SIMoN
  Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
SIMoN Tools

Monitoring Projects

>130 projects listed alphabetically across all three central CA sanctuaries

1978 - 1998 DFG Fishery-independent Hook-and-line Fishing Surveys Along Central California Coast

The California Department of Fish and Game’s Central California Marine Sport Fish Survey (Refugia Project) conducted fishery-independent hook-and-line fishing surveys along the central California coast in nearshore waters, adjacent to kelp beds and over rocky reefs, from 1978 to 1998.

Abyssal Fauna Associated With a Whale Fall in Monterey Canyon

On Feb 6, 2002 using the ROV Tiburon, we discovered an unusual deep-sea community associated with the remarkably well-preserved carcass of a gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) at 2,891 m depth in the axis of Monterey Canyon.

ACCESS - Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies

The Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies (ACCESS) is a partnership that supports marine wildlife conservation and healthy marine ecosystems in northern and central California by conducting ocean research to inform resource managers, policy makers and conservation partners.

Analysis of mussels collected near the Moss Landing Power Plant thermal outfall

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Mussel Watch Program began in 1986 in order to evaluate pollutant load in U.S. coastal waters by sampling concentrations of contaminants in the tissues of mussels and oysters. In 2006, additional sampling sites were added in the Moss Landing Harbor in order to investigate any differences in contaminant concentrations between mussels near the thermal discharge site of the Moss Landing Power Plant and original Mussel Watch sites. Initial findings show that of the 11 heavy metals sampled, only concentrations of Cadmium (Cd) were found to be higher in mussels near the outfall pipe.

Application of molecular genetic methods to rockfish predation and habitat association research efforts in Central California

This study used previously developed genetic methods to enhance ongoing research projects in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by identifying unknown rockfish (Sebastes spp.) samples to the species level.

Archival of Midwater and Benthic Survey Data at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

Since the early 1970s, faculty and students in Marine Ecology, Invertebrate Zoology, and Ichthyology courses at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) have participated in class cruises aboard several research vessels to survey the fishes and invertebrates in shallow-benthic, deep-benthic and midwater habitats in Monterey Bay.

Are the Waters Along the Central California Coast and Monterey Bay Getting Colder?

There are indications that waters along the California coast are getting colder. Here we briefly examine three questions related to this change. First, how evident is this cooling along the central California coast and in Monterey Bay? Second, when did the change to cooler conditions occur locally? And third, why is it happening?

Autonomous Reef Monitoring System (ARMS) in a central California kelp forest

This project will assess both marine biodiversity and bioinvasions using a variety of genetic methods, including DNA barcoding and metagenomic analyses of benthic communities, in which bulk DNA from entire assemblages are extracted and sequenced by Next Generation Sequencing technology. Settling modules called Autonomous Reef Monitoring System (ARMS) are deployed, colonized by biota, retrieved and analyzed after collecting the associated biota from the ARM.

Beach Watch

Beach Watch is a long-term, beach-monitoring project. Beaches surveyed stretch from Bodega Head in Sonoma County down to Año Nuevo in San Mateo County. Volunteers survey a designated beach segment counting, identifying, and photo-documenting live and dead birds and marine mammals and human activity on- and immediately offshore.

Big Sur Nearshore Characterization (BSNC)

Led by MBNMS staff, research divers qualitatively characterize subtidal (<20 m deep) algae, invertebrates, and fishes along the Big Sur coast, from Point Lobos to Cambria. These data are used to complement quantitative data collected by PISCO and fill in knowledge gaps.

Biodiversity of rocky intertidal of northern Monterey Bay: A 24-year comparison

Species richness and abundnaces were quantified for 10 sites between Pigeon Point and Soquel Point by UC Santa Cruz biology students. Dr. John Pearse led classes into the intertidal from 1971-73 and again from 1996-97, as part of a 24 yr comparison.

Black abalone (Haliotis cracherodii) shoreline inventory

Populations of black abalone (Haliotis cracherodii) have been steadily declining in the southern portion of the species’ range due to a fatal disease called “withering syndrome." Researchers from the University of California at Santa Cruz work with the Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network and the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Study of Coastal Oceans monitoring groups to monitor and document the northward progression of WS along the central California coast.

California Collaborative Fisheries Research Project: Surveys of Nearshore Fishes in and near Central California Marine Protected Areas

This project involved the fishing communities of Half Moon Bay, Monterey Bay, Morro Bay, and Port San Luis, California to develop monitoring protocols for the use of hook and line fishing gear. Baseline data were collected for three Marine Protected Areas that were established by the State of California in September 2007. Experienced volunteer anglers fished with standardized gear for a specified amount of time while aboard one of five Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFV), landing a total of 7,928 fishes, comprised of 27 species. Fishes were identified, measured, tagged, and released.


California El Niños

Unusual physical and ecological conditions in the California Current differ during individual El Niño and La Niña events. The project compares large-scale forcing associated with tropical El Niño and La Niña events, to describe and understand differences in the west coast response to these events.

