Predictive mapping of seabirds, pinnipeds and cetaceans off the Pacific Coast of Washington

A collaborative investigation by NOAA's National Ocean Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Cascadia Research Collective
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About this report

This report supports Washington-led marine spatial planning and responsible stewardship of natural and cultural resources by the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Washington state agencies and the sanctuary continually seek the best available science to improve management of marine uses and stewardship of resources (Etheridge et al., 2010; Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2015a). This report and associated data provide new, state- and sanctuary-requested information on seabird, pinniped, and cetacean distributions. Through spatial planning, information on species distributions can help to identify high-value conservation areas, minimize adverse effects of ocean uses and mitigate impacts of coastal hazards. Correspondingly, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has already begun to use the maps of predicted relative density presented in this report to identify ecologically important areas off the Pacific Coast of Washington and apply this information to plan for offshore renewable energy development.

This is the culmination of three years of work to compile information on seabirds, pinnipeds, and cetaceans, and advance a modeling framework that can integrate data sets and develop accurate predictions of relative density for important species off the Pacific Coast of Washington. Previous reports, which evaluated existing datasets of at-sea observations (Menza et al., 2014; Kracker and Menza, 2015) and presented superseded versions of seabird models (Menza et al., 2015), provided base information for this report. In addition to the maps in this published report, all new seabird, pinniped and cetacean predictions will be made publicly available as digital geospatial data through the National Centers for Environmental Information.

This research supports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Zone Management Program, a voluntary partnership between the federal government and U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and territories authorized by the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 to address national coastal issues. The act provides the basis for protecting, restoring, and responsibly developing our nation’s diverse coastal communities and resources. To meet the goals of the CZMA, the national program takes a comprehensive approach to coastal resource management – balancing the often competing and occasionally conflicting demands of coastal resource use, economic development, and conservation. A wide range of issues are addressed through the program, including coastal development, water quality, public access, habitat protection, energy facility siting, ocean governance and planning, coastal hazards, and climate change. Accurate maps of seabird and marine mammal distributions are an important tool for making informed management decisions that affect all of these issues. 

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title Predictive mapping of seabirds, pinnipeds and cetaceans off the Pacific Coast of Washington
DOI 10.7289/V5NV9G7Z
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher NOAA NCCOS Center of Coastal Monitoring and Assessment
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description i. 96 p.
Country United States
State Washington
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details