A new exhibit on Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries was unveiled in July 2005 at the Point Reyes National Seashore Bear Valley Visitor Center. The exhibit highlights the spectacular wildlife in the sanctuaries, such as gray, humpback, and blue whales, elephant seals and white. A video takes the viewer deep beneath the surface to the jeweled pinnacles of Cordell Bank through the porthole of a deep sea submersible.
“Working collaboratively with Point Reyes National Seashore is a great opportunity to bring the wonders of the sanctuaries into the spotlight as most people will not experience what lives in the waters surrounding the Point Reyes Peninsula,” said Sanctuary Superintendent Dan Howard, Approximately five hundred thousand visitors go through the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey and a representative for Senator Barbara Boxer presided over the exhibit opening. The exhibit was developed in partnership with Point Reyes National Seashore.
Sanctuary Field Seminar
One of the difficulties in getting people excited about Cordell Bank is not being able to experience the sanctuary from land. The Cordell Bank Field Seminar is an annual adult education course offered through Point Reyes National Seashore Association. Naturalists from the Marine Mammal Center and Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge assisted in a land based introduction to wildlife identification in the sanctuary and leading field trips to the sanctuary. Evaluations continue to make this a valuable offering to the community and the sanctuary is considering expanding it into a community college course.
Outreach in the community
Sanctuary staff reached more than 10,000 people through outreach fairs, community events, interpretive talks, volunteer and docent trainings. Please visit the sanctuary calendar online to learn about upcoming events.
Scientists Explore Cordell Bank Close-up With Submersible
Sanctuary staff completed a five-day submersible survey of Cordell Bank. This was the fourth annual cruise of a planned long-term research and monitoring program. The contract research vessel Velero IV was used in support of operations conducted by Delta Oceanographics aboard the manned submersible Delta. Co-operating scientists participating in this year’s cruise were from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Monterey Area Sea Grant Marine Advisor, and the California Academy of Sciences. High seas precluded submersible operations during three of the planned five dive days, but notable observations were made in regions of the sanctuary which had not previously been explored. Young-of-year rockfishes were seen in moderately high numbers. This is an interesting finding because 2005 has been characterized as a poor recruitment year for rockfish in Central California. Cordell Bank also harbored another species thought to be uncommon this time of year. Humboldt Squid, which were abundant in central California this spring and were believed to have left the area were observed in large numbers at relatively deep depths. The squid were seen at depths of 800 to 1,000 feet feeding on young hake. The Delta’s video recorders captured unique footage of the feeding behavior of these large (five feet in length) predators.
Plans for 2006
The site will be generating the first detailed bathymetric map of Cordell Bank, installing new interpretive wayside signs at significant overlooks of all California sanctuaries, releasing a 12-minute video highlighting the hidden gems of Cordell Bank and developing a long-term monitoring plan for Cordell Bank.