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Natural Resources of the Sanctuary

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary features many diverse biological communities and habitats, including kelp forests, beaches, and one of the deepest underwater canyons in North America. An abundance of life, from tiny plankton to huge blue whales, thrives in these waters.

These links lead to MBNMS publications and web resources that describe the organisms and habitats of the Sanctuary:

north of Ano Nuevo

Site Characterization

The site characterization of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) is a summary of existing information about MBNMS natural resources, written by more than two dozen experts.

It is broadly organized into three categories: 1) Physical Setting, 2) Biological Communities and Assemblages, and 3) Human Influences.

We consider this a "living document" to be continually updated.


Davidson Seamount

The Davidson Seamount is a pristine undersea mountain habitat off the coast of Central California, located 80 miles southwest of Monterey. This inactive volcano is approximately 7,480 feet tall, yet its summit is far below the ocean surface (4,101 feet). At 26 miles long and 8 miles wide, it is one of the largest known seamounts in U.S. waters.

In 2008, NOAA expanded MBNMS to include the Davidson Seamount Management Zone (DMSZ), an area encompassing 775 square miles. Davidson Seamount is the first seamount to be protected within a United States national marine sanctuary.


Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN)

Comprehensive, long-term monitoring is a fundamental element of resource management and protection. The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Research Program monitors ecosystem resources through SIMoN, the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network.

SIMoN is an integrated, long-term program that takes an ecosystem approach to identify and understand changes in the Sanctuary. It provides resource managers with the information needed for effective decision-making and integrates ongoing efforts at the over 30 regional marine research institutions.


Shelf Characterization & Image Display (SCID)

The Shelf Characterization and Image Display (SCID) is a user-friendly, map-based interface for viewing imagery and summary data collected in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) and the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS). SCID was designed by and continues to be supported by scientists at the Institute for Applied Marine Ecology (IfAME) at California State University Monterey Bay.


Deep Water Site Characterization

This is a compilation of video collected within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary aboard the NOAA R/V Fulmar. Video and still images were collected using The Nature Conservancy's ROV (built and operated by Marine Applied Research (MARe)) and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary's towed camera sled.
(click here if you are having trouble viewing the video)

Reviewed: September 08, 2023
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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