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Big Sur Exploration Project

Last updated: 08/04/2004

Big Sur Bank is a unique offshore reef system located 3 miles out from Big Sur Point, California. Originally explored by a group of scientists from 1988-1991. Details about their initial expeditions can be found at Cordell Expeditions. Based on the descriptions of what they saw and data available from MBARI, BAUE decided to embark on an exploration and research project to learn more about this site.

The goals of the project include:

  • Exploration of the bank to better understand the topology and geography of the area. The results will be documented, along with noteable features of the bank.
  • Photographic and videographic documentation of the bank and the life encountered there.
  • Determine if there are any undescribed species, as well as range extensions on known species.
  • Basic documentation of abundance of certain species of vertebrate and invertebrate life.

Below you can find more background about the site, photo galleries, and detailed trip reports. This is the start of a what promises to be a a long series of trips. We will keep this page updated as explorations continue...


Topo Overview
Big Sur Bank Nautical Chart (feet)
Big Sur Nautical Bank Chart - Zoom

Some numbers & comments, based on nautical charts and GPS software:

  • 3.99 miles from 138' spot to shore.
  • 4.86 miles from furthest NW 180' contour line to shore.
  • 4.7 miles from furthest SW 180' contour line to shore.
  • Going straight, it's 16 miles from Lobos to the North end of the bank.
  • 13.7 miles from Lobos to the Breakwater.
  • 29.4 miles from Breakwater to the North end of the bank.
  • 14.7 miles from the 138' spot to Partington.
  • About 0.66 square miles in the NW "finger" of the bank.
  • About 1.45 square miles in the broader center / South area.
  • Roughly 2.27 square miles within the 180' contour line.
  • It's 2.7 miles from the 180' contour on the SW side to the 1800' contour line ;-)

Expedition Reports

Project Planning