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Press Releases

June 1, 2006

Mary Jane Schramm
(415) 561-6622
Sarah Marquis


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary celebrates 25 years of ocean stewardship, research and education off the northern and central California coast this week. Designated in 1981, the sanctuary continues its commitment to protecting this national treasure that is world-renowned for its rich and unique diversity of marine life.

“This quarter-century milestone is significant for the nation and for the people who enjoy, work or care for the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary and its surrounding ocean environment,” said Daniel J. Basta, director of NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program, the NOAA office that manages the Farallones marine sanctuary. “In the years to come, the National Marine Sanctuary Program will continue to place a strong emphasis on protecting the sanctuary’s marine life, cultural artifacts and habitats.”

Highlights from the last 25 years include funding the first research of endangered blue and humpback whales off California; removal of 100,000 gallons of wildlife-threatening oil from a 50-year old shipwreck; educating thousands of children about the sanctuary; prohibition of oil and gas drilling in sanctuary waters; implementation of the Congressionally recognized Beach Watch coastal survey program; approximately 200,000 hours of service by community volunteers; and re-establishment of a northern fur seal breeding rookery for the first time in more than 160 years.

“This silver anniversary is a portal through which we look back at our accomplishments,” said sanctuary superintendent Maria Brown. “In the coming decade, we will build on our accomplishments by working with those who live, work and recreate along our coast to address the complex issues facing the sanctuary which is heavily impacted by activities in the urban area of San Francisco Bay."

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary encompasses 1,280 square miles of ocean, estuary and wetlands beyond San Francisco’s Golden Gate. Thirty-six species of marine mammals, including 27 dolphin and whale species, are found here. The Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary is a destination feeding ground for endangered blue and humpback whales. Six species of seals and sea lion including the California and Steller’s sea lions, northern fur seal and northern elephant seal are found here, thus attracting one of the most significant feeding populations of white sharks in the world. The food-rich Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary waters sustain the largest concentration of breeding seabirds in the contiguous United States. Albatross from the northwestern Hawaiian Islands and shearwaters from New Zealand fly thousands of miles to feed here. Myriad fish and invertebrate species also thrive here, including commercially valuable salmon, Dungeness crab and rockfish.

NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one coral reef ecosystem reserve that encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

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