Designated: September 18, 1992
Expanded: March 9, 2009
Area: 6,094 mi²
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 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 National Marine Sanctuary 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, surfing, 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 2,000 disturbances to marine life. Volunteers also work on water quality testing programs and Beach COMBERS, a monitoring study examining stranded birds and mammals.