Animals in Northwest Pacific

Updated: June 21, 2021
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Below you can find a complete list of Northwest Pacific Ocean animals. We currently track 194 animals in Northwest Pacific and are adding more every day!

The Northwest Pacific Basin is a region of the Pacific Ocean. To its west is the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench, which links Russia, Korea, and Japan; to its east is the Emperor Seamount Chain, an underwater mountain range that reaches Hawaii. Its southern border is near the Hawaiian islands of Necker Island and Marcus Island. It is one of the ocean regions where cyclones and typhoons form.

Its primary seas include:

  • Sea of Okhotsk
  • Kamchatka Shelf
  • Bering Sea
  • Northern Honshu
  • Sea of Japan
  • Yellow Sea
  • East China Sea

Some of the chief islands of the Northwest Pacific are:

  • Aleutian Islands
  • Puget Sound
  • Kuril Islands
  • Japanese Islands
  • Vancouver Island

The Northwest Pacific’s range includes tropical islands, but the water in its northern regions is cold. Fish that thrive in these cold waters include the Pacific halibut, salmon of all varieties, and gold country pollock. There are 13 whale species native to the Northwest Pacific.

Its marine life includes gray whales, humpback whales, blue whales, minke whales, and sperm whales. The waters are home to killer whales, bottlenose dolphins, and Pacific white-sided dolphins. Porpoises include the Ball’s porpoise and harbor porpoise.

Its waters are important fishing grounds for mackerels, tunas, shrimps, sardines, milkfish, sea breams, croakers, and seaweed.

One of the most important fish of the North Pacific is the herring. Like sardines and anchovies, herrings are forage fish. They are a vital food source for a huge number of larger fish and endangered marine mammals. Salmons, porpoises, seals, and other animals swarm the waters during herring spawning seasons.

Unfortunately, herring populations have dropped in recent years. Conservation groups along the Northern Pacific coastline are working to restore the population of these critical fish.

Millions of seabirds make their home on the coastlines of the Pacific Northwest. These include auklets, puffins, fulmars, terns, and almost all of the world’s 250,000 red-legged kittiwakes (Rissa brevirostris).

What Is the National Animal of the Northwest Pacific?

As an ocean, the Pacific Northwest is not a country and does not have its own national animal. Listed are the national animals of some countries with coasts on the Northwest Pacific.

Where To Find the Top Wild Animals in the Northwest Pacific

With many whale species, the Pacific Northwest is an ideal place for whale-watching tours. Along the Pacific coastline in North America, there are more than 100 whale watching sites that are part of the Whale Trail Project. Key spots include Sea Lion Caves in Oregon, Cape Flattery in Washington, and Lighthouse Park in British Columbia.

Aside from whales and porpoises, you can spot California sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters.

Fishing and charter boat trips provide an opportunity to visit the many islands of the Pacific Northwest. These islands are feeding grounds for seals, birds, dolphins, otters, and sea turtles.

The islands of the Pacific Northwest are scenic and wooded. They are home to large mammals like wolves, bears and cougars. Camping, fishing, and sightseeing trips to these islands are a great opportunity to see the wildlife and marine life of this region.

The Most Dangerous Animals in the Northwest Pacific Ocean Today

The most dangerous animal is the killer whale or orca. An apex predator in any environment, the killer whale lives everywhere except the Arctic Ocean.

Killer whales feed on whatever is available, including fish, seals, dolphins, and other whales. Wild killer whales are not dangerous to humans. There are no recorded attacks of killer whales on people.

Extinct and Endangered Animals of the Northwest Pacific

The following animals are in danger of becoming extinct:

Unique Marine Life

The Northwest Pacific Ocean is home to a rich variety of marine life, and its islands and coastlines are excellent places to see its native wildlife. Sea otters, puffins, and dolphins are among the many cute, unusual creatures you will find here.

Northwest Pacific Ocean Animals

Alaskan Pollock

It's one of the most commonly eaten fish in the world

Albacore Tuna

The albacore is a very fast swimmer


The largest wingspan of any bird in the world!


Amberjack can grow up to 200 pounds


November 12th is celebrated as National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day


There are 70 different species!


