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National Marine Sanctuary: Monterey Bay: San Simeon Office & Coastal Discovery Center

Designated in 1992, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) is a federally protected marine area offshore of California's central coast. Stretching from Marin to Cambria, the sanctuary encompasses a shoreline length of 276 miles and 4,601 square nautical miles of ocean, extending an average distance of 30 miles from shore. At its deepest point, MBNMS reaches 12,713 feet (more than two miles). It is one of our nation's largest marine sanctuaries, larger then Yellowstone National Park.

The sanctuary contains our nation's largest kelp forests and one of North America's largest underwater canyons and closest-to-shore deep ocean environments. Its diverse marine ecosystem also includes rugged rocky shores, wave-swept sandy beaches and tranquil estuaries. These habitats harbor an incredible variety of marine life, including 34 species of marine mammals, more than 180 species of seabirds and shorebirds, at least 525 species of fishes, and an abundance of invertebrates and algae. Known as the "Serengeti of the Sea," this remarkably productive marine environment is fringed by spectacular coastal scenery, including sand dunes, rocky cliffs, rolling hills and steep mountains.

MBNMS was established for the purpose of resource protection, research, education and public use. Human uses include commercial fishing and recreational activities like diving, kayaking, boating and surfing. However some activities that could harm the sanctuary's health—such as oil drilling, ocean dumping or seabed mining—are not allowed.

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Reviewed: December 23, 2015. Contact us with page issues.

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