Located 22 miles off the coast of the Point Reyes headlands, the Cordell Bank is an undersea oasis sitting at the edge of the continental shelf that rises from the surrounding sea floor to within 115 feet of the ocean surface.
That ocean bank is the center of the massive Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary that supports a rich and diverse array of fish, invertebrates, marine mammals and seabirds. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration manages the sanctuary, and the NOAA is currently seeking local applicants to join its Sanctuary Advisory Council.
Established in 2001, the advisory council acts as the community voice of the marine sanctuary, and members are designated by roles representing research, conservation, maritime activities, fishing, education, the community at-large and two federal agency partners. In addition to participating in regular council meetings and an annual retreat, council members also act as liaisons to their represented communities. Council members regularly serve three-year terms and must be 18 years of age or older.
Currently, the council is in need of a member to fill the research position and a member to occupy the community-at-large position, representing Marin County. The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is now accepting applications for these council seats. Applications are available online now, and are due August 27, 2020.
On the application form, potential council members are asked about their views regarding management and protection of natural, historic or cultural resources such as Cordell Bank, as well as their expertise related to the council seats they are looking to fill. For example, community members hoping to occupy the research seat of the council will be asked to coordinate with groups such as the scientists who recently discovered a new species of deep-sea sponge in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary in June of this year.
Cordell Bank is named for the nonprofit research association Cordell Expeditions, which first explored the bank in 1977. The Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary was established in 1989, and is one of 15 federally designated underwater areas protected by NOAA. Beyond the advisory council, the public is welcomed to be involved in the sanctuary in volunteer roles. Currently the sanctuary is specifically looking for locals with video editing skills to help them take hours of underwater footage and turn it into “best of” video clips in a more readily accessible format. Additionally, advisory council meetings are open to the public, though upcoming events may or may not be held due to the current public health crisis.
NOAA also notes that national marine sanctuary offices and visitor centers are closed to the public during the Covid-19 sheltering-in-place. The waters remain open for responsible use in accordance with CDC guidance and local regulations. More information on the response from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries can be found online.
For more information on how to apply to be a member of the advisory council and to download an application form, visit cordellbank.noaa.gov.