Admiralty Inlet GRP

Table of Contents


Site Description

This section provides an overview of the area’s physical features, hydrology, climate and winds, and tides and currents in the Admiralty Inlet GRP planning area, and an oil spill risk assessment in Section 2.6.  The Admiralty Inlet GRP encompasses about 316 square miles and is bounded by Port Townsend and Coupeville to the north, Port Hadlock and Port Ludlow to the west, Whidbey Island to the east, and Port Gamble and Edmonds to the south.  It includes the northern end of Hood Canal (waters north of the Hood Canal Bridge), Port Gamble Bay, Bywater Bay, Port Ludlow, Mats Mats Bay, Oak Bay, Kilisut Harbor, Mystery Bay, Scow Bay, Port Townsend, Glen Cove, Skunk Bay, Admiralty Bay, Mutiny Bay, Useless Bay, Cultus Bay, Puget Sound, and the southern end of Possession Sound.  Fully or partially, the cities of Port Townsend, Port Hadlock-Irondale, Port Ludlow, Port Gamble, Hansville, Coupeville, Kingston, and Mukilteo reside within the planning area, as well as portions of Water Resource Inventory Areas Island (WRIA 6), Cedar-Sammamish (WRIA 8), Kitsap (WRIA 15) and Quilcene-Snow (WRIA 17).  The planning area falls within the boundaries of Kitsap, Jefferson, Island, and Snohomish counties (ESA Adolfson 2012).

Physical Features

Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound were sculpted by thick and extensive glaciers that advanced south to just beyond Olympia.  Glacial sediments (glacial till and outwash) were deposited during the last 2 million years by numerous glacial advances, the most recent of which was around 15,000 years ago.  Glaciers covered the area in several thousand feet of ice.  As glaciers moved, sediment was transported by the ice and deposited along the way.  This created many of the long and narrow hills and lakes we see in the planning area today (WA DNR).

Open to read more

Many different types of shorelines exist in the planning area, from large marshes on the mainland to wave cut platforms on Whidbey Island.  Much of the land in the area is rural, rural residential, or conservancy.  Seven state parks and dozens of boat ramps and marinas can be found throughout the region.  Port Townsend is one of the largest port cities in the planning area; located on the western side of the entrance to Admiralty Inlet from the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  It has marinas, docks, waterfront parks and trails, restaurants, and other businesses that support tourism.  Outside of Port Townsend, local economies are based primarily on natural resource use.  The U.S. Navy maintains one facility in the area; Naval Magazine Indian Island (NAVMAG II).

The area also contains marine and estuarine waters that are biologically rich and sensitive.  A wide diversity of shoreline and marine habitats (estuaries, rocks, reefs, and islands) and abundant food resources contribute to making the area home to a wide range of fish and wildlife.  The region has nesting colonies for Caspian terns and glaucous winged gulls; a number of marine mammal haulouts and breeding sites; and rearing and feeding habitat for a large variety of marine and anadromous fish (ESA Adolfson 2008).

^ top


Puget Sound is a complex estuarine system of four major interconnecting basins, three of which have fjord-like characteristics.  The principal entrance from the Strait of Juan de Fuca is at the northern end of Admiralty Inlet, with a much smaller connection through Deception Pass.  The three major fjord-like basins include the Main Basin, with an entrance sill located at the northern portion of Admiralty Inlet near Port Townsend; Hood Canal, with its entrance sill at the northern end near the location of the Hood Canal floating bridge; and Southern Sound, which is a complex of two large inlets and numerous smaller inlets and connecting channels.  The Southern Sound entrance sill is at The Narrows.  In each case sill depths are approximately 73 meters (40 fathoms) and basin depths generally are near or exceed 180 meters (100 fathoms).  The fourth basin is the Whidbey Basin, comprised of Possession Sound, Port Susan, Saratoga Passage, and Skagit Bay.  Deception Pass is the northern terminus of the Whidbey Basin (Encyclopedia of Puget Sound).

Open to read more

The waters of Admiralty Inlet operate as a two-layer system.  Water circulates with seaward flow at the surface and landward flow at depth.  Fresh water derived from local rivers typically flows seaward at the surface, since it is of lower salinity and warmer than incoming ocean water.  Colder, more saline water from the Pacific Ocean flows landward along the bottom.  The combined forces of tides, winds, and water depth determine the extent to which these layers are mixed (Kitsap County Dept. Community Development 2010).

