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Sanctuary Exploration Center

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Santa Cruz, CA


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Our Story

The sanctuary contains extensive kelp forests and one of North America's largest underwater canyons and closest-to-shore deep ocean environments. Its diverse marine ecosystem also includes rugged rocky shores, wave-swept sandy beaches and tranquil estuaries. These habitats harbor an incredible variety of marine life, including 36 species of marine mammals, more than 180 species of seabirds and shorebirds, at least 525 species of fishes, and an abundance of invertebrates and algae. Known as the "Serengeti of the Sea," this remarkably productive marine environment is fringed by spectacular coastal scenery, including sand dunes, rocky cliffs, rolling hills and steep mountains.

MBNMS was established for the purpose of resource protection, research, education and public use. Human uses include commercial fishing and recreational activities like diving, kayaking, boating and surfing. However some activities that could harm the sanctuary's health—such as oil drilling, ocean dumping or seabed mining—are not allowed.

A personal visit is a great way to experience the beauty of the sanctuary and understand the need to protect this special place. Try your hand at kayaking, fishing, tide pooling, diving or whale watching. Visit one of the region's many coastal parks, or simply admire the spectacular coastline! If you can't personally come to the sanctuary, please use these webpages for a virtual experience.

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