The Salish Sea is a better place because of all that Caroline Gibson gave during her lifetime. She worked selflessly to build a diverse community of passionate individuals, organizations and agencies who are committed to restoring its coastlines, cleaning its waters, and preserving its habitat. All so wildlife and humans can enjoy the Salish Sea’s life-sustaining benefits for generations to come.
During her career in the Northwest Straits, Caroline served as a member of the Jefferson Marine Resources Committee, as the Marine Program Manager at the Northwest Straits Commission, and as Executive Director of the Northwest Straits Foundation. Her spark and passion inspired others to not just talk about marine conservation, but to roll up their sleeves and do it!
She formed the Salish Sea International Kelp Alliance increasing awareness, understanding and support for kelp as critical habitat. She worked with commercial fisherman on ways to reduce lost gear and mitigate impacts to marine wildlife. And, she was a great storyteller developing shared values and relationships.
As I celebrate her life, I see the color of sea blue with my eyes closed. That deep twinkling blue that water makes when light pierces it from a clear sky. The way salt water blue shifts when a lens of freshwater seeps in from a shoreline ledge. Like when I was a kid and mom said the North Atlantic was too cold, even in summer. But I leapt in anyway because the water deep down was shimmering like diamonds.
Caroline will always be in the water. Or on the shoreline calling us to jump in. Following the color of water down to where the salmon swim and the crabs skitter along sideways through eel grass pretending not to see us in an eternal hide and seek. We’ll swim until our skin is taut and numb, with the exquisite taste of bright salty water on our tongues.
It’s difficult to understand that Caroline’s not here. That somehow, she wasn’t one who miraculously overcame cancer. Even after two years of saying “I’m still here” with a twinkle in her eye and witty smile on her lips; that it wore her down. Us too. We all would stop it from taking her too soon if we could.
Caroline’s spirit filled a room. You didn’t have to know her to feel it. She simply radiated a joy for thinking, learning, and sharing life on a different frequency than the rest of us. I’m convinced that even the orcas and the crabs could feel it.
Looking out on the blue waters of the Salish Sea there’s comfort in knowing her spirit will always be there, and her work will be carried on by all of us.
Don Hunger, Executive Director
July 12, 2021