Aquatic Reserve Nearby

Aquatic Reserve Nearby

Did you know that just a few miles off the western shore of Whidbey Island near Oak Harbor are the Smith and Minor Islands? The US Fish and Wildlife Service designated these 36,300 acres of tidelands and seafloor habitat as an aquatic reserve. An aquatic reserve is a State-owned land considered containing exceptional biodiversity. The Smith and Minor Islands have the largest kelp bed in the Puget Sound and provide a pristine ecosystem that attracts multitudes of migrating, nesting and foraging birds, fish and marine mammals.

The Reserve’s boundary includes the western coast of Whidbey Island from Joseph Whidbey State Park to just south of Fort Ebey State Park and provides several opportunities to access. Specifically, there are five access points. The first at Joseph Whidbey State Park, just northwest of Oak Harbor. West Beach Road, just south of the park. From here a public beach provides shoreline access as well as a view of the Olympic Mountains, the Reserve and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A third entry point where you gain access from the water to the reserve is at the Hastie Lake Road Boat Launch. West of Coupeville and north of Ft Ebey State Park, there is a small county park called Libbey Beach County Park (Partridge Point) which provides shoreline access to the Reserve. Lastly, Ebey’s Landing, located south of Ft. Ebey State Park offers shoreline access, as well as spectacular views of the Reserve.

Apart from Reserve serving as a nesting and foraging habitat for seabirds, it’s also part of the National Wildlife Refuge that offers a breeding ground and winter sanctuary for birds. Whales, such as orca, gray and minke can frequently be seen from the Reserve; and harbor seals, elephant seals, and stellar sea lions use the islands for water, rest, and pup-rearing.

The large kelp beds function as a rearing and foraging habitat for juvenile salmon, crab, and other fish. Lastly, many invertebrates – part of the Reserve’s food chain – such as snails, clams, crabs, shrimp and other critters are found around the waters and shorelines.
From Casey, these points of access to the Reserve are just minutes away. If you’d like a presentation made to your group, contact Robin Clark at Robin@whidbeywatersheds.org or (206) 235-3321.

Find more information at http://www.aquaticreserves.org/wp-content/uploads/Smith-and-Minor-Panel.pdf