The central California coast is the only eastern boundary upwelling zone in North America, and one of only four eastern boundary upwelling zones in the entire world. Upwelling occurs when nutrient rich cold water rises from the ocean’s depths to replace the relatively warm surface waters. While this phenomenon is responsible for the summer fog along the coast, it also creates levels of marine productivity matched by very few other places on Earth. The marine habitats within and around the San Francisco Bay Area Network of national parks are thus home to some of the richest and most diverse collections of marine life on the planet.
Even areas with high levels of biodiversity and productivity often lack the resilience to persist under threat of human activities. The National Park Service and its partner organizations are working ardently to preserve these areas. For example, it is important to establish a vast collaborative network of marine sanctuaries because of the migratory nature of many marine species. While the National Park Service boundary only extends a quarter mile off the shoreline, the productive waters that lie beyond are protected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Gulf of the Farallones, Cordell Bank, and Monterey Bay national marine sanctuaries. NOAA and NPS work in close contact to ensure adequate protection for the marine life and the unique habitats on which they depend.