Carmel River Steelhead Count

By using an automatic fish counter at San Clemente Dam, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District has monitored the Carmel River steelhead population since 1991.

CCNM Site Characterization and Survey

The goal of The CCNM Site Characterization and Survey will gather existing information on the environment, communities, habitats, and cultural resources of the CCNM, conduct a survey of a sampling of CCNM components, and draft a report on their findings.

Center for Integrated Marine Technologies: Harmful Algal Blooms

Harmful agal blooms (HABs) are the result of rapid growth of toxin-producing unicellular algae. The toxins (e.g., domoic acid) can poison birds and mammals, close fisheries, and pose serious human health risks. The Center for Integrated Marine Technologies (CIMT) is using a variety of techniques to study this phenomenon.

Center for Integrated Marine Technologies: Wind to Whales

The Center for Integrated Marine Technologies' (CIMT) mission is to create a coastal ocean observing and forecasting system that provides a scientific basis for the management and conservation of Monterey Bay, and serve as a model for all of California's coastal marine resources and the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS).

Center for Integrative Coastal Observation, Research and Education (CICORE)

The CSU Center for Integrative Coastal Observation, Research and Education (CI-CORE) is a distributed coastal observatory for applied coastal research and monitoring in the nearshore (<100 m water depth) along the entire California coastline.

Central Coast Ambient Monitoring Program

The Central Coast Ambient Monitoring Program (CCAMP) is the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board's regionally scaled water quality monitoring and assessment program.

Central Coast Long-term Environmental Assessment Network (CCLEAN)

CCLEAN provides the initial nearshore component of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Central Coast Ambient Monitoring Program (CCAMP). This multidisciplinary program includes sampling in watersheds that flow into coastal regions, in estuarine coastal confluences, and at coastal sites.

Central coast trawl impact and recovery project: a collaborative fisheries study

This is the first controlled study on the west coast of the US to study the effects of bottom trawling on habitat and community structure.

Characterization of geologic and oceanographic conditions at Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz County

A USGS study is underway to characterize the coastal bluffs, inner shelf morphology and wave conditions at Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz County.

Characterization of Salinas Watershed Stream Habitat & Fish Species Composition

The primary objective of this project was to examine fish species distribution and to quantitatively evaluate physical habitat quality throughout the Salinas Watershed.

Characterization of the Benthic and Planktonic Communities of Elkhorn Slough

Our goal is an ecosystem description of Elkhorn Slough that will serve as a baseline for assessments of the rapid change in this coastal habitat.

Coastal Cliff Retreat Rates Along the Big Sur Coast, Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties, California

This study provides coastal cliff retreat rates along the Big Sur coast and relates that erosion to local geology.

Coastal Ecology of Juvenile Salmonids in California

The goal of this study is to determine the abundance, distribution, growth, and health of juvenile salmonid stocks (chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, coho salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch, and steelhead, Oncorhynchus mykiss) and the influences of environmental factors on the central California coast.

Coastal Erosion Along the U.S. West Coast During the 1997-98 El Nino: Expectations and Observations

During late summer 1997, NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, NOAA's Coastal Services Center, and the USGS Coastal & Marine Program formulated a plan to determine the magnitude, spatial patterns, and causative processes of El Niño-induced change along the west coast of the United States.

Coastal Ocean Mammal and Bird Education and Research Surveys (Beach COMBERS)

In 1997, we began a beach survey program called Coastal Ocean Mammal and Bird Education and Research Surveys (Beach COMBERS) using trained volunteers to survey beached marine birds and mammals monthly at selected sections of beaches from Wadell Creek to Morro Bay.

Common Murre Restoration Project

The Common Murre Restoration Project is a cooperative effort involving U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other organizations. The primary goal of this project is to restore the Common Murre colony at Devil’s Slide Rock as well as enhancing populations of other central California murre and seabird colonies by identifying and reducing threats.

Comparative Intertidal Study and User Survey for Point Pinos, California

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of visitor use on the Point Pinos rocky shoreline by comparing intertidal sites with different levels of human use and conducting census surveys to account for visitor use.

Comparison of discharge plumes from Elkhorn Slough and the Moss Landing Power Plant

This project describes and compares the general flow structure, dynamics and temperature differences between a thermal discharge from an anthropogenic point source (Moss Landing Power Plant) and the natural heat flux between two natural bodies of water, an estuary (Elkhorn Slough) and the open ocean.

Concentrations and Effects of Environmental Contaminants on the Health of California Sea Otters

This project examined liver tissue collected from 80 female sea otters during necropsies between 1992 and 2002. These females were collected from the coast of California within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Concentrations of some contaminants were higher in females that died from infectious diseases than in females that died from either emaciation or non-infectious causes. This link between contaminant burden in sea otters and susceptibility to disease is being actively pursued.

Cooperative Research and Assessment of Nearshore Ecosystems (CRANE)

The Cooperative Research and Assessment of Nearshore Ecosystems (CRANE) program was established in spring 2003. CRANE uses quantitative diver visual surveys to sample kelp forests for fishes, invertebrates, and algae.

