Skip to main content

Sound / Oral History: Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Sacto Team, June 5, 2010 ...

Have a question about this item?

Item information. View source record on contributor's website.

Oral History: Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Sacto Team, June 5, 2010 [interview]
Walton, John
Williamson, Steve
Cassotta, Dave
Walls, Dave
Seawell, Jerry
Livingston, Douglas
Stock, Jennifer
Date Created and/or Issued
June 5, 2010
Publication Information
Marin County Free Library. Anne T. Kent California Room
Contributing Institution
Marin County Free Library
Oral Histories
Rights Information
National Oceanic and Atmosphereic Administration, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
June 5, 2010
Copyright 2010, National Oceanic and Atmosphereic Administration, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is an extremely productive marine area off the west coast, 22 miles west of the Point Reyes headlands, Marin County, just north of the Gulf of the Farallones. Scientific research of California's coast began in the mid 1800s as noted geographer George Davidson and a corps of federal surveyors mapped the coastline of the new state. Cordell Bank was "discovered" as a shallow shoal by Davidson, off the Marin County coast, but remained a mystery until the1970s when Dr Robert Schmieder, an interested individual, discovered its few relatively shallow contours on a NOAA chart. As a trained scientist by day and an avid recreational diver by weekend, Dr. Schmieder proceeded to find out what was known about Cordell Bank. Motivated by his own curiosity, and the opportunity to explore what nobody had seen, Bob organized a scientific expedition that would last nearly 10 years. He formed a non-profit group called Cordell Expeditions, who collected specimens, video footage, photographs, and engaged the media to bring awareness to this poorly known marine habitat off the Marin/Sonoma coast. In addition to the intrepid exploration attitude of the team, the depths and dangers were numerous for SCUBA, a method of exploration that has not been attempted on Cordell Bank since. Their extraordinary work was instrumental in the future designation of Cordell Bank and its surrounding waters as a National Marine Sanctuary under NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program in 1989. This recognition allowed environmental protections and regulations to be adopted to help protect this unique gem and has allowed for further scientific research, education and outreach programs to help protect it and educate about it and its role in the larger ocean ecosystem. For more information about Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary today, visit
sound recording; text; image
OH_Sacto Team
Oral Histories
Marine ecology
Marine biology
Marine parks and reserves
Banks (Oceanography)
SCUBA diving
Discovery & exploration
National Marine Sanctuary Program (U.S.)
Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (Calif.)
Cordell Bank (Calif.)

About the collections in Calisphere

Learn more about the collections in Calisphere. View our statement on digital primary resources.

Copyright, permissions, and use

If you're wondering about permissions and what you can do with this item, a good starting point is the "rights information" on this page. See our terms of use for more tips.

Share your story

Has Calisphere helped you advance your research, complete a project, or find something meaningful? We'd love to hear about it; please send us a message.

Explore related content on Calisphere: