Facilitating Science
Channel Islands

scientist divers doing research
The R/V Shark Cat is a research vessel at the Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary Credit:CINMS, NOAA

There are several resources available to researchers at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Please contact the Research Coordinator for discussions on facilitating research within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

Research Coordinator: Chris Caldow


Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) operates the 62ft Research Vessel Shearwater and the 28ft Research Vessel Shark Cat principally for research, with some additional vessel operations to support education as well as management and enforcement of Sanctuary rules.


Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary regulations provide for temporary permitting of specific activities that are not otherwise permissible. Such activities are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Permit requests are evaluated based on their potential single and cumulative impacts to sanctuary resources versus the potential benefits the activity may provide in terms of resource protection. Permitted activities are typically research or education oriented.

A permit is required when an individual wishes to conduct an activity within a sanctuary that is otherwise prohibited. Refer to our Frequently Asked Questions to help determine if a permit is required for your proposed activity. Guidance on how to apply for a sanctuary permit can be found on this page.


The CINMS dive unit is a part of the NOAA Dive Program, one of the most significant scientific diving programs in the country. Our divers have been trained to conduct scientific dives to collect data, as well as working dives to install instruments, maintain moorings and otherwise perform the professional diving required to maintain the sanctuary. Scientific Divers can receive reciprocity to complete work conducted on SCUBA within the sanctuary and on sanctuary vessels. Please contact the Research Coordinator to facilitate planning research that utilizes SCUBA diving.

Lab Space

Currently, there is no lab space available to researchers at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.


There is no lodging available in Channel Islands National Park. Camping is available – please see the Channel Island National Park page for details. The islands have no stores or restaurants; you must bring all your own food, water, and camping equipment.

Research Areas

In 2002 the California Fish and Game Commission established a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within the nearshore waters of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (sanctuary). NOAA expanded the MPA network into the sanctuary's deeper waters in 2006 and 2007. The entire MPA network consists of 11 marine reserves where all take and harvest is prohibited, and two marine conservation areas that allow limited take of lobster and pelagic fish.

Data Buoys

Buoys that collect real-time data on oceanic conditions have been deployed in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. These buoys are maintained by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Collected parameters include wind speed and direction, wave height, dominant wave period, average wave period, air temperature, water temperature and atmospheric pressure. A listing of these buoys may be accessed from here.

Equipment and Instruments

The CINMS maintains a network of 14 sub-surface moorings. These moorings are equipped with a variety of scientific instruments.

CINMS’s research vessel, the r/v Shearwater is equipped with an environmental monitoring system that includes both a flow-through sea water sensor package and a mast-mounted atmospheric sensor package. All of the sensors are tied into a GPS navigation system and data are transmitted via satellite phone whenever the vessel is underway.

The research department has multiple plankton samplers to address a variety of needs for ecosystem monitoring. We currently operate both a Tucker trawl that can sample plankton at three levels with the ability to sample down to 250μ and a half meter net that can sample primary consumers down to 60μ.

Special Considerations

There are no special considerations that researchers need to be aware of at Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

Key Documents

Research Needs
Documents that describe the immediate science needs for critical management issues.

Condition Report
The Condition Report is a summary of the status and trend of sanctuary resources, pressures on those resources, and management responses to the pressures that threaten the marine environment.