Cordell Bank Habitat Characterization and Biological Monitoring

In 2002, sanctuary staff and collaborators initiated a program to quantify the diversity, distribution and abundance of habitats, fishes and invertebrates on and around Cordell Bank and follow these parameters over time. Underwater surveys of macrofauna (fish and invertebrates) and habitats are conducted using direct observation and video transects from an occupied submersible (Delta).

Cordell Bank Ocean Monitoring Program

The goal of the Cordell Bank Ocean Monitoring Program (CBOMP) is to characterize and monitor the spatial and temporal variability in the physical and biological components of the pelagic ecosystem in the region surrounding Cordell Bank. In addition, these data can be integrated with regional ocean observing programs to understand changes in the central California ocean environment. Monthly cruises (sometimes seasonally) were conducted from 2004-2010.

CSCAPE: Collaborative Survey of Cetacean Abundance and the Pelagic Ecosystem.

CSCAPE is a collaboration between the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Marine Sanctuary Program to assess the abundance and distribution of marine mammals and to characterize the pelagic ecosystem out to ~300 nautical miles off the U.S. West Coast.

Damage assessment and site characterization of the rocky shore following the grounding and recovery of the F/V Lou Denny Wayne

On November 29, 2007 at approximately 0130 hours the F/V LOU DENNY WAYNE ran aground one mile south of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County, California. This project served as the initial impact assessment and plans are to revisit the site annually to track recovery of the intertidal community.

Davidson Seamount: 2002 Expedition

The Davidson Seamount is an impressive geologic feature located 120 km southwest of Monterey, California. This inactive volcano is roughly 2,300 m tall and 40 km long, yet its summit is far below the ocean surface (1,250 m). In May 2002, a diverse group of scientists led by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary embarked on an exploration to more fully characterize the Davidson Seamount.

Davidson Seamount: 2006 Expedition to Ancient Coral Gardens

Building off the successes of an Office of Ocean Exploration (OE) expedition to Davidson Seamount in 2002, this project focused on deep-water corals. The week-long expedition in 2002 was the initial effort to characterize the biology and geology of the Davidson Seamount, 1,250 – 3,700 meters deep off Central California.

Davidson Seamount: 2010 Marine Mammal & Seabird Survey

MBNMS staff and UCSC scientists conducted a ship-based survey of the waters above and around the Davidson Seamount for three days in July 2010. Efforts aboard the NOAA Ship McArthur II represent the first dedicated at-sea surveys of Davidson Seamount for marine mammal and seabirds.

Davidson Seamount: 2010 Marine Mammal Aerial Surveys

In 2010, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) and its partners conducted two aerial surveys of the surface waters surrounding the Davidson Seamount, an area typically regarded as having a higher abundance and diversity of marine mammals and seabirds.

Davidson Seamount: Ecological Characterization & Habitat Modeling of the Fauna

Davidson Seamount, a massive undersea volcano, is one of the best studied seamounts in the world. Six expeditions to Davidson Seamount yielded over 60,000 observations of marine organisms. We were able to create a faunal list for Davidson Seamount, examine rates of endemicity, and add biogeographic range data for many of the species living on the seamount.

Deepwater Characterization and Baseline Monitoring in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

This project characterizes seafloor communities in the deeper waters of the MBNMS, including fish, macrofaunal invertebrates, and seafloor habitats. Baseline data are collected that can serve as the foundation for future monitoring efforts.

Deepwater Demersal Fishes and Habitats

This is an assessment of benthic groundfishes (primarily of rockfishes in the genus Sebastes) and associated habitats in deep water conducted in Soquel Submarine Canyon, Monterey Bay, California.

Delineation of Critical Inshore Spawning Grounds for Commercially Valuable Squid Fisheries on the East and West Coast of the USA

This project proposes to use the best available acoustic sampling technology (hardware, software, and sampling routines) to find and measure the areas of greatest concentration of benthic egg beds of the squids Loligo opalescens.

Distribution and Abundance of Marine Birds in Nearshore Waters of Monterey Bay, California

Monterey Bay, California is a site of regional significance for marine birds, particularly during winter. This study measured the seasonal abundance of nearshore (<1 km from shore) marine birds and some of the factors affecting their distribution in Monterey Bay from 1999 to 2000.

Ecological Assessment of a Lost Shipping Container in the MBNMS

In February 2004, the cargo ship M/V Med Taipei encountered a storm and lost fifteen 40-ft shipping containers in MBNMS, and another nine south of the sanctuary. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) discovered one of these containers in June 2004 at a depth of 1,281 meters on Smooth Ridge, 17.5 nm NW of Point Pinos. This monitoring project describes the March 2011 and December 2013 research cruises to study the impacts, natural habitat recovery rate, and decomposition rate/characteristics of this submerged container.

