has been a lack of staff time, which is where SeaDoc has stepped in, thanks largely to private donations. It’s an innovative arrangement that could be replicated in the future as budget concerns and environmental threats persist.

The puffin status report, which moved along much more efficiently than it otherwise would have, is a great initial success for such a model, and that will continue as Hanson helps craft the recovery plan.

Where do Pacific sand lance live and why does it matter?

Sand lance are a small forage fish known for burrowing into the sand at the bottom of the sea. They’re largely out of human sight, but it would be a mistake to ignore them because they play a crucial role on the bottom of the food web that runs all the way to the top.

They’re an important food source for sea birds like the marbled murrelet and fish like Chinook salmon. If the Pacific sand lance population struggles, a negative ripple effect could be seen all the way up to southern resident killer whales, which eat Chinook salmon.

To date, our knowledge of Pacific sand lance habitat is basic at best, making it very hard to monitor and protect these important fish. That’s why Dr. Cliff Robinson of the Pacific Wildlife Foundation and Dr. Douglas Bertram of Environment & Climate Change Canada pitched a proposal to dig in (read the next few paragraphs and you’ll discover this is a pun!) and enhance the current GIS-based seafloor model that best describes sand lance habitat in the Salish Sea. Defining their habitat and monitoring their population can set the stage for future conservation efforts.

SeaDoc is funding their study, which went into full-swing in 2017. The team recently shared some cool photos from their fieldwork.

“Sand lance are important because they take plankton and convert it into fat,” said SeaDoc Society Science Director Dr. Joe Gaydos. “Tons of birds, fish and mammals eat them. If you can identify and protect the habitat they need, it benefits sand lance and all of the animals that eat them.”

Sand lance are unique in that they bury themselves in medium-coarse sand with low silt content when they’re not feeding in the water column. Robinson and Bertram’s goal is to refine their model to be able to identify and map this important habitat in the Salish Sea. To look for the presence or absence of buried sand lance in potential habitat, the team is taking boats out and using a claw-like grab sampler to pull up sediment or using underwater drop cameras to look for fish entering or emerging from the sand.

We’ll keep you updated as they continue their study.

Dollars and the Senses: The Economics of Wildlife Watching

By Bob Friel

Half a century into the Digital Age it sometimes feels like we’re evolving from animals to house plants, rooted to our chairs and sustained only by the light of glowing screens. Americans, though, are traditionally outdoorsy types, and the latest survey from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) proves that omnipresent electronic devices have not killed our desire to get outside.

USFWS’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation is completed every five years to gauge the economic impact of certain outdoor activities. The most recent figures show that 35.8 million Americans over the age of 16 fished, and 11.5 million of them hunted in 2016. Those are impressive numbers, and hunters and fishers have long done a good job of using their economic clout to lobby for laws and regulations that benefit their pursuits—and, often, to protect the natural areas they use.

Less organized are those who fall under the “Wildlife-Associated Recreation” segment. The survey doesn’t tally anyone under this column if they’re headed outside to bike or run or kayak or camp; it counts only those Americans who say they specifically go out to find and observe wildlife.

These are the birdwatchers, whale watchers, bug lovers, tide poolers, scuba diving fish watchers, wildlife photographers and other critter hounds among us. And whether we’re simply enjoying backyard hummingbirds, watching orcas from a rocky bluff, or off on a bucketlisted trek up a salmon stream to see grizzlies, there are a whole lot of us out there.

The USFWS reports that, in 2016, 86 million Americans ventured out to look for wildlife (the cutoff at age 16 means that’s certainly an undercount). And those wildlife voyeurs spent $75.9 billion just to watch, which is almost three times what hunters spent and nearly $30 billion more than recreational fishers.

Perhaps even more surprising to find out, in today’s digital parlance, wildlife watching is trending! Since the last study, overall participation is up 20% and expenditures are up 28%.

As SeaDoc’s recent study on the money generated locally just by our Salish Sea scuba divers shows, the monetary value of having functional ecosystems filled with watchable wildlife is enormous.

Billions of dollars and thousands of supported jobs aside, wildlife watching is proven to benefit—mentally and physically—anyone willing to uproot and unplug for a dose of the outdoors. People living around the Salish Sea normally cite the region’s natural attractions as a primary benefit of living here.

