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National Marine Sanctuary in Sonoma County

Sonoma County’s 55-mile coastline isn’t just another gorgeous destination. From an ecological standpoint, it’s immensely important to planetary health.

The waters off our coast are part of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Greater Farallones is one of only 13 marine sanctuaries in the nation, extending north and west from San Francisco’s Golden Gate for a total of 3,295 square miles. The sanctuary is also part of the UNESCO’s Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve.

This protected and amazingly diverse marine ecosystem supports enormous numbers of wildlife; it’s also a breeding ground for nearly 40 marine mammals (including elephant seals, humpback whales, and Pacific white-sided dolphins), 25 endangered or threatened species, and more than 250,000 breeding seabirds.

NOAA sanctuaries seek to preserve their scenic beauty and biodiversity within a real-world context of thriving recreation, tourism and commercial activities that drive coastal economies.

What that means for people who live near or visit this beautiful coast is simple: there’s much to see and do on, beside or in the waters: deep-sea fishing, whale-watching boats, surfing, scuba diving, kayaking, paddleboarding, bird-watching, hiking along sea cliffs with stupendous views, enjoying picnics in isolated coves, beachcombing… The list is endless.

And this summer you can explore the depths of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary from the comfort of your own home or your favorite coffee house. All you need is an Internet connection. Three live video feeds will be streamed online, free, at nautiluslive.org.

From August 19-28, the E/V Nautilus—a 211-foot exploration ship equipped with the latest in ocean technology—will map and explore shipwrecks and communities within the sanctuary. They’ll be exploring deep-sea corals, sponges and other kinds of sea life that live within the Sanctuary’s rocky banks and corals. The expedition will also take a close look at three of the more than 400 shipwrecks contained with the sanctuary’s waters: the World War II-era USS Independence (scuttled in 1951); the historic 1886 steam yacht Ituna; and the freighter Dorothy Windermote.

Learn more about this August’s underwater exploration at nauiluslive.org

Discover the wonders of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary at farallones.noaa.gov 

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