Cypress Island Aquatic Reserve

The Cypress Island Aquatic Reserve is an extraordinary stretch of shoreline where both people and ecosystems thrive. Pristine beaches lay below active bluffs, eelgrass beds form meadows over soft seafloors, and kelp beds float along the rocky coast. These nutrient-rich habitats provide diverse food and dwellings in abundance for birds, fish, and marine mammals as they live in and migrate through the area.

About the Reserve

The Cypress Island Aquatic Reserve is a…

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Birch Bay State Park Boat Ramp

Located off of Birch Bay Drive at the south end of the Birch Bay State Park beach, this boat ramp provides vessel and shore access to the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve.

For directions and more information click here.


Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve

Located just south of Point Whitehorn proper, this county park includes shore access to the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve.

For directions and more information click here.


Gulf Road Viewpoint

Located between Cherry Point proper and Intalco industrial facility, this stretch of county road provides stunning views of the Aquatic Reserve looking west. To access this area, turn left on Gulf Road from Alder, Lonseth, or Henry roads.

Sea Net

Northern Most Intertidal Cherry Point Station

Point Whitehorn

Whitehorn Intertidal Cherry Point Station

Cherry Point

Cherry Point Intertidal Station

Gulf Road near Intalco

Gulf Road near Intalco Intertidal Station

Neptune Beach

Neptune Beach Intertidal Station

Neptune Beach

Neptune Beach Bird Survey

Gulf Road Viewpoint

Gulf Road Bird Survey

Salt Spring Drive

Salt Spring Drive Bird Survey


Cypress Island supports than 120 species of shore, wetland and forest birds. Nearly half of these are marine birds such as blue heron, pigeon guillemot, and bonaparte gulls, among others. The waters surrounding Cypress Island are an important feeding habitat for threatened and endangered seabirds, and nearby kelp beds provide resting area for gulls herons, shorebirds and waterfowl.

Marine Mammals

The west side of the island is a frequently used corridor for minke whales and harbor porpoises. Cypress Island also has two harbor seal haulout areas with average group sizes of about 100 animals.

Forage Fish

Cypress Island contains nearly 20 miles of undeveloped shoreline which contains numerous sites that are suitable habitat for multiple types of forage fish, including surf smelt and sand lance. Forage fish are a very important food source for marine birds, salmon, and other large marine predators.

Marine Invertebrates

Invertebrates such as marine worms, snails, clams, crabs, shrimp, and countless others call the Reserve home. These critters provide vital links in the Reserve’s food chain by becoming food for the local bird, fish, and mammal populations.

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation

Eelgrass and macroalgae provide various habitat functions for many species. These functions include rearing and foraging habitat for juvenile salmon, crab, and other fish, spawning substrate for Pacific herring, shelter for an abundance of prey species, and shade in the summer, cooling the water during low tides and hot days.

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