Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Working with Cal State University Monterey Bay and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, MARE completed our fourth set of deepwater surveys in this Sanctuary. Our team, with the help of the Institute for Applied Marine Research (IfAME) students, flew our remotely-operated vehicle (ROV), the Beagle, for two weeks to collect information on habitats and species living in the ocean floor communities between 100 and 575 meters deep. The video data and still photographs we collected will help us develop a comprehensive view of these dark, difficult to reach, yet rich ecosystems.
Designated in 1992, the MBNMS is a federally protected area encompassing 4,601 square nautical miles, stretching from San Francisco to Cambria. This "Serengeti of the Sea" is home to 34 species of marine mammals, 350 fish species, and an abundance of invertebrates and algae that inhabit its kelp forests, steep canyons, and an offshore seamount. The National Marine Sanctuary system was designed to promote environmental protection, stewardship, and research. Commercial fishing and recreational activities are allowed in the Sanctuary, but potentially harmful activities, such as oil drilling, ocean dumping, and seabed mining, have been prohibited.
We sighted many fish species during the cruise, including large schools of small Halfbanded rockfish and two rare rockfish: Cowcod and Yelloweye, both federally designated as overfished.
While heading up the coast toward Davenport, we had an extraordinary encounter with a pair of humpback whales. The whales stayed just off the edge of the boat for nearly an hour. They were apparently very curious about our mission, even turning over to get a look at us (see our photos on Facebook!).