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Research Technical Report

Geographic Information System Technology for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Starr, R., Y. Lao, J. Paris, K. Stanbury, and A. DeVogelaere (1998)

Final Report to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, 55pp.


The large area covered by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) makes it difficult for staff to have first hand knowledge about all areas, processes, or people involved in management issues. The primary goal of this project was to collect existing spatial data related to coastal and marine resources of the MBNMS and present the data in geographic information system (GIS) format. Additionally, we provided initial training for staff to learn how to use GIS in their management roles. Our intent in compiling a GIS data set for the MBNMS and training staff in ArcView GIS software, was to demonstrate how Sanctuary staff can use a GIS to gain faster access toinformation with which to manage resources of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

The first step in this project was to contact various local, state, and federal agencies, and regional organizations to obtain spatial data related to coastal and marine resources. Typically an ongoing dialogue with an agency representative determined which data were available, what format they were in, and the most appropriate means of transfer. All initial data were received and stored at the Habitat Center at Moss Landing Marine Labs. The data were obtained through various means usually determined by file size. Transfer was made through floppy disks, Zip disks, and via the internet (ftp). The multiple operating systems in place at the Habitat Center (DOS, MacIntosh and UNIX) greatly facilitated transfer efficiency. The majority of the native data-sets were formatted as ARC/INFO export files (see meta-data). All of the acquired data sets were then formatted for DOS (if not already so) and put on the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories server ( From the server they were accessible to a technician at the CSU Monterey Bay's SIVA Center for processing in ARC/INFO. This process ensured that all data-sets were accesible for ArcView and had standardized projections and distance units, when possible.

After processing at the SIVA Center the data were put on the CSUMB server ( where they could be retrieved via ftp to the workstation at the Habitat Center. The ArcView project file created at the SIVA Center was also retrieved and altered to operate universally. The directory structure (i.e. the pathways) must be maintained through the transfer process. The final step was to bring the data and project files over to a MacIntosh workstation in order to maintain compatibility with computers available at the Sanctuary office. All files were written to a MacIntosh readable CD and placed on a MBNMS computer. When possible, relevant meta-data of the native data sets were compiled (Appendix A). Using the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) meta-data template as a standard and guideline, each meta-data file contains the following fields; Title, Abstract, Database Status, Maintenance and Update Frequency, Theme Keywords, Place Keywords, Use Constraints, Access Constraints, Native Data Set Environment, Database Contact Information, Additional Information, Source Scale Denominator, Coordinate System, Entity Type, Transfer Size, and a list of all Associated Files. Several agencies provided more detailed information and for these data appendices are attached. Using the data and images within ArcView GIS software, logical and user-accessible views were created for demonstration purposes as well as future use by mangers. The ArcView project and associated files were then delivered to the MBNMS office and installed on a prepared workstation.

Table 1. The following agencies were successfully contacted, resulting in acquired data and future opportunities for reciprocal data-sharing.


Acquired Data



Public Lands Survey Data

CA Coastal Commission

Helmut Gieben

National Wetlands Inventory Map

CA Coastal Commission

Helmut Gieben

DLG Stream Data

CA Coastal Commission

Helmut Gieben

Watersheds (CalWater)

CA Coastal Commission

Helmut Gieben

CA Coastline

CDFG (Bay Protection)

Ross Clark

Sanctuary Boundaries


Randy Imai

NPDES Permit Data


Andrew DeVogelaere



Norman Maher

Environmental Sensitivity Index


Jill Peterson

LANDSAT Landcover


Jim Werle

Geology and Fault Lines


Norman Maher

Aerial Photos of Elkhorn Slough

CA Coastal Commission

Jon Van Coops

Digital Ortho Quad Photos

CA Coastal Commission

Helmut Gieben

Elkhorn Slough Project

CA Coastal Commission

Jayson Yap

Marine Protected Areas

UC Sea Grant Extension Program

Deborah McArdle

Fishery Data


Rick Starr

Pinniped Haul-Out Sites


Mike Weise

Reviewed: April 11, 2024
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