The mission of the SeaDoc Society is to protect the health of marine wildlife and their ecosystems through science and education. Established by the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center in 1999, the SeaDoc Society conducts and sponsors scientific research in the inland water of the Pacific Northwest, also known as the Salish Sea.
People and Science Healing the Sea
Using a multi-species approach, SeaDoc finds science-based solutions for the marine wildlife in the Salish Sea. The SeaDoc Society continually asks what is happening to wildlife in the Salish Sea, and why. SeaDoc then shares their research by collaborating and networking with agencies, governments, and individuals who influence decisions that impact the Salish Sea and its millions of residents.
Through working to advance stewardship in at-risk areas, responding to ecosystem emergency health issues, educating the community and mentoring current and future leaders in wildlife conservation, SeaDoc is striving to better the marine environment in the Salish Sea.
The Salish Sea is a bi-national ecosystem that includes Washington State’s Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands as well as the British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and the Strait of Georgia. In 2011, SeaDoc Chief Scientist Joe Gaydos co-authored a report with a detailed species count of the many birds and mammals that depend on the Salish Sea for survival. Gaydos found that the expansive Salish Sea is home to 37 species of mammals, 172 species of birds, 247 species of fish, more than 3,000 species of invertebrates and nearly 6 million people. The Salish Sea ecosystem includes killer whales, bald eagles, Pacific salmon, abalone, crabs and clams.
SeaDoc’s ability to heal the ocean and find solutions to ecosystem issues has stretched far beyond the Salish Sea. SeaDoc also sponsors the Lost Fishing Gear project of the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, which aims to clean-up abandoned fishing gear that pollutes the ocean and kills marine life along the California and Baja California coasts.
With the support of the Wildlife Health Center and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, along with an abundance of concerned citizens of the Salish Sea, the SeaDoc Society is able to inform local policy, conduct research, and help educate the public about the needs of a vibrant ecosystem. The SeaDoc Society’s holistic view of the marine region (encompassing all of the people and animals that live in the area), is consistent with the One Health focus of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center. The One Health approach recognizes that the health of wildlife, domestic animals and people, all depend on the overall health of the environment they inhabit.
"The Salish Sea is one of the most amazing places on Earth and people who live here want to pass on a healthy ecosystem to future generations," says Gaydos. "SeaDoc’s work is to make sure there will still be amazing wildlife, abundant fish and shellfish to eat and clean water for people and for wildlife far into the future."