Jill Sanford | 12.11.2017

From humpback whales to moon jellies, sea otters to sea anemones, hermit crabs to sea turtles, the ocean is teeming with with life. Whether you spot marine life from the shore, a boat, or from the water itself, explorers of all ages will get a kick out of seeing aquatic creatures in their natural habitats.

Some of the best places to search for marine life are the Puget Sound, along the Oregon coast, in California, Hawai'i, but the the truth is there are plenty of ocean paradises to choose from. Don't forget to look up for marine birds in the sky, and you'll have to get low to appreciate the incredible tiny organisms that live in the sand or tide pools. Sometimes it requires a little patience, but catching a glimpse of a wild animal or aquatic species is just plain delightful. You’ll never forget the first time you saw the silhouette of dolphins cresting out of the water, a sea otter floating in a nest of kelp, or a starfish clinging to a seaside boulder.

Just like any wildlife sightings you might experience on land, it’s important to keep your distance and remain respectful of a wild animal, especially if you are unfamiliar with the right way to behave around it. Seemingly docile and passive creatures can still easily harm or be harmed. If you want to go beyond being a casual observer of marine life, look into local guiding companies that can take you snorkeling, boating, or whale watching, and provide you with information about what you are looking at along the way. 

That being said, revel in the beauty and sense of discovery that accompanies these creatures. Here’s a list of our favorite places to spot marine life in its natural habitat.






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