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Research Technical Report

A Biogeographic Assessment off North/Central California: In Support of the National Marine Sanctuaries of Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay. Phase II: Environmental Setting and Update to Marine Birds and Mammals

NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)
(October 2007)

NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS no. 40, 240 pp.


NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) conducts and supports research, monitoring, assessments, and technical assistance to meet NOAA's coastal stewardship and management responsibilities. In 2001 the Biogeography Branch of NCCOS partnered with NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) to conduct biogeographic assessments to support the management plan updates for the sanctuaries.

The first biogeographic assessment conducted in this partnership focused on three sanctuaries off north/central California: Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay. Phase I of this assessment was conducted from 2001 to 2004, with the primary goal to identify and gather the best available data and information to characterize and identify important biological areas and time periods within the study area. The study area encompasses the three sanctuaries and extends along the coastal ocean off California from Pt. Arena to Pt. Sal (35 degrees-39 degrees N). This partnership project was lead by the NCCOS Biogeography Branch, but included over 90 contributors and 25 collaborating institutions. Phase I results include: 1) a report on the overall assessment that includes hundreds of maps, tables and analyses; 2) an ecological linkage report on the marine and estuarine ecosystems along the coast of north/central California, and 3) related geographic information system (GIS) data and other summary data files, which are available for viewing and download in several formats at the following website:

Phase II (this report) was initiated in the Fall of 2004 to complete the analyses of marine mammals and update the marine bird colony information. Phase II resulted in significant updates to the bird and mammal chapters, as well as adding an environmental settings chapter, which contains new and existing data and maps on the study area. Specifically, the following Phase II topics and items were either revised or developed new for Phase II:

  • environmental, ecological settings - new maps on marine physiographic features, sea surface temperature and fronts, chlorophyll and productivity
  • all bird colony or roost maps, including a summary of marine bird colonies
  • updated at-sea data CDAS data set (1980-2003)
  • all mammal maps and descriptions
  • new overall density maps for eight mammal species
  • new summary pinniped rookery/haulout map
  • new maps on at-sea richness for cetaceans and pinnipeds
  • most text in the mammal chapter
  • new summary tables for mammals on population status and spatial and temporal patterns

This report and related products (report, maps, tables, GIS data) will be available on CD-ROM and at the following website in February 2007: NCCOS 2007

Results of this assessment are being used to assist the NMSP and state of California in addressing issues such as evaluating potential modification of sanctuary and reserve boundaries, and changes in management strategies or administration, based on the data and analyses of these biogeographic products.

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

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