The history of
Saltwater State Park Marine Protected Area
In 2009 the Washington Scuba Alliance led the way to have three very large rock reefs set in place in the waters of Saltwater State Park. It was the culmination of multiple years of working with state agencies to obtain the permits and the funding. The area around the reefs was designated a marine protected area (no take zone).
There are three large reefs set perpendicular to the shoreline with each reef ending at a depth of about 80 feet. They are each made up of large boulders (3 or 4 feet on a side) in two or three piles with some very long concrete pilings laying on the piles. This leaves large holes in the reefs for fish and invertebrates to use as homes. The vertical height of each pile is up to 20 feet from the sand bottom. On the north and south reefs are “ramps” of smaller cobble that start at the reef’s shallow end and go up the slope to about 20 feet.
Since 2009 the fish and invertebrates have taken residence on the reef. One iconic species, lingcod, are now rivaling the size of lingcod found at Edmonds Underwater Park, with females 4 feet long. Schools of rockfish, black, brown, copper, quillback, yellowtail abound with occasional vermilions showing up in the deeper ends of the reefs.
The reefs are covered with plumose anemones. We see multiple species of nudibranchs, lampshells, urchins, sea stars and often can find a giant Pacific octopus or two hiding in the holes created by the boulders.
These reefs are readily available to dive from shore however one must pay attention to the tidal exchanges as currents, especially on the shallow approaches, can push a diver north or south of their desired destination during the swim to the reefs. The buoys will help guide you to the reef you want to explore (see the map on this site and also posted at the Park).