Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Logo

Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Reserve Information



Lead Agency

Washington State Department of Ecology
(Visit Site)


11,966 acres


North of Seattle, Washington near Mount Vernon

Additional Information

Habitats found here support herring, smelt, salmon, flatfish, Dungeness crab, ducks, eagles, shorebirds, and peregrine falcons. Mammals found in Padilla Bay include harbor seals and river otters.

Biogeographic Region


Tidal Range

3.7 meters

About This Reserve

This reserve protects one of the largest beds of eelgrass in the contiguous United States − nearly 8,000 acres. Located in the northern reaches of greater Puget Sound, at the saltwater edge of the large delta of the Skagit River in the Salish Sea, the reserve is eight miles long and three miles across. The site is surrounded by agricultural and industrial business, and the area is moderately populated. The area attracts tourists, artists, nature enthusiasts, birdwatchers, hunters, and fishermen.

The Padilla Bay Reserve is one of 30 areas in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The site is protected for long-term research, water-quality monitoring, education, and coastal stewardship. The Washington State Department of Ecology, along with local partners, leads the day-to-day management of the facility. NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management provides funding, national guidance, and technical assistance.

Reserve Location and Boundaries