Brinnon Wildlife, Marine Life & Habitat

Explore Dabob Bay, Pulali Point, Jackson Cove, Duckabush and Dosewallips watersheds. See Roosevelt elk, bear, fox, pileated woodpecker, eagles, pygmy owl, great blue heron, wild rivers, wetlands, snow-capped mountains -- an abundance of fascinating marine life, mammals, and rare vegetation.

This section was compiled and written by Kirie Pedersen in 2001, updated by Mark Rose in 2006 and 2018.  Thanks to Jerry Gorsline, Brett Johnson, Evans and Associates, Audubon Society, Orca Watch, and area residents for their contributions to this ever-expanding study. UNDER DEVELOPMENT.

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Occasionally, transient Orca navigate into Hood Canal, linger for a while, and feast on the harbor seals.  In May, 2018, we were treated to a rare occurrence, the birth of a calf in our waters.  See Kitsap Sun story: Baby orca from transient pod spotted in Hood Canal. A new member of a transient orca pod breaches in Hood Canal.


It's common to see dozens of bald eagles along the shores of Hood Canal April through July.  See age progression of eagles, from one to five years old. Active-breeding pairs, long-term nests, roosts, communal roosts, and wintering-over pairs occur throughout the Brinnon area.


Woodpeckers “drill” into trees for three distinct purposes: (1) to find food; (2) to attract potential mates; and (3) to build nests (Eckhardt, 2001). The woodpecker’s suspension system allows it to absorb the force of lightning-fast, repetitive strokes on tree trunks. In fact, the bird can peck bark an estimated 20-25 times per second, and strike an estimated 8,000-12,000 times in a day 

What is a riparian zone and why is it important?

Riparian zones are the transitional areas between the high water mark of a waterway and the surrounding uplands. Riparian zones include the banks and the adjoining land, water, and vegetation. They vary from less than twenty feet to more than three hundred.

Riparian zones effect water quality, fish, wildlife and soil, as well as the health of the watershed. Riparian zones provide habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, and other animals, which use them for food, shelter, water, and travel corridors.

According to an U.S. Forest Service report, 359 of 414 wildlife species studied in Washington and Oregon occupy riparian zones during all or part of their lives.

Algal Communities : Algal sea grass communities occur along the shore of Right Smart Cove, Wa Wa Point, and the east-facing Dabob Bay side of Pulali Point. These communities provide rich offshore habitat for a myriad of sea life, which in turn attract migratory and year-round bird species, seals, sea lions, and orca.

Farm Pond: Located just east of Highway 101 and the Olympic National Forest boundary approximately one mile north of Seal Rock, this is a four-acre pond with outlet to Hood Canal. Due to migrating species, including a petrel identified in 1984 by Mr. Greg Brooks, this area warrants focused attention. Petrels are an open sea bird and little is known about their presence in this area.

 Pacific Herring: This portion of the Brinnon Quadrangle is identified as a Pacific herring habitat of "international significance." Spawning pockets are associated with algal communities.

Salmon Spawning Creeks: Salmon spawning creeks include Turner Creek and Spencer Creek.

Seal Rock State Park: A protected area, this popular tourist spot abuts an eelgrass community, salt meadow, and marine slough on the south. A midden, archeological matter from Native American camping sites (also located in Jackson Cove, Right Smart Cove, the Brinnon flats, and Paradise Cove in this Quadrangle,) was observed to be eroding from the bank in the early 1990s.

Sea Grass, Dosewallips Estuary:Eel grass community on mud and gravel formation from effluent of the Dosewallips River. Angle wing butterflies were identified here in 1966. Hood Canal summer Chum Salmon populate this and other estuaries in the area.

Shellfish Culture: Oyster and clam aquaculture on a marine slough in the Brinnon mudflats indicate the water source is clean and warrants preservation and protection.

Brinnon Marine Slough: A channeled slough in the north end of the Brinnon mud flats provides rich habitat for birds and fish.