The anglerfish has a glowing lure on its head to attract unsuspecting prey

Baleen Whale

“Sings” a whale song during breeding season.


Closely related to crabs and lobsters!


Can grow to nearly 2 meters long!

Barramundi Fish

Scale rings indicate age

Barreleye Fish (Barrel Eye)

A barreleye fish's eyes can rotate in their head to look for prey.


Not all birds are able to fly!

Black Marlin

Every black marlin is born as a female.

Blanket Octopus

Females can weigh up to 40,000 times more than their partners.


One of the ugliest creatures in existence!

Blue Dragon Sea Slug

They inflict a painful, venomous sting

Blue-Ringed Octopus

The blue-ringed octopus produces some of the deadliest poison in the world

Blue Shark

Blue sharks can have up to 135 pups at a time.

Blue Whale

The largest animal on Earth

Bluefin Tuna

The bluefin is one of the largest fish in the world

Bonito Fish

May eat squid or other small invertebrate ocean life


Seabirds found across the South Pacific!

Bottlenose Dolphin

Stays in groups from 15 to 2,000 in number!'

Box Jellyfish

Venomous marine animals


Can release a toxin from its skin

Bull Shark

Unpredictable and aggressive temperament!

Butterfly Fish

There are more than 100 different species!


Also called ghost shark

Chinook Salmon

The Chinook salmon undertakes a long migration for the spawning season


Chitons are closely related to snails, oysters, and mussels because of their shared phylum

Chromodoris Willani

Their skin is toxic


Also known as the anemonefish!

Cobia Fish

It has teeth not only in its jaws but in its tongue and the roof of its mouth


Cockles live quite long; their lifespan usually ranges from 5 to 10 years in the wild.

Coconut Crab 

The largest terrestrial arthropod in the world


Codfish are carnivorous and eat other fish, including young codfish.

Conger Eel

The European Conger ( Conger conger) can weigh as much as an adult human!

Cookiecutter Shark

The cookiecutter shark takes its name because it leaves a cookie-shaped bite hole in its prey.


There are more than 6000 species of coral in the world's oceans.


There are 93 different crab groups

Crappie Fish

The crappie is one of the most popular freshwater fish in North America.


Found throughout the world's oceans!


Damselfish belong to the family Pomacentridae


Can reach speeds of up to 25 mph!

Dragon Eel

Dragon eels have double jaws and two sets of razor-sharp teeth

Drum Fish

The drum fish makes a croaking sound with its swimming bladder!

Dusky Dolphin

Communicates using whistles, squeaks and clicks!

Eagle Ray

Majestic underwater bird like fish


Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!

Elephant Seal

The largest species of seal in the world!

False Killer Whale

The false killer whale looks like a cross between a dolphin and orca!


Has the largest teeth compared to body size of any known fish!

Fin Whale

Found throughout ocean waters worldwide!


Respire through the gills on their heads!


A flat fish found in the Atlantic and Pacific!

Flounder Fish

There are around 240 different species of Flounder fish


There are more than 240,000 different species!

Flying Fish

Can glide in the air for hundreds of feet

Football Fish

The football fish is named after its unusual round or oblong shape


Found inhabiting tropical islands and coasts!


The frogfish can change colors, but it takes several weeks to do so

Fur Seal

Found only in the Northern Hemisphere!

Galapagos Penguin

Found around the Equator!

Galapagos Tortoise

The biggest species of tortoise in the world!

Garden Eel

Garden eel colonies are made up of hundreds to thousands of individuals.

Ghost Crab

Their eyestalks, which are sometimes horned, can swivel 360 degrees

Giant Isopod

Giant isopods are the largest group of isopods in the world

Giant Trevally

The largest fish in its genus


The goshawk is a popular choice among European falconers

Great Hammerhead Shark

Great hammerhead sharks have a 360 view because their eyes are situated on the ends of their mallet-like heads.

Great White Shark

Can grow to more than 8 meters long!


Many grouper can change their sex, and it is always from female to male.

Gulper Eel 

Gulper eels have a similar lifespan to humans and can live up to 85 years old. However, their age depends on their habitat and the availability of food.


Can use slime to suffocate marine predators or escape capture


The word "halibut" is comes from haly meaning "holy" and butte meaning flat fish due to its popularity on Catholic holy days.