The planning area resides within Water Resource Inventory Areas Island (WRIA 6), Cedar-Sammamish (WRIA 8), Kitsap (WRIA 15), and Quilcene-Snow (WRIA 17).

Island (WRIA 6): There are no major rivers in the watershed, and much of the water available for economic use comes from groundwater, which is recharged exclusively from precipitation.  The northern and central part of Whidbey Island is situated in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and therefore the watershed has a high variability of rainfall.  Most of this precipitation arrives during the winter months when water demands are the lowest.  The Island watershed does not benefit from snow pack, so during the summer when there is little rain naturally, low stream flows are dependent on groundwater inflow (WA Dept. of ECY 2015).

Cedar-Sammamish (WRIA 8): This watershed comprises the northwestern part of central King county, including Seattle and its adjacent suburban areas.  On its west side it is bounded by Puget Sound and its east side includes portions of the Cascade Mountain range.  It includes the Cedar River which originates in the Cascade Mountains and the Sammamish River, sometimes called “the Slough” which connects the two largest bodies of water, Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish.  The watershed includes various smaller creeks such as Swamp, Bear, Evans and North creeks (WA Dept. of ECY 2015).

Kitsap (WRIA 15): This watershed is situated in southern Puget Sound and comprises all of Kitsap county plus the northeastern part of Mason and the northwestern part of Pierce counties.  This watershed is comprised mostly of rural development, but also includes the city of Bremerton and its suburbs.  This watershed lacks any major rivers but includes numerous smaller streams.  During the summer, there is little rain, so low stream flows are dependent on groundwater inflow (WA Dept. of ECY 2015).

Quilcene-Snow (WRIA 17): The Quilcene-Snow Watershed is situated in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains in northwest Washington.  It includes the Big Quilcene and Little Quilcene rivers and Snow Creek, which originate in the Olympic Mountains, and various smaller creeks on the Quimper and Toandos peninsulas and in the Chimacum Valley area.  Most of this precipitation arrives during the winter months when water demands are the lowest.  Little of the Quilcene-Snow watershed benefits from snow pack, so during the summer when there is little rain naturally, low stream flows are dependent on groundwater inflow (WA Dept. of ECY 2015).

^ top

Climate and Winds

The area has a maritime climate with cool summers, mild winters, and abundant rainfall.  Lowland temperatures range from 40˚F in January to over 70˚F in summer.  Annual precipitation is between 18 and 50 inches.  Fog is also common throughout Admiralty Inlet during autumn and winter months.

Open to read more

Winds in this area are generally southeast to southwest at speeds up to 9 mph in October through March, and from the northwest at similar speeds during spring and summer.  Northwest winds in the upper atmosphere become split by the Olympic Mountains, then re-converge over Puget Sound, causing updrafts.  Those updrafts can lead to convection and then rain showers or more active weather in an area known as the Puget Sound Convergence Zone.

^ top

Tides and Currents

The mean tidal range for Admiralty Inlet is from 5.2 to 6.0 feet, and the diurnal tidal range is typically from 8.4 to 9.4 feet.  In Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound, the tidal currents are subjected to daily inequalities similar to those of the tides.  Velocities of two to seven knots occur from Point Wilson to Point No Point.  In the more open waters of the sound south of Point No Point the velocities are much less.  At Point Wilson and at Marrowstone Point, slack water occurs from one-half to one hour earlier near shore than in mid-channel.  In the winter, when south winds prevail, there is generally a north surface drift which increases the ebb current and decreases the flood current.  This effect is about 0.5 knots between Nodule Point and Bush Point (NOAA 2014).


Risk Assessment

The Admiralty Inlet area is plentiful in natural, cultural, and economic resources, all at risk of injury from oil spills.  Potential oil spill risks to these resources include rail transportation and facilities, large commercial vessels, Washington State Ferries, waterfront facilities, road transportation, aircraft, recreational boating, and other oil spill risks.  This section briefly discusses these risks and how they could impact the GRP planning area (WA Dept. of ECY 2015).

Open to read more

Oil Types: Both refined petroleum products and crude oil are transported in bulk within this planning area. 

Crude oil and refined products contain a mix of hydrocarbons with varying properties; different types of crude oil and refined products will behave differently when spilled.  Recent changes in oil production have led to an increase in the movement of Bakken light crude transported through the planning area via rail, and diluted bitumen from Canada transported through the planning area.

