Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, located off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in California, is one of 14 federally designated marine protected area administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), within the Department of Commerce. The sanctuary encompasses 1,110 square nautical miles (1,470 square miles) of water from mean high tide to six nautical miles offshore of Santa Barbara, Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel islands.
The sanctuary is a special place for species close to extinction, sensitive habitats, shipwrecks and maritime heritage artifacts. Many valuable commercial and recreational activities, such as fishing, shipping, and tourism occur in the sanctuary. A comprehensive ecosystem- based management approach is used to promote long term conservation of sanctuary waters, wildlife, habitats, and cultural resources, while allowing compatible human uses.
The sanctuary’s remote, isolated position at the confluence of two major ocean currents creates remarkable biodiversity. The mingling of cool, nutrient-rich waters from the north with warm currents from the south form a dynamic transition zone that is home to a myriad of sea life from microscopic plankton to blue whales.