top of page

Wildlife/Marine Life/Bird Populations

  • Puget Sound is the largest estuary, by water volume, in the contiguous United States. The waters of the Salish Sea are some of the most biologically significant and productive marine areas in the world, home to both abundant and threatened species of marine life, including six endangered whale species, threatened Stellar sea lions, threatened and endangered salmon, steelhead, and rockfish species, and endangered leatherback sea turtles. The rivers of the Olympic Peninsula are important habitat where salmon reproduce. Aircraft noise and sonic booms have been implicated as a cause of lowered reproduction in a variety of animals.

  • The pod of Southern resident orcas that inhabits the Salish Sea is on the decline; only 74 remain. Both high and low frequency noise have negative impacts on whales’ ability to navigate and identify food. The carbon dioxide in jet exhaust acidifies the water, damaging the web of marine life that sustain salmon, the orca’s primary food source. Additionally, chemical compounds from the Navy’s fire retardant, already in Whidbey’s aquifer, enter Puget Sound as surface run-off. These effects, taken together, will further stress the pod and may make the difference between survival and extinction.

  • The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary includes 3,188 square miles of marine waters off the rugged Olympic Peninsula coastline. The sanctuary extends 25 to 50 miles seaward, covering much of the continental shelf and several major submarine canyons. The sanctuary protects a productive upwelling zone, home to marine mammals and seabirds. Along its shores are thriving kelp and inter-tidal communities, teeming with fishes and other sea life. Scattered communities of deep-sea coral and sponges form habitats for fish and other important marine wildlife.

  • Olympic National Park is home to the endangered spotted owl and marbled murrelet. Its coastline is the biannual flyway for billions of migrating birds that depend on navigational signals disrupted by the jets. Growlers also collide with birds. Reported “mishaps” include “large flock of birds hit after takeoff,” “bird strike shut down engine,” “bird ingested sometime after flight,” and “encountered bird flock that FODed (foreign object damage) both engines.” In Navy parlance, a bird is a foreign object and a jet plane is not.

bottom of page