Hammerhead Shark

Found in coastal waters around the world!

Harbor Porpoise

Surprisingly, not a dolphin!

Harbor Seal

Harbor seals can dive as deep as 1400 feet

Hardhead Catfish

The hardhead catfish has a sharp spine near its fin to inject venom

Hermit Crab

There are over 500 different species!


People enjoy the taste of the oily fish in many different ways including pickled, smoked, salted, dried and fermented.

Horn Shark

Endemic to the Californian coast!

Horseshoe Crab

Changed little in over 500 million years!

Humboldt Squid

The Humboldt squid can change colors to communicate

Humpback Whale

There are thought to be 80,000 left in the wild!

Immortal Jellyfish

Excellent hitchhiker on long-trip cargo ships


There are an estimated 30 million species!


Have tentacles around their mouths!

John Dory

The John Dory is often labeled one of the ugliest fish in the world and has no known relatives.

Keta Salmon

During spawning the look of the male changes. Among other things, he grows a beak called a kype that bears fangs.

Killer Whale

Typically consumes over 200 kg of food a day!

King Crab

Can have a leg span of nearly 2 meters!

King Salmon

Largest of the Pacific salmon


The krill is perhaps the most important animal in the marine ecosystem!


Lancetfish live at depths up to 6,500 feet below sea level

Leopard Shark

Leopard Sharks have teeth with three points.

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

Though it’s a huge animal, the lifespan of the lion’s mane jellyfish is only a year.


Have been known to reach 100 years old!


The lumpfish have sticky suction cups on their fins

Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish)

It's called the rabbit of the ocean because it multiplies so quickly.

Man of War Jellyfish

Named for an 18th century warship

Manta Ray

Can grow up to 9m wide!

Megamouth Shark

Swims with its mouth open to capture prey

Minke Whale

There are two recognised species!


The mojarra's protruding mouth allows it to sift along the seabed for food

Mola mola (Ocean Sunfish)

The ocean sunfish is the biggest bony fish in the world

Moon Jellyfish

Moon Jellies are bioluminescent, so they glow in the dark! They can also de-age!

Moray Eel

Sometimes, groupers invite moray eels to help them hunt!


They walk on land


Nematodes range in size from 1/10 of an inch to 28 feet long

Neptune Grouper

The largest recorded specimen ever caught was 17" long

Northern Fur Seal

Dense underfur means they don’t need blubber to stay warm


They get toxins from their prey to use it against predators.

Nurse Shark

Commonly found in Central American waters!

Ocean Perch

As a scorpionfish, the ocean perch has spines along its back!


There are around 300 different species!


They live in deep water as far as 2,600 feet below the water’s surface.


Opah are brightly colored, with red-orange fins and a silvery body.


Can process up to 10 litres of water an hour!

Pacific Sleeper Shark

In 2015, a Pacific Sleeper Shark was filmed living underneath an active volcano near the Solomon Islands. This shark is able to survive in waters with very high temperatures and acidity!


The parrotfish can change from female to male at some point in its life.


Spends 75% of it's time hunting for food!

Pink Salmon

The smallest of the North American salmon


The male pipefish has the ability to carry fertilized eggs with him

Pollock Fish

Pollock is a nutritious fish, generally readily available for human consumption, and more sustainable and affordable than other whitefish species like hake or haddock.

Pompano Fish

They are bottom-feeders


The Porcupinefish secrete a potent neurotoxin known as tetrodotoxin; this poison can kill both people and predators.


Closely related to crabs and lobsters!


The second most poisonous creature in the world!

Pygmy Shark

Pygmy sharks underbelly glows to attract prey that swims beneath it.


They float with the current.

Reef Shark

Grey reef sharks can give birth without males

Rock Crab

Males will fight each other to get to females.


These fish can grow up to three feet long!


Fast billfish with a sail-like dorsal fin

Salmon Shark

Salmon sharks are related to Great Whites.

Sand Dollar

Sand Dollar skeletons make popular collection items for seashell collectors.

Sand Tiger Shark

The sand tiger is the shark most commonly seen in aquariums.