Crude oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota has properties similar to gasoline or diesel, and poses a higher risk of fire because much of it will evaporate quickly into flammable vapors.  Unlike gasoline, the heavier hydrocarbons in the crude will persist in the environment after the light ends evaporate or burn.  Bitumen from the oil sands in Alberta, Canada, is heavy, almost asphalt-like, until it is mixed with lighter oil products known as diluents to create diluted bitumen.  Once mixed, the diluted bitumen will initially float on water after being spilled.  Environmental conditions, such as the density of the receiving waters and sediment load of the receiving waters, will affect how long diluted bitumen floats.  As the light diluents evaporate, the remaining heavy constituents may sink into the water column (NASEM 2016). There are specific response actions recommended for non-floating oils, detailed in the Non-Floating Oil Spill Response Tool in the Northwest Area Contingency Plan (NWACP), Section 9412.

Rail Transportation: Rail companies transport oil via both unit trains and manifest trains in this area.  Unit trains include: up to four locomotives, buffer cars, and 118 loaded tank cars transporting oil in 714-barrel (29,998 gallon) capacity USDOT-approved tank cars.  Manifest trains include: up to four locomotives, a mix of non-oil merchandise cars, and one or more 714-barrel (29,998 gallon) capacity USDOT-approved tank cars carrying refined oil products, such as diesel, lubrication oil, or gasoline.  These trains may include emptied tank cars, each with residual quantities of up to 1,800 gallons of crude oil or petroleum products.  Every train locomotive typically holds a few hundred gallons of engine lubrication oil, plus saddle tanks that each have an approximate capacity of 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel.  Manifest trains may also transport biological oils and non-petroleum chemicals.

Unit trains carrying crude currently operate on specific routes.  Unit trains carrying crude from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota enter Washington State near Spokane, continue along the Columbia River to Vancouver, and then head north along I-5.  There are approximately five miles of BNSF-owned and operated track along the waterfront of Snohomish County in the southeastern part of the planning area that services both unit and manifest trains.

Large Commercial Vessel Traffic: Admiralty Inlet is the gateway to ports in Puget Sound.  In 2013, over 2,100 cargo and passenger vessels as well as 684 tank ships (including Articulated Tank Barges) transited through Admiralty Inlet to or from Puget Sound ports.  Commercial vessels follow traffic separation zones between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound to preclude collisions, but they typically carry large amounts of heavy and blended fuel oils and other petroleum products, raising the potential for sensitive resources to be impacted if an oil spill were to occur (WA Dept. of ECY 2014).

Washington State Ferries: Two Kwa-di Tabil class ferries cross between Port Townsend and Coupeville up to eighteen times a day; thirty-six transits combined.  Ferries can carry thousands of gallons of diesel fuel and hundreds of gallons of hydraulic fluid, lube and motor oils, as well as other oils or petroleum based products.  Potential risks include spills during bunkering or internal fuel transfers, hydraulic failures, unintentional waste oil discharges, and vessel accidents.  Kwa-di Tabil class ferries use diesel fuel for propulsion and can carry as many as 64 vehicles.

Waterfront Facilities: Naval Magazine Indian Island (NAVMAG II) is located in Port Hadlock, on the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula between Port Townsend Bay and Kilisut Harbor.  The 3,000-acre facility functions as an ammunition port complex and ordnance storage center for U.S. Pacific Fleet operations.  Fuel transfers don’t occur at this facility, but spills from moored vessels or those loading ordinance at the ammo pier present an oil spill risk in this planning area.

Road Transportation: Three state highways are present in the planning area; SR-19, SR-104, and SR-525.  Vehicle traffic on roadways pose an oil spill risk in areas where they run adjacent to shorelines, or cross over lakes, rivers, creeks, and ditches that drain into Admiralty Inlet.  A vehicle spill onto a bridges or roadways can cause fuel or oil to flow from hardened surfaces into water.  Commercial trucks can contain hundreds to thousands of gallons of fuel and oil, especially fully-loaded tank trucks, and may carry almost any kind of cargo, including hazardous substances or other materials that might injure sensitive resources if spilled.  Smaller vehicle accidents pose a risk as well, a risk commensurate to the volume of fuel and oil they carry.  Vehicle numbers on state highways typically increase in summer months as tourists visit and explore the area.

