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National Marine Sanctuary Photo gallery

Monterey Bay: Habitats

There are many sandy beach areas along the 400+ miles of sanctuary coastline. (photo: Kip Evans)

Beaches are not only beautiful coastal areas, but they are also important biological habitats. (photo: Kip Evans)

Large marine mammals such as sea lions and Elephant seals use coastal beaches for breeding and pupping. (photo: Kip Evans)

This female Elephant seal and other female Elephant seals come to Point Piedras Blancas and Ano Nuevo each year to give birth. (photo: Kip Evans)

While big waves pose a threat to most of us, many animals live in the near shore breakers. This Barred Surfperch loves turbid water where it can find food it needs to survive. (photo: Kip Evans)

The intertidal zone is an area constantly changing. Each day along the Pacific Coast, presidents experience two high and two low tides of unequal height. (photo: Kip Evans)

For the most part, the intertidal is exposed during low tide. During large swells, streams of cool water rush over certain areas bringing relief to many exposed invertebrates. (photo: Kip Evans)

Animals that live in the intertidal zone have to be specially adapted to life with heat, wind, rain and large crashing waves. Some animals like starfish, hold on tight with suction cup tube feet. Others like mussels, attach to the reef with tough fibrous threads. (photo: Kip Evans)

Harbor seals haul-out on the rock intertidal to rest. Along the shores of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary hundreds of harbor seals haul-out during the day where they can be viewed by the general public. (photo: Kip Evans)

Exposed rocky areas are often used as resting sites for many fish eating birds such as these cormorants in the the sunset. (photo: Kip Evans)

Wetlands are one of the most misunderstood habitats on Earth. (photo: Kip Evans)

90% of California's wetlands have disappeared - lost to airports, harbors, housing developments, and parking lots. (photo: Kip Evans)

Wetlands are one of the most biologically productive places on Earth. Here you can find hundreds of different invertebrates, including clams, which are an important food source for birds, fish, and even humans. (photo: Kip Evans)

Thousands of birds visit or lie in the wetland areas along the boundary of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. They come here for the abundance of food and refuge that these areas provide. (photo: Kip Evans)

Sunlight filters through the dense kelp canopy bringing light to the sea floor, which allows growth in the understory. (photo: Kip Evans)

There are hundreds of different types of invertebrates found within the kelp forests of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (photo: Kip Evans)


Adult harbor seals like this one, feed, play, and find refuge in kelp forests during the day. At night they look for prey in deeper waters. (photo: Kip Evans)

Thousands of divers explore the kelp forest each year. (photo: Kip Evans)

The Kelp rockfish is one of the most common rockfish found in the kelp forest of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It spends most of its time on or near the bottom where it blends in with its surroundings. (photo: Kip Evans)


Southern sea otters are a common sight int he Sanctuary, despite the fact that the overall population is very endangered. Sea otters use the kelp forests to eat, sleep, mate, and hide from predators. (photo: Kip Evans)

Unlike the rocky intertidal zone, the open ocean is an area that does not change much from day to day. (photo: Kip Evans)

Transient Killer whales (Orcas) wait near the edge of the Monterey Bay canyon for gray whales to pass by. Gray whales, sea ions, dolphins, and other marine mammals are prey for transient Killer whales. (photo: Kip Evans)

Blue sharks spend almost all their time in the open ocean. They grow to a length of about 11-12 feet and feed primarily on small fish. (photo: Kip Evans)

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Revised September 12, 2023 by Sanctuaries Web Team | Contact Us | Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service
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