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Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

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Title: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, USS Macon (ZRS-5), Asilomar State Marine Reserve, Asilomar State Beach, Edward F. Ricketts State Marine Conservation Area
Collection: Marine Sanctuaries in California, National Marine Sanctuaries of the United States, Natural History of San Francisco, California, Protected Areas of Marin County, California, Protected Areas of Monterey County, California, Protected Areas of San Francisco, California, Protected Areas of San Luis Obispo County, California, Protected Areas of San Mateo County, California, Protected Areas of Santa Cruz County, California
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Big Sur coastline looking north to Bixby Canyon Bridge. Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Map showing the location of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Map of the sanctuary
Location California's central coast, United States
Area 6,094 sq mi (15,780 km2)
Established 1992
Governing body NOAA National Ocean Service
Kelp forests offshore Big Sur, in the MBNMS, 2013

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) is a US Federally protected marine area offshore of California's 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.


  • Description 1
    • Visitors centers 1.1
    • Collaborations 1.2
    • Related protected areas 1.3
  • Events and activities 2
  • History 3
    • Management 3.1
    • Management of northern section 3.2
  • Gallery 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) is 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

Click here for a virtual tour of MBNMS and other underwater parks

Visitors centers

A Coastal Discovery Center is located across the Pacific Coast Highway from the Hearst Castle visitor’s center in San Simeon, California near the William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach.[1]

The Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center opened on July 23, 2012[2] at 35 Pacific Ave. in Santa Cruz, CA.


MBNMS collaborations include:

  • The Sanctuary Advisory Council's twenty voting members represent a variety of local user groups, as well as the general public, plus seven local and state governmental jurisdictions. In addition, the respective managers for the four California National Marine Sanctuaries (Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary), the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and the United States Coast Guard sit as non-voting members. Members are appointed competitively by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and serve three-year terms. The Advisory Council meets bi-monthly in open sessions located throughout the almost 300-mile boundary of the Sanctuary.
  • Working groups of the Council: Research Activities Panel, Sanctuary Education Panel, Conservation Working Group, Business & Tourism Activities Panel
  • Regional partnerships
  • B-WET (Bay Watershed Education and Training Program): a grant program to provide funding and support for environmental education for students, teachers, and communities throughout the Monterey Bay watershed.

Related protected areas

Areas with overlapping jurisdiction include (roughly from north to south):[3]

Events and activities

2008 Ocean's Fair at the Coastal Discovery Center at San Simeon, California

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.[4]


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 sactuary, 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.[5]

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.[5][6]


There have been five Superintendents of the MBNMS since its inception:

  1. Terry Jackson (1992 to 1997):[7] Jackson was a NOAA Corps officer that was assigned to the MBNMS as its first manager in 1992. As a NOAA Corps officer, Jackson's land-based assignment ended in 1997. Over the next year, Jackson hired the first MBNMS staffers. Jackson retired from the NOAA Corps in 1998.
  2. Carol Fairfield (June and July, 1997): A call for Superintendent applicants went out in the spring of 1997. However, that process was ended by the National Marine Sanctuaries Chief, Stephanie Thornton, because she "did not believe any of the current applicants had the skills she was looking for to be the MBNMS Superintendent."[8] The call for applicants was re-advertised, and Carol Fairfield (with the NOAA's NMFS Protected Resources Program) was selected. Fairfield was selected in June and spent her first month at the Sanctuary Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Fairfield was reassigned on July 28, 1997, and Thornton said "Fairfield¹s reassignment is a personnel matter which cannot be discussed in detail."[9]
  3. Joanne Flanders (1997): At the time of Jackson's departure, Joanne Flanders (another NOAA Corps Officer) was Assistant Superintendent. Flanders was appointed Acting Superintendent for about six months.
  4. William J. Douros (1998 to 2006): In January 1998 William J. Douros, who had previously worked for Santa Barbara County became superintendent.[10]
  5. Paul Michel (2007 to Present): In 2006 Douros was promoted to West Coast regional director for the National Marine Sanctuary Program. Paul Michel, who had worked at the Environmental Protection Agency since 1987, became superintendent.[11]

Management of northern section

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.[12]



  1. ^ "Coastal Discovery Center at San Simeon Bay". official web site.  
  2. ^ "About Sanctuary Exploration Center". Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. 
  3. ^ Guide to the Central California Marine Protected Areas: Pigeon Point to Point Conception (PDF).  
  4. ^ King, C; Lonhart, S (2012). SeaPhoto:" Central California Marine Life Featured in New Free iPhone, iPad App""". In: Steller D, Lobel L, eds. Diving for Science 2012. Proceedings of the  
  5. ^ a b "Milestones in MBNMS History". News from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary ( 
  6. ^ Leon E. Panetta (Fall 1997). "Monterey Bay Sanctuary-—Our Treasure". News from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary ( 
  7. ^ Terry Jackson (Fall 1997). "From the Captain's Chair". News from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary ( 
  8. ^ Quote from public memo issued by Thornton.
  9. ^ Lisa Ziobro (August 1, 1997). "Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council Meeting Minutes".  
  10. ^ "New MBNMS Superintendent: William Douros Takes the Helm". News from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary ( 
  11. ^ "New Superintendent Named for Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary". Press Release.  
  12. ^ Michael McCabe (June 21, 1996). "Dispute Over County's Coastal Refuge / Jurisdiction of Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary about to change hands".  

Further reading

  • Michelle Ann Knight (1997). A Political Culture of Conservation: Citizen Action and Marine Conservation in the Monterey Bay. Ph.D. dissertation  
  • Dave Owen (2003). "The Disappointing History of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act" (PDF). New York University Environmental Law Journal 11. 

External links

  • Live HD Web Cam of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
  • California's MPAs
  • Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

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