Aircraft: Jefferson County International Airport lies in the northwestern corner of the planning area, south of Port Townsend.  It is primarily used by recreational aircraft and corporate jets, rather than large commercial airliners.  The airport is less than two miles from Port Townsend Bay.  Aircraft failures during inbound or outbound flights could result in oil spills to water.  The Jefferson County International Airport is owned and operated by the Port of Port Townsend.

Recreational Boating: Accidents involving recreational water craft in the planning area have the potential to result in spills of a few gallons of gasoline up to hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel.  Examples of such accidents might include vessel collisions, allisions, groundings, fires, sinking, or explosions.

Other Oil Spill Risks: Other potential oil spill risks include fuel storage areas (including waste oil storage), road run-off during rain events, on-shore or near shore activities where heavy equipment is being operated or stored, and the migration of spilled oil through soil on lands adjacent to marine waters, or streams that drain to such waters.

^ top

Resources at Risk

This section provides a summary of natural, cultural, and economic resources at risk in the planning area, including those resources at risk from oils with the potential to sink or submerge. It provides general information on habitat, fish, and wildlife resources, and locations in the area where sensitive natural resource concerns have been identified. It offers a summary of cultural resources that include fundamental procedures for the discovery of cultural artifacts and human skeletal remains. General information about flight restrictions, wildlife deterrence, and oiled wildlife can be found near the end of this section. A list of economic resources in the area is provided in the appendix.

Open to read more

This section is purposely broad in scope and should not be considered comprehensive. Some of the sensitive resources described in this section cannot be addressed in Response Strategies and Priorities because it is not possible to conduct effective response activities in these locations. Additional information from private organizations or federal, state, tribal, and local government agencies should also be sought during spills.

This material is presented with enough detail to give general information about the area during the first phase of a spill response. During an actual incident, more information about resources at risk will be available from the Environmental Unit in the Planning Section.

Note: specific resource concerns related to areas that already have designated protection strategies may be found in the “Resources at Risk” column of the matrix describing the individual strategies.

The information provided in this section can be used in:

  • Assisting the Environmental Unit (EU) and Operations in developing ad hoc response strategies.
  • Providing resource-at-risk “context” to responders, clean-up workers, and others during the initial phase of a spill response in the GRP area.
  • Briefing responders and incident command staff that may be unfamiliar with sensitive resource concerns in the GRP area.
  • Providing background information for personnel involved in media presentations and public outreach during a spill incident.
  • Providing information on benthic and water column species or cultural resources present to assist in planning for oils with the potential to sink or submerge.

^ top

Natural Resources at Risk – Summary

This area contains a wide variety of benthic, aquatic, riparian, and upland habitats that support a complex diversity of wildlife including birds, mammals, fish, and amphibians. Due to their life histories and/or behaviors, some of these species are unlikely to be directly oiled during a spill incident but may be disturbed by other operations such as cleanup, reconnaissance, or fire suppression activities. Some of the bird species are resident throughout the year, but many others seasonally migrate outside the basin. Several the species found in this area are classified as threatened or endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act or Washington State guidelines.

Open to read more

Classification types are listed below:

  • Federal Endangered (FE)
  • Federal Threatened (FT)
  • Federal Candidate (FC)
  • State Endangered (SE)
  • State Threatened (ST)
  • State Sensitive (SS)

Federal and State Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive species that may occur within this area, at some time of the year, include:


  • gray whale [SS]
  • humpback whale (Central American population) [FE/SE]
  • humpback whale (Mexican population) [FT/SE]
  • killer whale (southern resident) [FE/SE]


  • common loon [SS]
  • marbled murrelet [FT/SE]
  • northern spotted owl [FT/SE]
  • sandhill crane [SE]
  • tufted puffin [SE]
  • yellow-billed cuckoo [FT/SE]

Fish and Shellfish:

  • bocaccio rockfish [FE]
  • bull trout [FT]
  • chinook salmon (Puget Sound) [FT]
  • chum salmon (Hood Canal) [FT]
  • green sturgeon [FT]
  • pinto abalone [SE]
  • steelhead (Puget Sound) [FT]
  • yelloweye rockfish [FT]


  • Taylor’s checkerspot [FE/SE]


  • Golden paintbrush [FT]

Critical habitats:

These are the specific areas occupied by an endangered or threatened species that contain the physical or biological features that are essential to the conservation of that species – and that may need special management or protection. Critical habitat may also include areas that were not occupied by the species at the time of listing but are essential to its conservation.

The following species have designated critical habitat within this area.

