Habitats are where marine organisms dwell, find food, shelter, and reproduce. Natural populations
of marine organisms require healthy habitats to survive. One of the purposes of our National
Marine Sanctuary System is "to maintain the natural biological communities in the national
marine sanctuaries, and to protect, and, where appropriate, restore and enhance natural habitats,
populations, and ecological processes;" Sec 301(b) of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.
Contact for page content: George Galasso
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary hosts a variety of
marine habitats, including the intertidal shoreline,
shallow nearshore areas, the pelagic or open water realm, and deep ocean seafloor and submarine
canyons. These habitats are complex, with a combination of geological (mud, sand, and rocks),
biological (kelp, sponges, corals, other organisms), and physical (waves and currents) features.
Protection of these marine habitats from human activities causing physical damage, reduced
complexity or other degradation is one primary responsibility of national marine sanctuaries.
Habitat protection actions are supported by research and monitoring efforts, and are reinforced
through outreach to inform citizens and minimize habitat impacts. Effective management for
habitat protection relies on
threat assessment to understand what activities
may degrade habitats and identification of marine habitats of special importance,
such as critical habitat for endangered species or essential fish habitat.
Invasive species also can pose a threat to marine habitats.
As one of many organizations with responsibility for managing human behaviors, the sanctuary
works collaboratively with other state, federal and tribal governments and regional management
authorities to identify and implement appropriate actions to protect habitats.