However, not everyone calculates value the same way. Some might say it’s not worth saving a wild salmon run when there are farmed fish at the market. Others might think a pipeline or refinery is worth more than the increased risk of extinction to our Southern Resident Killer Whales. For the folks motivated by dollars and cents, the USFWS reports that there are at least 75.9 billion reasons to protect wildlife in the United States.

Here at SeaDoc, we and our supporters like you understand that even if the value of a healthy Salish Sea can be counted in dollars, it’s better measured with the senses. The well-being, the quality of life, the effects on human health, the satisfaction of being part of a vibrant and vital ecosystem are all priceless.

Besides, we like to watch.



Banner photo courtesy of Joe Gaydos.

Meet SeaDoc's New Communications Manager

SeaDoc is excited to announce our newest addition to the team, Justin Cox, who will serve as Communications and Marketing Manager starting in January. If Justin’s name rings a bell, it’s because he has contributed to SeaDoc for the past few years in his role with the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center at UC Davis. He and his family will arrive at the island at the end of January. Allow Justin to introduce himself:


My family and I are extremely excited for this opportunity and we look forward to our arrival on the island come January! A few years ago, while editing the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center’s online magazine, I pitched the idea of a themed volume dedicated to the Salish Sea.

I connected with the SeaDoc team and booked a three-day stay on the island, with only a vague idea at the time of the specific stories we would create. Joe Gaydos lent me his pickup truck (Rage Against the Machine queued up in the CD player) and stacked my agenda with boat trips, interviews, lunch meetings and more. I used the gaps in my schedule to film b-roll atop Mt. Constitution, watch Joe’s daughter play in a high school soccer game, edit video in Eastsound cafes and bars, etc. I was amazed by the place (the sea, the town, the mountains, the valleys…all of it) and I shared that with my family upon returning home.

In the years that followed, I began working with SeaDoc more routinely, which resulted in more trips to Orcas for the Wine and Sea Auction. I turned the most recent auction into a family road trip so that they could experience it as well. They were equally amazed.

All of which is to say, we’re thrilled by this exciting opportunity! SeaDoc is a special program, and I absolutely love working with the team and its dedicated supporters. Aside from that dense reporting trip a while back, I’ve never had time to dedicate myself fully to telling their stories, but in January that will change. There’s so much potential for SeaDoc in the coming years, and I can’t wait to be a part of realizing it.

A bit more about me: I have a Bachelor’s degree in communications from California State University, Monterey Bay and a Master’s degree in multimedia storytelling from Northwestern University. I worked in journalism (online and print) prior to joining the UC Davis One Health Institute/Wildlife Health Center four years ago. Outside of work, I write music and play in a band. I snuck in a couple of songs at the Random Howse open mic last time I was on island and look forward to doing it again sometime.

I’m moving to Orcas with my wife (Bianca) and two kids (Noah, 5 and Milo, 2). Bianca is a photographer, gardener and lover of libraries. Noah has deep affinity for marine life (especially octopuses and other cephalopods) and Milo is into whatever his big brother is playing with at any given moment. They both have fond memories of their time on Orcas Island. Oh, we also have a cat named Pele.

Please come by and say Hi if you find yourself near the SeaDoc office in late January, and reach me anytime at jcox@ucdavis.edu.

Donor Highlight: Semiahmoo Yacht Club Gives Year-End Gift to SeaDoc

By Markus Naugle


Over the weekend, The Semiahmoo Yacht Club gathered to celebrate end of year holidays and the SeaDoc Society with a generous donation of $1,000 towards our important work! Located in Blaine, Washington, the yacht club promotes recreational boating, water safety, facilities improvement and good fellowship and sportsmanship with members, friends and the public.

This is one great example of how motivated individuals with a shared mission can make a difference in preserving and protecting this extraordinary ecosystem we call home…the Salish Sea. Thanks so much to Commodore Brian Carpenter and the Yacht Club!

