The State of Washington is located along the North Pacific Coast in the United States. Nicknamed the Evergreen State, Washington has a total area of about 71,362 square miles. The state was admitted into the statehood on November 11, 1889, thus making it the 42nd state. Over the years, the state has developed and designated a number of emblems and symbols. To this day, Washington has 21 official symbols recognized by law. Some of the symbols are unique to the state while others are used by multiple states. The state of Washington has designated three aquatic state symbols including a state fish (steelhead trout), state marine animal (orca whale), and a state oyster.
Washington State Fish: The Steelhead Trout
The official state fish of Washington is the steelhead trout, which is scientifically known as Salmo gairdnerii. The trout, which is extremely popular in the state among people who enjoy fishing, was designated as the state fish back in 1969. The steelhead trout is a migratory species of the coastal rainbow trout or the Columbia River redband trout. This species lives in the ocean for a few years then heads back to freshwaters to reproduce. The steelhead trout has a spotted backside (usually gray spots) from head to tail while the scales are shiny. However, their bellies have an intense white hue that contrasts sharply with the back. A subtle strip of opalescent pink separates the dark and light colors. Due to their large numbers, the conservation status of this species is that of least concern.
Washington State Marine Animal: The Orca Whale
The Washington state marine animal is the orca whale (Orcinus orca), which was designated so back in 2005. The orca received the status as a result of efforts from second-grade children from Oak Harbor’s Crescent Harbor Elementary School. The orca whale, which also goes by the name killer whale or the wolf of the sea, is the largest species in the oceanic dolphin family. The toothed whale has a wide diet that encompasses sea turtles, other whales, sea lions, and other creatures. In a day, it may eat up to 500 pounds of food. On average, a male weighs between 8,000 and 12,000 pounds while a female averages between 3,000 and 8,000 pounds. The orca has excellent eyesight and can get to speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.
Washington State Oyster: The Native Oyster
The other symbol is the Washington state oyster, which is Ostrea lurida. The oyster was designated recently in 2014 as a result of efforts from an eighth-grader Claire Thompson from Olympia’s Nova School. Also known as the native oyster, Olympia oyster, or a western oyster, ostrea lurida is native to the coast of the Pacific Northwest. The oyster has a length of between 24 and 3.1 inches with flesh that is either light olive green or white. Its habitat is mostly in estuaries and bays. Aside from Washington, it is also used as a symbol in the states of Connecticut, Louisiana, and Mississippi.