Exploring San Diego MPAs!

By WILDCOAST MPA Intern Maria Esther Diaz.

Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying WILDCOAST on two of its #ExploretheCoast programs. WILDCOAST coordinated with San Diego’s Outdoor Outreach to bring groups of middle and high school students to the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. As is common amongst people in San Diego, the students did not know what Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were or that they even existed. At the start of our days together student knowledge was evaluated and some were not aware that MPAs are open for public use. The main objective of these trips is to educate students from all over San Diego on MPAs and provide them the opportunity to interact and engage with local MPAs on a personal scale.

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WILDCOAST and the Philippines’ Collaborate for Ocean Conservation

One of over 7,000 islands in the Philippines.

Last week I departed on a two-week journey to the Philippines to help facilitate an intensive training with the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and United States Agency for International Development to enhance the Philippines marine protected area network. Based on WILDCOAST’s experience in California, Mexico and Cuba, I was asked to be a facilitator, with a group of local mentors, to train over 60 MPA managers from across the Philippine archipelago.

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Get to know your neighbors: Bat rays!

I am a relative of the shark, look like a bat, and swim like a bird flies. I am the myliobatis californica, commonly known as the bat ray. I like to live a life of solitude, hidden in muddy, coastal bottoms or enjoying the bustling life of kelp beds and rocky-bottomed shorelines, from as north as Oregon and as south as Baja California. Although I don’t have menacing teeth like my shark cousins, I prefer to feast on crunchy food such as mollusks, crustaceans, and small bony fish. I use my flat, plate-like teeth to crush my snacks, but don’t worry, I don’t eat the bones, just the meat. My friends tell me I’m special because my eyes are on top of my head but my mouth is on the underside of my body! Therefore to find my dinner I pay special attention to water currents as well as jets of water, and I can detect electrical signals! When I think I’ve found a snack I flap my wings as hard as I can and use my snout to get my food into my mouth.

One of my defining features is my self-defense armor: my stinger. I’ve had my stinger since birth, but it was wrapped in a protective covering. My mom told me that I looked like a rolled taco as a newborn because my wings were wrapped around my body in a fan favorite Mexican food fashion. But hours later I was flapping all over the place and the protective covering on my stinger had come off, so I had instant protection. This came in great handy because I had to go off to find my own food and become independent almost immediately, only depending on my mom for minimal protection for the first few years of my life.

Why should humans care about me?

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The Wildlife of Valle de los Cirios

Last May, WILDCOAST staff and interns took a trip to our private wilderness reserve, the Valle de los Cirios Natural Protected Area. In addition to surveying the protected properties, biological information was collected with “game-cams”. The cameras were installed last year and have been an efficient tool used to document the presence of wild animals while not disturbing their behavior or damaging their habitat.

The “game-cams” are activated by motion detection and have allowed us to photograph several species that inhabit the area such as coyotes (Canis latrans), bobcats (Lynx rufus),  mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos), brush rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani) and hares.

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Learning About Marine Ecology First-Hand.

By Allie Welch, student from Mar Vista High School’s Poseidon Academy.

Earlier this month, I was part of a small group from Mar Vista’s Poseidon Academy, that took part in WILDCOAST’s Floating Laboratories off the coast of La Jolla.  Upon arrival, students are broken up into three groups; water, plankton, and fish identification. Once we were split off into separate groups we began taking data and analyzing the species and environment they inhabit.

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Happy World (Sea) Turtle Day!

Sea turtles are some of the most ancient animals in the world, having been around for over 100 million years. Unfortunately, due to natural and human pressures, they are now classified as either threatened or endangered. But why should we celebrate them? Sea turtles play a vital role in maintaining the health of our oceans.

Below are 7 interesting facts about sea turtles:

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Meet the New WILDCOAST Team Members!

We are excited to announce that the WILDCOAST family is growing! We introduce you to our newest team members that will be working to conserve some of the most beautiful places in Mexico and the United States.  

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5 Reasons to Protect Coral Reef Ecosystems

Coral reefs, also known as “the rainforests of the sea”, are well known for their beauty and vibrant colors, but apart from that, they are extremely important, both ecologically and economically. However, coral reefs are deteriorating and dying at an alarming rate due to human and natural pressures that range from overfishing and degradation to ocean acidification and climate change. Scientists have estimated that 75% of the world’s corals are at risk and at least 10% have already died.

So why are coral reefs so important?

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Casa Puesta del Sol, a Piece of Paradise.

BAJA BASH is around the corner, and we have some really cool items for our auction! Now imagine you, your friends/family, a margarita and THAT VIEW! Join us for the BAJA BASH, Saturday, June 10 to help us conserve Mexico’s beautiful natural resources, and for a chance to vacation in paradise as well.

Casa Puesta del Sol, a Piece of Paradise:

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Building Ocean Stewardship Through WILDCOAST’s MPA Floating Laboratories

Last week students from Mar Vista’s Poseidon Academy program boarded the  fishing vessel Sea Watch out of Seaforth Sportfishing Marina in Mission Bay and participated in WILDCOAST’s Floating Laboratory Project. Once aboard, students split into three research groups and began sampling water quality, plankton, and fish abundance and distribution.

Under the guidance of WILDCOAST staff and volunteers, students used modern sampling techniques to measure various water parameters to determine water quality, executed plankton collection using towable nets, dropped GoPro video cameras on fishing rods to observe fish assemblage and dissected squid. When the three-hour sampling cruise was complete, each student research group presented their methods, findings, and the importance of their data, all of which was collected inside the South La Jolla MPA (marine protected area), to the other groups. They used the collected data to contribute to ongoing baseline monitoring efforts in California’s statewide network of MPAs.

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