Tribal canoes are participating in a water quality study in partnership with the USGS for a second year. Five canoes will tow water quality probes during the annual Tribal Canoe Journey, which culminates at Suquamish Aug. 3-8.
To learn about what happens on and in the water, one of the best places to be is in the belly of a canoe — about a foot away from the surface, moving more slowly than most other vessels. That’s why federal scientists have asked tribal canoeists, for the second year in a row, to help them find out more about the health of the water in the Puget Sound region.
“So much of Coast Salish culture is directly linked to a healthy Salish Sea,” said Eric Grossman of the U.S. Geological Survey, referencing the name Coast Salish people use for the region’s waterways.
Every year, American Indians climb into canoes and paddle for days — sometimes weeks — to meet for a tribal celebration. Dozens of canoes are often out on the water at the same time, gathering toward one another.
Grossman and other USGS experts plan to fit five of those canoes with water-quality testing devices that will take water samples at regular intervals. The final result will be an online, interactive map, with tags at each point where a sample was taken, with technical information including oxygen levels and other signs of water health.
Indians on the Canoe Journey are integral to the project, Grossman said. It would cost tens of thousands of dollars to commission boats and personnel to collect hundreds of water samples and data, all simultaneously.
For more about the Canoe Journey, visit http://tribaljourneys.wordpress.com/2009-journey/.