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MBNMS: 2001 Dive Brochure

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary--A Special Place


A PDF version of this brochure is available here:

divebrochure2001.pdf (401k)

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The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary--A Special Place


Sanctuary waters are filled with life! A variety of unique habitats are waiting to be explored, each harboring a spectacular array of plants and animals. Discover the thrill of diving lush kelp forests, rocky reefs, shale beds or sandy seafloors. National marine sanctuaries are special places--coastal and undersea counterparts to our national parks that are protected for their biological diversity or cultural significance. The largest and deepest of the nation's 13 marine sanctuaries,

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary spans 5,322 square miles of ocean, stretching along 300 miles of coastline. At its deepest point, the sanctuary reaches more than two miles below the surface in the Monterey Canyon.

The primary role of a marine sanctuary is to protect its natural and cultural features while allowing people to use and enjoy the ocean in a sustainable way. To protect its natural wonders, activities that could harm the health of the sanctuary, like oil drilling or ocean dumping, are prohibited. The sanctuary also facilitates many uses, such as fishing, diving and boating.


Help Protect the Sanctuary

To make your dives more enjoyable and safe, and to help protect this national treasure, please:

Sharpen your skills. Master the basic skills of diving (particularly buoyancy) well enough to be completely at ease. You'll be safer and enjoy more of what you're seeing.

Plan your dive well. Diving these waters is challenging. You may want to hire a local divemaster or instructor to accompany you on your first dives. Know the unique characteristics of a dive site in advance, so that you don't become disoriented or lost. Before you dive, designate entry and exit points as well as contingency exit points in case conditions change unexpectedly. For specific dive site information, consult dive stores, charts or local divers.

Control your buoyancy. Mastering buoyancy control means your dives will be safer and less strenuous.

Streamline your equipment. Keeping gear close to your body reduces drag and the chances of entanglement. It is also helpful to tape down your fin straps. Sea life is everywhere and can be harmed by the kick of a fin, bump of a tank, or knock of the hand.

Learn the proper techniques for diving in kelp. Always swim below the surface (kelp canopy) and navigate with your compass. If you must swim over the canopy, carefully push the kelp down and slowly dog paddle across. Don't panic or thrash around if entangled in kelp. Slowly remove the kelp, or have your buddy gently untangle it for you.

Keep a safe distance from marine mammals. To prevent disturbing harbor seals, California sea lions, sea otters or other marine mammals, stay 50 to 100 yards away from them. If they look in your direction and fidget, it's time to back away.

Avoid touching or taking anything. Your slightest touch can disturb marine life. Removing rock or shell for the sake of a souvenir can disrupt this fragile system.

Get Involved

Divers are privileged to witness the diversity and abundance of marine life in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Share the wonder and promote responsible ocean stewardship by getting involved in some of these activities:

• Join a dive club or conservation group that promotes education and conservation.

• Try your hand at photography or videography, and use your undersea images to inspire others to learn more about the ocean.

•Keep yourself informed about ocean issues. Be an advocate for responsible ocean management by making your voice known to management authorities or elected officials.

• Take part in fish counts or underwater surveys that can help scientists and fisheries managers better understand changes in the marine ecosystem.

• Participate in beach or underwater clean-ups.



For More Information

NOAA's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
(831) 647-4201 or

NOAA Office of Enforcement
(831) 647-4203 or (831) 647-4220

U.S. Coast Guard, Monterey
(831) 647-7300 or VHF Radio Channel 16

California Department of Fish and Game

Divers Alert Network (DAN)

Marine Mammal Center
(831) 633-6298

Marine Weather Forecast
(831) 656-1725

Sanctuaries Diver Web site


The Sanctuary thanks the following contributors: Members of the Sanctuary's Dive Partnership Program; Sanctuary Advisory Council diving representatives Ed Cooper and David Clayton; Jean-Michel Cousteau for providing information on ways divers can protect the ocean; the photographers who participated in the Sanctuary's underwater photo contest and who provided photos for this brochure.


Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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