The park grew from a bird reserve founded in 1910. It is a highly sensitive ecosystem due to the use of the area as stop-over by many migratory birds, like barnacle geese and Steller's eider, and as a breeding and nesting ground for over 247 species of birds, of which the most common is the eider duck. One third of all protected plant species in Estonia can also be found in the national park. Hunting is absolutely prohibited. This park is a popular tourist destination for both Estonians and foreign visitors, particularly from Finland.