Salish Sea Spill Map Project

In an effort to predict the behaviour of oil from a spill in the Salish Sea, and to alert coastal residents to that very real possibility, Raincoast and its partner the Georgia Strait Alliance have launched a study to map the potential spread of oil along the Kinder Morgan tanker route.  For some of our drops, we have also teamed up with the Friends of the San Juans and the City of Vancouver.

Where could oil go?

To help answer this question, we have released over 4,000 small drift cards (4” x 6” pieces of bright yellow plywood, each with a unique serial number) at select locations along the shipping route from Vancouver to the Pacific Ocean. Just like a message in a bottle, the drift cards carry a simple reminder: THIS COULD BE OIL. When the drift cards are found and reported to us, their recovery locations help us map the course spilled oil might take, and how far it could travel. Our unique website allows real time drift card reporting and tracking of specific cards from drop to recovery.

While increasing public awareness of Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion is important, this study will also be published in peer-reviewed journals, be used to validate and improve state-of-the-art ocean circulation models and ultimately help to establish which communities, recreational sites, species and sensitive habitats could be affected in the event of a spill.

Preliminary Results

Raincoast researcher throws a drift card into the water off a boat

Currently in its second year, the project has completed nearly 30 drift card drops releasing roughly 4,000 cards.  With more than 1,500 recoveries reported, preliminary results show that impacts could be far-ranging with many areas along the shipping route at risk.

Adopt a Drift Card

A drift card in water with the message "there's no room for tankers"

Support the Spill Map Project and follow the results by Adopting a Drift Card. You will be provided with drift card numbers, their drop locations, and notified when and where your card has been found.

Drift Card Reporting

Two kids holding a drift card they found on a Victoria BC beach

Drift cards recoveries from any location are important to us. View Drift Card Reporting and find out how the public is becoming part of this study.

Support the Salish Sea Spill Map Project

A stack of drift cards with the message "this could be oil"

‘Drift cards’ found washing ashore

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Cali Bagby / Islands Sounder Last week Sukima Hampton was walking on a friend’s private beach west of Eastsound when she was horrified to find a pink card with the words “This could be oil” printed on it…
A stack of drift cards with the message "this could be oil"

Hello from Haida Gwaii

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Walking down their favourite beach, Sian and Allan were not thinking of oil spills until they found a bright yellow drift card and its message, this could be oil…

Drift cards plot extent of oil spill

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Julie Bertrand / The Oceanside Star The Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Georgia Straight Alliance want to know what would happen if an oil tanker spilled in the Salish Sea…
A stack of drift cards with the message "this could be oil"

Rolling the dice on the Salish Sea

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By Judith Lavoie, FOCUS As bright yellow drift cards were tossed into the Salish Sea from Raincoast’s vessel Achiever, it was a stark reminder of all that could be lost if oil spills…

Anti-pipeline groups do mock spill

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By Sean McIntyre, Gulf Islands Driftwood Anti-pipeline campaigners want Gulf Islands residents to look for hundreds of postcard-sized wooden cards released into the Salish Sea…