News and Events Header Graphic

   Director's Message

      Community & Partners
      Maritime Heritage
      Education & Outreach
      Resource Protection
      Science & Exploration


      Channel Islands
      Cordell Bank
      Fagatele Bay
      Florida Keys
      Flower Garden Banks
      Gray's Reef
      Gulf of the Farallones
      Hawaiian Islands
        Humpback Whale

      Monterey Bay
        Hawaiian Islands

      Olympic Coast
      Stellwagen Bank
      Thunder Bay

NOAA logo

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Exploring Albatross Movements through West Coast Sanctuaries

Tracking black-footed albatross migratory patterns during their post-breeding season revealed the importance of west coast national marine sanctuaries as foraging habitat during this phase of the albatross’ life history. Cordell Bank scientists supported a collaboration of several university and non-profit researchers who worked on a study of the bird that provided critical management information on the foraging grounds and migration corridors of this endangered species across the North Pacific Ocean. Click the link to view maps of satellite-tracked albatrosses during this study.

New curricular activities for teachers titled Fishing for a Living were developed as a part of this study. More than 500 educators in the San Francisco Bay area and the National Marine Educators Association learned about the sanctuary through this program. Getting teachers and students involved in research and conservation is key to improving awareness of ocean issues and the need to protect these fragile ecosystems.

Tracking Changes in Marine Life Over Time

Sanctuary staff completed the second year of monthly ocean monitoring of Cordell Bank’s offshore waters. Surveys characterize ocean health by measuring oceanographic conditions and measuring the distribution and relative abundance of phytoplankton, zooplankton, seabirds and marine mammals. The site is starting to develop a better understanding of the relationship between oceanographic conditions and biological diversity. Upwelling started nearly three months late in 2005 resulting in a reproductive failure for local seabirds and some species of rockfish. This information will help the sanctuary understand fluctuations in natural populations and how to best manage this complex ecosystem. Results from monitoring have been presented at several scientific meetings and Sanctuary Currents, a symposium hosted by Monterey Bay sanctuary staff.

Invertebrates Documented on Cordell Bank

A Washington State University masters candidate documented the importance of large invertebrate sponges like seastars, anemones, and hydrocorals that provide habitat for fish on Cordell Bank. Her theses work involved analyzing video tapes recorded during the Delta submersible work on Cordell Bank. The study demonstrates the ecological importance of benthic invertebrate reef communities as habitat for fishes on Cordell Bank, and concluded that removal or alteration of these habitats would negatively impact the long-term health of the reef fish community. These communities include species of groundfish that are currently listed as overfished, and historically supported important commercial and recreational fisheries.

Exclusive Stories for the Web

New Exhibit at Point Reyes Seashore Visitor Center
Visitors view the new video at the Cordell Bank exhibit.

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. 
Click here to view video. (Quicktime, 8.2 MB)

 “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

cordell bank mapSanctuary 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.

leaving site indicates a link leaves the site. Please view our Link Disclaimer for more information.
Revised September 12, 2023 by Sanctuaries Web Team | Contact Us | Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service
National Ocean Service | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Privacy Policy | For Employees | User Survey