Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) is set apart, among other purposes, for estuarine research and monitoring. The aim of Padilla Bay research and monitoring is to promote, conduct and coordinate various research studies and monitoring throughout the bay. The information and knowledge gained from these studies is used to aid conservation and management of the nation’s estuaries, with a particular focus on greater Puget Sound and other estuaries in the Pacific Northwest.

Research and monitoring projects are carried out in Padilla Bay and its watershed by reserve staff, students from various universities and scientists. These scientists working in Padilla Bay have come from many different organizations including: universities, research institutions, and federal, tribal, state and local government agencies. Research projects cover a wide variety of topics in estuarine science, but because of the extensive eelgrass meadows in Padilla Bay, many projects have focused directly or indirectly on some aspect of the eelgrass ecosystem.

Padilla Bay NERR is able to provide various forms of support to research projects. Support may be in the form of direct grants or fellowships. On site support facilities include a new field laboratory with available space for visiting scientists and students, a new bunkhouse providing on site overnight accommodations, day use facilities, field and GPS instruments and a research library with many Padilla Bay and north Puget Sound reports including Padilla Bay technical reports and reprints. In addition, Padilla Bay NERR is able to provide limited boat support for access to sample sites in the bay.

Monitoring in Padilla Bay includes collecting data of basic physical water quality parameters, nutrient and chlorophyll concentrations, and weather as part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System System-wide Monitoring Program.

Research Video "Let's collect water quality samples with scientists from Padilla Bay Reserve" (YouTube)


For questions on Padilla Bay research, please contact Jude Apple at (360) 428-1089 or