King County launches SoundGuardian to join emergency Puget Sound orca recovery effort
On the morning of Aug. 5, King County’s research vessel, SoundGuardian, departed its Seattle homeport on its way to northern Puget Sound to take part in an emergency effort to save ailing members of the endangered resident orca population.
“Orcas are the Salish Sea’s most iconic residents, and we all share the responsibility of protecting these beloved animals,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We are doing whatever we can to help the orca now, and fulfill long-term goals to improve the health of local waterways and the Salish Sea.”
Operating with a crew of three, SoundGuardian left its dock at the King County Environmental Laboratory in Fremont early Sunday morning, Aug. 5, charting a course to dock at Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham later that day.
SoundGuardian will operate with other vessels under the authority of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials who are coordinating emergency recovery actions.
Launched in 2016, SoundGuardian is King County’s primary marine research vessel and is used by scientists to collect samples, assist in monitoring buoy maintenance, and other work. The 48-foot, twin-hulled vessel provides workers with a swift and stable platform for a variety of open-water tasks.
SoundGuardian is an essential component of Executive Constantine’s Clean Water and Healthy Habitat Agenda that includes removing salmon-blocking culverts to improve fish populations, habitat restoration, and continuing investments in wastewater and stormwater systems.