What’s so special about Cape Perpetua?

The aptly named Cape Perpetua is Oregon's largest Marine Reserve, and also one of its most biodiverse.


Jeff Hollett | Public Domain
The beautiful coastline and steep hillside at Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve

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Where is Cape Perpetua?

A couple of miles south of Yachats lies one of the most unique ecosystems in the Pacific. Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve is part of Oregon’s Marine Reserve Program and is the largest of the five Reserves encompassing around 55 square miles of nearshore areas. In that area exists the Reserve, two Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and a Seabird Protection Area. It is considered by many as one of the most biodiverse places on our country’s Pacific coastline.

What ecosystems does Cape Perpetua contain?

The Reserve itself contains a variety of habitats that make this so. Varied intertidal habitats provide a perfect home for seastars and urchins, loose gravel and sandy bottoms house sand dollars and Dungeness crab, and rocky reefs in deeper water create a refuge for critters like rockfish and octopus. And that’s just what’s in the water – the biodiversity continues on land.

Onshore, visitors can access the beachheads and see Stellar sea lions in America’s largest sea cave, explore the ocean treasures within the many tidepools, and even soak in the sky overhead that’s teeming with Oregon’s highest concentration of marbled murrelets.

How can we make Cape Perpetua even better?

About ten years ago, Oregon recognized the value of their coastal ecosystems when they created their Marine Reserves Program. The Program was established to conserve and protect ocean biodiversity, provide a space for scientific research and exploration, and to activate and engage Oregonian’s in their wonders beneath the waves.

It’s clear that Cape Perpetua and the incredibly diverse ecosystems it contains, has achieved and in many ways surpassed these goals, but a bill in the Oregon legislature could make it even better.

House Bill 2903 (HB2903), termed the “Marine Reserves Bill”, would give Cape Perpetua and the Program an additional $800,000 in funding every other year. This would create more employment opportunities at the Department of Fish and Wildlife, who oversee and monitor the Reserves, create more space for cutting edge research in an ever-changing ocean environment, and create more opportunities for the public to engage and be a part of their Marine Reserves nested away just off their shores.

Cape Perpetua is one of our state’s coastal treasures and is one of the most biodiverse places our country has, we must do all that we can to best support it. HB2903 would create a better Reserve for Oregonians as well as the incredible fish, seabirds, seals, and crabs that call this ocean paradise home.


Ian Giancarlo

Protect Our Oceans Campaign, Advocate, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Ian works to protect our oceans and marine ecosystems. Ian lives in Denver, where he enjoys triathlons, hiking, and local breweries in his free time.

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