Ecological Effects of the Moss Landing Thermal Discharge

This study was designed to provide a quantitative evaluation of the impacts of the thermal discharge into the Sanctuary from the Moss Landing Power Plant.

Ecology and Population Dynamics of White Sharks in the Eastern Pacific: a Case Study

White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) have been flagged for international protection, yet effective population assessments and management actions have remained hindered by lack of knowledge about the geographical extent and size of distinct populations. Combining satellite tagging, passive acoustic monitoring, visual mark recapture, genetic and stable isotopic analysis we aim to determine white shark critical habitat, migratory patterns foraging ecology and population structure.

Effect of the Moss Landing Power Plant thermal discharge plume on the distribution and behavior of sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis): a preliminary study

Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) have occupied various parts of Elkhorn Slough over the past few decades. Recently, a large raft of otters has been noted just within the Moss Landing harbor entrance. In addition, some otters have been observed within and adjacent to the thermal plume generated by the Moss Landing Power Plant. This project studies sea otter behavior in and adjacent to the plume.

Elkhorn Slough Tidal Wetland Project

The Tidal Wetland Project is a collaborative effort to develop and implement strategies to conserve and restore estuarine habitats in the Elkhorn Slough watershed. This collaboration, initiated in 2004, involves over 100 coastal resource managers, scientific experts, regulatory and jurisdictional entities, conservation organizations, and community members.

Erosion monitoring in Elkhorn Slough

ESNERR staff is working with collaborators at CSU Monterey Bay and the Sanctuary to understand habitat changes that have occurred as a result of tidal erosion following the opening of a large artificial mouth to Elkhorn Slough in 1947 by the Army Corps of Engineers. They have documented substantial losses of salt marsh and changes to tidal creek structure.

Estimated Sediment Yield from Coastal Landslides and Active Slope Distribution Along the Big Sur Coast, Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties, California

This study was undertaken as a direct result of the need identified by CalTrans and MBNMS staff for fundamental data on background sediment volumes entering the MBNMS from coastal landslides.

Fine scale, long-term tracking of adult whites sharks

This project is designed to capture and affix near real-time satellite transmitters to the dorsal fins of 5 male and 8 female white sharks from the Farallon Islands. The sharks will be captured via hook-and-line, raised from the water on a large hydraulic platform and tagged before being released. Data will be collected and monitored over the next 4-6 years, via the ARGOS satellite array.

First Flush Event Monitoring by the Sanctuary Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network

First Flush occurs when the first sheeting rain of the season flushes roadways and impermeable surfaces, carrying months of accumulated contaminants and debris into the ocean.

Fish Surveys at the Moss Landing Power Plant Outfall

This is the first study to characterize the fish assemblage associated with the thermal outfall structure used to discharge heated sea water generated by the Moss Landing Power Plant.

Gravity Flow Event in Monterey Canyon, 20 December 2001

A sediment gravity flow descended through Monterey Canyon on December 20, 2001. The timing of this event is documented by a current meter found 550 m down-canyon from its deployment site, buried completely within a thick deposit of sediment.

Hydrodynamics and sedimentation in Elkhorn Slough

The goal of this project is to develop a calibrated 3D circulation model for Elkhorn Slough capable of predicting currents, water levels and transport. It is also intended to be
used to estimate rates of sediment erosion, deposition, and transport.

Impacts associated with the recent range shift of the aeolid nudibranch Phidiana hiltoni (Mollusca, Opisthobranchia) in California

The feeding habits of the aeolid nudibranch Phidiana hiltoni were investigated. Implications for the potential impact to species not used to the increased density of this predator are presented.

In-situ Measurements of Turbidity Currents in the Monterey Submarine Canyon

For the first-time, scientists direclty measured the speed and character of turbidity currents in Monterey Canyon.

Influence of varying tidal exchange on the fish and crab assemblages of Elkhorn Slough

This study investigated how assemblage structure, species distribution and the abundance patterns of fishes and crabs are influenced by variation in tidal flow and freshwater input throughout shallow-water habitats in the Elkhorn Slough estuary.

Interaction of Seawalls and Beaches: Eight Years of Field Monitoring, Monterey Bay, California

A long-term investigation of how coastal armoring structures affect beach morphology, both seasonally and over many years.

Invertebrate Monitoring in Elkhorn Slough

We use baited minnow traps to monitor native and non-native crab species and count burrows of large invertebrates at sites along an estuarine gradient in Elkhorn Slough.

James V. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve: Resource Assessment

This study was initiated as a result of concerns by the California State Department of Fish and Game and the County of San Mateo about the potential impacts from current visitor use, potential increases in future visitor use, and the effectiveness of management and regulations in protecting the health and viability of the marine life in the James V. Fitzgerald State Marine Park.

Juvenile Rockfish Abundance Surveys using SCUBA

Scuba surveys are conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) throughout late spring and summer to count the number of juvenile rockfish of all species that settle to the kelp bed and nearshore environments. An annual index is produced from this data for each species.

