Salish Sea Science Prize

The Salish Sea Science Prize is given every two years by the SeaDoc Society to highlight the importance of science in providing a foundation for designing a healthy Salish Sea ecosystem.

The $2,000 prize comes with no strings attached. It is given 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. It is not a "lifetime achievement" award.

We look for people who have produced science that has profoundly improved management or policy, or for people who have used science to improve management or policy to advance the health of marine wildlife and the Salish Sea marine ecosystem.

The award is given at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in recognition of and to honor Stephanie Wagner, who loved the region and its wildlife.

2018 winner

Dr. Nina Bednaršek


Dr. Nina Bednaršek is a scientist with the Southern Calfornia Coastal Waters Research Project. Through years of groundbreaking research and scientific analysis, Bednaršek and her team found that pteropods can be used to understand the biological effects of ocean acidification. More than half of pteropods along the west coast show evidence for severe shell dissolution, which leaves this sentinel species prone to infection and predation. 

For more information on Dr. Bednaršek's research, read our write-up on the SeaDoc blog.

2016 Winner

Drs. Jenifer McIntyer, David Baldwin, and Nathaniel Scholz, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The team of scientists demonstrated how copper damages salmon’s sense of smell. Their work led to legislation that removed copper from car brake pads in Washington State, which will benefit salmon recovery by reducing the loadings of toxic metals to the Salish Sea by hundreds of thousands of pounds each year. Why is a salmon's sense of smell so important? Here's your answer.

2014 Winner

The Northwest Straits Foundation


The 2014 award was given to the Northwest Straits Foundation in recognition of their research documenting the effects of derelict fishing gear on species ranging from Dungeness crabs and salmon to marine birds and mammals. Not only did this group scientifically document the negative impact of this gear, but they have been able to remove more than 4,700 derelict fishing nets and more than 3,000 derelict crab pots, restoring over 670 acres of marine habitat important to rockfish and other marine species.

Read the award announcement for more info.

2011 Winner


John Elliott

John Elliott, a toxicologist from Environment Canada, was awarded the Salish Sea Science Prize both for his work documenting the effects of furans and dioxins on marine wildlife and for his work with regulators to translate his science into policy that eliminated the release of these chemicals into the Salish Sea.

Read the award announcement for more info about Elliott's work. Press coverage.


2009 Winner


Ken Balcomb

Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research was awarded the Salish Sea Science Prize for his pioneering work on Southern Resident Killer Whales. Balcomb was involved in pioneering photo ID studies of killer whales and his annual census of the Southern Resident population, one of the only true censuses conducted on any wildlife population, has become the basis of the population assessments that ultimately led to the Canadian and US listing of the Southern Resident Killer Whale community as endangered.

Press coverage in Orcas Island News & Issues