Water Quality Protection
Water quality within the sanctuary is largely representative of natural ocean conditions, with
relatively minor influence from human activities at sea and on land. By conventional measures,
marine water quality within the sanctuary is relatively high, which may reflect its isolation
from major urban or industrial complexes as well as the dynamic ocean currents that can dilute and
distribute introduced materials.
Contact for page content: George Galasso
Some persistent industrial chemicals, even those no longer used in this country such as DDT, have
found their way into marine food webs and have been detected through
Although water quality within the sanctuary is currently good, the potential for contamination
by petroleum products, pathogens and chemicals is a concern. Four of the five largest oil spills
in Washington state history have occurred in or moved into the area now designated as the sanctuary.
In the decade before sanctuary designation, two major oil spills released more than 325,000 gallons
(1,230,258 liters) of petroleum products that impacted marine ecosystems and human communities on
the outer Washington coast. In collaboration with our partners, Olympic Coast National Marine
Sanctuary works to reduce the risk of oil spills and vessel incidents through regional
vessel management and
incident response efforts.
As a preventative measure to maintain water quality, sanctuary
regulations were revised in 2011 to limit
vessel discharges allowed in the sanctuary.