The star of the 2015 BBC/PBS live global television event Big Blue Live showcasing a marine habitat success story, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) is the largest national marine sanctuary in the continental U.S. and a premier destination for research, conservation, learning, tourism and recreation.
Off California’s central coast, Monterey Bay NMS has the nation’s largest kelp forests and one of North America’s largest underwater canyons. Known as the ‘Serengeti of the Sea,’ this marine environment is home to 34 species of marine mammals including humpback and blue whales, otters, seals and sea lions, great white sharks, four turtle species, 180 species of birds, 525 species of fishes and countless invertebrates. It also has nearly 1300 reported shipwrecks and more than 700 prehistoric sites.
Sustainable tourism and recreation opportunities are limitless: whale watching, diving, boating, kayaking, fishing, tidepooling and beach exploration. And, the Sanctuary’s marine research, monitoring and conservation activities are just as extensive, with many offering citizen science activities and volunteer engagement. Team OCEAN trains volunteers to serve as kayaking docents for the sanctuary and its protection policies, engaging other kayakers on the water. To date, Team OCEAN members prevented over 2000 disturbances to marine life. Volunteers also work on water quality testing programs and Beach COMBERS, a monitoring study examining stranded birds and mammals.
An National Marine Sanctuary Foundation-led capital campaign generated $3.3 million to install interactive learning exhibits inside the Sanctuary’s flagship visitor facility, the Santa Cruz Exploration Center. The Exploration Center is a valuable educational hub for residents and tourists, playing a critical role in community efforts to revitalize Santa Cruz.
Related Links :Monterey Bay NMS Website
“A vital part of the Monterey Bay NMS’s community engagement effort is our diverse array of volunteer programs, from traditional visitor center Docents and shoreline Naturalists of the Bay Net program, to non-traditional volunteers of our Team OCEAN kayaking outreach program. Sanctuary staff also engage our community throughout the year in citizen science programs focused on water quality during dry weather and rain events for the Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network, as well as surveying beach cast marine mammals and seabirds for Beach COMBERS. Our hundreds of dedicated volunteers are the eyes and ears of the sanctuary, contributing over 13,000 hours and $300,000 of critical in-kind service each year.”