The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary is one of 14 marine sanctuaries administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. It is located along the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. The sanctuary was declared in 1994 and encompasses 3,189 square miles (8,260 km2) of the Pacific Ocean from Cape Flattery in the north, to the mouth of the Copalis River, a distance of about 162.5 miles (261.5 km). Extending 25 to 40 miles (40 to 64 km) from the shore, it includes most of the continental shelf, as well as parts of three important submarine canyons, the Nitinat Canyon, the Quinault Canyon and the Juan de Fuca Canyon. For 64 miles (103 km) along the coast, the sanctuary shares stewardship with the Olympic National Park. The sanctuary overlays the Flattery Rocks, Quillayute Needles, and Copalis Rock National Wildlife Refuges.
|Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary|
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Aerial view of Teahwhit Head and James Island
|Location||Western Washington state|
|Area||3,189 sq mi (8,260 km2)|
|Governing body||National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration|
Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost point of the contiguous United States. It is in Clallam County, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula, where the Strait of Juan de Fuca joins the Pacific Ocean. It is also part of the Makah Reservation, and is the northern boundary of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Cape Flattery can be reached from a short hike, most of which is boardwalked. The westernmost point in the contiguous United States is at Cape Alava, south of Cape Flattery in Olympic National Park. However, the westernmost tip of Cape Flattery is almost exactly as far west as Cape Alava, the difference being approximately 5 seconds of longitude, about 360 feet (110 m), at high tide and somewhat more at low tide.The Cape Flattery Lighthouse is on Tatoosh Island, just off the cape. Makah Bay and Neah Bay are on either side of the cape. Neah Bay, Washington is the closest town to the cape.Copalis National Wildlife Refuge
Copalis National Wildlife Refuge is the southernmost of the three refuges (along with Flattery Rocks and Quillayute Needles) which make up the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex, a group of 870 islands, rocks, and reefs extending for more than 100 miles along Washington's coast from Cape Flattery to Copalis Beach. These islands are protected from human disturbance, yet are close to abundant ocean food sources.They are a vital sanctuary where 14 species of seabirds nest and raise their young. During migration the total populations of seabirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds may exceed a million birds. Sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, and whales may also be seen around the islands.The refuge is within the boundary of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic National Park and is also incorporated into the Washington Islands Wilderness. The three agencies cooperate on research programs and other issues that may have impacts on the resources.Copalis State Airport
Copalis State Airport (FAA LID: S16) is a state owned, public use airport in Grays Harbor County, Washington, United States. Formerly known as Copalis Beach State Airport, it is located near Copalis Beach, Washington.The airstrip is located on an ocean beach near the mouth of the Copalis River, in the North Beach Seashore Conservation Area, adjacent to the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. It is the only airport in Washington State where landing on the beach is legal.Curlew Lake State Park
Curlew Lake State Park is a public recreation area located on the eastern shore of Curlew Lake five miles (8.0 km) northeast of Republic in Ferry County, Washington. The state park's 87 acres (35 ha) include facilities for picnicking, camping, hiking, biking, boating, fishing, and swimming.Flattery Rocks National Wildlife Refuge
Flattery Rocks National Wildlife Refuge is the northernmost of the three refuges (along with Quillayute Needles and Copalis) which make up the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex, a group of 870 islands, rocks, and reefs extending for more than 100 miles along Washington's coast from Cape Flattery to Copalis Beach. These islands are protected from human disturbance, yet are close to abundant ocean food sources. They are closed to the public, with wildlife observation only from boats and the mainland, and a 200-yard buffer zone surrounding each island.They are a vital sanctuary where 14 species of seabirds nest and raise their young. During migration the total populations of seabirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds may exceed a million birds. Sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, and whales may also be seen around the islands.The refuge is within the boundary of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic National Park, and is also incorporated into the Washington Islands Wilderness. The three agencies cooperate on research programs and other issues that may have impacts on the resources.Joemma Beach State Park
