Leaving debates aside for a moment, let’s look closer at some of the nationally and internationally significant marine environment features of the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary formally accepted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for nomination:
1. Three major upwellings with rich nutrients, one of which is persistent.
2. A major bank feature: the Santa Lucia Bank where, during Autumn, 13 whale and dolphin species and thousands of sea birds species feed.
3. Benthic communities (deep water) of international significance.
4. Arguello Canyon, a mile-deep, five-fingered submarine canyon, through which the only California persistent upwelling flows.
5. Whale gathering areas and migration lanes.
6. Lush, productive kelp forests, spawning areas and nurseries.
7. Significant percentage of the California sea otter population.
8. Several rocky intertidal regions with world-class fish diversities and densities.
9. Chumash sacred sites: Many coastal village sites continuously occupied for more than 9,000 years and unknown number of submerged older sites, some many miles offshore.
10. Magnificent views, vistas and high coastal dunes attended by millions of visitors.
Whether or not this majestic treasure will be protected for future generations is now literally in the hands of the public.
Karl Kempton, Oceano