SeaDoc Requests Scientific Proposals for Needed Research

Not only does SeaDoc conduct important conservation-focused research, but we also fund other prominent scientists to conduct needed studies. This year we request proposals in two topic areas:

  • Deep sea research that needs a submersible platform for data collection
  • Research that will provide objective science on pressing wildlife and ecosystem health issues to inform and guide policy and management

Download the full Request for Proposals (PDF)

Deep Sea Research:

In partnership with OceanGate Foundation, SeaDoc will bring a submersible to the San Juan Island sub-basin of the Salish Sea in fall 2018 for 5 days of data collection. This platform will be available for scientists to collect data that cannot be gathered by other research methodologies such as scuba or remotely operated vehicle.

Science needed to address pressing wildlife and ecosystem health issues:

This year the SeaDoc Society requests proposals only for projects that scientifically address one of the four priority topics below. We anticipate funding one meritorious project in each topic area.

1. Disease

Infectious diseases (like viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi) and non-infectious diseases (such as those caused by contaminants, trauma, allergens, and biotoxins) have the capacity to affect population health and hinder species and ecosystem recovery. Despite the important role that disease can play in hindering Salish Sea recovery, it is understudied.

2. Ocean Noise

Human-caused underwater noise can create a wide range of negative effects on a variety of taxa and is a problem in the Salish Sea and worldwide. We seek projects that work to better understand (i) the individual and population-level effects of non-injurious noise on species of concern or (ii) scientifically evaluate solutions to increased underwater noise. Of special concern are diving marine birds, teleost fish and marine invertebrates due to scarcity of data about the effect of noise on these taxa.

3. One Health

One health is the concept that human health, wildlife health, and ecosystem health are intimately connected. We are looking for research that addresses health using an interdisciplinary approach that goes beyond pathogens and parasites and includes other contributing factors such as habitat loss, globalization of trade, land-use pressure, ocean acidification, contaminants, and climate change.

4. Social Science

Salish Sea recovery requires the integration of social and biophysical science to better understand drivers of change and tradeoffs among strategic recovery opportunities. We seek social science projects that help identify and prioritize ecosystem recovery strategies and actions.

Download the full Request for Proposals (PDF)

Proposal Due Date

Email your proposal as a single document (PDF) to Dr. Joseph K. Gaydos at jkgaydos@ucdavis.edu no later than 5:00 pm (PST) January 12, 2018



Banner photo: Cyclops on submerged MSLARS preparing for lift off. Courtesy of OceanGate.

Calling for 2018 Salish Sea Science Prize Nominations

Photo by  Ingrid Taylar

Photo by Ingrid Taylar

Every two years, the SeaDoc Society Awards the Salish Sea Science Prize to a prominent scientist or team of scientists whose work has resulted in the marked improvement of management or policy related to the conservation of marine wildlife and the Salish Sea marine ecosystem.

Non-scientists who have used science in a substantial way to improve management or policy related to healing the Salish Sea also will be considered. This is the only award of its kind. The recipient(s) do not need to be a resident of Washington or British Columbia as long as their scientific efforts or use of science have led to measurable impacts on the Salish Sea ecosystem. The $2,000 prize comes with no strings attached and is designed to highlight the importance of science in providing a foundation for designing a healthy Salish Sea ecosystem. This award is given in recognition of and to honor Stephanie Wagner, who loved the region and its wildlife.

2018 Salish Sea Science Prize Call for Nominations and Timeline (PDF)

Past Winners

In 2009, the SeaDoc Society awarded the first ever Salish Sea Science Prize to Ken Balcomb for his research on the population dynamics of southern resident killer whales. His annual census work was the basis for the population assessments that ultimately led to the Canadian and US listing of the southern resident killer whale community as endangered and served as a foundation for our understanding of resident killer whale longevity, toxics loading, and the implications of disease on the long-term viability of this population.

In 2011, the Salish Sea Science Prize was awarded to John Elliott for his work documenting the high levels of forest industry derived pollutants, dioxins and furans, in marine birds as well for his work documenting the deleterious effects of these toxins on reproduction and embryonic development in multiple bird species. In countless meetings and presentations, Elliott worked with industry and regulators to communicate this science and in so doing, influenced subsequent national and international regulations that halted the use of molecular chlorine bleaching, and restricted the use of chlorophenolic wood preservatives and anti-sap stains.

