One of the Ocean's most astonishing qualities is the diversity of living things that live there.
The complete list of animals occupying the seas has never been - and may never be - compiled. From
microscopic organisms that drift unseen in the currents, to the largest whales, the wildlife of the
Olympic Coast reminds us that humans share our ocean planet with other inhabitants.
Contact for page content: Nicole Harris
These wildlife viewing guidelines are presented to ensure your safety, the safety of animals and to
make your experience a "natural" one – an encounter that lets you observe animals that are not under
the stress of being harassed by your presence. These guidelines are very general in nature;
occasionally it is necessary to impose local or seasonal restrictions during breeding or pupping
season, for example, when animals have special needs for refuge. Follow the rules applicable for
the land management agency or landowner. Most of all, read the animal’s behavior for cues about the
effect of your presence. Escape or flight is usually preceded by signs that the animal is distracted
Do your homework: Wildlife encounters often leave us mystified about animal behavior. Your
wildlife viewing experienced will be enhanced if you have prepared yourself with knowledge about
the animal. Books, field guides, the Internet, local publications and expert guides are great
sources of information.
Optics bring you closer: Spotting scopes and binoculars let you view from a respectful
distance. Get that close-up picture with a telephoto lens, not by stalking or moving too close.
This is not a petting zoo. Wild animals can react very suddenly if their "personal space" is
invaded. A docile-appearing animal can become very violent if you get too close. Never attempt to
touch a wild animal. Never approach sick or injured animals, certain diseases can get transmitted
to you and an animal under physical stress can become very aggressive.
Animals' jobs are to feed themselves. Don't try to help. Sharing your lunch with wildlife is
a bad idea. It habituates animals to human presence by overcoming their natural fear of humans.
"Cute" behavior can quickly become a nuisance, or worse, dangerous. Human food is for human
Pets and wildlife: unpredictable outcomes and disease spread. The animal kingdom has rules
we don't understand. Wildlife don't recognize Fido as your loving companion. To them he's a
carnivore, possibly a competitor, predator or even lunch. Disease spreads between domestic and wild
animals in ways that are bad for both. If you insist on a pet as a wildlife watching companion,
keep the pet strictly leashed. Remember too, to clean up after your pet. Pet feces is a pollutant
and disease vector.
Give animals space and an escape route. Animal mothers and their young are a made-to-order
conflict if you unwittingly get between them. But also, consider other ways animals can feel trapped.
Leave animals obvious ways to avoid you. On the water, bring your boat to a dead stop and let marine
mammals find their way past. Never harass or chase animals.
Good habitat is clean habitat. Litter and marine debris are dangerous to animals. They can
become entangled in rope or net or other objects. Animals will eat almost anything that resembles
natural food. Do your part to clean up the beach or water when you see trash.
Become an expert. Become an advocate. Wildlife need all the human friends they can get.
You can "give back" to wildlife by sharing what you have learned with others, reminding others of
wildlife "manners." Many organizations, from local to international, are dedicated to wildlife
conservation. Your support of such organizations can help with their conservation efforts. And your
support for regulations and guidelines that protect wildlife is your best way to show your