Projects that are conducted within the sanctuary are divided into 'Site Characterization,'
'Monitoring' and 'Research' categories.
- Site characterization projects allow scientists to better understand the biodiversity, habitats,
populations, communities, and ecological processes that define each sanctuary's environment. Site
characterization also describes the history of the site, effects of human activities on natural
systems and socioeconomic information.
- Monitoring projects focus on the status and condition of marine life and habitats to
detect trends within the sanctuaries.
- Research projects include hypothesis-driven process studies and modeling. Scientists conduct
research to better understand the ecosystem and how it functions within the sanctuary.
Featured Science Projects
within Cordell Bank
In 2010, a technical dive team from NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries and the Cooperative
Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research and Technology (CIOERT) completed a series of deep dives
in rigorous conditions on Cordell Bank. The team completed a series of dives down to 190 feet in
strong current. This was the first dive expedition to Cordell Bank since Cordell Expedition divers
explored the Bank between 1977 and 1985. Divers returned to the boat astonished at the pristine
nature and spectacular diversity of life covering the Bank's upper reef areas. The team was able to
accomplish all the mission's science objectives including photo and video documentation and sample
collection of invertebrates. This information will allow sanctuary staff to evaluate changes that
have occurred on the bank since the original survey 30 years ago, and establish species composition
and reef conditions in 2010. The 2010 data will allow sanctuary staff to analyze future changes
that may be associated with climate, in particular effects of ocean acidification on deep corals.
Interest in the conservation of deep-sea coral and sponge (DSC) communities has grown over the last decade. Increased awareness of the ecological importance of and threats to DSC has come about as nearshore fishing grounds have become depleted and fishers have moved into deeper water where DSC are often taken as bycatch. In conjunction with NOAA’s Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology program, scientists conducted targeted exploration in 2010 and 2011 to improve the understanding of DSC abundance and distribution in the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary.
PRBO Conservation Science
in partnership with Cordell Bank and
Gulf of the Farallones
National Marine Sanctuaries, has been investigating the spatial and temporal relationships between
oceanographic processes, zooplankton, and marine birds and mammals in the region surrounding Cordell
Bank and the Gulf of the Farallones.