Cape Falcon

The Cape Falcon Marine Reserve is located off the north coast near the town of Manzanita. This is Oregon’s northernmost site, and includes a marine reserve and two MPAs.

Marine Reserve

No take of animals or seaweeds. No ocean development.


No ocean development. Some fishing activities are allowed. See the site specific rules here.

What Makes Cape Falcon Unique

Beneath the Surface  Rocky intertidal habitats are found along the shore within the marine reserve to the north and south of Short Sand Beach. Underwater, sand dominates the reserve providing habitat for crab and other species associated with soft bottom habitats. In shallower waters, the reserve includes small isolated patches of rocky reef home to black rockfish, lingcod, kelp greenling, and buffalo sculpins.

Cape Falcon seafloor habitat map

From Land  The marine reserve is located just offshore from the popular Oswald West State Park. Hiking trails atop the Cape provide views out over the reserve. Visitors enjoy beach walking, surfing and viewing seabirds and other wildlife from Short Sand Beach. Nearby towns and ports include Astoria, Warrenton, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, and Garibaldi.

Mussels and barnacles along rocky shore.

Harvest Restrictions Began January 1, 2016
Monitoring Began 2014
Size Reserve:  32  sq km   (12.4 sq mi)
MPAs:      19.7  sq km   (7.6 sq mi).
Depth Range 0- 55 m   (0-180 ft)
Habitats Mostly soft sediment with isolated,
shallow rocky reefs and rocky
intertidal habitats.
Habitat Connectivity Small, isolated, low-relief rocky reefs.
Prior Fishing Pressure Relatively low, due to distance from
ports and habitats present.
Monitoring Comparison Areas Numerous small reefs spanning a
gradient of fishing pressure.


Design & Placement Matter

The ODFW Marine Reserves Program uses different monitoring tools tailored to each of Oregon’s marine reserves based on the reserve’s size, habitats, depths, prior fishing activities, and other unique characteristics of each reserve.

The Cape Falcon Marine Reserve is dominated by soft sediment habitats and includes small, low-relief, isolated rocky reefs within shallower waters. Prior to closure, crabbing took place in sandy habitats and there was minimal fishing for groundfish in rocky habitat. These characteristics along with the relatively low fishing pressure on groundfish that occurred at the site prior to closure means we will likely not see changes as a direct result from marine reserve protections — no fishing — in the reserve compared to areas still open to fishing.

Sampling Approach Due to the relatively low fishing pressure in the reserve prior to closure, our sampling approach is to survey a number of small rocky reefs that each experience different levels of fishing pressure. In this sampling approach, the rocky reefs in the reserve represent light fishing pressure. Patch reefs immediately to north and south of the reserve, and reefs closer to the port of Garibaldi, each represent higher levels of fishing pressure. We’ll look at change over time along this gradient of fishing pressures to explore how different levels of fishing influence rates of change in rocky reef marine communities.

Monitoring Activities

We are using the following tools and sampling intervals to monitor the reserve at Cape Falcon based on the site’s unique characteristics.

Future research and monitoring activities are being explored for the soft sediment habitat areas within the reserve.

Find out more About the Science.

cape falcon ecological monitoring tools

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