Kelp Watch 2014

The purpose of Kelp Watch 2014 is to monitor California beds of giant kelp and bull kelp for Cesium-134 and Cesium-137, the major isotopes in seawater potentially arriving from the damaged Fukushima reactor in Japan by mid-2014.

Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory (LOBO)

The LOBO observing system is designed to monitor the flux of nutrients (nitrate, phosphate and inorganic carbon) through the Elkhorn Slough ecosystem. The complete system will include up to eight nodes equipped with nutrient sensors developed at MBARI that are linked to the Internet through a wireless LAN (Local Area Network).

Literature Review To Characterize Environmental Contaminants That May Affect The Southern Sea Otter

The objectives of this study are to characterize environmental contaminants present in sea otter habitats that may affect population recovery, synthesize existing data on contaminant concentrations, and map their distribution.

Long-term Monitoring of Groundfishes in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Because many populations of fish and invertebrates are declining, we are developing a long-term monitoring plan to assess changes of benthic fishes and macroinvertebrates in the in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Initially we conducted submersible to survey groundfishes in selected deep rocky continental shelf and slope habitats of the sanctuary.


Long-term monitoring of Northern Elephant Seals: colony development and growth rates in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

We initiated a study of the population in 1968 involving systematic censuses and mark/recapture studies on the major rookeries which continues to the present; this long-term study permits a detailed documentation of population growth and colonization of the Sanctuary via dispersion and emigration.

Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students (LiMPETS)

LiMPETS is a program for middle schools, high schools, and other volunteer groups to monitor rocky intertidal and sandy beach habitats in three of the five West Coast national marine sanctuaries – Gulf of the Farallones, Monterey Bay, and Channel Islands

Long-term Studies of Seabirds on Año Nuevo Island and Mainland

Long-term monitoring of seabirds on Año Nuevo Island by PRBO Conservation Science.

Management program for the invasive kelp Undaria pinnatifida

We are monitoring the spread of the invasive seaweed Undaria pinnatifida within the Monterey Harbor, and studying the effectiveness of manual removal of Undaria from harbor docks and pier pilings.

Marbled Murrelets: Abundance and Productivity in Central California during the 2007 and 2008 Breeding Seasons

We conducted at-sea surveys for Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) in central California between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz in 2008 and down to Moss Landing in 2007. We estimated the central California population to be 174 (95% CL: 91-256) using all surveys data (n = 6). These estimates represent 54-55% declines since 2007 and 71-80% declines since 2003. These results and the lack of juveniles indicate that Marbled Murrelets in central California will almost certainly become locally extirpated when the current cohort of adults dies.

Marine Biotechnology Development from Marine-Derived Actinomycetes

Dr. Roger Linington and his students collect sediment samples from throughout the sanctuary, then grow and isolate marine bacteria that may provide new and unique natural products with broad applications in microbiology, biochemistry, chemistry and medicine.

Marine Protected Area Monitoring and Shelf Characterization in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

This project will assess the functionality of the Sanctuary's towed camera sled for collecting data on seafloor habitats and associated communities in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Marine Resources Survey in Big Sur

Highway 1 in Big Sur is often subject to delays and closures due to storms, washouts, and landslides. The Big Sur Coast Highway Management Plan (CHMP) develops sustainable strategies that ensure the safe and efficient operation of the highway while protecting the unique terrestrial and marine resources. The Marine Resources Survey will characterize targeted intertidal and nearshore subtidal areas along the Big Sur coast.

Mark and Recapture Studies of Nearshore Groundfishes in the Carmel Bay Area

This project collects information to support fisheries management and to provide baseline information for the purpose of evaluating marine protected area (MPA) efficacy for marine resources in the Monterey Bay region. A commercial passenger fishing vessel was used as a platform to hook-and-line catch and tag fishes at the Carmel Pinnacles State Marine Reserve and a nearby, non-protected site at Carmel Point. Tagged, recaptured fishes inform managers on nearshore groundfish populations, movement, and species composition in the Carmel Bay region.

MBARI Time Series (MBTS) Program

The oceanography of the MBNMS has received considerable study over the past 50 years. The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) began in 1949 to study the declining sardine fisheries off the North American west coast but over the decades it evolved and expanded in scope. This project describes how the Biological Oceanography Group at MBARI has conducted a focused program of observation on CalCOFI Line 67, within and offshore of Monterey Bay in the MBNMS.

Midwater Trawl Pre-recruit Survey

The NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) Fisheries Ecology Division has conducted annual surveys of the distribution and abundance of pre-recruit stage rockfish as well as other commercially important species such as Pacific whiting in order to provide year-class strength information that can be used in the fisheries management process. Hydgrographic conditions present during the surveys are also examined.

Modeling Black-footed Albatross Dispersion in Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries

Although Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes; BFAL) breed mainly in the Northwester Hawaiian Islands, they are known to forage in California National Marine Sanctuaries. To understand the features relating to BFAL distribution in the sanctuary region, this research identifies the relative relationship of local, regional and basin-wide environmental characteristics with BFAL habitat use within Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries.

