The Sanctuary provides many opportunities for observation of nature, including whale
watching, bird watching, pinniped pupping and haulout activity, and viewing of sea
otters. Rocky shorelines provide pedestrians opportunities to view the flora and fauna associated with the intertidal habitat, and kayaks and partyboats are used for nearshore and offshore tours. With the multitude of opportunities for observation come the potential for wildlife disturbance that may result in flushing birds from their nesting roosts, harassment or even death of pinnipeds or sea otters, as well as trampling and excess
collecting of intertidal organisms. Other sources of wildlife disturbance include
low-flying aircraft and fireworks displays that can flush seabirds and marine
How is the sanctuary involved?
MBNMS addresses wildlife disturbance through a mix of educational
outreach, regulations and enforcement. Sanctuary regulations explicitly
prohibit harassment of marine mammals, as defined under the Marine
Mammal Protection Act.
A Team OCEAN summer outreach program employs on-the-water education
efforts on the Monterey Peninsula and in Elkhorn Slough to prevent
kayakers from approaching marine mammals such as sea otters too
closely. Similarly, the Sanctuary has assisted in reducing harassment
of the elephant seal population at Piedras Blancas, a location very
near the highway where tourists were closely approaching the animals.