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Northwest

Marine Mammal Protection

Harbor Seals

Harbor seals utilize specific shoreline locations on a regular basis as resting places (haul-outs). Haul-outs include beaches, rocks, log booms, floats and buoys. Seals will return to these locations to haul-out but any shoreline or floating feature with easy access to the water can serve as a resting spot.

Seals use shoreline habitat on a daily basis for their entire lives to rest and regulate their body temperature. Federal marine mammal regulations prohibit harassing seals on shore to reduce human disturbance of important life processes. Please give the animal space; stay back 100 yards if possible. Respect nature's role—don't touch, handle, or feed seals found on shore. If the animal is stranded or injured, please report it to the Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network at (206) 526-6733. For more information on how to comply with wildlife viewing regulations, tips on how to safely observe and how not to disturb seals, and to report harassment, please view the Sharing the Shore with Harbor Seal Pups in Washington State document.

If you find a dead seal/sea lion on the beach with suspicious injuries, you should report it to the Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network, who collects data on all dead marine mammals found in Washington and Oregon. The network participants are trained to look for signs of human interaction and, if possible, will conduct a necropsy on fresh dead animals. Please report the stranding to (206) 526-6733, and your local network will work with you to determine if a response or investigation is necessary.

Under the 1994 Amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, property owners and government officials can protect private and public property by deterring sea lions provided the acts do not result in injury or death to the animal. NOAA Fisheries is developing formal guidelines and regulations for safely and legally deterring marine mammals. In the interim, find advice on deterring Harbor Seals and California Sea Lions. For more information, go to the Deterring Harbor Seals and California Sea Lions page.


Special Agent Maile Schneider checks a vessel's log books.

Killer Whales

The killer whale (Orcinus orca), or orca, is found in all oceans. These whales can adapt to almost any condition and thrive in both the open ocean and coastal waters.

The Southern Resident killer whales are the significant population in the Northwest Region. These whales are the "resident" type, spending specific periods each year in the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound. The Southern Residents feed mostly on salmon.

"Transient" orcas occasionally visit Puget Sound. These whales feed mostly on pinnipeds and don't have known schedules and locations as resident whales do.

If you are in a kayak, stay at least 200 yards away from killer whales. You can follow a pod of killer whales in your motorized vehicle, but you should slow your speed to 7 knots and stay 400 yards away, moving parallel with the killer whales. For more information, please go to the Be Whale Wise website.

Catch Limits and Closed Areas for Commercial Groundfish

To get more information on the current federal catch limits for commercial groundfish, sign up to receive updated public notices via email or mail from NOAA Fisheries Northwest Regional Office.

Visit NOAA Fisheries Northwest Regional Office to find all applicable coordinates for the current closed areas for the commercial groundfish fishery. You can also ask a local approved vessel monitoring system installer to load updated coordinates to your GPS plotter.