Summary and Findings
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary represents one of North America's most productive marine ecosystems that lies adjacent to expansive stretches of spectacular undeveloped shoreline. The sanctuary encompasses a variety of habitat types, from sand beaches and rocky intertidal shores to nearshore kelp forests and uninhabited islands, to deep coral and sponge communities and submarine canyons. More...
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Condition Summary Table
The following table summarizes the "State of Sanctuary Resources" section of this report. The first two columns list 17 questions used to rate the condition and trends for qualities of water, habitat, living resources, and maritime archaeological resources. The "Rating" column consists of a color, indicating resource condition, and a symbol, indicating trend (see key for definitions). The "Basis for Judgment" column provides a short statement or list of criteria used to justify the rating. The "Description of Findings" column presents the statement that best characterizes resource status, and corresponds to the assigned color rating. The "Description of Findings" statements are customized for all possible ratings for each question..
Status: Good Good/Fair Fair Fair/Poor Poor Undet.
▲ Conditions appear to be improving.
- Conditions do not appear to be changing.
▼ Conditions appear to be declining.
? Undeterminted trend.
N/A Question not applicable.
Basis For Judgement
Are specific or multiple stressors, including changing oceanographic and atmospheric conditions, affecting water quality?
Hypoxic conditions may be increasing in frequency and spatial extent in nearshore waters.
Selected conditions may preclude full development of living resource assemblages and habitats, but are not likely to cause substantial or persistent declines.
Management focuses on oil spill and discharge preventative measures, including relocating ship traffic lanes offshore, tracking ships, enhancing spill response assets in the region, and reducing wastes discharged from ships; moored instruments track nearshore water quality; periodic shipboard surveys are conducted to investigate physical, chemical and biological linkages.
What is the eutrophic condition of sanctuary waters and how is it changing?
No suspected human influence on harmful algal blooms or eutrophication.
Conditions do not appear to have the potential to negatively affect living resources or habitat quality.
Do sanctuary waters pose risks to human health and how are they changing?
Naturally occurring harmful algal blooms result in periodic shellfish closures.
Selected conditions that have the potential to affect human health may exist but human impacts have not been reported.
What are the levels of human activities that may influence water quality and how are they changing?
Threat of oil spills from vessels.
Some potentially harmful activities exist, but they do not appear to have had a negative effect on water quality.
What are the abundance and distribution of major habitat types and how are they changing?
Reduction in habitat complexity by bottom-tending gear; short-term impacts from fishing gear and cable installation.
Selected habitat loss or alteration has taken place, precluding full development of living resource assemblages, but it is unlikely to cause substantial or persistent degradation in living resources or water quality.
Sanctuary and partners map and characterize deep habitats and the extent of human impacts and convey information to fisheries managers; large areas have been closed to fishing that uses bottom trawl gear to protect sensitive habitats; negotiated reburial of exposed fiber optic cable; began marine debris removal efforts.
What is the condition of biologically structured habitats and how is it changing?
Damage by bottom-tending gear in some deep biogenic habitats.
Selected habitat loss or alteration may inhibit the development of living resources, and may cause measurable but not severe declines in living resources or water quality.
What are the contaminant concentrations in sanctuary habitats and how are they changing?
Prior studies indicate low levels of contaminants.
Contaminants do not appear to have the potential to negatively affect living resources or water quality.
What are the levels of human activities that may influence habitat quality and how are they changing?
Decrease in bottom trawling and presumably impacts to hard-bottom habitats.
Selected activities have resulted in measurable habitat impacts, but evidence suggests effects are localized, not widespread.
9. What is the status of biodiversity and how is it changing?
Ecosystem-level impacts caused by historical depletion of fish, high-order predators, and keystone species.
Selected biodiversity loss may inhibit full community development and function, and may cause measurable but not severe degradation of ecosystem integrity.
Sanctuary works with partners to monitor populations of seabirds and marine mammals, and to detect non-indigenous species and conducts regular intertidal monitoring; wide area closures by fisheries management authorities to allow populations to recover.
What is the status of environmentally sustainable fishing and how is it changing?
Overexploitation of some groundfish species has led to wide area closures.
Extraction may inhibit full community development and function, and may cause measurable but not severe degradation of ecosystem integrity.
What is the status of non-indigenous species and how is it changing?
Invasive Sargassum and tunicate distrubutions are expanding.
Non-indigenous species exist, precluding full community development and function, but are unlikely to cause substantial or persistent degradation of ecosystem integrity.
What is the status of key species and how is it changing?
Populations of Common Murres, sea otters, and numerous rockfish reduced from historic levels, with differing recovery rates.
The reduced abundance of selected keystone species may inhibit full community development and function, and may cause measurable but not severe degradation of ecosystem integrity; or selected key species are at reduced levels, but recovery is possible.
What is the condition or health of key species and how is it changing?
Diseases detected in sea otters.
The condition of selected key resources is not optimal, perhaps precluding full ecological function, but substantial or persistent declines are not expected.
What are the levels of human activities that may influence living resource quality and how are they changing?
Commercial and recreational fishing pressure has decreased.
Selected activities have resulted in measurable living resource impacts, but evidence suggests effects are localized, not widespread.
MARITIME ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESOURCES
What is the integrity of known maritime archaeological resources and how is it changing?
Deepwater wrecks stable; shallow wrecks subject to environmental degradation; lack of monitoring to determine trend.
The diminished condition of selected archaeological resources has reduced, to some extent, their historical, scientific, or educational value, and may affect the eligibility of some sites for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Need to conduct inventories and monitoring, and to assess possible impacts of sea level rise on coastal archaeological resources.
Do known maritime archaeological resources pose an environmental hazard and is this threat changing?
Historic wrecks did not carry substantial quantities of hazardous cargoes.
Known maritime archaeological resources pose few or no environmental threats.
What are the levels of human activities that may influence maritime archaeological resource quality and how are they changing?
Fishing activities, cable installations offshore, and unauthorized salvaging.
Selected activities have resulted in measurable impacts to maritime archaeological resources, but evidence suggests effects are localized, not widespread.
▲ Conditions appear to be improving.