Rocks carefully stacked on a log by a recent beachgoer sit on the edge of the beach near crashing waves from the ocean. Offshore there are sea stacks and offshore islands
Photo: NOAA

Beaches along the Olympic Coast exhibit a diversity of grain sizes ranging from fine sand to gravel and cobbles, often with large boulders and picturesque offshore rocks and islands scattered along the shoreline. Beach profiles change seasonally along this dynamic shoreline, showing marked differences in slope between summer and winter. Winter storms shape the coastline, prompting erosion and even landslides that may impact coastal habitats and species. In addition to providing habitat for marine species that may burrow in or scurry across the sediment, beaches provide important foraging areas for terrestrial species like black bears, river otters, and eagles.

Click on the illustration below to access user-friendly, online tools that allow resource managers, scientists, educators, students, and the public to explore, discover, and summarize ecosystem trends at the sanctuary.

Illustration of a beach habitat, with eight icons representing a variety of ecosystem components including Pacific razor clams, shorebirds, shellfish harvest closures, and beach advisories.
Illustration of ecosystem components for beach habitats. Image: NOAA