Pulali Point: This section of the wildlife and habitat report focuses on approximately three hundred privately owned acres. Pulali Point forms a peninsula facing Jackson Cove on the west and Dabob Bay on the east. Public access is from Highway 101 via the Bee Mill Road, which leads to Camp Parsons and the Whitney Point State Shellfish Laboratory.

Whitney Point Shellfish Laboratory contains a boat ramp, restroom, seasonal public clam beach, and an interpretive center identifying local sea life and the life cycle of the oyster.

Camp Parsons is the third oldest Boy Scout Camp in America. The Scouts also own the majority of Pulali Point, left by Dr. H.R. Johnson, a Tacoma dentist and enhanced by subsequent purchases, for wilderness experience and wildlife identification.

Although only the Whitney Point Shellfish Laboratory is open to the driving public, with sections of the Pulali Point shoreline accessible to the public by water only (DNR Beach #55), the area forms one of the few wildlife orridors and undisturbed habitats in the area.

The tip of Pulali Point, marked by a light serviced by the United States Navy for its Bangor Sub-sea operations, marks the eastern opening to Dabob Bay. Two tombolos, or rock islands, appear close to Pulali Point. Pulali Point, accessible to the public only by boat, is a destination for divers and underwater photographers due to the diversity of underwater species and unusual depth.

The tip of Pulali Point is also characterized by numerous caves and was used as a burial ground by Native American groups who used coves throughout the area for summer camps.

From the tip of Pulali Point northward, the bank of the shoreline ranges from medium to high. It is generally steep, with sheer drop-offs and several areas of erosion.

The upland areas are forested, and contain year-round and seasonal wetlands, a spring, and numerous streams and creeks.

Shoreline: The Pulali Point shoreline is mostly inaccessible not only because it is privately owned, but due to profusion of poison oak, steep cliffs, erosion, and tidal patterns. Coves and two salt marshes are accessible during low tide. Offshore occur Pacific Herring spawn of "worldwide significance" (DOE), while the beaches contain oysters, clams, mussels, and other shoreline species. A thriving algal sea grass community, which vanished for a decade in the 1970s, is returning and provides significant shoreline habitat along the east-facing side of Dabob Bay.

One section of this shoreline was identified by researchers from the University of Oregon as containing geological evidence of international significance (1994).

Vegetation: The area is primarily forested with an even age (c. 1933) stand of conifers and thick canopy, with some open spaces due to tree fall. Douglas fir of 30 " and larger occur intermittently throughout the area, as well as numerous snags, hollowed-out dead trees, and one old growth "nurse tree" log. The dominant species is Douglas fir, with frequent occurrence of Western hemlock and Western red cedar. Red alder and Pacific madrone are the dominant non-coniferous species. Occasional cedar-dominated upland areas also occur.

Salal, Oregon grape, swordfern, evergreen red and blue huckleberry, Western red currant, wild honeysuckle, and oceanspray dominate the understory. Poison oak and kinnikinnick dominate the tip of Pulali Point, and poison oak lines the banks in both directions.

North of Pulali Point is a stand of Garry oak growing with prairie grasses and poison oak. This combination occurs rarely in Jefferson County.

You see rare Garry Oak in Brinnon area. See British Columbia Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team. Photo ©Chris Junck

As the slopes descend toward Jackson Cove and Dabob Bay, the understory is thick and nearly impenetrable. Several large Douglas firs exist near or adjacent to the shoreline, with numerous perch trees jutting out over the water.

