Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Resource Protection section includes Regulations, Incident Response, Marine Debris, Wildlife Disturbance, Water Quality, Habitat Protection, and Permits
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Resource Protection section includes Regulations, Incident Response, Marine Debris, Wildlife Disturbance, Water Quality, Habitat Protection, and Permits
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Resource Protection section includes Regulations, Incident Response, Marine Debris, Wildlife Disturbance, Water Quality, Habitat Protection, and Permits Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Resource Protection section includes Regulations, Incident Response, Marine Debris, Wildlife Disturbance, Water Quality, Habitat Protection, and Permits

Wildlife Disturbance

photo of nesting cormorants Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary is recognized for its unique and abundant wildlife, relatively undeveloped condition, and productive ecosystem. In addition to the sanctuary, the area is protected by other government entities: Washington State's Washington Seashore Conservation Area, Olympic National Park's coastal strip, the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex, and the Quinault Nation, Hoh, Quileute and Makah tribes. The Olympic Coast's extraordinarily natural values were acknowledged and protected as early as 1907 when seabird colonies on the coast's islands were first granted federal conservation protection under a seabird reserve system by President Theodore Roosevelt.

photo of beached female elephant seal The phrase "wildlife disturbance" includes noise, physical and visual disturbances caused by human activities that can have physical and behavioral impacts on wildlife above, below and on the water surface. Nesting birds respond to disturbance by leaving their nesting roosts. Marine mammals flee from haul-out or pupping areas, or abandon the area. Sources of wildlife disturbance in the sanctuary include low-flying aircraft, motorized personal watercraft, fireworks, close approach to wildlife aggregation areas (either humans on foot or in a vessel) and other excessive noises that originate from various sources.

The sanctuary enforces overflight regulations that require pilots to remain above 2,000 feet over beaches, offshore rocks and islands.

"Watchable Wildlife" guidelines inform sanctuary visitors to maintain critical distances from marine mammals and other wildlife. This both protects the animals from the stress of human encounters and assures that observes experience "natural" wildlife behaviors, such as grooming and social interactions, rather than fearful animals in flight from human observers.

photo of beached mammal Beached or injured seals, sea lions and whales are relatively common in the wild. However, approaching injured, diseased or dead marine mammals is hazardous and removal of bones and teeth and other body parts is illegal under federal law. See our page of precautions for stranded marine mammals. Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary participates in the Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Our staff report and respond to marine mammal strandings in cooperation with federal, state and tribal partners.



Contact for page content: George Galasso
photo of sunset on the ocean
Revised July 26, 2017 by Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary   |    Contact Us   |    Report a broken link  |
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service    |    leaving site indicates a link leaves the site. Please view our Disclaimer for more information.| User Survey
National Ocean Service | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | National Marine Sanctuaries | NOAA Library | Privacy Policy