  • bocaccio rockfish
  • bull trout
  • canary rockfish
  • chinook salmon (Puget Sound)
  • chum salmon (Hood Canal Summer)
  • killer whale (southern resident)
  • steelhead (Puget Sound)
  • Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly
  • yelloweye rockfish

^ top

General Resource Concerns


  • The shallow intertidal and subtidal habitats in bays throughout the region act as rearing areas for juvenile salmon, Dungeness crab, hardshell clams, urchins and other fish and shellfish. These habitats are also important feeding areas for waterfowl, shorebirds, and herons.
Open to read more
  • Eelgrass beds occur in a narrow band along the shorelines of much of Admiralty Inlet. These habitats provide critical nursery areas for juvenile rockfish and other fish and shellfish, as well as feeding areas for waterfowl. Extensive beds of eelgrass are found in Cultus Bay, Useless Bay, Port Townsend, Kilisut Harbor, Oak Bay, Port Gamble, and Port Ludlow.
  • The kelp beds scattered throughout this region serve as important fish rearing areas.
  • Salt marshes and wetlands occur in sheltered areas throughout the region and support a diverse array of fish and wildlife species.
  • Of the relatively few salmonid-bearing streams occurring in this region, Chimacum Creek has the greatest species diversity, with documented presence of chum, coho, steelhead, and pink salmon. The associated riparian scrub and woodlands play a crucial role in supporting a large diversity and abundance of songbird species as breeding, migrating, and overwintering habitat.
  • The open waters of Admiralty Inlet are an important migration corridor for many species of fish, birds, and marine mammals. It is also an important foraging area for large numbers of seabirds.
  • Sandy/rocky shorelines can be found throughout the region. These areas support marine mammal haulout and pupping, nesting for birds, spawning habitat for forage fish.
  • Protected bays such as Kilisut Harbor, Port Gamble, Deer Lagoon, Cultus Bay and Mats Mats Bay, are important to many fish and wildlife species including juvenile salmonids, crabs, forage fish, waterfowl, herons, and shorebirds.
  • Human-made structures such as pilings, rock jetties or log rafts may be used as roosting or nesting areas for a variety of birds and raptors and haulout areas for seals.
  • A variety of subtidal habitats exists within this area, each of which supports a different assemblage of wildlife species as generally described below:
    • Soft sediment: This category includes areas of clays, mud, sand and gravel, which typically possess relatively low vertical relief. Animals that tend to live on the surface in these habitats can include sea cucumbers, sea stars, crustaceans such as crab and shrimp, and bottom fish such as skate, cod, and the flat fishes. These soft sediment habitats also support shellfish and other invertebrates including bivalves, worms, brittle stars, shrimplike crustaceans whose burrowing or foraging activities can penetrate up to one meter below the subsurface bottom. In deeper waters, this habitat type may also include the deep sand fields that are necessary overwintering habitat for sand lance, an environmentally critical forage fish.
    • Rock reefs: These areas serve as important habitat for a wide range of species including mobile invertebrates (e.g. snails, sea slugs, sea cucumbers, sea stars, etc.) and immobile species (e.g. anemones, barnacles, shellfish, sponges, tubeworms, etc.). Macro algae and kelps also widely utilize the structure that this type of habitat provides. The crevices and overhangs associated with these reefs serve as valuable habitat for a wide variety of other species such as crabs, shrimp, octopus, wolf eel, rockfish, and lingcod. If located within their capabilities to dive, these areas may also serve as important foraging areas for birds and marine mammals.
    • Boulder and cobble fields: Larger, relatively stable boulders provide many of the same ecological functions described for rock reefs while the spaces between boulders offer enhanced refuge areas for bottom dwelling invertebrates and fish. The relative instability of the smaller cobble makes them less valuable than reefs or boulders to immobile marine life. Nonetheless, many marine organisms may live on or between the cobblestones and predatory species often utilize these habitats as foraging areas. As with the rocky reefs, these habitats may also serve as important foraging areas for birds and marine mammals as well if they are located within a species ability to dive. Depending on how much sediment the currents move through the area, the spaces between the rocks may be filled with sediment that can also support bottom dwelling life forms.
    • Water column: Much of the primary marine productivity in this region occurs in the upper 30 meters of the water column due to limited light penetration and nutrient availability. Because of this, this upper part of the water column tends to concentrate the planktonic larval forms of fish and a wide range of invertebrates, particularly during the spring plankton blooms. The deeper water column also serves as habitat for wide-ranging fish such as salmon, forage fish (herring, smelt, and sandlance), sharks, as well as a wide variety of birds and marine mammals that utilize this habitat as foraging areas.

