We conduct scientific research in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary for three important reasons:
- to survey to know what's there (baseline data),
- to detect trends, improvements or declines in important resources or changes that are part of larger global processes and
- to give us the scientific basis for making important conservation decisions. Our research program includes all of these missions.
The (ROPOS) vehicle operates remotely to reach ocean depths of up to 16,404 feet.
To define the science and information needs necessary to address priority management issues, we have
created a set of science needs documents. These documents are available at on the
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries website
where you can find more background on the purpose, structure, and content of the system-wide science
Since only a fraction of the sanctuary has been mapped in detail, we conduct
seafloor habitat mapping
to understand relationships of biological communities
to physical habitat.
Cold-water corals live without sunlight where water temperatures are 39-59° F.
Based on these maps, we and our partners survey and explore the seafloor habitats, documenting
deep-sea coral and sponge communities
, including fish, and finding submerged cultural
resources such as shipwrecks or ancient habitations. Deep-sea exploration can make important
contributions to resource protection by providing scientific information for management decisions.
With ongoing research in
programs, we monitor to determine
the status and condition of marine life and their long-term trends in the intertidal and
subtidal habitats. Our oceanography program
uses nearshore scientific moorings to monitor water chemistry and currents for investigations
into climate change (e.g., ocean acidification) and hypoxia events as well as other related research
to help understand and determine their impacts on the sanctuary.
One of the ocean's most astonishing qualities is the diversity of living things that live there.
The complete list of animals and plants occupying the seas has never been, and may never be totally
known. From microscopic organisms that drift unseen in the currents, to the largest whales, the
marine life of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary reminds us that humans share our ocean
planet with other inhabitants.
From our marine wildlife research
, we know that twenty nine species
of marine mammals reside in or migrate through Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary,
including whales and porpoises, seals and sea lions, and sea otters. And there are almost 90
species of marine birds that residents or transients, which range from shorebirds to high-seas
albatrosses. Monitoring wide-ranging marine wildlife requires working with many resource partners
using different survey platforms, such as boats, ships, and aircraft.
If you're interested in taking an active role in helping care for our sanctuary, it's easy to join
our Citizen Science
team. Hours that you spend working to improve marine habitats,
understand trends in marine wildlife and share knowledge with others show your generosity to future
All of these research programs are helping us to better understand
which are the ultimate challenges to marine
conservation science. It requires a wide range of disciplines and the coordination of many
If you would like to know more about what type of research surveys we participate in you can go to
our survey/cruise summaries
for more information. We also have information on our research vessel the
R/V Tatoosh and other research assets
at Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.