olympic coast national marine sanctuary

Success for the sea otter!

Sea otters were once locally extinct from the Washington coast, but in 1969 and 1970, 59 sea otters were relocated there from Alaska. These otters have thrived: today more than 1,800 individuals call the Washington coast home! Most of them live in the waters of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. 

Each year, researchers survey the population – the 2016 census was organized by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, with assistance from volunteers and staff from the sanctuary, Seattle Aquarium, and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. One large raft of over 600 sea otters was observed off the mouth of the Hoh River! 

(Photo: NOAA)

NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

Happy World Whale Day! Have you ever walked inside a humpback whale? Check out the Beachcombers’ Fun Fair in Ocean Shores March 4th and 5th 2017 and meet Big Mama - a life-sized, walk-in inflatable humpback whale display. Big Mama is modeled after a whale known for her strong maternal nature, who feeds in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and the Salish Sea on her way to her summer feeding grounds in Alaska.

Stories from the Blue: Quinault Indian Nation Razor Clam Dig

Located off the coast of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary works closely with four indigenous communities: the Quinault Indian Nation and the Hoh, Makah, and Quileute tribes. These communities have forged inseparable ties to the ocean environment, maintaining traditions of the past while they navigate the challenges of the present.

Razor clams are an important resource for the Quinault Indian Nation. Historically, razor clams provided sustenance and served as trade items; today, annual razor clam digs help supplement Quinault income.

Watch our Stories from the Blue video to learn about the Quinault Indian Nation’s razor clam digs and how the nation and the sanctuary work together to protect culturally-important ocean ecosystems.

The ocean is vast, so how do researchers at national marine sanctuaries study what lives there? They listen! 

The sounds fish and other marine organisms make are species-specific, so listening to them is a great way to determine what’s in the sanctuary. Researchers at Stellwagen Bank, Gray’s Reef, Florida Keys and Flower Garden Banks national marine sanctuaries deploy shallow water hydrophones to record ambient sound, like that of fishes and boats. Researchers have also deployed deep-water hydrophones in Cordell Bank, Channel Islands, and Olympic Coast national marine sanctuaries to record sounds like whales and ships. These listening stations will help us learn how noisy our sanctuaries are. 

(Photo: NOAA, taken in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary)