The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) is a US Federally protected marine area offshore of California's Big Sur and central coast. It is the largest US national marine sanctuary and has a shoreline length of 276 miles (444 km) stretching from just north of the Golden Gate Bridge at San Francisco to Cambria in San Luis Obispo County. Supporting one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems, it is home to numerous mammals, seabirds, fishes, invertebrates and plants in a remarkably productive coastal environment. The MBNMS was established in 1992 for the purpose of resource protection, research, education, and public use.
|Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary|
Big Sur coastline looking north to Bixby Canyon Bridge. Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Map of the sanctuary
|Location||California's central coast, United States|
|Area||6,094 sq mi (15,780 km2)|
|Governing body||NOAA National Ocean Service|
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) is one of the largest of a system of 13 National Marine Sanctuaries administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), within the U.S. Department of Commerce. It stretches from Rocky Point in Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, to the town of Cambria in San Luis Obispo County, and encompasses a shoreline length of 276 miles (444 km) and 6,094 square miles (15,783 km2) of ocean surrounding Monterey Bay. Its seaward Boundary is an average of 30 miles (48 km) offshore, and shoreward boundary the mean high tide. Its area is 6,094 square statute miles or 4,024 square nautical miles. The deepest point is 10,663 feet (3,250 meters) in the Monterey Submarine Canyon, which is deeper than the Grand Canyon. The average ocean surface temperature is 55 °F (13 °C).
The sanctuary provides habitat for 34 species of marine mammals, 94 species of seabirds, 345 species of fish, 4 of turtles, 31 phyla of invertebrates, and more than 450 species of marine algae. Historical sites include 1,276 reported shipwrecks and 718 prehistoric sites. The MBNMS has major programs for research and monitoring, and another for education and outreach
MBNMS collaborations include:
Areas with overlapping jurisdiction include (roughly from north to south):
See the MBNMS event calendar for a list of meetings, as well as volunteer events such as Snapshot Day, Urban Watch, First Flush (water quality monitoring programs), and TeamOCEAN (kayaker naturalist program).
The Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN) website was launched in 2003 to collect metadata for their various monitoring projects. In 2012, this information was released as an iOS application to allow visitors better access to the over 4,200 photos that have been collected.
A Marine Sanctuaries Study Bill was first proposed in 1967, with lobbying efforts by the Sierra Club. The Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 authorized the United States Environmental Protection Agency to monitor off-shore dumping. In 1975, the California Coastal Zone Conservation Commission recommended a marine sanctuary, and in 1976 Santa Cruz County and Monterey County joined the lobbying effort. In 1983 the Ronald Reagan administration dropped the area for consideration as a sanctuary.
In 1988 congress re-authorized the Sanctuaries Act and proposed a sanctuary in Monterey Bay. However, public hearings, with the memory of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, brought protests demanding a larger size. The first Draft Environmental Impact Statement was released in 1990, and a final management plan in June 1992 proposing the extended area. On September 20, 1992 the MBNMS was authorized by legislation proposed by congressman Leon Panetta. It was the largest federal marine sanctuary.
There have been five Superintendents of the MBNMS since its inception:
Since the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) had been established earlier and had a staff already, the section north of Año Nuevo point near the San Mateo County line was managed by GFNMS from its office in San Francisco. By 1996, Terry Jackson of MBNMS requested to have the management boundaries match the preserve. Ed Ueber of GFNMS saw no reason to change.
There are oil and gas reserves off the coast, but exploration has not been permitted. In 1982, Interior Secretary James G. Watt proposed opening the Central California coast outer continental shelf to oil and gas exploration. California residents and politicians strongly opposed the proposal and it was defeated. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush used an obscure 1953 law to permanently ban oil and gas development in California's Monterey Bay. In November, 2017, President Obama used the same law to ban oil exploration from Hearst Castle to Point Arena in Mendocino County, California.
In July 2017, under the direction of Executive Order 13795 from President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Commerce began re-evaluating the protected status of the sanctuary, which includes the Davidson Seamount off the coast of Big Sur. The seamount, at 23 nmi (43 km; 26 mi) long, 7 nmi (13 km; 8.1 mi) wide, and 7,480 feet (2,280 m) high, is one of the largest in the world. Opening the area to oil and gas exploration was opposed by many environmentalists and residents.
The Anderson Canyon region of Big Sur, California, also known as Anderson Creek, is a historically notable part of the Big Sur coast. It is located directly south of the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and was home to a Highway One work camp as well as the Anderson Creek Gang which consisted of bohemians including Henry Miller and Jean Varda.
The region is located within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Sea Otter Refuge, and California condor reintroduction area. The region is privately owned and completely surrounded by Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It is the next creek south from McWay Creek's famed waterfall cove and contains numerous falls on private property.
Anderson Peak, at the top of Anderson Canyon, rises to 4099 feet. The ocean-facing bluff at the mouth of Anderson Canyon sits 120 feet above sea level.Big Sur River
The Big Sur River is a 15.7-mile-long (25.3 km) river on the Central Coast of California. The river drains a portion of the Big Sur area, a thinly settled region of the Central California coast where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. The upper river and watershed lies within the Ventana Wilderness and encompasses the headwaters downstream to the area known as the Gorge. The lower river runs through Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, the Big Sur village, several private camp grounds and Andrew Molera State Park where it flows through a lagoon to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in the Pacific Ocean. It flows roughly northwest and empties into the ocean, where there is a natural sandbar that has created a lagoon. Major Tributaries of the river include, in order: Redwood Creek, Lion Creek, Logwood Creek, Terrace Creek, Ventana Creek, Post Creek, Pfeiffer-Redwood Creek, Juan Higuera Creek, and Pheneger Creek.Most of the river's 60-square-mile (160 km2) watershed is in the Ventana Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest. Precipitation increases with altitude at Big Sur and the higher elevations can receive over 50 inches (1,300 mm) per year, about 10 inches (250 mm) higher than lower areas. The average yearly runoff on the river is 65,000 acre feet (80,000,000 m3). It is the largest river by volume on the Big Sur coast. Water is diverted to a small group of homeowners, and the state claims that wells owned by the El Sur Ranch are diverting underflow from the river. There are no dams or reservoirs.Blue Silicon Valley
The Blue Silicon Valley is located in the Monterey Bay of California, USA and is part of one of the leading and largest sustainable, marine protected area, research and development regions in the world called the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), which encompasses a shoreline length of 276 miles and more than 6,000 square miles of ocean. Monterey Bay itself is located 30 miles southwest of Silicon Valley and as part of the MBNMS was designated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1992, bringing federal protection to the marine area in Northern California stretching from Marin County to Cambria, California. The sanctuary was originally established for the purposes of resource protection, research and development, education and public use and is now the most researched body of water in the world.Cannery Row
Cannery Row is the waterfront street in the New Monterey section of Monterey, California. It is the site of a number of now-defunct sardine canning factories. The last cannery closed in 1973. The street name, formerly a nickname for Ocean View Avenue, became official in January 1958 to honor John Steinbeck and his well-known novel Cannery Row. In the novel's opening sentence, Steinbeck described the street as "a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream."Clean Oceans International
Clean Oceans International, originally The Clean Oceans Project, is an ocean-oriented environmental organization founded in 2009 as an IRS 501c3 public benefit corporation. Clean Oceans International seeks to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans through a comprehensive global approach that includes research, technical innovation, public awareness, and efficient plastic waste management.COI is based in Santa Cruz, California on the Santa Cruz Harbor, gateway to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.Davidson Seamount
Davidson Seamount is a seamount (underwater volcano) located off the coast of Central California, 80 mi (129 km) southwest of Monterey and 75 mi (121 km) west of San Simeon. At 26 mi (42 km) long and 8 mi (13 km) wide, it is one of the largest known seamounts in the world. From base to crest, the seamount is 7,480 ft (2,280 m) tall, yet its summit is still 4,101 ft (1,250 m) below the sea surface. The seamount is biologically diverse, with 237 species and 27 types of deep-sea coral having been identified.Discovered during the mapping of California's coast in 1933, Davidson Seamount is named after geographer George Davidson of the U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Studied only sparsely for decades, NOAA expeditions to the seamount in 2002 and 2006 cast light upon its unique deep-sea coral ecosystem. Davidson Seamount is populated by a dense population of large, ancient corals, some of which are over 100 years of age. The data gathered during the studies fueled the making of Davidson Seamount into a part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 2009.Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
The Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (formerly Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary) protects the wildlife, habitats, and cultural resources of one of the most diverse and bountiful marine environments in the world, an area of 3,295 square miles off the northern and central California coast. The waters within Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are part of a nationally significant marine ecosystem, and support an abundance of life, including many threatened or endangered species.Islander (steamboat)
For the passenger steamer that sank in 1901, see SS Islander
The steamboat Islander (1) operated in the early 1900s as part of the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet. Islander (1) a steamboat built in 1904, should not be confused with Islander (2), an 89' long motor passenger/freight boat built in 1921 for service on the same route.Lovers Point State Marine Reserve
Lovers Point State Marine Reserve (SMR) is one of four small marine protected areas located near the cities of Monterey and Pacific Grove, at the southern end of Monterey Bay on California’s central coast. The four MPAs together encompass 2.96 square miles (7.7 km2). The SMR protects all marine life within its boundaries. Fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited.Moss Landing Wildlife Area
Moss Landing Wildlife Area is a California State wildlife preserve on the shore of Elkhorn Slough.Save Our Shores
Save Our Shores (SOS) is a marine conservation nonprofit dedicated to "fostering a thriving Monterey Bay and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary through clean shores, healthy habitats, and living waters.”Over the last 40 years, Save Our Shores has been responsible for establishing the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), preventing offshore oil drilling along the Central Coast of California, developing the nationally renowned Dockwalkers clean boating program, banning single-use plastic bags in over 30 jurisdictions, and leading various marine conservation beach cleanups and K-12 educational programs throughout the Monterey Bay area.
Today, the organization primarily focuses on advocacy, marine debris (specifically plastic pollution), and helping community members become ocean stewards. This includes educating the greater community about local watersheds and marine protected areas (MPA), tackling the plastic pollution problem by passing local ordinances and hosting cleanups, supporting habitat conservation efforts, educating and empowering community members to help them face oncoming climate change, and continuing to implement their historic Sanctuary Stewards and Dockwalker programs.Schmieder Bank
Schmieder Bank is a rocky bank west of Point Sur, California, roughly 25 nautical miles (46 km) south of Monterey, supporting an extraordinarily lush biological community, including very large individual colonies of the California hydrocoral, Stylaster californicus.The bank lies about 3 nautical miles (6 km) west-southwest offshore from Point Sur. Within the 75-meter contour, the bank is roughly elliptical, with its major axis running northwest–southeast, enclosing an area of about 1 square mile (3 km2). The surface of the bank is a surf-erosional plateau, punctuated by a series of narrow ridges (running approximately parallel to the major axis), and several extremely sharp isolated pinnacles. Minimum depths are 36 metres (118 ft) at one location and 40 metres (131 ft) at four or more other locations. During significant ice ages the bank emerged as an offshore island.
The bank was first explored during 1988–1991 by divers in visits organized and led by Dr. Robert Schmieder of Cordell Expeditions. That work generated a general description of the bank that was summarized in a privately published report. Because of the exceptionally rich biological community, the boundary of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary was extended to include the Point Sur area. The bank is similar in many respects to Cordell Bank, lying 121 nautical miles (224 km) to the northwest. The bank has become a desirable, but difficult, goal for scuba divers. Schmieder has characterized both this bank and Cordell Bank as examples of "underwater islands".During 1986, NOAA carried out a high-resolution multibeam survey of the area as part of the Exclusive Economic Zone program. In 1998, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute was contracted to carry out a high-resolution (5-meter horizontal) survey of the area.Schmieder Bank was named on October 15, 1990 by the United States Board on Geographic Names.Sea otter conservation
Modern efforts in sea otter conservation began in the early 20th century, when the sea otter was nearly extinct due to large-scale commercial hunting. The sea otter was once abundant in a wide arc across the North Pacific ocean, from northern Japan to Alaska to Mexico. By 1911, hunting for the animal's luxurious fur had reduced the sea otter population to fewer than 2000 individuals in the most remote and inaccessible parts of its range.
