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Outreach

Sanctuary Exploration Center Opens on the Shores of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Santa Cruz, California



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The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) opened its new Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz, California, on Monday, July 23, 2012. The two-story, 12,387-square-foot building near the popular Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is full of interpretive and hands-on exhibits highlighting the sanctuary’s extraordinary natural and cultural resources. Visitors can walk through a kelp forest, drive a miniature remotely operated vehicle (ROV), view high-definition videos of the sanctuary’s underwater world, touch models of intertidal plants and animals, and much more—all for free.

The new Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz, California
Above: The new Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz, California. Photograph from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). [larger version]

“The Sanctuary Exploration Center encourages visitors of all ages to learn more about California’s marine environment and issues affecting the sanctuary,” said Paul Michel, MBNMS superintendent. “One of our missions is to educate the public about the vital role of protecting one of the nation’s most ecologically significant and stunning underwater treasures.”

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was represented at the opening ceremony by Curt Storlazzi, research geologist at the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz and member of the MBNMS Research Activity Panel since 2005. The celebration included talks by U.S. Congressman Sam Farr, Santa Cruz mayor Don Lane, Santa Cruz Economic Development Department executive director Bonnie Lipscomb, MBNMS superintendent Paul Michel, and California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird. After speeches and a kelp-cutting ceremony, the doors of the new center were opened to the public, who swarmed in to explore the displays.

Dignitaries at the Sanctuary Exploration Center’s opening ceremony
Above: Dignitaries at the Sanctuary Exploration Center’s opening ceremony cut a “ribbon” of kelp. Left to right: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) education and outreach coordinator Dawn Hayes, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation president and CEO Jason Patlis, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries West Coast regional director Bill Douros, NOAA National Ocean Service assistant administrator David Kennedy, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries director Dan Basta, Santa Cruz mayor Don Lane, Santa Cruz Economic Development Department executive director Bonnie Lipscomb, Congressman Sam Farr, MBNMS superintendent Paul Michel, California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, NOAA’s acting assistant secretary of commerce for conservation and management Eric Schwaab, Santa Cruz County treasurer Fred Keeley, and interim Sanctuary Exploration Center director Lisa Uttal. Photograph by Wes Martin. [larger version]

One of the exhibits, titled “Geology: The Sanctuary’s Foundation,” has as its centerpiece a contribution from the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center: a sweeping (21 feet wide by 5 feet tall) perspective view of the sanctuary seafloor and the central California coast created by scientist Pete Dartnell from data collected by the USGS and its partners. The view is the background for six panels that highlight the varied terrain in the sanctuary, from nearshore habitats to submarine canyons and undersea mountains. The USGS perspective view was requested by Lisa Uttal, marine scientist and interim director of the Sanctuary Exploration Center.

Northward-looking perspective view of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and central California
Above: Northward-looking perspective view of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and central California, created by Pete Dartnell (USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center). This view, printed at 21 feet by 5 feet, forms the backdrop for the Sanctuary Exploration Center’s display on “Geology: The Sanctuary’s Foundation.” [larger version]

Docents stationed throughout the center answer questions about the exhibits, help visitors drive the miniature ROV, and provide information about additional ways to enjoy the sanctuary, such as whale watching and kayaking tours. Nearly a thousand visitors came through the center on opening day, and daily visitor counts have remained high ever since. “It’s a really well designed center,” said one opening-day visitor. “It’s full of inviting activities, but it’s not overwhelming. Although I could happily spend a day in a place like this, I like that I could take in all the exhibits in about an hour.”

The Sanctuary Exploration Center is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. All ages are welcome, and admission is free. Visit the center’s website for directions and additional information: http://montereybay.noaa.gov/vc/sec/about.html. A video describing the history of the Sanctuary Exploration Center and highlighting some of the exhibits is posted at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uS0DOVmkhs&feature=youtu.be.


Related Web Sites
Sanctuary Exploration Center
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center
"Sanctuary Exploration Center" Your Sanctuary Episode 7
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center

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Fieldwork
cover story:
USGS Scientists Exploring Mars

Topographic Maps Help Curiosity Navigate Mars

Methane Seep off San Diego, California

Research
Sea-Level Rise Accelerating on U.S. Atlantic Coast

Hawaiian Seabirds Vulnerable to Sea-Level Rise

Corals Damaged by Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Gulf Coast Vulnerable to Erosion During Category 1 Hurricanes

Outreach
Sanctuary Exploration Center Opens in Santa Cruz, California

Meetings
U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Project Holds Workshop

Biannual Meeting of the Monterey Bay Marine GIS User Group

Staff Coastal and Marine Geology Program Participates in Federal Food Drive

Publications Sea Floor Stress and Sediment Mobility Database

Sept. / Oct. 2012 Publications

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