Fish and Shellfish:

  • Juvenile Chinook, pink, chum and coho salmon use the shallow nearshore areas within Admiralty Inlet for feeding, rearing, and as a migration corridor. Resident variations of Chinook and coho salmon are present in marine waters year-round.
  • Forage fish spawning in this region includes some critical stocks of herring. Major herring spawning areas include Port Gamble and northern Hood Canal, Kilisut Harbor, and Port Townsend. Surf smelt and sandlance spawn on intertidal beaches throughout area. Important areas for spawning surf smelt and sandlance include Port Gamble, Kilisut Harbor, and Port Townsend.
  • Diverse habitats in Admiralty Inlet also support a variety of species of other marine fish, including rockfish, flatfish, sole, cabezon, and lingcod.
  • Large populations of hardshell clams and geoducks support important recreational and tribal fisheries throughout Admiralty Inlet.
  • Large populations of Dungeness crab adults and juveniles also occur in this region, primarily in Cultus Bay, Useless Bay, Port Townsend, Oak Bay, Kilisut Harbor, and Port Ludlow. Juveniles tend to stay within intertidal and shallow subtidal habitats and are particularly vulnerable to oil spills.


  • Admiralty Inlet serves as a travel corridor for many marine mammals including resident and transient killer (aka ‘orca’) whales, gray and humpback whales, harbor porpoise as well as Steller and California sea lions. Harbor seal haulouts are scattered throughout the region with the largest concentrations occurring near the mouths of Kilisut Harbor and Mats Mats Bay.
  • Bald eagle and great blue heron nest in abundance throughout the region and forage in intertidal and nearshore waters.
  • Seabird concentrations can occur year-round in Admiralty Inlet and in the tide rips adjacent to areas such as Possession Point and Point Wilson, with the greatest numbers being present from fall through spring. The few seabird nesting colonies in this region are in the area around Port Townsend Bay and on nearby Protection Island. Marbled murrelets occur in nearshore waters throughout the region.
  • Waterfowl concentrations may be found throughout the region from fall through spring; especially in Kilisut Harbor, Deer Lagoon, and Cultus Bay.
  • Many areas in Admiralty Inlet support large numbers of migrating and wintering shorebirds. Chief among these are Crockett Lake, Hancock Lake, Deer Lagoon, and Cultus Bay (all on Whidbey Island).
  • A wide variety of terrestrial and semi-aquatic mammals (e.g. raccoons and river otters) are present throughout this area and forage within the intertidal areas.
  • Resident and migratory songbirds heavily utilize riparian habitats year-round throughout the area year-round and are susceptible to both oil and to response activities that disturb riparian vegetation.

^ top

Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Overview

Areas of concern include shorelines with natural riparian vegetation, islands, wetlands, streams, and river mouths (both free-flowing and impounded), and shallow backwater areas – especially adjacent to natural shorelines. Public parks, private lands, and recreational areas also present within the area. The number that precedes the area name in the list (below) corresponds to the numbered area on the map.

