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Marine Protected Areas

Seaweeds Dancing on Shore by Vivienne Orgel

Seaweeds Dancing on Shore by Vivienne Orgel

Marine Protected Area, What’s That?

There are 29 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). MPAs are State or National Parks that manage the resources of fragile, unique, and ecologically significant coastal areas. The chances of a visitor stumbling across one in Santa Cruz or Monterey County is fairly high. Still, the majority of people who visit these precious landmarks or watermarks are unaware of their significance. It’s important to note that the MBNMS is one big Marine Protected Area that contains more regulated, MPAs within its boundaries. So where are these Marine Protected Areas?

Montery Bay National Marine Sanctuary Marine Protected Areas

3 Special Regions Protected on the Central Coast

Elephant Seal and Pup by Irene Reti

Elephant Seal and Pup by Irene Reti

Otter Plays in Kelp by Kimberly Heinrichs

Otter Plays in Kelp by Kimberly Heinrichs

Swarm of Sea Lions by Joe Plakto

Swarm of Sea Lions by Joe Plakto

THE SLOWCOAST is home to some of the most secluded MPAs like Greyhound Rock and Año Nuevo, one of the largest breeding grounds for Northern Elephant Seals in the world.
THE MONTEREY BAY is a rich kelp forest ecosystem that hinges on the presence of Southern Sea Otters in the Elkhorn Slough and one of the deepest marine trenches in the world.
THE BIG SUR coastline is remote, lined with pristine rocky bluffs and coves which provide excellent sanctuary for Rockfish, Harbor Seal pups, and feeding grounds for Grey Whales.

Dive Into California’s Underwater Parks!

Explore California’s Underwater Parks without getting your feet wet through an online tour! The California Google MPA Tour features detailed descriptions of each of the state marine protected areas, National Marine Sanctuaries, and National Estuaries, with stunning photos and videos, and links to local “things to do” for your enjoyment and ease of vacation planning. This Google MPA tour is recently completed for the entire state, featuring more than 125 underwater parks from the Oregon border to Baja, and is divided into easy to navigate regional tours.

centralcoasttour

Click on the links below for each region’s tour!

Photo credits: Seaweeds Dancing on Shore (Vivienne Orgel), Elephant Seal and Pup (Irene Reti), Otter Plays in Kelp (Kimberly Saxton), Swarm of Sea Lions (Joe Plakto) were part of our Waves and Wildlife photo contest.