National Marine Sanctuary

National Marine Sanctuary in Channel Islands National Park, California began in 1980. A section of Santa Barbara Island was given to the marine sanctuary as a place to preserve for its beauty and resources. This area encompasses 1,470 square miles of sea. It also means it encompasses 1,110 square nautical miles from Anacapa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Barbara Islands. As a marine park it begins six nautical miles off shore of each of these islands.

The island has some seasonal significance with the winter months being important to the tidepools. From November to February one can venture out in low tide to see marine algae and invertebrates found in tide pools. California Brown Pelicans, Gray Whales, and the Northern Elephant Seal are also found in the marine sanctuary during this time.

In May, gray whales, blue whales, humpback whales, harbor seals, Brant Geese, Terns, and shearwaters are found on the islands. During May there is a dense fog that runs through June allowing these animals to hide out, as well as find plenty to eat. August will see another migration of animals through the sanctuary as the move from the north to the south, eventually winding up in warmer waters for winter.

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