Open to read more
  1. Port Townsend Bay: Extensive fringing eelgrass beds and some small kelp beds. Spawning habitat for herring, sandlance and surf smelt. Hardshell clams, geoducks, and Dungeness crab. Salmonid spawning streams. Marine bird and waterfowl concentrations; especially at northern entrance to bay. Habitat restoration sites.
  2. Kilisut Harbor: Extensive eelgrass beds and scattered salt marshes. Spawning area for herring, surf smelt and sandlance. Hardshell clams and Dungeness crab. Large concentrations of over-wintering waterfowl. Localized seabird nesting. Shorebird concentration area in southern portion of bay. Foraging area for resident nesting eagles and herons. Harbor seal haulout at the mouth of the bay.
  3. Oak Bay: Eelgrass and saltmarsh habitats. Sandlance spawning habitat. Hardshell clams, geoducks, and Dungeness crab. Waterfowl concentrations (fall through spring). Foraging area for resident nesting eagles and herons.
  4. Crockett Lake (Whidbey Island) and vicinity: Wetland habitat. Important shorebird and migratory bird concentration area. Golden paintbrush present in upland.
  5. Lake Hancock (Whidbey Island): Emergent saltmarsh, freshwater marsh, lagoon, and mudflat habitats. Seasonal waterfowl and shorebird concentrations.
  6. Port Ludlow: Eelgrass habitat, intertidal mudflat and forage fish beach spawning habitat. Dungeness crab and hardshell clams. Salmon spawning streams. Seabird colonies located at head of bay and on rocks at mouth. Foraging area for resident nesting eagles and osprey.
  7. Foulweather Bluff: Two large salt marshes on west side of bluff are important to a many fish and wildlife species. Waterfowl concentrations (fall through spring). Foraging area for resident nesting eagles and osprey.
  8. Bywater Bay (Hood Head): Eelgrass, saltmarsh, intertidal mudflat and forage fish beach spawning habitats. Dungeness crab and hardshell clams. Foraging area for herons.
  9. Squamish Harbor: Eelgrass, saltmarsh, intertidal mudflat and forage fish beach spawning habitats. Herring spawning. Salmon spawning streams. Hardshell clams. Seasonal waterfowl concentrations.
  10. Port Gamble: Eelgrass, intertidal mudflat and forage fish beach spawning habitats. Herring spawning. Salmonid spawning and rearing habitat. Hardshell clams. Small concentrations of marine birds. Tribal lands and resources.
  11. Deer Lagoon (Whidbey Island): Intertidal mudflat and saltmarsh habitats. Significant seasonal concentrations of waterfowl and shorebirds.
  12. Cultus Bay: Eelgrass, saltmarsh and intertidal mudflat habitats. Significant seasonal concentrations of waterfowl and shorebirds. Foraging area for resident nesting eagles and herons.

^ top

Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Maps and Descriptions

Figure 1: Specific Geographic Areas of Concern for Admiralty Inlet GRP.

Cultural Resources at Risk – Summary

Culturally significant resources are present within the planning area. Information regarding the type and location of cultural resources is maintained by the Washington Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation (WDAHP). This sensitive information is made available to the Washington Department of Ecology for oil spill preparedness and response planning. The Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs) or Cultural Resource Departments of local tribes (see Table 6‑1) may also be able to provide information on cultural resources at risk in the area and should be contacted, along with WDAHP, through normal trustee notification processes when significant oil spills, or smaller spills above reportable thresholds, occur in the area.

Open to read more

During a spill response, after the Unified Command is established, information related to specific archeological concerns will be coordinated through the Environmental Unit. In order to ensure that tactical response strategies do not inadvertently harm culturally sensitive sites, WDAHP should be consulted before disturbing any soil or sediment during a response action, including submerged soils or sediments. WDAHP and/or the Tribal governments may assign a person, or provide a list of professional archeologists that can be contracted, to monitor response activities and cleanup operations for the protection of cultural resources at risk. Due to the sensitive nature of such information, details regarding the location and type of cultural resources present are not included in this document.

Table 6‑1: AI-GRP Cultural Resource Contacts

Contact Phone Email
Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (360) 586-3080
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe (360) 681-4638
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (360) 460-1617
Lummi Nation, THPO (360) 312-2257

(360) 961-7752
Makah Nation, THPO (360) 645-2711
Muckleshoot Tribe, Archaeologist (253) 876-3272
Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe (360) 297-6288
Puyallup Tribe of Indians (253) 573-7986
Samish Nation, THPO (360) 293-6404 x126
Skokomish Tribe, THPO >(360) 426-4232 x2015
Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians (360) 652-3687 x14
Suquamish Tribe, THPO (360) 394-8529
Swinomish Tribe, THPO (360) 466-7352
Tulalip Tribes (425) 239-0182

Discovery of Human Skeletal Remains

Any human remains, burial sites, or burial-related materials that are discovered during a spill response must be treated with respect at all times (photographing human remains is prohibited to all except the appropriate authorities). Refer to National Historic Preservation Act Compliance Guidelines (NWACP Section 9403) during an emergency response.

Procedures for the Discovery of Cultural Resources

If any person monitoring work activities or involved in spill response believes that they have encountered cultural resources, all workers must stop immediately and notify the Unified Command and Cultural Resource Specialist. The area of work stoppage must be adequate to provide for the security, protection, and integrity of the material or artifact(s) discovered.

