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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

May, 2006

 

Gulf of The Farallones Sanctuary's Research Saving Wildlife
By Submission

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released a report on the research, management and education activities of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and 13 other special underwater areas managed by the agency. Highlighted in the 2005 State of the Sanctuaries report are seabird investigations at the San Francisco-based Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary, in addition to other science, education and resource protection activities and accomplishments.
"Scientific research plays a vital role in management of national marine sanctuaries," said Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Maria Brown. "Last spring, Beach Watch surveyors discovered abnormally high numbers of Common Murre carcasses. Analysis showed that unusual springtime oceanic conditions led to lack of krill- tiny shrimp-like plankton - in the seabird feeding and breeding habitats, resulting in starvation of the birds and nesting failure."

In November 2005, the sanctuary and partner agencies launched the California Seabird Colony Protection Program aimed at reducing human disturbances to breeding seabirds at several major California coastal sites, including the Farallon Islands, Castle Rock, Devil's Slide Rock, Pt. Reyes and Drakes Bay.

Other 2005 activities at the sanctuary included an outreach campaign to reduce disturbance of seal pups, "Sharkmobile" visits to San Francisco Bay Area schools, and co-sponsorship of the 2005 Forum on California's Ocean Future. Attended by nearly 500 people, the forum featured a far-ranging discussion on current efforts to manage and protect California ocean resources, and what is needed to ensure their long-term health.

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary was established in 1981 to protect the near shore waters of the California Coast north and west of San Francisco, and the offshore Farallon Islands. Managed by NOAA, the sanctuary includes nursery and spawning grounds for commercially important fish species, over 33 species of marine mammals, and 15 species of breeding seabirds. The Farallon Islands contain the largest concentration of breeding seabirds in the contiguous United States. Key habitats include coastal beaches, rocky shores, mud and tidal flats, salt marsh, estuaries, and pelagic waters.

"National marine sanctuaries are America's ocean and Great Lakes treasures," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "NOAA is proud that national marine sanctuaries continued in 2005 to serve as major scientific research, conservation and education hubs while providing opportunities for Americans to enjoy these special places."

The first national marine sanctuary was designated in 1975 to protect the wreck of the famed Civil War ironclad USS Monitor, which sank off of North Carolina in 1862. Today, the 13 national marine sanctuaries and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve encompass more than 150,000 square miles of ocean and Great Lakes waters. The NWHI reserve is currently being considered for sanctuary status.

"National marine sanctuaries serve as a major catalyst for ocean science, conservation and literacy," said Daniel J. Basta, director of the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program. "The 2005 State of the Sanctuaries report reflects the leadership, hard work and dedication of the many people who came together to make Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary a jewel in the crown of conservation, science, education and management."

The 2005 State of the Sanctuaries report, which includes accomplishments and highlights from each sanctuary and the NWHI reserve, is available at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/report 2005. Hard copies may be obtained by sending requests to [email protected]

NOAA, an agency of the US. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

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