MONTEREY, Calif. - From its rich diversity of habitats and species to the science and education captured in the marine environment, the Monterey Bay is like no other place on the planet.
"We have everything from deep sea canyons right off shore to extraordinary kelp forest to rocky, sandy environments," said James Lindholm, CSUMB Marine Science and Policy Professor. "We have fishes that live a very long time, we have large mobile predators like sharks. We have whales that come every year."
"It's no wonder that we call this place the Serengeti of the sea or the whale watching capital of the world," said Paul Michel, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent.
NOAA has submitted the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary along with several others sites, to be put on a tentative nomination list for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage List.
"From north to south the three sanctuaries together and the potential designation constitute about 9,000 square nautical miles," said Lindholm.
If ultimately selected, the sanctuary would join the likes of Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks. Being put on the list would increase the status of the bay and bring much needed awareness.
"It's one of our biggest challenges at Marine Sanctuary is people just being aware that it is a national marine sanctuary and what that means and how we can enjoy these wildlife sanctuaries that are here," said Michel.
Researchers also believe the recognition could bring in more resources to the Monterey Bay.
"The hope would be that the bar for management is going to increase," said Lindholm. "So we're going to have to manage the place even better than we are right now in the presence of all this additional viewership."
The National Park Service will decide in October whether the sanctuaries move on to the next round of the list.