Prehistoric Cultural Resources (may include, but are not limited to, any of the following items):

  • Lithic debitage (stone chips and other tool-making byproducts)
  • Flaked or ground stone tools
  • Exotic rock, minerals, or quarries
  • Concentrations of organically stained sediments, charcoal, or ash
  • Fire-modified rock
  • Rock alignments or rock structures
  • Bone (burned, modified, or in association with other bone, artifacts, or features)
  • Shell or shell fragments
  • Petroglyphs and pictographs
  • Fish weirs, fish traps, and prehistoric watercraft
  • Culturally modified trees
  • Physical locations or features (traditional cultural properties)
  • Submerged villages sites or artifacts

Historic cultural material (may include any of the following items over 50 years old):

  • Bottles, or other glass
  • Cans
  • Ceramics
  • Milled wood, brick, concrete, metal, or other building material
  • Trash dumps
  • Homesteads, building remains
  • Logging, mining, or railroad features
  • Piers, wharves, docks, bridges, dams, or shipwrecks
  • Shipwrecks or other submerged historical objects

^ top

Economic Resources at Risk – Summary

Socio-economic sensitive resources are facilities or locations that rely on a body of water to be economically viable. Because of their location, they could be severely impacted if an oil spill were to occur. Economically sensitive resources are separated into three categories: critical infrastructure, water dependent commercial areas, and water dependent recreation areas. The appendix provides a list of economic resources for this GRP area.

Open to read more

Fish hatcheries and infrastructure 

Facility Name Owner/Operator Waterbody Lat Long Address Phone
Edmonds Net Pen NWSSC-Laebugten (co-op) Admiralty Inlet 47.8121 -122.3871 Vicinity of Port of Edmonds 425-252-6686
Little Boston Creek Hatchery Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe Port Gamble 47.8546 -122.5727 180 Pt. Julia, Kingston, WA 98346 360-297-2646
Port Gamble Net Pens Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe Port Gamble 47.8455 -122.5740 Within Port Gamble 360-297-2646
Possession Bait Co. Pond Possession Point Bait Co Puget Sound

(Pond with water intake)

47.9101 -122.3761 8311 S. Franklin Rd. Clinton, WA 98236 360-579-4704
Willow (aka Deer Creek Hatchery NWSSC-Laebugten (co-op) Willow Creek 47.8036 -122.3844 95 Pine St. Edmonds, WA 98020 425-252-6686

^ top

General Information

Flight Restriction Zones: The Environmental Unit (Planning Section) may recommend Flight Restriction Zones to minimize disturbance or injury to wildlife during an oil spill. Pilots/operators can decrease the risk of aircraft/bird collisions, prevent the accidental driving of wildlife into oiled areas, and minimize abandonment of nests by keeping a safe distance and altitude from these identified sensitive areas.

Open to read more

The Air Operations Branch (Operations Section) will manage all aircraft operations related to a response and will coordinate the establishment of any Flight Restriction Zones as appropriate. Environmental Unit staff will work with the Air Operations Branch Director to resolve any conflicts that arise between flight activities and sensitive resources.

In addition to restrictions associated with wildlife, Tribal authorities may also request notification when overflights are likely to affect culturally sensitive areas within reservations. See Oil Spill Best Management Practices (NWACP Section 9301) for more information on the use of aircraft and helicopters in open water and shoreline responses.

Wildlife Deterrence: The Wildlife Deterrence Unit within the Wildlife Branch (Operations Section) manages wildlife deterrence operations. These are actions intended to minimize injuries to wildlife by keeping animals away from the oil and cleanup operations. Deterrence activities may include using acoustic or visual deterrent devices, boats, aircraft or other tools. The Wildlife Branch works with state and federal agencies, and the Environmental Unit (Planning Section), to develop deterrence plans as appropriate.

For more information see the Northwest Wildlife Response Plan (NWACP Section 9310) and Northwest Area Wildlife Deterrence Resources (NWACP Section 9311).

Oiled Wildlife: Capturing oiled wildlife may be hazardous to both personnel and the affected animals. Incident personnel should not try to approach or capture oiled wildlife but should report any observations of oiled wildlife to the Wildlife Branch (Operations Section).

For more information see the Northwest Wildlife Response Plan (NWACP Section 9310).

Aquatic Invasive Species: The waters of this region may contain aquatic invasive species (AIS) – species of plants and/or animals that are not native to an area and that can be harmful to an area’s ecosystem. If so, preventative actions may be required to prevent the spread of these species as a result of spill response activities and the Environmental Unit is able to recommend operational techniques and strategies to assist with this issue.

^ top