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Washington State Flag

The Olympic Peninsula
Pacific Northwest
(1998 Expedition)

Expedition Corner

Washington State: The state flag and the state seal are similar. Passed in 1923, Washington state law describes the flag as having dark green bunting with a state seal in the center. It's the only state flag that is green and is the only state flag with a picture of a president. 

Eco-Photo Explorers has just completed a photographic expedition to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, the most Northwestern section of land in the continental United States.

Pacific Northwest ForestThe Olympic Peninsula will delight all who venture there. Explorers can spend days along the dramatic coastline, travel into the dense rainforests of the Olympic Park, marvel at the underwater treasures of the Olympic National Marine Sanctuary or explore the alpine wilderness of the dramatic mountains. 

Our journey began along the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Here, we explored Kalaloch Rocks and Ruby Beach. On these beaches, we marveled at the prehistoric Sea Stacks, giant fortresses of stone standing steadfast against the onslaught of the crashing Pacific Ocean waves.

As we wandered along the desolate beaches, we were amazed at the giant piles of logs washed along the shores. These logs, the trunks of fallen cedar trees from nearby forests, cover the beaches in certain sections and pose a threat to swimmers and surfers as the roll about in the waves. Along these shores, we spent some time photographing the multi-colored marine life of the beautiful tide pools. Green Anemones, barnacles and lady crabs all could easily be seen inhabiting these tiny eco-systems. 

Next, we traveled Northward, and ventured into the magnificent Hoh Rain Forest. This section of the peninsula is truly one of nature’s miracles. One of the only remaining temperate rain forests in the world, the Olympic Rain Forests boasts stands of luxuriant trees 200 to 750 years old.  Multi-layered canopies of moss and other plant life provideChipmunk shelter from the sunlight and cast the entire forest in a shadow. The trees in the forest are covered with mosses, clubmosses and licorice ferns. These plants are known as epiphytes, and they gather moisture from the air surrounding them. In fact, they function much like a sponge and can absorb up to a ton of water before snapping the supporting branches beneath them. In the forest are stands of Hemlock, Maple, and Sitka Spruce, all of which compete for space in the densely overgrown forests.

At Cape Flattery, on the Makah Indian Reservation, we stood in awe and watched the convergence of the Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Cape Flattery is the most Northwestern point in the lower 48 states and looks out towards Tatoosh Island. On Tatoosh, one can hear a lonely lighthouse moan rhythmically warning sailors of the dangers of the fog shrouded stretches of cold water that lie ahead. As we wandered along the dramatic cliffs of this cape, we watched Tufted Puffins diving into the waters below, searching for a meal. We could hear the barking of the Sea Lions from a distance as we listed to the wind rustling through the Spruce Trees along the shore. Here, the forest truly meets the sea. 

Pacific Northwest LandsacpeFor scuba divers, there are many beautiful places for you to explore! In these waters, a rich profusion of marine life exists. Multi-colored Sea Anemone, huge Sunstar starfish, Purple Sea Urchins, and the enigmatic and fearsome Wolf Eel. In some of the deeper recesses of the rocks below is the giant Pacific Octopus and, cruising offshore is the occasional pod of California Gray Whale and pack of Orca.

The Olympic Peninsula is also home to beautiful alpine meadows and challenging mountain peaks. In the late summer, an explosion of wild flowers colors the landscape and adds a dramatic contrast to the snow covered peaks in the distance. Hiking along Hurricane Ridge, we photographed Black Tailed Deer, Chipmunks, Squirrels and Grouse. The air is cool at this elevation (Mount Olympus is just under 8000 feet high), and since the mountains rise almost directly from the sea, they intercept moisture rich air moving in from the Pacific and wring this out in the form of rain and snow. In the lower elevations, the large amount of rain creates the temperate rain forests, while the mountain peaks and valleys can receive 200 inches of snow a year.

Our journey to the Olympic Peninsula was a rewarding and exciting one. This area of wilderness offers a diverse variety of environments and animal life, along with stunning forests and breathtaking mountains.  Beneath the waves is an equally fascinating world of kelp jungles, cold water marine fishes and marine mammals. It is an area worth our protection and worthy of our admiration.


Scuba Diving

Scuba diving the protected waters of Hood Canal is easily accessible along Hwy. 101. The world's largest octopus reside here amongst beautiful reef gardens of white and orange sea anemones, colorful starfish, nupibranch, scallops and cod-fish.

Curley's Resort & Dive Center - The waters off the town of Sekiu are said to some of the Olympic Peninsula's favorite dive locations. The best time to come is during the winter and early spring. You'll see large fish, scallops, Dungeness crab, octopus, sea urchins, and moon snails. For dive charters, divers will want to stop in at Curley's Resort & Dive Center on the main road through town.

Curley's Resort & Dive Center
291 Front Street
Sekiu, WA 98381
Phone: 360-963-2281 or 1-800-542-9680

Sound Bikes & Kayaks, Inc. - Scuba Diving is available at several location near Port Angeles. Whether you are an experienced diver, or want to try diving for the first time, the information below can help you plan your undersea adventure.

Sound Bikes & Kayaks, Inc.
120 E Front Street
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Phone: 360-457-1240
Fax: 360-452-0175


Useful Links

Map of Olympic Peninsula
Regional Map Index of Washington State
Travel guide to Washington state
Washington's State Parks System
Scuba Diving - Olympic Peninsula

Click for Port Angeles, Washington Forecast


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Last Modified: December 03, 2005

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