Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary






Sancutary Program Accomplishments

Intertidal Systems

Rocky Subtidal Systems

Open Ocean & Deep Water Systems

The Physical Environment

Wetlands and Watersheds

Endangered & Threatened Species

Marine Mammals

Bird Populations

Harvested Species

Exotic Species

Human Interactions

Further Reading


While human interactions are highlighted here in a distinct section, the truth is that humans

play a role in all aspects of the Sanctuary and therefore the interplay of humans and marine resources can be found throughout this report. In particular, the following topics have related articles in other sections of this report: tidepools; whale watching; fishing; water quality studies; volunteers: (see water quality and Beach COMBERS)..

Most of the categories of human use in the following table are the same as shown in last year's Ecosystem Observations, so you can compare this year's numbers to last year's. In the future, as our data collection improves, we hope to present data comparatively to past years.





Visitors to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve - approximately 120,000

Visitor Estimates to State Parks and Beaches Contiguous to the Sanctuary1

San Mateo County coast - 1.3 million paid day users

Santa Cruz County coast - 1.6 million paid day users

Monterey County coast - 473,000 paid day users

Monterey County provided the following estimates for free-use


Asilomar State Beach & Conference Center - 504,000

Monterey State Beach - 676,000

Other State Beaches (excluding Marina) - 737,000

Data unavailable for Hearst Beach in San Luis Obispo

County and Stinson Beach in Marin County.

Whale Watchers andPleasure Boaters2

Whale watch and sea life cruises - 21,430 people

Sail and yacht charters - 18,140 people

Please note these numbers represent a few, but not all, whale watch and pleasure boat charters in Monterey and Santa Cruz.


Estimated number of kayak trips via rentals or tours - 25,282

Please note these numbers represent a few, but not all, kayak shops in Monterey, Moss Landing, and Santa Cruz.


Estimated number of regular surfers on the Monterey Peninsula - 300 throughout the year

Estimated number of surfers from Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz to Capitola - 300 daily


Estimated number of diver days using equipment rentals, air fills, tours, and entrance fees - 28,840

Please note these numbers represent a few, but not all, dive shops in Monterey and Santa Cruz, as well as weekend divers at Point Lobos State Reserve.

6th Annual Great American Fish Count

Total locations - 27

Total bottom time - 80 hours

Total species counted - 70

Total surveys completed - 112

(for more details, see Sanctuary Programs)

Fishing Licenses by County6

Commercial fishing licenses:

Charter boat licenses(recreational fishers):*




San Francisco



San Mateo



Santa Clara



Santa Cruz






San Luis Obispo



*One charter boat company was hired by approximately 4,386 recreational fishers during 1999.

1999 Coastal Cleanup7

Coastal Cleanup beach debris collected, by county:

Marin - 9,083 lbs trash; 2,065 lbs recyclables; 917 volunteers

San Francisco - 6,451 lbs trash; 2,306 lbs recyclables; 1,914 volunteers

San Mateo - 5,853 lbs trash; 1,195 lbs recyclables; 600 volunteers

Santa Cruz - 6,740 lbs trash and recyclables; 2,023 volunteers

Monterey - 28,932 lbs trash; 2,248 lbs recyclables; 2,172 volunteers

San Luis Obispo - 4,045 lbs trash; 897 lbs recyclables; 650 volunteers

Of special note, approximately 70 recreational divers, as well as Navy and Sanctuary divers, collected 5,880 lbs of trash and recyclables at Monterey Harbor.

Volunteer Docents

Estimated contacts with the public:

Save Our Shores Sanctuary Stewards (Santa Cruz and San Mateo) - 75,000

BAY NET (Santa Cruz and Monterey Peninsula) - 32,000

Friends of the Elephant Seal (San Luis Obispo County) - 72,447

Volume of Permitted Effluent8

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits - 54

accounting for discharges totaling 1,771 million gallons/day (1 of these permits is for the discharge of 1,450 million gallons/day of cooling water); 10 of these permits do not have discharge flows defined

State Waste Discharge Requirement (WDR) Permits - 230

accounting for discharges totaling 70 million gallons/day

Sanitary Exceedances and Unauthorized Discharges9

Reported sanitary exceedances and unauthorized discharges, by county:

San Francisco
San Mateo
Santa Cruz
San Luis Obispo

Effluent exceedances in watershed


Effluent exceedances w/ direct discharges to Sanctuary


Unauthorized dis-charges in watershed


Unauthorized direct

*Notes: Pacifica WWTP is now treating effluent to tertiary levels and discharging the effluent to Calera Creek under a new NPDES permit issued by the RWQCB. Sewage Authority Mid Coastside's new wastewater treatment plant was dedicated on October 22,1999 and therefore plant managers are confident that NPDES permit violations will be reduced.

