Monterey Bay basics

My blog postings offer a snapshot of what I see in or along Monterey Bay’s coast while kayaking or walking.MBay Walk by Chris Parsons They are not in-depth comprehensive views of all that’s happening in the bay at that time. (There’s so much year-round that I can’t imagine one website or book covering it all.) For bigger vistas I rely on several online resources to fill in my gaps (in knowledge and space), and I thought I’d share them with you in case you want to dive or dig a little deeper.

Seasons in the Sea by Kim Fulton-Bennett is  a new site for me. It’s an ambitious work-in-progress (a bit frustrating because not everything is up yet, however what’s there is outstanding), and is tagged as: “A month-to-month guide to Central California sea life.” It’s that and much more. For each month there’s an overview, then weather, winds and currents, and then the sea life organized by coastal habitats and megafauna (mammals and birds). For example, you may know that gray whales are migrating through our waters this time of year, but did you know that great white sharks are moving out of our waters too (after hanging around elephant seal rookeries through fall)?  From what I can tell, Kim has January to May completed. Even as is, this is a basket of seasonal goodies — great reading before going outdoors. I’ll continue to use it to inform my writing and I encourage him to continue with the rest.

SIMoN is the Sanctuaries Integrated Monitoring Network, which I’ve listed on some of my blog posts. What I find most useful is the Monterey Bay menu tab (which is for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary encompassing much more than just the bay) with information about geology, oceanography, habitats and megafauna (mammals, birds and fishes), as well as sanctuary projects, a searchable photo library, and links to even more information. (Side note: The National Marine Sanctuaries has a searchable media library that they encourage people to use. Some of the photos in my blog are from this resource.) I use the SIMoN website mostly for facts about Monterey Bay, especially geology, and to search the images and species database.

When I need a diversion, I go to MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) to be wowed by the unseen happenings below my kayak (not directly below, but in our deep bay). Their info hasn’t informed my blog (yet), but MBARI’s research topics include marine biology, marine geology, marine chemistry, physical oceanography and marine technology, and the news or image/video views are so engaging (you should check out the MBARI YouTube channel). MBARI continually reminds us that there’s so much we don’t know about the bay and our oceans.

A resource list wouldn’t be complete without the Monterey Bay Aquarium. For my blogs I sometimes use their searchable Animal Guide (with facts on species in the bay as well as non-bay species on display), but what I find most interesting is the Save the Oceans section. The aquarium’s focus is on inspiring ocean conservation — threats and actions — that should concern all of us. This section also includes related conservation research. It’s a good resource if you’re interested in ocean issues and want to help.

For me the grand dame of bay background sites is Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Site Characterization (although she needs a better name). This website has been around for a while: Phase 1 was completed in 1996. I believe much of the original work came out of the Moss Landing Marine Labs (which also does interesting bay research). According to the Phase 2 Executive Summary, human impact info has been added (although I couldn’t find anything newer than 2004) and the bibliographic database has moved to SIMoN. But don’t discount this site based on the age — it contains a wealth of information about the bay’s physical setting (geology, oceanography, climate and meteorology), biological communities (habitats) and human impacts. This old-timer is a treasure.

On this blog’s sidebar, you’ll find a link to Monterey Bay Marine Research Institutions (if research is your interest) and a link to Upwell’s Big Blue Blogs (which cover a wide range of ocean and ocean conservation topics worldwide).

Hope these help you get more familiar with the bay. If you know of other websites with great Monterey Bay background info, let me know.
(Disclaimer: During my long career as a writer and educator I’ve worked with all of the institutions highlighted in this blog. Monterey Bay is a wonderfully small community.)

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Resources (good, but not used for this post)
USGS Monterey Bay Science
Deans, N. (Ed.). (1997). A Natural History of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Monterey, CA: Monterey Bay Aquarium, in cooperation with NOAA Sanctuaries and Reserves Division.
Emory, J. (1999). The Monterey Bay Shoreline Guide. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Langstroth, L. & Langstroth, L. (2000). A Living Bay: The underwater world of Monterey Bay. Berkeley: University of California Press and Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Lydon, S. (1985). Chinese Gold: The Chinese in the Monterey Bay Region. Capitola, CA: Capitola Book Company.
Palumbi, S. R. & Sotka, C. (2011). The Death & Life of Monterey Bay: A story of revival. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

About Chris Parsons

A science writer/educator exploring and sharing nature with words and photos to connect, inspire and conserve.
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