More toponym confusion: “Whidbey Basin”? And is it part of “Puget Sound”?

by Tim Flanagan on January 26, 2010

An interesting post by Sue Frause over at the Seattle PI’s Whidbey Island Life blog:

What’s in a name? Possession Sound is part of Whidbey Basin that’s in Puget Sound that belongs to the Salish Sea

Here’s [an excerpt from] an article in The Herald that may be of interest to Whidbey Islanders: EvCC students oversee monitoring of Possession Sound:

"The devices aren’t deployed in areas already known to have water quality problems or where the water is relatively free from human influence, and Jones said. They’re used in borderline areas that could be at risk, visit this she said. The Whidbey Basin, tadalafil which stretches inside Whidbey Island from the southern tip of the island to the Skagit River, is one of those areas, Kveven said. It’s known that south Puget Sound and the Hood Canal are in bad shape in terms of low oxygen levels, she said. ‘But creeping up on the watch list is Whidbey Basin,’ Kveven said."

So where is the Whidbey Basin? It’s located in Puget Sound and lies to the east of Whidbey Island and includes the waters of Possession Sound, Port Susan, Saratoga Passage and Skagit Bay.

This is helpful to know! I’ll be honest, I always get a little confused when I’m running my boat “inside” Whidbey Island. It’s like driving on a road that changes names three times as you go. It’ll be nice to have one unified name for it.

Exactly the same quality that gives the name “Salish Sea” so much utility, by the way.

But hold on! I take issue with Ms. Frause’s assertion that the Whidbey Basin is located in Puget Sound. This is not so!

Puget Sound starts south of Admiralty Inlet. Coming in from the ocean, you enter the Salish Sea through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Then you turn right and head south via Admiralty Inlet. After a few miles you make a choice: bear right into Hood Canal or go straight into Puget Sound.

The Whidbey Basin exists on its own, a separate component of the Salish Sea. The only reason we might consider it part of Puget Sound is that UNTIL NOW, we haven’t had a sensible unified name for the entire inland sea we now call the Salish Sea. Over decades, “Puget Sound” came to be a catch-all for all the marine water between the Olympics and the Cascades, south of Port Townsend or so.

But Hood Canal isn’t Puget Sound. Admiralty Inlet isn’t Puget Sound. And Whidbey Basin isn’t Puget Sound. Now that we have an appropriate meta-name for all of this water, we can get back to calling Puget Sound “Puget Sound”.

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