The new marine reserve is 12.4 sq. mi. (32.4 km2) and prohibits all ocean development as well as marine life harvesting from Tillamook Head to Cape Falcon. Neighboring the new marine reserve are two existing protected areas, and altogether the new area covers 20.0 sq. mi (52.1 km2) of the Cape Falcon region.
Protection in this area is vital to the conservation of the site’s populations of nesting shorebirds like the marbled murrelet and black oystercatcher. Shorebirds of Cape Falcon depend upon the new reserve’s coves, offshore nesting rock areas and intertidal zones to survive and thrive. In addition to shorebirds, sea lions and halibut rely on Cape Falcon’s lush aquatic vegetation, jagged reefs and unique deep-water zones.
The marine reserve will support Cape Falcon’s complex habitat structure and its wildlife diversity, including nesting bald eagles. Reserves protect sensitive habitats, maintain and recover fish populations and increase biodiversity. Monitoring for this site is overseen by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). Additionally, a local community group, The Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, will work to increase the surrounding community’s awareness and appreciation for the new reserve and existing protected areas.
Reflecting on a trip to this area, Conservation Scientist for Marine Conservation Institute and MPAtlas.org Beth Pike, noted: “Cape Falcon is a cross between two of my favorite places on Earth, the temperate rain forest coast of Southeast Alaska and the epic surf of Hawaii. I’m so glad this place exists and will be protected!”
Happy New Year!
Photo: Beth Pike, MPAtlas.org