Joemma Beach State Park is a 122-acre (49 ha) Washington state park on Puget Sound in Pierce County. The park offers 3,000 feet (910 m) of saltwater shoreline on southeast Key Peninsula and opportunities for picnicking, camping, boating, fishing, waterskiing, crabbing, and beachcombing.Mount Baker National Recreation Area
Mount Baker National Recreation Area is a United States National Recreation Area located in northern Washington about 15 miles (24 km) south of the Canada–US border within the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
The recreation area was established in 1984 by an act of the U.S. Congress primarily to accommodate the use of snowmobiles during the winter months on the southern slopes of Mount Baker. There are also many hiking trails in the recreation area. Mount Baker NRA is adjacent to the Mount Baker Wilderness area where snowmobiling is not permitted.Olympic Peninsula
The Olympic Peninsula is the large arm of land in western Washington that lies across Puget Sound from Seattle, and contains Olympic National Park. It is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the east by Hood Canal. Cape Alava, the westernmost point in the contiguous United States, and Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point, are on the peninsula. Comprising about 3600 square miles, the Olympic Peninsula contained many of the last unexplored places in the Contiguous United States. It remained largely unmapped until Arthur Dodwell and Theodore Rixon mapped most of its topography and timber resources between 1898 and 1900.Osoyoos Lake State Park
Osoyoos Lake State Park was a Washington state park in Okanogan County until it was sold to the city of Oroville and renamed Osoyoos Lake Veteran’s Memorial Park. The park has a 300-foot (91 m) sandy beach on Osoyoos Lake, boat ramp, and campground.Pacific Beach State Park
Pacific Beach State Park is a public recreation area in Grays Harbor County, Washington. The 17-acre (6.9 ha) state park offers 2,300 feet (700 m) of Pacific Ocean beachfront and activities that include picnicking, camping, fishing, swimming, clam digging, and beachcombing.Point Hannon
Point Hannon, also known as Whiskey Spit, is a 7.7-acre (31,000 m2) sand spit with 1,775 feet (541 m) of no-bank shoreline, jutting out from the eastern edge of Hood Head, in the Hood Canal of the state of Washington. For surface navigation, Point Hannon is marked by a light. The low sandy spit with shoal water extends about 600 feet (180 m) east of the light. The open waters to the North of the spit, are among the deepest in Puget Sound. Local magnetic disturbances of more than 2° from normal variation have been observed in Hood Canal at Point Hannon.
Whiskey Spit has been a meeting point for native peoples, mariners, fishers, and loggers for hundreds of years. Port Gamble S'Klallum and Lower Elwha S'Klallum members tell of Tribal Gatherings, ceremonies, and ancestral canoe burials, as well as regular trapping, hunting, and fishing endeavors going back far beyond the first documented visits made by European explorers to Point Hannon in the 1790s, and continuing to the present day. Shanghaied crew aboard inbound clippers, loggers, and other freighters were waylaid at Whiskey Spit so that they would not escape, and they were replaced by Native crews for the remainder of the sail into Puget Sound and back. At peaks in logging and wartime military activity, Whiskey Spit has functioned as billet, brothel, speakeasy, and casino. Artifacts and relics should not be removed from the site.
Whiskey Spit offers panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains, stretching from Mount Baker to Mount Rainier. With its sand dollar colony, moon snails, food sources for threatened salmon, and sea lion, harbor seal, gray whale, orca whale, harbor porpoise, bottlenose dolphin, muskrat, and river otter visitors, the spit is one of Washington's most special protected shorelines. The delicate freshwater marsh on the point provides the unique habitat requirements for the unusually wide range of nesting shore birds, migrating waterfowl, reptiles and amphibians, prey for the osprey, eagle, heron, and raven populations, and the essential foods for the plentiful sand lance and surf smelt.