Monitoring whales by Cascadia Research Collective

Cascadia Research is a non-profit (501c3) scientific and education organization based in Olympia, Washington, USA. We primarily conduct research needed to manage and protect threatened marine mammals.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Incoming Seawater Monitoring

As part of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's ongoing water quality program incoming seawater is monitored with both spot measurements and continuously on a 5minute interval using in situ sensor technology. Both seasonal events, such as upwelling, and periodic events, such as El Niño are visible in the data record.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Nearshore Surface Seawater Bacteria Monitoring

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has been monitoring various aspects of near shore seawater quality including levels of bacteria since 1996.

Monterey Bay Microbial Observatory

Small, single-celled planktonic microbes represent the most abundant organisms in the world’s oceans. This study aims to describe the microbes of the Monterey Bay and create a model for understanding marine microbial communities in general.

Moss Landing Power Plant Post-modernization Thermal Plume Evaluation

A thermal plume evaluation study, which was designed to measure the distribution of heated
waters discharged by the modernized Moss Landing Power Plant (MLPP), was conducted in
compliance with Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) permit and
California Energy Commission (CEC) certification requirements.

Multibeam bathymetry mapping of priority habitat areas with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The goal of this project was to provide high-resolution multibeam bathymetry and sonar-derived habitat GIS products for several of the priority mapping areas primarily along the central coast of California from Yankee Point (near Carmel) to the southern MBNMS boundary (near Cambria) at depths <80 m.

Nearshore water monitoring of oxygen and pH in southern Monterey Bay

A decade-long time series of water quality parameters indicated that the nearshore, shallow subtidal was regularly inundated with cold, low oxygen and low pH waters.

NERR System Wide Monitoring Program

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of state-federal protected areas, representing diverse estuarine ecosystems. Elkhorn Slough NERR has 24 partner reserves that are located on both coasts of the US, as well as the Great Lakes and Puerto Rico. Since 1995 these 25 NERRs carry out consistent system-wide water quality and weather monitoring.

NOAA’s Deep-Sea Coral FY2010 Assessment for the U.S. West Coast

The marine region off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California accounts for about 7% (778,628 km2) of the total area of the U.S. Economic Exclusive Zone and contains extensive deep-sea coral (DSC) communities. NOAA manages five National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS) on the West Coast: the Channel Islands (CINMS), Monterey Bay (MBNMS), Gulf of the Farallones (GFNMS), Cordell Bank CBNMS), and Olympic Coast (OCNMS). All contain deep-sea corals.

Northern Central California Coast State Waters Mapping Project (NCCMP)

This project maps the state water seafloor habitats (MHHW out to 3 nm) from Año Nuevo to Bolinas (NCCMP Phase I) using bathymetric LIDAR and multibeam echo sounders (MBES) to obtain both bathymetry data and acoustic backscatter and reflectance imagery.

Nutrient Sources to Support the Gulf of the Farallones Food Web

The goal of this ongoing project is to determine whether nutrients from San Francisco Bay impact the rich food web of the Gulf of the Farallones in order to assess if anthropogenic changes in the estuary will have management implications for the coastal ecosystem.

Nutritional Constraints on Sea Otters in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

We are investigating nutritional constraints on southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) by examining the nutrient composition of sea otter prey while coupling these data with studies on otter foraging behavior.

Oblique Aerial Photography - Coastal Erosion from El Nino Winter Storms

The U.S. Geological Survey as part of its Coastal and Marine Program is taking aerial photographs to assess coastal erosion from severe storms.

Ocean Margin Ecosystems Group for Acidification Studies (OMEGAS)

This is a three-year, NSF-funded study on the impacts of acidic ocean waters on two ecologically important species (sea urchins and mussels) in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem.

Ocean observing in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: CalCOFI and the MBARI time series

This report introduces the CalCOFI and the MBARI programs as they relate to each other and oceanography within the MBNMS. A report (see below) includes a brief review of MBNMS oceanography with summary graphs, and also provide introductory links to the extensive websites and detailed research papers of both programs.

Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO): subtidal component

The goal of the subtidal PISCO (Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans) program is to investigate the nearshore rocky reef marine ecosystems of the west coast of the U.S. in an innovative, coordinated, and interdisciplinary fashion.

Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO): Central Coast Marine Protected Area (MPA) Baseline Data Collection

On September 21, 2007, 29 new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) went into effect in central California. This project was designed to collect baseline data at sites inside and outside the MPAs prior to their establishment.

Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO): intertidal component

The goal of the intertidal PISCO (Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans) program is to investigate the rocky intertidal marine ecosystems of the west coast of the U.S. in an innovative, coordinated, and interdisciplinary fashion.

Pattern and Dynamics of Benthic Soft Sediment Faunal Communities

The objectives of this project are to determine the patterns of abundance of marine megafaunal populations on the continental shelf and slope to 1000 m depth in Monterey Bay, and measure changes in abundance over time.

