A wild scene in Monterey Bay. John Krzesinski/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The ‘Serengeti of the Sea’: California’s diverse Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is among the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems.

The so-called “Serengeti of the Sea” spreads across thousands of square miles from north of San Francisco to the southern end of the Big Sur coast. Established in 1992, the waters abound with dozens of species of marine mammals — including whales, dolphins, seals, and otters — more than 180 seabirds and shorebirds, at least 520 fishes, and a variety of plants and algae. Each year, animals travel thousands of miles to reach the rich feeding grounds.

If you’re a marine scientist, the Monterey Bay area is the place to be. About 50 research institutions are based there.

In fall of 2017, a group sent a remotely operated vehicle along the seafloor and found hundreds of new kinds of sponges, sea stars, crabs, shrimp, and corals, including an 8-foot-tall orange and pink variety that can live more than 1,000 years in inky darkness.

A researcher told the S.F. Chronicle that the creatures could have sprung from the imagination of Dr. Seuss.

SFGate.com | Monterey Bay Aquarium

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