Beach Postings and Closures10

By county:

Marin - no beach closures or postings from Rocky Point to Point Bonita

San Francisco - 2 beaches posted due to stormdrain overflows and sewage for a total of 15 days

San Mateo - 4 beaches closed due to high bacteria counts for a total of 219 days and 1 beach closed due to a sewage spill for a total of 31 days

Santa Cruz - 4 beaches closed due to sewage spills and an unknown source for a total of 136 days; 2 beaches posted due to high bacteria counts for a total of 38 days; 4 beaches posted permanently due to fecal contamination from dense bird populations; and contamination from dense bird populations; and 1 beach posted seasonally

Monterey - 1 beach closed due to a sewage spill for a total of 9 days and 6 beaches posted due to high bacteria counts for a total of 55 days

San Luis Obispo - no beach closures or postings from Cambria north to the Monterey County border

Vessel Incidents

2/19/99 - 26-foot kelp harvesting boat capsized off Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz; the boat was recovered by the owner

3/3/99 - 479-foot cargo vessel Hollandic Confidence carrying sulfur foundered off the Golden Gate; the vessel steamed into San Francisco for repairs; no significant loss of cargo or oil

4/14/99 - airplane crash in deep water resulting in fuel spill

5/10/99 - 30-foot sailboat ran aground on the beach north of Marina; the owner cleaned up the debris

7/25/99 - 20-foot Bayliner ran aground at Muir Beach, Marin County; the boat, fuel, and oil were removed

8/16/99 - 573-foot car carrier vessel Gardenia Ace ran adrift and caught on fire 80 miles west of Point Sur; the vessel was towed to San Francisco

10/28/99 - 28-foot cabin cruiser sank off Capitola and broke up on Capitola Beach

10/28/99 - 17-foot sailboat sank off Capitola and washed in at New Brighton State Beach

11/19/99 - 26-foot sailboat capsized and washed ashore 2 miles north of the Moss Landing Harbor jetties

Oil Spills11

35 direct spills ranging from 0 to 10 gallons

8 diesel or industrial waste spills in the watershed ranging from 30 to 600 gallons

Enforcement Actions under the Marine Sanctuaries Act

5 cases have been completed:

2 cases of marine mammal harassment at Piedras Blancas

3 cases (homeowner, firm, and contractor) in Capitola for the completion of a seawall without prior NOAA permits

157 cases under investigation:

1 case of sewage discharge into the Sanctuary

1 case of contaminated decant water discharge into the Sanctuary without a federal permit

1 case of construction activities within the Sanctuary without permits

approximately 50 incidents of low flying aircraft violations awaiting investigation

approximately 100 verbal warnings for marine mammal harassment at Piedras Blancas

2 written warnings for marine mammal harassment at Piedras Blancas

2 cases of seabird takes involving California halibut gillnet fisherman have been forwarded to US Fish & Wildlife Service for criminal proscutions under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

6 pending cases:

2 cases of marine mammal harassment

4 cases of operation of a personal watercraft outside prescribed zones

Human Interactions statistics compiled by Lisa de Marignac1, Patrick Cotter1, Susan Pufahl1, and Joey Ritchie2

1 Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
2 Sanctuary Intern

1 - Source: California State Parks and Monterey County
2 - Source: Baywatch Cruises, Monterey Bay Whale Watch, Sanctuary Cruises, Sanctuary Tours, Chardonnay Sailing, O'Neill Yacht Center, Pacific Yachting and Sailing
3 - Source: AB Seas, Kayak Connection, Adventure Sports, Venture Quest
4 - Source: On the Beach Surf Shop and Paradise Surf Shop
5 - Source: Aquarius, Bamboo Reef, Manta Ray, Monterey Bay Dive Center, Aqua Safaris, Adventure Sports, Point Lobos State Reserve
6 - Source: California Department of Fish and Game
7 - Source: California Coastal Commission
8 - Source: Regional Water Quality Control Boards
9 - Source: Regional Water Quality Control Boards
10 - Source: County Environmental Health Departments
11 - Source: U.S. Coast Guard and Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board

