Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is located off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, just north of Los Angeles and south of San Francisco.

It is one of 14 U.S. federally designated marine protected area administered by America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The sanctuary encompasses 1,110 square nautical miles (1,470 square miles) of water from mean high tide to six nautical miles offshore of Santa Barbara, Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel islands – where many channel swimmers have criss-crossed the islands and mainland.

The sanctuary is a special place for species close to extinction, sensitive habitats, shipwrecks and maritime heritage artifacts. Concurrently, fishing, shipping, and tourism are ongoing activities within the sanctuary. A comprehensive ecosystem-based management approach is used to promote long-term conservation of sanctuary waters, wildlife, habitats, and cultural resources, while allowing compatible human uses.

The sanctuary’s position where two major ocean currents met creates remarkable biodiversity. The mingling of cool, nutrient-rich waters from the north with the warm currents from the south form a dynamic transition zone that is home to myriad sea life from microscopic plankton to blue whales.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association