Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

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Keeping people safe

Out of an abundance of caution to help keep people safe during the coronavirus outbreak, the exhibits at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Bay are closed to the public for at least the next two weeks. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy, and appreciate your understanding in advance.

We manage the Padilla Bay Reserve, which provides research and stewardship opportunities as well as educational classes and professional trainings on a variety of environmental topics. The Breazeale Interpretive Center includes an aquarium with exhibits and is open to the public, free of charge. 

View the Reserve's location, hours, and contacts

Welcome to the reserve

The Padilla Bay Reserve is nestled just north of the quiet community of Bay View, Wash., 15 minutes west of I-5 in Skagit County. Here in the heart of the Salish Sea, we study and protect a massive eelgrass meadow. At more than 8,000 acres, it's the second largest on North America's Pacific Coast.

Eelgrass is used as a nursery by juvenile salmon, crab, and herring. It also provides critical habitat for waterfowl and marine birds and is given special significance in state Shoreline Master Plans and Puget Sound restoration efforts. Padilla Bay is one of 29 sites in the National Estuarine Research Reserve system established to protect coastal areas for long-term research, monitoring and education, and stewardship.

At the reserve you may find bus loads of school kids learning about the importance of estuaries and exploring the intertidal mud flats. Or, you may see research staff collecting data and processing samples in the laboratory. When you enter the Breazeale Interpretive Center, you're invited to browse through the exhibits and observe sea stars, urchins, and other marine life in the aquarium room. Our nearby trails and overlook site give you the opportunity to see eagles, herons, ducks, and other birds that live here year round or pass through on their migratory paths.

Below you can learn more about the reserve, sign up for classes, and find out how you can get involved.