One of the wonders of cruising in the Salish Sea is the chance of coming upon Southern Resident killer whales. Orcas are an icon of Washington’s marine world, but they are classified as an endangered species by the U.S. and Canadian federal governments and by Washington state. The February 2010 population of 89 whales remains well below the 98 whales recorded in 1995. Among the threats to the well-being of the orcas are the declining population of salmon (especially chinook salmon), exposure to toxic pollutants, and vessel noise and presence. Because of this, the regulations state that you stay at least 200 yards from these animals and do not impede their paths. They are notoriously curious and may come close to take a look at you, so be aware. Minke and gray whales are also known to frequent the area, and porpoises and seals are abundant. Watch the trees for bald eagles, and you might even glimpse a mountain goat or antelope on the bare face of Spieden Island, a vestige of its past history as a game preserve.