Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

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. 

Welcome to the Reserve

The Padilla Bay Reserve is nestled just north of the quiet community of Bay View, Washington, 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, 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.

About Us

See information about us, including our location and hours, recreational opportunities, contact and facility information, and how to get involved

Coastal Training Program

See information about our training program, including practical, science-based training for professionals who make decisions about shoreline management.


More information about our education programs, including how to sign up for classes, child activities, group visits, teacher resources and workshops


More information about our research, including how we promote, conduct and coordinate various research studies and monitoring throughout the bay


Information about watershed stewardship, including monitoring change, educating people living in the watershed, and balancing the uses