West End refuges From Grays Harbor to Neah Bay, more than 800 rocks, reefs and islands dot the rugged coastline. Three national wildlife refuges — Flattery Rocks, Quillayute Needles and Copalis national wildlife refuges — totaling 430 acres are within the boundaries of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic National Park. Flattery Rocks National Wildlife Refuge runs from Cape Flattery to the Ozette area. Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge extends from that southern boundary to about Kalaloch. The last of the three refuges is Copalis National Wildlife Refuge, from south of Queets to just north of Grays Harbor. All refuges are closed to the public to protect the habitat. The refuges and their inhabitants may be viewed with binoculars or spotting scopes from several spots along the coast including Shi Shi, Cape Alava, Rialto, Second, Ruby and Kalaloch beaches. Protective rain gear, or at least a sturdy plastic bag, is recommended to protect cameras from rain showers. When walking along coastal beaches be aware of tides, weather, beach logs and other dangers. Most of the islands are small enough that they never earned names on a map. Destruction Island and Point Grenville are among some of the better-known locations. Refuge staff warn that boaters should stay at least 200 yards off the islands, both for their own safety and to avoid disturbing birds. The refuge areas are the primary breeding grounds for the tufted puffin, with its striped head and peculiar beak, and the common murre, which resembles a little penguin. The islands swell with flocks of migrating seabirds in excess of a million during fall and spring migrations. In summer the vast majority of Washington’s breeding seabirds jostle for space on these remote rocks. Black oystercatchers tend pebbly nests at the water’s edge, common murres lay gravity-defying eggs on barren ledges, and tufted puffins burrow their nests deep into the loamy bluffs. The region, where 80 percent of the state’s seabird population nests, supports 12 types of marine birds. In addition, peregrine falcons and bald eagles reside with their cousins. Several types of seals, sea lions and sea otters also stop by the local kelp beds. Sea otters are not easily seen from shore, but have been spotted off Cape Flattery.
152 OLYMPIC PENINSULA VISITORS GUIDE • SUMMER 2018
Counterclockwise from top: Ducks dry off on a shoreline after searching for food. Gulls greet visitors at Cape Alava. A gray jay waits for food in the Kalaloch area. Oystercatchers see what the tide has left for dinner on rocks off Beach 4.