Yellow bull kelp in green water

Beliefs & Values

Intertidal Monitoring photo Scott and Dave at Utsalady
Everyday we make an Impact

We’re used to collecting data so we invite you to see our own numbers and learn how we help partner organizations and how much we care as stewards.

Sound Water Stewards believe that: 

  1. We have a shared responsibility to steward the local marine environment by promoting resiliency in our ecosystem through conservation, sustainable practices, and education. 
  2. All Salish Sea life forms deserve a healthy environment now and in the future, and we agree to promote sustainable practices. 
  3. Education of ourselves and others is key to understanding complex environmental issues in order to promote informed and recommended individual and collective actions to address them. 
  4. Community is more than the sum of its parts, and that interactions with members inside SWS and with external partners, leaders, and community members is essential to foster collegial teamwork to achieve our common goals. 
  5. Individual and collective commitment to the SWS vision and mission are important for lasting change.
  6. Diversity of all life forms and relationships offers maximum health, vitality, and resiliency to our ecosystem and to our communities; we are committed to diversity in all forms.  

SWS Values Cloud
Organization Values

Volunteer efforts are focused in three areas:  Education, Science, and Stewardship


Volunteers and staff share their passion about our natural world with families on the beach, teaching kids the wonders of their island habitats, engaging children and adults in learning how to look carefully in tidepools, and how to respect all forms of marine life and how to live gently on our planet.  We offer:

  • A marine exhibit we maintain at the wharf in Coupeville,
  • Staff outreach booths at fairs and festivals, like the Stanwood Farmers Market and Penn Cove Water Festivals and co-sponsor Camano 101 and Whidbey 101,
  • Videos that educate about things like Moon Snails living in our waters, 
  • A symposium for nearly 500 people across Puget Sound, Sound Waters University, held the first Saturday in February each year (offered virtually in 2021, 2022 and 2023), slated for Feb 4, 2024.
  • Classes about how to Dig (clams) for Dinner, but only when clam harvesting is allowed.

Volunteers also have many opportunities to continue to learn about the challenges facing our marine environment, and how each of us can make a difference.  SWS partners with Washington State Parks to offer programs in the ten state parks in Island County.  We also offer a guidebook:  Getting to the Water’s Edge, Third Edition, a field guide published in 2020 to shoreline access and facilities, parks, marine life, stewardship, and natural history of Island County, Washington.  We believe education of ourselves and others is key to a sustainable future. 


Volunteers support researchers in federal and state agencies and universities by gathering data in support of a wide variety of marine science research projects, including surveying to find the invasive European Green Crab, monitoring water quality, tracking forage fish that salmon rely upon, and much more.  We are the ‘boots in the mud’ for many science projects – following exact protocols to guarantee the accuracy and value to the scientists who rely on this data to support learning about the many life forms in the Salish Sea and how to reduce human impacts. 


SWS volunteers assist with trail maintenance, beach clean-ups, pulling noxious weeds, planting native species so the habitats around us thrive, and removal of monofilament fishing line, creosote logs, plastics, and abandoned tires from our public beaches.  We are a passionate group of individuals drawn together around a common vision.