Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

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How Salmon Created Seattle


Good news everyone: it’s almost salmon season! And, even better, this summer a huge wave of  pink, or humpback, salmon is coming through the Puget Sound. This upcoming event got me thinking about salmon’s presence in our culture. Though this distinctive fish is nearing dangerously low levels today, it still continues to play an important role — one that it has kept for many, many years.

Salmon have played an important part in Seattle’s history since before recorded history. Fossil evidence shows that salmon have populated the waters of Washington State for over a million years. And, remarkably, they seem to have traveled in similar migration patterns to their contemporary descendants.

Salmon play significant roles in ancient mythologies from all around the world. Irish folklore tells of a Salmon of Wisdom who grants knowledge to those who eat him. Welsh mythology calls salmon the oldest and wisest animal in Britain; one carries two of King Arthur’s knights to rescue a child-prisoner. And Norse mythology tells of Loki transforming himself into a salmon to escape the other gods, until Thor catches him by the tail. Continue reading


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Orca Whales

seattleOrcas_ON06_1.ashx_They are a distinctive animal, unlike any other form of marine mammal. In the past few decades, Orcas have become cultural icons for Seattle. We even named our bus passes and an entire island after them. Our identification with these whales likely stems from  how fascinating these creatures are, and how lucky our city is to see them regularly.

Seattle actually has two nearby Orca populations: a transient group that migrates between California and Alaska, and a resident population that remains year-round. The Southern Resident Community, the whales we see most often in the Puget Sound,  is made up of three pods: J, K, and L. And although marine biologists worry about their future survival, it’s no secret that Seattle is rightfully proud of our local pods’ beauty and power. Continue reading