About the Department of Ecology  |  About NOAA

Japanese Eelgrass Report
New Volunteer Training

The Reserve is managed cooperatively by NOAA and the Washington State Department of Ecology.

  • Department of Ecology
  • NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Sign up for Classes and Presentations
Read descriptions of Adult Classes or Children's Classes or programs for All Ages. To register, please call the Reserve at 360-428-1558 or send an email. Our Internet registration no longer works. We hope to have a new web page built by late 2016.

Two Teacher Workshops are being planned for summer 2016.

Check out the Heron Cam, live video from the great blue heron colony on March's Point.

About Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

About the Reserve

Padilla Bay is "reserved" for research and education about the Salish Sea.

This bay has been selected by the federal government to be one of many sites in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. But like all the sites in this national system, the Reserve is not owned by the federal government. It's owned and managed by Washington State. It's in the Shorelands Program at Department of Ecology.

Click Here for information about the Photo Voltaic system on our barn.

About the Bay

How to pronounce "Padilla"

Tide Predictions for Padilla Bay

Padilla Bay is an estuary at the saltwater edge of the large delta of the Skagit River in the Salish Sea. It is about eight miles long (north to south) and three miles across. In 1980, this bay was selected to be included in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.

Because the bay is filled with sediment from the Skagit River, the bottom is very shallow, flat, and muddy. It is so shallow that almost the whole bay is intertidal. This means that it is flooded at high tide but when the tide goes out the whole bay empties out, exposing miles and miles of mud flats. This condition allows unusually large eelgrass meadows to grow. There are nearly 8,000 acres of eelgrass in Padilla Bay. Click here to see a habitat map (simple version, 16KB) (more detailed version, 2.5MB).

Eelgrass is valuable because it is habitat for wildlife and commercially harvested animals. Eelgrass is used as a nursery by salmon, crab, perch, and herring. Eelgrass is also home for millions of worms, shrimp, clams, and other invertebrates that are food for great blue herons, eagles, otters, seals, as well as humans. This is why Padilla Bay was selected to be a National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Click here to learn more about estuary plants and animals. Please be patient, this is a large file (1.2MB) and may take a long time to download.