ACCESS Research Cruise

By Dan Haifley, Secretary of the Board of Directors of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation


I had a rare opportunity to see, up close and in real time, how some of the funds raised for marine sanctuaries from donors like you are being put to use.

On May 4, 2022, I, along with National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Conservation Manager Michaela Miller, ventured out for a full-day working research cruise aboard the NOAA vessel R/V Fulmar.  Point Blue Conservation Science, formerly known as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, set out on a data collection effort for ACCESS (Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies) for the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation.  This one day, which included very sloppy seas in the afternoon, was part of a 10-day effort spanning the distance from the northern part of the Monterey Bay up to Half Moon Bay.

The data collected over the 10-day cruise, which is supported by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, will be used by the sanctuary to inform management decisions made to protect the habitats and wildlife it is charged to protect. Team members recorded sightings of large whales, seabirds, vessels, marine debris, fishing vessels and crab pots. Also, using collection nets and other equipment the team took water samples, plankton, krill, larval fish as well as other invertebrates.

Information collected will help in the effort to combat climate change, identify and save entangled whales, gauge ecosystem health and track seabird and whale populations in the area. It was amazing to see the hard work, team spirit and efficiency of the researchers on board, as well as the crew and sanctuary staff. Thanks to their work, the wildlife and habitats supported by Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary will benefit. And, therefore, so will we.