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Olympic Coast: The Living Sanctuary

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary occupies one of the most productive regions of the planet-the North Pacific Temperate zone. ...click image for more... (photo: Nancy Sefton)

Bull kelp (Nereocystis leutkeana) forms a critical habitat in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Its hollow stems grow quickly, afixed to...click image for more... (photo: Steve Fisher)

Ochre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus) are voracious predators in the intertidal zone. Feeding on mussels and other mollusks, they limit the range of these species. (photo: Nancy Sefton)

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) visit the Sanctuary during spring and summer months, congregating to feed over ...click image for more... (photo: Olympic Coast NMS)

Most killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the Sanctuary belong to groups that migrate into the inner waters of Puget Sound and Geogria Strait....click image for more.... (photo: Olympic Coast NMS)

Northern sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) use haul-outs on many offshore rocks and island. (photo: Steve Fisher)

Common farther offshore Pacific white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens) congregate in large pods. (photo: Olympic Coast NMS)

The orange-spotted nudibranch (Triopha catalinae) is a mollusc without a shell. Sometimes called "sea slugs," they feed on minute organisms the..click image for more... (photo: Steve Fisher)

Echinoderms-"spiny skin"-represent an important group of invertebrates in Sanctuary waters. The purple and red sea urchins ...click image for more... (photo: Nancy Sefton)

Giant ocean sunfish (Mola mola) often reach eight feet in length. These odd-looking fish swim lazily through the water, feeding primarily on jelly fish. (photo: Steve Fisher)

China rockfish (Sebastes nebulosus) are common nearshore fish that inhabit rocky reefs and kelp beds of the Sanctuary. (photo: Steve Fisher)

Sea anemones (Tealia sp.) reflect the broad diversity of organisms that are part of the marine ecosystem, yet play no practical significant role in the lives of humans. Nevertheless, we marvel at their beauty and compexity and recognize their role in the marine life support system. (photo: Steve Fisher)

Two species of octopus are common in Olympic Coast NMS. This small octopus (Octopus rubescens) rarely exceeds 6 inches in length. It's relative, ...click image for more... (photo: Steve Fisher)

Clownlike in appearance, tufted puffins (Fraturcula cirrhata) nest on a few islands within the Sanctuary. Their numbers have dwindled ..click image for more... (photo: Olympic Coast NMS)

Common murres (Uria aalge) in Olympic Coast NMS use only one island-Tatoosh Island for nesting. In just a decade, murre nesting ...click image for more... (photo: Olympic Coast NMS)

Common murres (Uria aalge) nest in the densest colonies of all seabirds. Females lay one egg per season, holdin the large pointed egg ...click image for more... (photo: Olympic Coast NMS)

Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) were hunted to extinction in Washington in the early 1900s. Otters from Alaska were reintroduced in 1969 and 1970 ...click image for more... (photo: Olympic Coast NMS)

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