• Olympic: Three Parks in One

    Olympic

    National Park Washington

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • Madison Falls Trail Closed for Repairs Beginning July 7

    The one-tenth mile Madison Falls Trail and trailhead parking lot located in Elwha Valley will close to public entry beginning on Monday, July 7 while crews make improvements and repairs.

Marine Mammals

Sea otter floating on back in ocean with dark brown pup on her belly

Sea otter with pup

If you stand on the rugged coast of Olympic National Park and scan the Pacific Ocean, you might spot seals, sea lions, a spouting whale, or sea otters frolicking amid the kelp. These waters are part of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, an area of over 3,310 square miles (about twice the size of the park). The sanctuary has documented 29 species of marine mammals in its waters.

The cold northern Pacific Ocean provides a rich feeding ground for marine mammals, including several success stories. Sea otters were hunted to extinction off the Washington coast by the early 1900s, but a reintroduction in 1969 and 1970 began a recovery that continues today. Over 800 otters are now at home again in the kelp forests and waters off the park.

Gray whales, also once driven to near extinction, recovered enough to be removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act. From March into May, look for their spouts or barnacled-splotched backs as they migrate north to their summer feeding grounds.

Click here for a list of marine mammals that might be seen in the nearshore environment.

Did You Know?

marmot

Although related to other marmots and groundhogs of North America, the Olympic marmot is unique. An endemic species, it is found only in the Olympic Mountains. Visitors to the high country of Olympic National Park may be lucky enough to encounter a marmot sunning itself near its burrow.