Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The sanctuary extends from Marin to Cambria off the California coast. It comprises 276 miles of shoreline and 5,322 sq. miles of ocean. It was established in the 1990's, and is one of the largest of 13 national sanctuaries. It is a federally protected marine area, established for the purpose of marine ecological protection. Which means there cannot be oil drilling or large cargo shipping here.

On the central California coast is the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon. The shelf area is 300-500 feet and the canyon drops off to 12,000 feet. This canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, and extends over 50 miles off shore. It is believed to have been made by tectonic plate movement and a realignment of the central valley drainage.

It is one of only five major up welling regions in the world. Up welling happens when cold nutrient rich water that is pulled up from the deep as spring winds push warmer water offshore and the cold nutrient rich water rushes up to replace it. The nutrient rich water now on the surface gets sunlight in the summertime supporting phytoplankton blooms. This forms the basis of the food chain leading to zooplankton, krill, small bait fish, and other forage items.

The sanctuary supports one of the worlds most diverse wildlife areas. There are over 30 species of marine mammals, over 90 species of sea birds, and 1000's of species of marine vertebrates.

Most of the surface ocean images on my site were taken from the Sea Wolf and Point Sur Clipper. Boats from the Monterey Bay Whale Watch. They have incredibly dedicated and knowledgeable skippers. The administrative folks and crew are some of the nicest people I know. I really consider them family. I highly recommend their trips for anyone wanting to go quality whale watching in the Monterey Bay Sanctuary.