A Salish Sea conservation group launched a new website on May 2 to help build a sense of environmental stewardship and protection for residents of the Pacific Northwest.
PNW Protectors is an environmental group based in the San Juan Islands in Washington. They were formed by Cy Scammell and Snow Seychelle as a way to help promote the beauty and fragility of the waters around their home. They focus on using storytelling as a medium that promotes awareness and protection of the Salish Sea and the southern resident orcas that make the waters home.
“The last straw was when J52, which was Sonic, the little two-year-old southern resident baby, passed away in early September,” Scammell said. “My wife and I were just like ‘My god, we’re watching this beautiful species disappear right in front of us.’ We used to see these whales pretty regularly and it is becoming less and less frequent . . . We needed to do something about it.”
Seychelle works as a conservation artist and had built some connections with other environmental organizations over the years. They reached out to Keiko Conservation and learned how to build a foundation from there. Though many groups are bringing awareness on the scientific or political sides of things, PNW Protectors is more focused on what people can do as individuals.
“What it really comes down to is the individual. That’s where we really wanted to separate ourselves. We wanted to instill hope . . . and to bring it back to the essence of what the real issue is,” Scammell explained. “We are trying to let people know about the decisions they’re making every day and the ramifications one way or another.”
Much of the content featured on the website shows the beauty of the area with hopes of promoting stewardship. Seychelle and Scammell are both free divers, and they believe that by swimming in the Salish Sea and seeing the underwater ecosystem will help promote the beauty of the area and make more people want to protect it.
“The future to me is storytelling,” Scammell said. “Through video, photos and art we can tell our story to get people to fall in love with the area. We know that we protect what we love . . . We want to help people fall in love with it so they want to fight for its well-being.”
The issues facing the Salish Sea are international issues, and they have an effect on both sides of the border. Since the launch of the website, PNW Protectors has been reached by groups in both countries to help promote events and spread the word about various activities in the area.
For more on this story, see the May 16, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.