Shell Beach in Sonoma is among the newly protected areas. {Monika Krach/Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association)
Shell Beach in Sonoma is among the newly protected areas. {Monika Krach/Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association)

Massive Expansion for Marine Sanctuaries Outside Golden Gate

Massive Expansion for Marine Sanctuaries Outside Golden Gate

Well, at least someone in the Bay Area is getting more housing.

Two marine sanctuaries off the coast of Northern California are more than doubling in size under a federal agency decision announced Thursday.

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located 42 miles north of San Francisco, will expand from 529 square miles to 1,286 square miles. Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary will expand from 1,282 square miles to 3,295 square miles of ocean and coastal waters. (NOAA)
Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located 42 miles north of San Francisco, will expand from 529 square miles to 1,286 square miles. Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary will expand from 1,282 square miles to 3,295 square miles of ocean and coastal waters. (NOAA)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary will now extend from south of the islands, whose jagged granite peaks can be seen on the clearest of days from the mainland, to the waters off Point Arena, in Mendocino County. Currently, the northern edge of the protected waters is off Bodega Bay. The Farallones sanctuary will grow from 1,282 square miles to 3,295 square miles.

The adjoining Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, northwest of the Golden Golden Gate, will be extended westward into the Pacific and grown from 529 to 1,286 square miles.

The sanctuary will be off-limits to oil drilling, and large industrial developments cannot set up shop along the coastline to use ocean water. In total, more than 2,700 square miles are being added to sanctuaries.

Sponsored

A nutrient-rich upwelling zone originating off Point Arena makes this region an incredibly productive ecosystem. The varied habitats within the sanctuaries support a wide range of sea life, including 25 endangered or threatened species, thousands of breeding seabirds and one of the most significant white shark populations on the planet.

Not into sharks? Fear not. There are a lot of cute things in these waters, too. Among the 36 types of marine mammals you'll find are blue, gray and humpback whales, harbor seals, elephant seals, Pacific white-sided dolphins and Steller sea lions.

Common murres are abundant along the California coast and are still recovering from historic egg collecting, fisheries bycatch and oil spill mortality. (Courtesy of Bob Talbot)
Common murres are abundant along the California coast and are still recovering from historic egg collecting, fisheries bycatch and oil spill mortality. (Courtesy of Bob Talbot)

“This expansion is the outcome of a tremendous collaborative effort by government, local communities, academia and elected officials to provide additional protection for critical marine resources,” said Daniel J. Basta, director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, in a press release.

“It presents a bold vision for protecting the waters off the Northern California coast for current and future generations.”

The boundaries of the expansion are final, and will go into effect after a 45-day congressional review period.

Learn more about the wildlife in the region and the scientific work being done on the Farallon Islands in this QUEST video.


Gray whales migrate south and north along the coast and prime viewing locations during migration season include Point Arena and Bodega Head. (NOAA)
Gray whales migrate south and north along the coast, and prime viewing locations during migration season include Point Arena and Bodega Head. (NOAA)
A harbor seal along the shores of the expansion area of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. (Bob Talbot)
A harbor seal along the shores of the expansion area of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. (Bob Talbot)
Bull kelp forests provide numerous habitats for nearshore fish and invertebrate species in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. (Jared Figurski, UCSC)
Bull kelp forests provide numerous habitats for nearshore fish and invertebrate species in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. (Jared Figurski, UCSC)
When the tide is out, the rocky shores of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary reveal hundreds of invertebrates, like these sea stars. (Courtesy of Joe Heath)
When the tide is out, the rocky shores of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary reveal hundreds of invertebrates, like these sea stars. (Courtesy of Joe Heath)

Volume
KQED Live
Live Stream
Log In ToPledge-Free Stream
LATEST NEWSCAST
KQED
NPR
Live Stream information currently unavailable.
Share
LATEST NEWSCAST
KQED
NPR
KQED Live

Live Stream

Live Stream information currently unavailable.