In 2014 the Northwest Straits Foundation received the prize for scientifically quantifying the impact of derelict fishing gear and the benefit of removal. A peer-reviewed manuscript demonstrated the importance of escape cord for reducing Dungeness crab mortality, which spurred Marine Resource Committees to increase efforts to educate recreational crabbers on this topic. Another manuscript quantified the impact of lost nets on marine species helping funders and policy makers to further support net removal. The additional scientific documentation of drop out and decomposition rates showed that early impact figures were actually gross underestimations as they did not account for the short life of carcasses in a net and the sometimes decades of killing that many of these nets had done prior to removal. Moreover, that same work documented a cost-benefitratio for net removal at 1:14.5, demonstrating that derelict net removal not only benefits marine species, but also is cost-effective.

In 2016 the prize went to a group of NOAA scientists (Drs. Jenifer McIntyre, David Baldwin, and Nathaniel Scholz) who's research on copper and its affect on salmon was instrumental in the passage of landmark legislation in Washington State to phase out the use of copper and other metals in motor vehicle brake pads.

This action will benefit salmon recovery and reduce the loadings of toxic metals to the Salish Sea by hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.

Nominations The SeaDoc Society requests that members of the community nominate highly deserving award candidates. All nominations must be sent electronically to SeaDoc Science Director Joe Gaydos (jkgaydos@ucdavis.edu) by December 20, 2017.


Nominations must be in the form of a narrative (2 pages or less, Times New Roman 12 point font) describing the nominee’s work and the impact of that work. Please provide the nominee’s affiliation, address, email address and phone number. Be sure to describe how the scientist’s (or team of scientists’) efforts have resulted in tangible improvements in management or policy related to the conservation of marine wildlife and the Salish Sea ecosystem. Or, if you are nominating a citizen or group who has used science in a substantial way, be sure to describe what science they used and how it led to improved management or policy. Specific reference to peer-reviewed manuscripts or studies conducted that produced the important and pivotal information must be cited. Please also include the names and contact information for two external referees who can vouch for the role that this scientific work played in effecting positive ecosystem change or the use of scientific work to improve Salish Sea management or policy.

Selection Criteria

The SeaDoc Society will consider all nominees and select a prizewinner. This is not a lifetime achievement award. Selection will be based on the nominee’s production of valuable science that informed management or policy - or - for using science to improve management or policy related to the conservation of marine wildlife and the Salish Sea marine ecosystem. The decision will be made public when the Prize is awarded. The Salish Sea Science Prize will be given at the April 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle, WA (http://www.wwu.edu/salishseaconference/).


  • October 30, 2017 – Call for Nominations
  • December 20, 2017 – Nominations Due
  • April 2018 – Prize awarded at the Salish Sea Conference in Seattle, WA

About the SeaDoc Society

The SeaDoc Society is a program of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, a center of excellence at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. We fund and conduct research and work to ensure that managers and policy makers use science to improve the health of the region’s marine wildlife and ecosystem. Since 2000, the SeaDoc Society has had a regional focus on designing a healthy Salish Sea. For more information or to sign up for free SeaDoc monthly updates, Wildlife Posts, and calls for proposals visit www.seadocsociety.org.

SeaDoc's Joe Gaydos Lends Expertise to Veterinarians in South America

SeaDoc is focused on improving the health of marine wildlife in the Salish Sea, but occasionally we’re called up to train experts in other parts of the world. Last month, Wildlife Veterinarian and SeaDoc Science Director Joe Gaydos went to Chile to help train nearly 90 wildlife veterinarians on new advances in conservation medicine.

At a large conference that included lectures and hands-on labs, Joe and Dr. Terry Norton, a sea turtle expert from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, spent multiple days training an inspiring group of young veterinarians from all over South America. When we asked him about it, Joe said he was, “humbled by the group and their commitment to conservation. They were smart, energetic, and soaked up new information like sponges. They’re leading the charge for marine conservation in South America.”


Joe and Terry spent the long weekend before the workshop exploring the Humboldt Penguin Reserve on Chile’s north coast. “The coast was wild, the views spectacular, and the wildlife amazing, but the islands that make up the Humboldt Penguin Reserve are not without threats. It made me happy to know there are so many dedicated wildlife veterinarians working to save such places.”

