Saanich Inlet (also Saanich Arm) is a body of salt water that lies between the Saanich Peninsula and the Malahat highlands of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Located just northwest of Victoria, the inlet is 25 km (16 mi) long, has a surface area of 67 km2 (26 sq mi), and its maximum depth is 226 m (741 ft). It extends from Satellite Channel in the north (separating Salt Spring Island from the Saanich Peninsula) to Squally Reach and Finlayson Arm in the south. The only major tributary feeding the inlet is the Goldstream River.
The inlet has been of importance as a fishery to the Malahat and Saanich First Nations for centuries, and many First Nations reserves are situated on the shoreline. Since the arrival of Europeans, the inlet has also provided a recreational and commercial fishery. It has also been popular with SCUBA divers. For several years, a port existed on the western shore at Bamberton, servicing a cement works.
For most of the year the deep waters are anoxic, and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is often detected near the bottom. In the late summer and early fall, oxygenated waters from the Haro Strait and the Satellite Channel spill over into the deep basin of Saanich Inlet.
Notable bays and inlets adjacent to Saanich Inlet include:
- Brentwood Bay, a calm, sheltered bay on the east side of the Inlet, with a small ferry service to Mill Bay.
- Coles Bay
- Deep Cove
- Finlayson Arm, a long narrow arm on the south of the Inlet draining Goldstream River at Goldstream Provincial Park. The scenic and steep Malahat Drive is on the west side of Finlayson Arm, while Gowlland Tod Provincial Park is on its east.
- Mill Bay, a calm bay and community centre on the west side of the Inlet. The ferry to Brentwood Bay allows a way of travelling to Greater Victoria while avoiding the steep Malahat Drive.
- Patricia Bay, a very deep bay and home to the Institute of Ocean Sciences research facility.
- Squally Reach, an east-west channel connecting the main Saanich Inlet to the north and Finlayson Arm to the south.
- McKenzie Bight, an easy to sail bight on the east side of Saanich Inlet where its meets Squally Reach.
Other notable features around the inlet are:
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- Scientific information about the VENUS project located partly in Saanich Inlet from the University of Victoria
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