Other Plant Species that occur in this area: Creeping bentgrass, Lady fern, Dull Oregon grape, deer fern, slough sedge, Canada thistle, California hazelnut, Catchweed bedstraw, Salal, Common velvetgrass, Oceanspray, Sword fern, Douglas fir, Bracken fern, Creeping buttercup (noxious weed in Washington State), Cascara, Pacific Rhododendron, Nootka rose, Salmonberry, Blackcap, Pacific wild blackberry, Red elderberry, Western Red Cedar, Western hemlock, Vaccinium ovatum and parviflorum (red and black huckleberry), wild strawberry, Johnny jump-up, orange honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa), hairy honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula), palmate coltsfoot (Petasites palmata), vanilla leaf (Achlys triphylla), twinflower (Linneaea borealis), bleeding hearts (Dicentra formosa), heal-all (Prunella vulgaris), fireweed (Epilobius angustifolium), pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritaceae), goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), trillium (Trillium ovatum), red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera/sericea), twinberry (Lonicera involutucrata), Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia), Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana), beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), false lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum dilitatus), star flowered Solomon's seal (Smilacina stella), shield fern (Dryopteris expansa), deer fern (Blechnum spicant), bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), youth-on-age (Tolmeia menziesii), fringecup (Tellima grandiflora), large-leaved avens (Geum macophyllum), Sitka spruce (Picea itchensis), Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia), Timber oatgrass (Danthonia intermedia), Yellow monkey-flower (Mimulus guttatus).

Meadow, Beach, and Grassy Opening Species that await positive identification: Camas, harvest onion (Brodiaea sps), nodding onion (Allium cernuum), rice-root (Fritillaira lanceolata), Roemer's fescue (Festuca idahoense reomeri), Carex inops/penylvanica, red Paintbrush (Castilleja sps), Potentilla gracilis, Erigeron compositum, Eriophylum lanatum, S. spathulata, Lupinus, Delphinium, Sisyrinchium sps, and others.

Species in the Wetland areas of Pulali Point: In addition to the above, sedges, Deschampsia cespitosa, Columbia brome (Bromus carinata), showberry (Symphoricarpos alba and S. mollis), tall Oregon grape (Mahonia aquilfolium), serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii), and others.

Bird Species

Bald Eagle: Active-breeding pairs, long-term nests, roosts, communal roosts, and wintering-over pairs occur throughout the Brinnon area.

Petrel: Mr. Greg Brooks found a petrel in 1984.

Pygmy owl's have been seen around Pulali Point. More info on pygmy owl.

Marbled Murrelets: Feeding pairs are present in the Brinnon area throughout the year. Habitat area ID'd on Boy Scout Pulali Point preserve 2001. Due to their nesting habits, no nests have yet been identified. (Hammer, 1992, Holtrop 1992). The rare marbled murrelet habitat has been identified in the Brinnon area. 

Peregrine Falcon: Spring and fall migrant falcons occur in the Brinnon area (USFWS). Require year-round water source and high cliffs with protected spots to nest.

 Northern Spotted owl: The area falls within the radius of a spotted owl circle as determined by the USFWS. Area long-term residents have made auditory identifications with assistance of the DOE. Visual occurrence 1992.

 Pileated woodpecker: Frequently occur throughout the Pulali Point area, which contains numerous dead hollowed out trees suitable for nesting.

 Additional bird species (woodland and shoreline) in area: Cassin's auklet, Bonaparte Gull, Red-necked Grebe, Common Loon (fall migratory flocking and year-round pair), Western Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Redhead, Common goldeneye, Harlequin duck pair, Common merganser, Great blue heron, Stellar jay, Belted kingfisher, Barrow's goldeneye, Murrelets, Pigeon Guillemot, Yellow-bellied sapsucker, White winged Scoter, Surf Scoter, Cormorant, Double-breasted Cormorant, Horned Grebe (pair and flocking,) Calliope Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Anna's hummingbird (occasional), Red breasted Merganser, Golden-crowned kinglet, Eider, Red breasted nuthatch, Oregon junco, Cassin's finch, House finch, Purple finch, Varied thrush, Grouse, Black capped chickadee, and others. 

Mammals: Deer, cougar (usually juveniles) coyote (adult scat; juvenile sighting 1998), bobcat (adults and kit, 2001), bear, red fox, river otter (breeding pair and kits), black bear (1989).

This section is under development. We have a lot of material. Ideas?