While Gaydos was discussing his work with one man in Chile (pictured), he mentioned that he works for an organization called SeaDoc, like Sea Doctors. “He got the biggest smile,” Gaydos said. “ He looked at me and said, ‘oh yes, because our ocean is sick.’ I just loved that! He’s part of the cadre of up and coming ocean advocates that I met down there - very inspiring!”

Check out some photos from the trip: 

Patagonia Awards SeaDoc an Environmental Grant

Leon Sommes, Joe Gaydos, and Shawna Franklin

Leon Sommes, Joe Gaydos, and Shawna Franklin

Thanks to the recommendation of world famous kayakers Shawna Franklin and Leon Sommes (who own Body Boat Blade International), SeaDoc was awarded an environmental  grant from Patagonia.

SeaDoc Regional Director Markus Naugle reflected, "It was a huge honor for SeaDoc to be recognized as a group that is making a positive change in the world of marine conservation."

Specifically, SeaDoc will use this generous donation from Patagonia to help with our efforts to better understand the health of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales and further develop our medical record system for these endangered animals.

Thank you Shawna and Leon and thank you Patagonia!

SeaDoc Honors Science Advisor Dr. Gary Greene

Photo by Markus Naugle

Photo by Markus Naugle

SeaDoc recently honored Dr. Gary Greene for 18 years as a SeaDoc Science Advisor. Gary is an Emeritus Professor of Geological Oceanography at San Jose State University and has been mapping and characterizing marine habitats in the Salish Sea for almost two decades.

He was a founding member of the SeaDoc Society’s Science Advisors, a group of almost a dozen scientists who volunteer their time to help ensure SeaDoc maintains robust and rigorous scientific standards and focuses on science issues critical for ecosystem recovery.

Gary was given a beautiful wooden carved map of the Salish Sea as a small token of appreciation for all he has done to help the SeaDoc Society and to further species recovery and ecosystem restoration in the Salish Sea. Learn more about SeaDoc’s Science Advisors.

Discussing Rising Deer Populations on the San Juan Islands (VIDEO)

If you’re familiar at all with the San Juan Islands, you’re aware that there is no lack of small black-tail deer bounding around, or standing dangerously close to the side of the road. Ruth Milner, a wildlife biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, held a discussion on the topic with a room of approximately 30 people at the Emmanuel Parish Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 20. The gathering was sponsored by WDFW and SeaDoc Society. Read the full story in the Islands' Sounder and watch the full discussion with Milner above.

When artists and scientists collaborate

Stellar sea lion, by Raven Skyriver

Stellar sea lion, by Raven Skyriver

From October 14th to January 7th, glass artist Raven Skyriver’s amazing display of Pacific Northwest-inspired aquatic creatures will be featured at the Museum of Northwest Art (MoNA) in La Conner, Washington.

Trained in Venetian glass blowing techniques, Skyriver’s works of elegance and skill push the boundaries of size and color and reflect his long-standing respect for the creatures of the sea and the delicate balance in which all things in nature hang.

As scientists, we are not often asked to participate in art exhibits. We were honored when MoNA asked scientists at SeaDoc and SR3 Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research to provide facts about each of Raven’s pieces that would help further inspire the audience to both know, connect, and eventually help protect these amazing living resources.

Be sure to check out the exhibit and come to the panel discussion on November 4th. Joe Gaydos will be a panelist!

Thank you!

Thanks to you, the Salish Sea now has twice the potential to be the healthy, vibrant ecosystem we all love and depend on. Through your kindness and support, more than 200 donors helped us close our $1.5 million Salish Sea Forever campaign. That will double our research, competitive grant making and translational science efforts.

We’ve already hired a Regional Director to steer the program, providing more time to our Science Director for science. We’re in the process of improving our science communications by hiring a full-time Communications Specialist and plan to eventually hire another full-time scientist.

The Salish Sea is a stunning and inspiring ecological jewel that provides unparalleled quality of life for all of us who live, work and play here. Our important mission to restore and protect this extraordinary place is only possible because of you! With so much gratitude, we give thanks for you!