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Cordell Bank

Robert Lee/BAUE

Cordell Bank
National Marine Sanctuary

Off the northern California coast, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) is one of the system’s newest expansion success stories. In 2015, the sanctuary more than doubled the boundaries to conserve its extraordinary marine ecosystem. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation's involvement in the expansion spanned nearly 10 years and reached from the community to Capitol Hill. Our efforts included engaging local groups, empowering them to connect with Congress and the Administration and representing their priorities to policymakers.

Cordell Bank’s ocean upwelling conditions and undersea topography creates a diverse marine community for whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, 180 species of fish, 70 bird species and thousands of invertebrates. From June to November, visitors see humpback and blue whales feeding close to shore and, late summer into fall, head offshore for more seabird and marine mammal viewing opportunities.

Scientific research and monitoring are ongoing at the Sanctuary. Among those projects, the Foundation funded a major dive expedition that returned to Cordell Bank’s remote coral reefs after a 30-year hiatus to assess its conditions. The fact that the reefs were well-preserved after three decades is testament to the importance of sanctuaries and their work.

The Sanctuary conducts numerous education and outreach initiatives to help the public learn about the ecosystems and conservation. Cordell Bank NMS is one of the sanctuaries participating in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Teacher at Sea program, which gives K-12 educators hands-on science education experience by joining the crews of ocean research vessels. The Foundation supports the Teacher at Sea Alumni Network, which keeps past participants connected.

Related Links :

Cordell Bank NMS Website

Jennifer Stock

Education and Outreach Coordinator
Cordell Bank NMS

“A critical part of our community engagement efforts is partnering with organizations that have an audience, specifically through exhibits. Cordell Bank NMS is entirely offshore, with very little opportunity for people to witness its incredible biodiversity and uniqueness. Through exhibits at partner visitor centers with high visitation and our own traveling photography exhibit, we bring the sanctuary to the people through vibrant imagery and video footage. This lets visitors and residents discover what an incredible and colorful abundance of ocean life we have in our ocean backyards.”