During the 20th century, sea otter populations recovered from remnant populations in the far east of Russia, western Alaska, and California. Beginning in the 1960s, efforts to translocate sea otters to previously populated areas were also successful in restoring sea otters to other parts of the west coast of North America. Populations in some areas are now thriving, and the recovery of the sea otter is considered one of the greatest successes in marine conservation.In two important parts of its range, however, sea otter populations have recently declined or have plateaued at depressed levels. In the Aleutian Islands, a massive and unexpected disappearance of sea otters has occurred in recent decades. The cause of the decline is not known, although the observed pattern of disappearances is consistent with a rise in orca predation. Sea otters give live birth. In the 1990s, California's sea otter population stopped growing for reasons that are probably different from the difficulties facing Alaska's otters. A high prevalence of infectious disease in juveniles and adults has been found to cause many sea otter deaths, however it is not known why California sea otters would be more vulnerable to disease than populations elsewhere. Other threats to sea otters are well-known. In particular, sea otters are highly vulnerable to oil spills, and a major spill can rapidly kill thousands of the animals. The IUCN lists the sea otter as an endangered species.Steamer Lane
Steamer Lane is a famous surfing location in Santa Cruz, California. It is just off a point on the side of cliffs in the West Cliff residential area near downtown Santa Cruz, providing easy access and a good vantage point for viewing. The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is housed in a lighthouse there. "Steamer Lane" is the preferred form of the name used by the people surfing there. Steamer Lane was named by Claude Horan while he was a student at San Jose State in the late 1930s. One flat calm day he and his friend Wes Hammond thought it would be a good idea to hire steamships to cruise back and forth to generate waves for surfing. It was at Steamer Lane that the modern surfing wetsuit and the leash were mainly developed by Jack O'Neill, who had his surf shop nearby for many years and lost his eye at Steamer Lane.Stilwell Hall
Stilwell Hall was an immense, 52,000-square-foot (4,800 m2) building that stood on a precipice at the edge of the Pacific on the west side of U.S. Highway 1, just across from the former Fort Ord military installation.
The building was constructed between November 1940 and September 1943 under the initiative of General Joseph W. Stilwell. It served as a recreational facility for military members for just over fifty years before Fort Ord was closed in 1994. Abandoned, Stilwell Hall fell into disrepair and was torn down in 2003 after severe coastal erosion threatened to cause the structure, filled with asbestos and lead-paint, to collapse into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.Tennessee Valley, California
The Tennessee Valley is a small, undeveloped part of Marin County, near Mill Valley. Historically home to ranches and threatened with the development of a new city, the valley was incorporated into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1972, with additional sections added to the park in 1974. The park contains horse stables, a native-plant nursery, and numerous trails for hiking, biking, and horse riding, including a 1.7-mile, handicap-accessible trail that leads to Tennessee Cove and its beach.USS Macon (ZRS-5)
The USS Macon (ZRS-5) was a rigid airship built and operated by the United States Navy for scouting and served as a "flying aircraft carrier", designed to carry biplane parasite aircraft, five single-seat Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk for scouting or two-seat Fleet N2Y-1 for training. In service for less than two years, in 1935 the Macon was damaged in a storm and lost off California's Big Sur coast, though most of the crew were saved. The wreckage is listed as the USS Macon Airship Remains on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Less than 20 ft (6.1 m) shorter than Hindenburg, both the Macon and "sister ship" the USS Akron (ZRS-4) were among the largest flying objects in the world in terms of length and volume. Although both of the hydrogen-filled, Zeppelin-built Hindenburg and the LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II were longer, the two American-built sister naval airships still hold the world record for helium-filled rigid airships.United States National Marine Sanctuary
A U.S. National Marine Sanctuary is a zone within United States waters, where the marine environment enjoys special protection. The program began in 1972 in response to public concern about the plight of marine ecosystems.Waddell Creek (California)
Waddell Creek is the name given to both the creek and the watershed that run through Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County, California. The Waddell Creek mainstem is formed by the confluence of East and West Waddell Creeks, and empties into the Pacific Ocean at Waddell Beach, just south of Año Nuevo Point.
United States National Marine Sanctuaries