Washington is the first Ocean Acidification Sentinel Sites in the country!

Did you know that Washington is an Ocean Acidification Sentinel Site? Well, you do now! What, exactly, does that mean? It essentially establishes a framework for resource managers and coastal communities to share information and collaborate on how ocean acidification is affecting our coasts. The goal is to ensure that we’re planning for the effects that changing ocean conditions will have on our communities, economies, and cultures. The official designation of the Olympic Coast as a Sentinel Site in 2019 was a multi-year process a decade in the making. Check out the video below to learn more about it:

The OASeS Symposium

Last month, NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary hosted the Olympic Coast Ocean Acidification Sentinel Site (OASeS) Symposium, which involved over two days of presentations and storytelling from Tribes, federal and state agencies, researchers, resource managers, and the general public, both in-person and virtually. Topics ranged from oceanographic observations and ecological modeling, to food security and fisheries management, to socioeconomic impacts and community well-being, to invasive species and harmful algal blooms, all viewed through the lens of ocean acidification. The purpose of the symposium was to share information and identify data gaps, resource needs, and solutions. The symposium came at a strategic time, just after the recent release of the OCNMS Condition Report, which identified climate change (particularly ocean acidification) as the greatest threat to our coastal waters.

We heard from leaders from all four coastal treaty tribes (Hoh, Makah, Quileute, and Quinault), whose presence on the coast since time immemorial means they have invaluable insight into how things used to be, providing critical context for understanding the changes we are seeing today. They shared powerful stories about what they’re experiencing on the frontlines of climate change, and a collective call to action to address these urgent threats.

Scientists tuned in virtually from across the country (and beyond!) to share their latest research, state and federal agencies outlined their policy priorities, and local teachers and their students showed us the important lessons being taught both in and outside the classroom. I had the opportunity to present about recreation along the outer coast, referencing our 2014 recreational use study that analyzed the economic impacts of coastal tourism in Washington.

My main takeaway from this symposium is that the Olympic Coast means so much to so many, and in a lot of ways, we’re doing a solid job taking care of it. But some threats are beyond our control. There are limits to what we can do locally to combat ocean acidification. While the scale and severity of climate change can be paralyzing, I find solace in knowing that there is an incredible network of passionate, dedicated people working together to address this complex issue and ensure our communities collaborate and plan for the coming changes.

You, too, can help take action to ensure our coasts are resilient to climate change. Click on the link below to urge congress to fund a critical climate change package:

Huge shout out to the Sanctuary staff that made this symposium a huge success!