Facilitating Science
Olympic Coast

RV Tatoosh
R/V Tatoosh. Credit: NOAA

There are several resources available to researchers at the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Please contact the Research Coordinator for discussions on facilitating research within the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

Research Coordinator: Jenny Waddell

Liam Antrim research coordinator at olympic coast

Stem Career Closeup - Research Coordinator

Learn more about life as the Research Coordinator at Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary by watching this interview by Liam Antrim. Credit: EarthEcho International.


OCNMS vessels are used for research, equipment deployment and dive operations both by sanctuary staff and our partners.  OCNMS has two vessels - a 40-foot, shallow draft research vessel the R/V Tatoosh with an A-frame and hydraulics for deployment of scientific equipment, and a 22-foot rigid hull, inflatable boat with a small J-davit.


Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary regulations provide for permitting of specific research and educational activities that are not otherwise permissible within the sanctuary. Proposed activities, including research projects, are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Guidance on how to apply for a sanctuary permit can be found here. A permit is required when an individual wants to conduct an activity within a sanctuary that is otherwise prohibited by sanctuary regulations. Permit requests are evaluated based on their potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts to sanctuary resources and potential benefits the activity may provide in terms of furthering the management and protection of sanctuary resources. Permitted activities are typically research or education oriented.


Remote locations and challenging dive conditions make the Olympic Coast a destination for experienced divers.  Recreational SCUBA divers can enjoy spectacular rocky reef and kelp forest diving among rockfish, marine mammals, sea urchins and the giant Pacific octopus at Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. More information about diving in your national marine sanctuaries can be found here.

Nearshore subtidal waters are rich with research opportunity, with baseline data available from surveys in the 1980's and 1990's. Scientific Divers can receive reciprocity to complete work conducted on SCUBA within the sanctuary and on sanctuary vessels. Please contact the Research Coordinator to facilitate planning research that utilizes SCUBA diving.

Lab Space

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary has very limited lab space but has access through partnerships with University of Washington's Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks, Olympic National Park (National Park Service), Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuges Complex (US Fish and Wildlife Service), and Peninsula College in Port Angeles. Contact these organizations directly for inquiries about use of lab space, or coordinate through the sanctuary's Research Coordinator.


Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary has a trailer in Neah Bay that is made available to groups of collaborators up to 6 people. Accommodations are available in most communities adjacent to the sanctuary, and discount rates for accommodations for researchers may be available at the Olympic Natural Resources Center.

Research Areas

To protect seabirds and marine mammals from acoustic and visual disturbance, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary has an overflight restriction zone located within one nautical mile of the coast and offshore islands within which aircraft are prohibited below 2,000 feet.    This sanctuary regulation complements a similar advisory from the Department of Interior that applies to adjacent national park and national wildlife refuge areas. 

The Olympic Coast Area-To-Be-Avoided (ATBA) is a voluntary measure that directs large vessel traffic to stay approximately 25 miles offshore of the ecologically-sensitive and dangerous operating environment of the rugged Olympic Coast.

Data Buoys

Archived and real-time data on weather and sea conditions are available from a growing number of oceanographic installations in the sanctuary.  Since 2000 OCNMS has deployed oceanographic buoys in summer months to track upwelling, currents, low oxygen (hypoxic) events, and ocean acidification in nearshore waters These data are available online after post-season processing has been completed.

NOAA's National Data Buoy Center manages a network of buoys and C-MAN (Coastal-Marine Automated Network) stations providing real-time data on ocean conditions off Washingtion's outer coast. for a map of stations and links to data.  Instrumented buoys are located in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca (buoy “JA”, #46087) and off Cape Elizabeth (#46041).  C-MAN stations are located at Destruction Island (DESW1) and Tatoosh Island (TTIW1), and National Ocean Service weather stations are located at Neah Bay (NEAW1) and La Push (LAPW1). 

In addition, the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS) maintains the Cha ba buoys off La Push and Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) maintains the Endurance Array, from which the Washington/Grays Harbor line includes buoys in the sanctuary.  Both groups deploy instrumented gliders that rove between the surface and the deep to track oceanographic conditions.

Equipment and Instruments

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary has a variety of research equipment that is shared with collaborators, on a project-specific basis.  This equipment includes:

  • Smith McIntyre and Ponar sediment grab samplers
  • Rosette with CTD and dissolved oxygen sensors plus water sampling bottles
  • Hull-mounted multi-beam echosounder
  • Various water quality instruments

Special Considerations

There are no special considerations that researchers need to be aware of at Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

Key Documents

Research Needs

Science Needs Assessments are brief summary documents designed to provide up to date information on the priority management issues facing your national marine sanctuaries and define the science and information needs necessary to address these issues.

Condition Report

The 2008 OCNMS Condition Report is a summary of the status and trend of sanctuary resources, pressures on those resources, and management responses to the pressures that threaten the marine environment.