Oregon's ocean is but a small part of the vast Pacific Ocean, which is larger than any other single feature on earth. Our ocean constitutes only part of its edge, but it is the edges of such systems that are the most productive, the most used, and the most vulnerable to disruption from human activities.
Oregon's ocean shore is an important ecological zone, providing a wide range of habitats, both terrestrial and marine, for many species of plants and animals that are specifically adapted to this unique environment. The nearshore ocean has significant ecological connections with the terrestrial component of the shore. Seabirds that forage in the ocean nest on cliffs, bluffs, and offshore rocks and islands (which are designated as a National Wildlife Refuge). Marine mammals use beaches, estuaries, rocky shores, and offshore rocks for resting, breeding, and pupping. Many species of marine fish, invertebrates, and algae live in habitats ranging from kelp reefs several miles offshore to rocky intertidal areas easily accessible at low tide. Gray whales migrate very close to the Oregon shore and are easily visible from the beach and headlands or from boats.