Also known as the Juan de Fuca Strait, the Strait of Juan de Fuca is located between two basin countries namely Canada and the United States. The border between these two countries actually runs in the middle of the strait. The strait has a length of around 96 miles and a maximum width of between 12 and 25 miles. Joining the Salish Sea to the Pacific Ocean, the Strait of Juan de Fuca was named in 1787 in honor of a Greek navigator Juan de Fuca. Detailed charting took place from 1789 to 1791 by a group of five Spanish explorers.
The most common mode of transportation is a vehicle ferry service that makes a number of trips per day. The ferry makes the route between Port Angeles and Victoria in Washington and British Columbia respectively. There are also ferries belonging to the Washington State Ferry system, some private high-speed ferries, and some seasonal ones. Ships heading to either Seattle or Vancouver also use the strait.
The climate of the strait is a topic of contention, as is the case with the climate of the Salish Sea and the nearby areas. According to the Köppen classification, the strait has a Mediterranean climate. However, some climatologists lean more towards the side of an oceanic climate. The truth of the matter is that the climate depends on the season. However, it is mostly oceanic. During dry summers, the climate shifts closer to the Köppen classification of a Mediterranean one.
The eastern end of the strait receives less rainfall compared to the western one. On average, the west end receives at least 98 inches of rainfall while the east can get as little as 16 inches. The waves of the Pacific and the westerly winds also make sure that the seas are rougher than other areas inland. For this reason, small sea vessels often receive warnings (small craft advisories) about the weather.
Back in 2008, there were propositions from the Chemainus First Nation in Canada to change the name of the strait to the “Salish Sea.” To change the name, the Canadians needed approval from the Geographical Names Board of Canada. At the same time, there was a similar movement in the US although with slightly different motives. Instead of changing the name of the strait, the Americans wanted the name “Salish Sea” to encompass Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia and Juan de Fuca. Eventually, in 2009, the name change suggested by the Americans was made official by the respective naming boards from Canada and the United States.
Canada and the United States have a dispute over the boundary running within the strait. However, it crucial to note that the difference is a small matter that can be resolved easily. Both parties have proposed an equidistant boundary within the water body. The small difference comes in because each country has used a different base point for the calculation. However, the small matter is complicated because Canada has other boundary issues with the US. A resolution on this matter may have a negative impact on Canada’s case. The matter has still not been resolved.