Persistence and Recovery of Abalone Populations in Central California

We investigated patterns and processes of persistence and recovery of depleted invertebrate populations, red (Haliotis rufescens) and black (H. cracherodii) abalone, in central California.

Photo-identification of Blue Whales

The focus of this project is to collect identification photographs of blue whales to examine movements, migratory destinations, stock structure, and behavior, and to estimate abundance and trends in abundance.

Phytoplankton toxins in critical prey species in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Domoic acid (DA) is natural toxin produced by certain species of phytoplankton. When consumed by higher predators (e.g., marine mammals, birds, fishes), DA can cause sickness or death. This project studies samples from current research programs and past studies to the distribution and transmission of this toxin within the food web of Monterey Bay.

Pioneer Seamount Ocean Acoustic Observatory

A vertical array of four hydrophones was installed on Pioneer Seamount to passively monitor the Pacific Ocean in the region south of San Francisco, CA.

Point Piedras Blancas Northern Elephant Seal Monitoring

Monitoring at Piedras Blancas indicates the Northern Elephant Seal population has steadily increased since 1990.

Point Reyes National Seashore Northern Elephant Seal Monitoring

Breeding records of elephant seals have been kept since their return to the Point Reyes Headlands in 1981. This program includes park staff, college students, and community volunteers in the survey effort.

Population Dynamics of Sessile Deep-sea Invertebrates in Monterey Bay

The objectives of this study are to determine the rates of survival and reproduction of common benthic invertebrate megafauna that inhabit the continental slope in Monterey Bay.

Potential Impacts of the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) Cable on the Seabed and Benthic Faunal Assemblages

To assess the condition of the MARS cable and its potential effects on seabed geology and biology, several assessments were performed (2004, 2007-2008 and 2010). The most recent study was concluded 37 months after the cable was installed.

Pt. Lobos State Reserve Otter Survey

Monthly land-based standardized surveys of southern sea otters are conducted by Point Lobos volunteers to determine population trends in the reserve area.

Re-Discovering Cordell Bank: Dive Expedition 30 Years Later

In 2010, a technical dive team completed a series of deep dives on Cordell Bank; this was the first dive expedition to Cordell Bank since Cordell Expedition divers explored the Bank between 1977 and 1985. The team was able to accomplish all the mission's science objectives including photo and video documentation and sample collection of invertebrates. This information will allow sanctuary staff to evaluate changes that have occurred on the bank since the original survey 30 years ago, and establish species composition and reef conditions in 2010. The 2010 data will allow sanctuary staff to analyze future changes that may be associated with changing climate conditions.

Reef Check California: Statewide Subtidal Monitoring Network of the Nearshore Rocky Reefs

Reef Check California (RCCA) is a non-profit organization building a network of informed volunteer divers who support the sustainable use and conservation of our nearshore marine resources. These volunteer divers survey nearshore reefs providing data on the status of key indicator species.


Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) Fish Survey Project

The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)’s Fish Survey Project enlists the help of recreational SCUBA divers to identify and count nearshore fishes.

Rocky-shore Community Variation Along Natural and Anthropogenic Gradients of Disturbance: implications for the design and evaluation of marine reserves

Through intensive biodiversity surveys of rocky intertidal habitats of Monterey Bay, CA, we assessed how human and natural disturbances interact to affect these coastal communities.

Santa Cruz County Beach Non-Point Pollution

Santa Cruz County Environmental Health Services (EHS) monitors county beaches and provides water quality information to concerned swimmers to alert them of possible areas that may be contaminated by fecal coliform bacteria.

Santa Cruz County Beach Water Quality

Santa Cruz County Environmental Health Service (EHS) has conducted regular testing of freshwater and saltwater swimming areas since 1968.

Santa Cruz County Marine Debris Tracking

The goal of the Santa Cruz County Marine Debris Tracking project is to reduce the amount of debris reaching the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Save Our Shore provides the community with opportunities to participate in debris prevention and debris removal. In addition, Save Our Shore strives to help people make the connection between their lifestyle choices and the collective community impacts of marine debris on our oceans.

Santa Cruz Ocean Observing Platform (SCOOP)

The primary goals of the Santa Cruz Ocean Observing Platform (SCOOP) are to establish and maintain a long-term dataset of weather and oceanographic measurements at the Santa Cruz Wharf that is accessible to both researchers and the public.

SCOPE: Simulations of Coastal Ocean Physics and Ecosystems

We propose to model the coastal upwelling ecosystem within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) with high spatial (kms) and temporal (days) resolution.

Sea star wasting syndrome

Sea star wasting syndrome (SSWS) is a general description of symptoms found among sea stars afflicted with a disease that often leads to death. SWSS is widespread, from Alaska to Mexico, with an onset in Fall 2013 and continues today, leading to the largest, most wide-spread mass mortality event in recent history.

Sea Turtle Restoration Project: Leatherback Watch Program

The Leatherback Watch Program monitors and records sightings of leatherback sea turtles off the U.S. West Coast.

