Monitor Map

Summary & Findings

In an effort to preserve one of the most famous shipwrecks in U.S. history, the wreck of the USS Monitor was designated our first national marine sanctuary on Jan. 30, 1975. The sanctuary comprises a column of water one nautical mile in diameter extending from the ocean’s surface to the seabed around the wreck of the Civil War ironclad, which lies 16 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. Average water depth in the sanctuary is 230 feet, depending on the tidal cycles and the Gulf Stream. Since its sinking in 1862, the Monitor has become a productive artificial reef. Numerous fish species, including black seabass, oyster toadfish and great barracuda, call the Monitor home. More...

Monitor Sanctuary Condition Summary Table
By assuming that a common marine ecosystem framework can be applied to all places, the National Marine Sanctuary program developed a series of questions that are posed at all sites and used as evaluation criteria to assess resource condition and trends.

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Report

Summary & Findings

What is System Wide Monitoring?

Site History and Resources

Pressures on the Sanctuary

State of Sanctuary Resources

Sanctuary Response

Concluding Remarks

Rating Scheme

Resources

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  Questions/
Resources
Rating Basis For Judgement Description Findings Sanctuary Response
WATER
1. Are specific or multiple stressors, including changing oceanographic and atmospheric conditions, affecting water quality and how are they changing?
hyphen
Water current modeling and its affects on dissolved oxygen. No human impacts. Conditions do not appear to have the potential to negatively affect living resources or habitat quality. The Monitor National Marine Sanctuary regulations state that discharge of waste material within sanctuary boundaries is prohibited.

There is a need to develop a water quality monitoring program in order to track conditions that could affect the integrity of the site.
2. What is the eutrophic condition of sanctuary waters and how is it changing?
hyphen
The Monitor is located in water that is deep and well-mixed, therefore eutrophication is not a management concern. Conditions do not appear to have the potential to negatively affect living resources or habitat quality.
3. Do sanctuary waters pose risks to human health and how are they changing?
hyphen
No evidence that there is any risk posed. Conditions do not appear to have the potential to negatively affect human health.
4. What are the levels of human activities that may influence water quality and how are they changing?
hyphen
Relatively few hazardous discharges, debris or other impacts. Few or no activities occur that are likely to negatively affect water quality.
HABITAT
5. What is the abundance and distribution of major habitat types and how is it changing?
hyphen
Monitor attracts biological assemblages as an artificial reef. Habitats are in pristine or near-pristine condition and are unlikely to preclude full community development. The Monitor National Marine Sanctuary's regulations prohibit activities that could in any way alter the sanctuary's existing habitats or disturb or damage its natural resources. Activities such as anchoring, discharging waste material into the water, seabed drilling, seabed cable-laying, the detonation of explosive material, dredging and trawling are highly restricted within the sanctuary's boundaries.
6. What is the condition of biologically-structured habitats and how is it changing?
?
No specific studies conducted; encrusting faunal organisms reduce the rate of corrosion. Undetermined status and trend.
7. What are the contaminant concentrations in sanctuary habitats and how are they changing?
hyphen
Lack of sources and constant resuspension of sediments flushing any contaminants that may accumulate. Contaminants do not appear to have the potential to negatively affect living resources or water quality.
8. What are the levels of human activities that may influence habitat quality and how are they changing?
hyphen
Limited human activity due to remote location and restrictions. Some potentially harmful activities exist, but they do not appear to have had a negative effect on habitat quality.
LIVING RESOURCES
9.What is the status of biodiversity and how is it changing?
?
Lack of biological monitoring program. Undetermined status and trend. Prohibition of commercial fishing and trawling in the sanctuary helps to eliminate the pressure of fishing gear on the living resources. The Monitor sanctuary's long-term goal is to coordinate scientific research and monitoring of the ecological conditions of the sanctuary.
10. What is the status of environmentally sustainable fishing and how is it changing?
N/A
N/A N/A
11. What is the status of non-indigenous species and how is it changing?
One Red Lionfish identified in sanctuary in summer 2007. Non-indigenous species exist, precluding full community development and function, but are unlikely to cause substantial or persistent degradation of ecosystem integrity.
12. What is the status of key species and how is it changing?
?
No key species have been identified; no specific studies conducted. Undetermined status and trend.
13. What is the condition or health of key species and how is it changing?
?
No key species have been identified; no specific studies conducted. Undetermined status and trend.
14. What are the levels of human activities that may influence living resource quality and how are they changing?
hyphen
Evidence that fishing activities affect habitat quality and thus living resources. Some potentially harmful activities exist, but they do not appear to have had a negative effect on living resource quality.
MARITIME ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESOURCES
15. What is the integrity of known maritime archaeological resources and how is it changing?
hyphen
Combination of natural deterioration and site alteration due to archeology activities from 1998-2002. Selected archaeological resources exhibit indications of disturbance, but there appears to have been little or no reduction in historical, scientific, or educational value. The Monitor sanctuary was specifically designated to protect and preserve the remains of the Monitor. Therefore, the Monitor sanctuary regulations prohibit the removal and damage to any historical or cultural resource in the sanctuary. Activities such as subsurface salvage or recovery operation, diving, lowering below the water any grappling, suction, conveyor, dredging or wrecking device are also prohibited.

A major exhibit on the Monitor was recently opened at The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia to better inform the public about the Monitor and its history.
16. Do known maritime archaeological resources pose an environmental hazard and is this threat changing?
hyphen
Lack of hazardous cargo Known maritime archaeological resources pose few or no environmental threats.
17. What are the levels of human activities that may influence maritime archaeological resource quality and how are they changing?
hyphen
Prior evidence of marine debris and anchoring. Site is susceptible to future incidents of fishing strikes and debris accumulation Selected activities have resulted in measurable impacts to maritime archaeological resources, but evidence suggests effects are localized, not widespread.

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