In May 2002, The Trust for Public Land conveyed the property to the Washington State Park System for permanent protection. A water access primitive campground was planned for state park land on Point Hannon, but the Friends of Point Hannon, North Olympic Salmon Coalition, Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, Admiralty Audubon, Washington State Audubon Society, supporters of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and Northwest Water Resources oppose the conditional use permit and oppose exemption under the Jefferson County Shoreline Master Program.Potlatch State Park
Potlatch State Park is a 57-acre (23 ha) Washington state park located on Hood Canal near the town of Potlatch. The park offers camping, hiking, boating, fishing, shellfish harvesting, beachcombing, and sailboarding.Quileute Canyon
Quileute Canyon (also Quillayute Canyon) is a submarine canyon, off of Washington State, United States.Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge
Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge is the central refuge of the three (along with Flattery Rocks and Copalis) which make up the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex, a group of 870 islands, rocks, and reefs extending for more than 100 miles along Washington's coast from Cape Flattery to Copalis Beach. These islands are protected from human disturbance, yet are close to abundant ocean food sources.They are a vital sanctuary where 14 species of seabirds nest and raise their young. During migration the total populations of seabirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds may exceed a million birds. Sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, and whales may also be seen around the islands.The refuge is within the boundary of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic National Park, and except for Destruction Island is also incorporated into the Washington Islands Wilderness. The three agencies cooperate on research programs and other issues that may have impacts on the resources.Quinault Canyon
The Quinault Canyon is a submarine canyon, off Washington State, in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.Sea otter conservation
Modern efforts in sea otter conservation began in the early 20th century, when the sea otter was nearly extinct due to large-scale commercial hunting. The sea otter was once abundant in a wide arc across the North Pacific ocean, from northern Japan to Alaska to Mexico. By 1911, hunting for the animal's luxurious fur had reduced the sea otter population to fewer than 2000 individuals in the most remote and inaccessible parts of its range.
During the 20th century, sea otter populations recovered from remnant populations in the far east of Russia, western Alaska, and California. Beginning in the 1960s, efforts to translocate sea otters to previously populated areas were also successful in restoring sea otters to other parts of the west coast of North America. Populations in some areas are now thriving, and the recovery of the sea otter is considered one of the greatest successes in marine conservation.In two important parts of its range, however, sea otter populations have recently declined or have plateaued at depressed levels. In the Aleutian Islands, a massive and unexpected disappearance of sea otters has occurred in recent decades. The cause of the decline is not known, although the observed pattern of disappearances is consistent with a rise in orca predation. Sea otters give live birth. In the 1990s, California's sea otter population stopped growing for reasons that are probably different from the difficulties facing Alaska's otters. A high prevalence of infectious disease in juveniles and adults has been found to cause many sea otter deaths, however it is not known why California sea otters would be more vulnerable to disease than populations elsewhere. Other threats to sea otters are well-known. In particular, sea otters are highly vulnerable to oil spills, and a major spill can rapidly kill thousands of the animals. The IUCN lists the sea otter as an endangered species.Strait of Juan de Fuca
The Strait of Juan de Fuca (officially named Juan de Fuca Strait in Canada) is a large body of water about 154 kilometres (96 mi) long that is the Salish Sea's outlet to the Pacific Ocean. The international boundary between Canada and the United States runs down the center of the Strait.
It was named in 1787 by the maritime fur trader Charles William Barkley, captain of the Imperial Eagle, for Juan de Fuca, the Greek navigator who sailed in a Spanish expedition in 1592 to seek the fabled Strait of Anián. Barkley was the first non-indigenous person to find the strait, unless Juan de Fuca's story was true. The strait was explored in detail between 1789 and 1791 by Manuel Quimper, José María Narváez, Juan Carrasco, Gonzalo López de Haro, and Francisco de Eliza.United States National Marine Sanctuary
A U.S. National Marine Sanctuary is a zone within United States waters, where the marine environment enjoys special protection. The program began in 1972 in response to public concern about the plight of marine ecosystems.Westhaven State Park
Westhaven State Park was a 79-acre (32 ha) public recreation area in Grays Harbor County, Washington. The park's acreage was subsumed into the expanded Westport Light State Park in 2016.
United States National Marine Sanctuaries