Seabird Protection Network

The Seabird Protection Network addresses human disturbance to breeding seabird colonies along the central California coast. These efforts are accomplished through a collaborative, multi-agency outreach program combined with monitoring, law enforcement and management actions.

Seafloor Mapping in Monterey Bay, Cordell Bank, and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Geological Survey scientists mapped and characterized seafloor areas on the continental shelf in three west coast National Marine Sanctuaries using side-scan sonar and underwater video technology.

Shipwrecks on sanctuary shores: disturbance and recovery along a rocky intertidal exposure gradient

Recovery rates and processes were assessed along a rocky intertidal exposure gradient impacted by a shipwreck in Monterey Bay, California.

Snapshot Day

Snapshot Day (SSD) is a one-day event that utilizes citizen volunteers to collect and analyze water samples from streams that enter the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). SSD began on the Central Coast on Earth Day 2000 and has become a widely recognized volunteer event in which important water quality information is gathered.

Southwest Ocean Outfall Regional Monitoring Program

The City and County of San Francisco owns and operates the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant that collects, treats to secondary standards, and then discharges municipal wastewater and storm water into the Pacific Ocean approximately 3.75 miles offshore of Ocean Beach.

Spatial and Temporal Variability in Oceanographic and Meteorologic Forcing along Central California: 1980-2002

High-resolution hourly data from 8 NOAA buoys deployed since the early 1980’s off Central California were analyzed to improve our understanding of spatial and temporal variability of oceanographic and meteorologic forcing along the coastline.

Spatial and temporal variability of kelp forest canopies in central California

This master's thesis studied kelp canopy cover data collected from 1985-1991 along a 65 km stretch of coastline spanning the central coast of California.

Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks (SPLASH)

SPLASH is an international cooperative effort to understand the population structure of humpback whales across the North Pacific, and to assess the status, trends and potential human impacts to this population. The project has broad international and national participation.

Survey of deep-water coral and sponge habitats along the West Coast of the US using a remotely operated vehicle

Remotely operated vehicle surveys were conducted from a NOAA ship (the FSV Bell M. Shimada) during a six‐day transit November 1‐5, 2010 between San Diego, CA and Seattle, WA. The objective was to locate and characterize deep‐sea coral and sponge ecosystems at several recommended sites in and adjacent to NOAA sanctuaries.

Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP)

The Tagging of Pacific Pelagics (TOPP) research program aims to understand the migration patterns of large predators in the North Pacific basin and how these animals act and interact in their open ocean habitats. By using satellite tagging techniques, TOPP researchers follow the movements of different species across multiple trophic levels (i.e., the food web) and in relation to physical oceanographic features in order to piece together a whole ecosystem picture.

Tracking Black-footed Albatross Movements and Conservation

Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge, working with government and university partners has collected data on the oceanic distribution of post-breeding and chick provisioning Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) tagged at two locations (Cordell Bank and Kure Atoll) over four years (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008). Their distribution is described in the context of static oceanic habitats (bathymetric domains and features) and management jurisdictions.

Tracking Sooty Shearwater habitat use throughout dynamic upwelling ecosystems in the California Current

Scientists tracked Sooty Shearwaters (Puffinus griseus) within the California Current ecosystem during their summertime feeding period and used the data to locate aggregations of prey species such as anchovy, sardine, krill and squid.

Understanding the effects of tidal wetland management on estuarine invertebrate assemblages in Elkhorn Slough

We collect benthic invertebrate data from poorly characterized sites feeding into the main channel of Elkhorn Slough (ES) to inform wise management by the ES National Estuarine Research Reserve and the ES Foundation.

Underwater Behavior of Large Whales Using Suction-cup Attached Tags

This project examined underwater movements, behavior, and vocalizations of individual blue, fin, and humpback whales using suction-cup tags. Tags included a variety of instrument packages.

USGS Sea Otter Survey in California

Bi-annual aerial and land-based standardized surveys of Southern sea otters have been conducted in California during late spring and early fall, since 1983. The surveys record the total otter numbers, the number of dependent pups, and the number of adults and sub-adults, or independents observed. Spring survey results are used as an indicator of the population trend of California sea otters.

usSEABED: A USGS Pacific Coast Offshore Surficial Sediment Data and Mapping Project

The USGS will soon publish its first release of Pacific coast data from the usSEABED database, a map-based compilation of offshore surficial sediment data.

Volunteer Water Quality in Elkhorn Slough

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve , the Elkhorn Slough Foundation, and the Monterey County Resources Agency have been supporting a volunteer water monitoring program since 1988. Striking differences between sites and seasons were observed but significant long term changes over time are few.

West Coast Obs and the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO): Oceanography component

The Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO) Oceanographic monitoring program began in 1999. The project uses nearshore moorings to monitor ocean temperature at 18 sites between Pigeon Point and San Simeon, with ocean currents also measured at 4 and salinity at 1. Project data support PISCO's ecological studies in kelp forests and rocky intertidal habitats in the MBNMS.

139 Projects