Celebrating 25 years of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

By Alison Thompson, guest author

Contact: Marcus Reamer, Strategic Communications Director, marcus@marinesanctuary.org 

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is turning 25 on September 18, 2017! Designated in 1992, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is one of the largest marine sanctuaries in the nation and is even larger than Yellowstone National Park. Some of the sanctuary’s most notable features are its sandy beaches, rocky intertidal zones, deep sea canyons, and coastal kelp forests.

In the early 90s, local community members recognized the importance of preserving the ecosystems in Monterey Bay and worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to create a national marine sanctuary to protect this treasured place for generations to come. Community members from all walks of life acknowledged the interconnectedness of their community with the ocean and through community engagement, they helped implement and expand the sanctuary. Because of this designation, Monterey Bay remains a pristine ocean habitat that supports a large variety of life. It is known as the “Serengeti of the Sea,” offering its visitors some of the best opportunities to view wildlife in the world. The sanctuary remains a place of refuge for endangered wildlife and marine resources, a living laboratory for research, a natural classroom for education, and a recreational reservoir for fishermen and sports enthusiasts.

Located along California’s central coast, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a common passing site for migrating whales such as humpback whales, gray whales, and blue whales and is a permanent home for kelp, sea stars, sea urchins, plankton, and more. The sanctuary’s dry spots also provide suitable breeding habitats like rocky shores and sandy beaches for harbor seals and Northern elephant seals. One of the sanctuary’s most unique and well-known residents, the Southern sea otter, is frequently spotted anchoring itself to the surface of the kelp forest while it naps and eats. This charismatic critter was near extinction after the fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries, but several conservation measures have helped restore their populations off the California coast. When visiting the sanctuary, visitors have numerous opportunities to participate in a wide variety of activities, from whale watching tours, to walking along the sandy beaches, scuba diving excursions, a top-notch aquarium, fresh seafood, boating, kayaking, and fishing, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!

Join the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary 25th Anniversary Gala on September 16, 2017, at 6 pm at Monterey Bay Aquarium where we will celebrate the sanctuary, honor those who made it possible and look forward to what we can achieve over the next 25 years. All proceeds from this event will support research, education, conservation, and preservation projects in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit marinesanctuary.org/monterey-bay-25

To learn more about Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, visit montereybay.noaa.gov

Photo by: Chad King/NOAA