Schools of sardines can be miles long and are often visible from an airplane


Sawfish teeth keep growing as the fish gets older


Scallops begin their lives by attaching to sea grass on the ocean floor.

Sea Anemone

Creatures have characteristics of both animal and plant

Sea Eagle

The sea eagle tends to mate for life with a single partner

Sea Lion

It's flippers allow it to walk on the land

Sea Otter

Eats over 40 different marine species!

Sea Slug

All sea slugs have both male and female sex organs

Sea Snake

The sea snake is incredibly venomous, even more than a cobra!”

Sea Squirt

There are more than 3,000 known species!

Sea Turtle

Always return to the same beach to lay eggs!

Sea Urchin

Can live for up to 200 years!


Some gulls are capable of using tools


Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!


There are 30 different species worldwide!

Sei Whale

This whale is one of the fastest of the cetaceans


No shark species has any bones in their bodies

Shortfin Mako Shark

Shortfin Mako sharks can jump 20 feet above the water!”


There are 2,000 different species worldwide!

Silky Shark

Has an extremely acute sense of hearing

Sixgill shark

The sixgill shark has six pairs of gills instead of the normal five

Skipjack Tuna

The skipjack is the most commonly caught tuna in the world

Sleeper Shark

The Greenland shark is one of the longest living vertebrates in the world.


There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Snow Crab

Snow crabs communicate with each other by waving or drumming their pincers.

Sperm Whale

Each tooth weighs 1kg!

Spinner Shark

Can have up to 20 babies

Spiny Dogfish

Found in ocean waters worldwide!


There are more than 9,000 known species!


Some species are known to have 10 arms!


Has 2 stomachs to aid digestion!


It's stinger is razor-sharp or serrated!


Large species can swallow whole salmon


Lose their scales and teeth as adults


Found around shallow coral reefs!


Its genus dates back to the Cretaceous period – 113 million years ago

Telescope Fish

Swallows food, much of it larger than them, whole

Thresher Shark

Thresher Sharks have a distinctive, thresher-like tail.


Can be heard out of water


Nests on tropical islands and cliffs!


The tuna has a sleek body that enables it to swim quickly through the water


Some species of aquatic turtles can get up to 70 percent of their oxygen through their butt.

Viper Shark (dogfish)

Most data on these fish is based on observations near Japan.


Viperfish have a bioluminescent spine on their dorsal fin.

Whale Shark

The largest species of fish in the world!

White Shark

White Sharks live in all of the world's oceans.

Wolf Eel

Wolf Eels may become tame and interact with human in areas where people frequently dive.


There are more than 500 different species!

Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake

Sea snakes spend approximately 90% of their lives under water.

Yellowfin Tuna

The yellowfin forms schools with other tuna species

Yeti Crab

The yeti crab has hairy arms, which collect bacteria to feed on

Northwest Pacific Ocean Animals List

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About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Animals in Northwest Pacific FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What Unique Animals Live in the Northwest Pacific?

One of the Northwest Pacific Ocean’s unique animals is the crested puffin or tufted puffin (Fratercula cirrhata). This cute bird sports black and white feathers with an orange beak and a bright yellow crest. In summer, its talons turn red and the feathers on its face turn white.

Otters: The Northwest Pacific Ocean is home to both river otters and sea otters. River otters divide their time between land and sea. They live on shorelines, riverbanks and the banks of streams. River otters are small and slender.

Sea otters are large and plump. They live in the coldest waters of the North Pacific and spend most of their lives in the water. Sea otters fish and breed in the water.

Both otter species were prized for their fur and almost became extinct. Conservation efforts and hunting bans pulled them from the brink of extinction. River otters have made a recovery, but sea otters were slow to recover and are still endangered.

What Sharks Live in the Northwest Pacific Ocean?

  •  Blue sharks live in almost all oceans of the world. They can reach 10 to 12 feet.
  • Salmon sharks are found in the colder waters of British Columbia and Alaska. They feed on birds, salmon, sea otters and small fish.
  • Brown catsharks are small sharks that only reach about two feet. They feed on shrimps, squid and small fish

Does the Northwest Pacific Ocean Have Venomous Sea Snakes?

Its venomous snakes include the California sea snake, also known as the yellow-bellied sea snake, and the banded sea krait.