Tourism and Monterey County

According to a 1999 survey of Monterey County guests, travelers to the Monterey area cite the region's scenery and beauty—particularly the ocean and coastline--as a main reason for visiting the region. In fact, of the past guests interviewed, 81 percent associate the scenery/beauty/ nature as the most positive image of the Monterey area; the results were similar for both potential and current guests as well.

Specific draws to Monterey County in-clude Carmel, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman's Wharf, 17-Mile Drive, the beaches and the ocean, and Big Sur. Seventeen percent of current guests stated that Monterey is their favorite travel destination; this compares favorably to15 percent who mentioned Europe and 14 percent who said Hawaii. Finally, an overwhelming 97 percent of current guests and 87 percent of past guests said Monterey is an area to which they would return.

Monterey County tourists tend to be better educated and more affluent than the national average, and they also tend to travel as couples. Current and past guests were also older on average than those who have never visited the area. Most guests (56 percent) to the Monterey region are from California, specifically from Northern California (44 percent), and so are more likely than average to make day trips and more frequent visits. Of current guests interviewed, 60 percent stated that Monterey was their only travel destination; 53 percent stayed in the area for three or more days.

--Joey Ritchie
Sanctuary Intern

Source: Monterey Guest Study, by Wirthlin Worldwide for the Monterey County Travel and Tourism Alliance. 1,203 current guests were interviewed in-person between December 1998 and July 1999; 500 past and potential guests were interviewed by telephone July 28–3, 1999.

Population Expands along the Sanctuary's Shores

We reached a significant milestone in 1999: the world's population exceeded 6 billion. Reflecting this general trend, the population in the counties bordering the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has also been growing rapidly over the past fifty years.

As human population increases, so does the pressure on coastal and Sanctuary resources. The effort to protect the living resources of the Sanctuary, and to maintain the health and quality of life for individuals who live along its shores and within its watersheds, will become increasingly challenging as more and more people place ever greater demands on these resources.

The environmental stress caused by overpopulation is a product of both numbers and consumption. As individuals, we have only limited control over population numbers; but we have a great deal of control over our own consumption habits. Currently, Americans comprise only 5 percent of the world's population but consume 30 percent of the world's resources.

The new millennium offers an opportunity to show respect to neighbors, other living creatures, and future generations by reducing consumption. Buying less, driving less, and using less water can help alleviate the pressure on our precious—and limited—natural resources.

--Susan Pufahl
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Population 1850 - 2040 (projected)

Diver Perspective

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the diving community share the common goal of protecting our marine resources. From a diver's perspective, the opportunity to view the beauty of the undersea world first-hand can instill a strong sense of commitment to preserve the ocean and its habitats for future generations.

Divers are concerned about the decline of abalone and rockfish populations and the decrease in size of the fish we swim with. We are concerned about the impact of projects that disturb the seabed including the delicate nudibranchs, anemones, and numerous other marine organisms that live in nearshore habitats. Divers are also concerned when commercial harvesting of fish or kelp exceeds sustainable yields or has a detrimental effect on the marine environment.

For decades members of the diving community have organized and participated in the underwater cleanup of Monterey Harbor, as well as other coastal areas of California. On September 18, 1999 divers recovered more than 5,800 pounds of debris from the ocean floor in and around Monterey Harbor. Divers are planning several more cleanup dives in the year 2000. Some day we hope that, through Sanctuary education programs, these dives will no longer be needed.

The diving community looks forward to working closely with the Sanctuary to protect our marine environment in the new millennium. A Diver Partnership Program (DPP) was created by the Sanctuary, with guidance from the diving community, to facilitate this goal. Current DPP projects include the development of an educational brochure for divers, a DPP web page, contributing to a portable diver information booth, helping to coordinate diver cleanup programs, and the development of the NOAA Observational Diver Program to recognize divers who contribute to Sanctuary resource protection.

--David R. Clayton
Diver Representative,
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council

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Last modified on: March 31, 2000