Off northwest Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) is rich with marine life, diverse habitats, history and Native American culture.
Four Olympic Coast tribes – the Makah, Quileute, Hoh and Quinault – use of the waters stretch back centuries from present day. the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sanctuary staff and the tribes work together on behalf of sanctuary management to strengthen resources and respect the longstanding relationship of coastal Native Americans and the marine environment.
Twenty-nine species of marine mammals reside in or migrate through Olympic Coast NMS including humpback and gray whales; seals; sea lions; and sea otters. The sanctuary provides critical nesting habitats for seabirds of all kinds and an important migratory pathway. Olympic Coast is also among the most productive fish-growing habitats in the world with salmon, halibut, rockfish, hake, herring and sunfish.
Visitors enjoy sustainable recreation in true coastal wilderness. Sport fishing and shellfish-gathering, hiking and camping, surfing, diving, kayaking, tidepooling, beachcombing and wildlife exploration attract 3 million people annually. Visitors also learn more about Native American culture through engagement with the local tribal communities. The Sanctuary’s Discovery Center is a popular starting point, with interactive exhibits and learning programs; the facility’s management is supported by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
Research, monitoring and conservation activities are equally dynamic here, with extensive citizen science opportunities. Sanctuary experts conduct seafloor habitat mapping and documentation of marine communities, shipwrecks and ancient sites. Its oceanography program studies climate change and impact on the sanctuary.
Volunteerism is integral to Olympic Coast NMS’s continued health and success, particularly with the problem of marine debris. Washington CoastSavers, a local non-profit, works in partnership with the sanctuary to organize beach cleanups and programs raising awareness. The Foundation funded the group through a Hollings Grant.
Related Links :Olympic Coast NMS Website
“Most people aren’t aware that Olympic Coast NMS represents one of North America’s most productive marine ecosystems and most spectacular undeveloped coastlines. It borders protected areas of Olympic National Park, Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Washington State Parks as well as Tribal lands. Each year, thousands of volunteers work with sanctuary staff to help protect the coast by participating in beach cleanups and other monitoring efforts.”