President Obama Expanded the California Coastal National Monument

Image by Unknown

Image by Unknown

Yesterday afternoon, President Obama announced the expansion of the California Coastal National Monument to include six new sites located in the counties of Humboldt, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, and Orange, covering a total of 6,230 acres.

These new sites are not only important habitats to a range variety of marine animals and natural resources, but they are also areas of cultural and historically significance.

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Saving Gray Whales and Responsible Whale Watching in Baja California

Photo by Eddie Kisfaludy

Photo by Eddie Kisfaludy

Gray whales have arrived in Baja California! Every winter these marine mammals visit the lagoons of Ojo de Liebre, San Ignacio and Bahía Magdalena to reproduce and give birth. Over the past 15 years, WILDCOAST has worked diligently to conserve gray whale habitat, train local whale watching guides in proper management techniques, and even help boat operators obtain less polluting outboard engines for their skiffs.

During their stay in the lagoons of the Baja California peninsula, whales are visited by thousands of tourists each year that want to get a glimpse of this majestic leviathans up close. Unfortunately, sometimes the desire to get close to whales, can sometimes stress the animals.

Therefore, in response to the growth of whale watching in Baja and in an effort to reduce impacts to these marine mammals, the Mexican government stablished strong whale watching guidelines (NOM- 131-SEMARNAT-2010). These guidelines are not only to regulate sightings, but to also promote the conservation of whale species, including the gray whale.

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Protecting San Diego’s Coast

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On Friday, January 6, 2017, WILDCOAST joined San Diego Councilmembers Barbara Bry  and Lorie Zapf, and other conservation organizations, to urge President Obama to protect the coast of San Diego from any future offshore drilling. Recent efforts to prevent the Pacific region’s outer continental waters from oil and gas development have so far yielded only temporary protection. 

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Week # 5: Pacific Sand Crab, Emerita analoga

I am the The Pacific Sand Crab, also known as the Mole Crab, a staple of the southern California beach goers experience. I am most frequently found on tidal sandy stretches of warm and sunny summertime beaches. I am quick to burrow to evade birds (Sandpipers, scooters and plovers) and fish (surfperch, corbina and small sharks) that key in on me as a food source. Humans with a quick hand have a shot at capturing me for amature science observation. A common sight on the beaches of San Diego County are inquisitive children armed with nothing more than plastic buckets and a sense of curiosity hunting me in the backwash of retreating waves.

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Our Conservation Impact for 2016

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These special wild places include: Baja’s Pacific Islands Biosphere Reserve, a brand new 2.7 million-acre wildlife reserve offshore from Baja’s Pacific coast, that we advocated for over the past five years; Laguna San Ignacio, a pristine gray whale birthing lagoon where we have helped to conserve 450,000-acres of habitat; Magdalena Bay, a lagoon that provides sanctuary for gray whales in Baja, where this year we helped to conserve over 182 miles of shoreline and 3,709-acres of mangrove islands; Morro Ayuta beach in Oaxaca, where our team is busy protecting the more than 600,000 Olive Ridley sea turtles that nest there each year; and the coast of California, where we are leading the effort to manage over 500,000 acres of marine protected areas that are home to elephant seals, gray whales, black sea bass, green sea turtles and the elusive leopard shark.

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The Wildlife Inhabiting our Protected Wildlands

A few months ago, we installed a few hidden cameras in the Valle de los Cirios, Baja California, on areas protected by WILDCOAST. These “wild lands” have been certified by Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas and are the largest private coastal reserve network in Mexico, reaching 32980.92 acres.

WILDCOAST started this biological inventory program to register and identify the types of wildlife that inhabit Valle de los Cirios. The hidden cameras were installed strategically to document the presence of wild fauna but also to not disturb or damage their habitat.

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Get to know your neighbor: Leopard Shark, Triakis semifasciata

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Photo by Octavio Aburto

Week #5: Leopard Shark, Triakis semifasciata

I lurk in shallow nearshore marine waters in search of my next meal. I scan the seafloor using senses attuned to find prey that hides amongst the benthos*. When I zero in on my victim I surge forward and use my specially shaped sub-terminal* mouth to pluck it from its hiding place. I have been witnessed moving so quickly that I can snatch the siphon of a clam from the sand surface before it has the chance to retreat to its shell. I Although I can look and sound menacing, I am one of the more docile sharks in existence. At a general length of 4-5 feet I can send a chill down the spine of recreational beach goers if seen cruising underfoot but should be considered harmless.

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Elephant Seal Adventures at Año Nuevo

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There is no place on the California coast quite like Año Nuevo State Park. This jewel of a reserve that hugs Highway 1 between San Francisco and Santa Cruz is a haven for terrestrial and marine wildlife. Between December and late March northern elephant seals can be found along the shoreline where they are resting, mating and giving birth. It is a spectacular wildlife spectacle along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in California.

In addition to the extensive terrestrial protection that abuts Big Basin Redwoods State Park and Butano State Park, the area is the home of the Año Nuevo State Marine Conservation Area, one of 15 marine protected areas off of the Central Coast. Due to the presence of the elephant seals that are the preferred food of white sharks, this area is known for its shark sightings. Researchers use the abandoned Lighthouse Station on Ano Nuevo Island for shark tagging.

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Mexico Safeguards Vast Stretches of Coast, Deep Ocean

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Image by Octavio Aburto

CANCUN, Mexico, December 5, 2016 (ENS) – Much of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, Baja coast and deep ocean are to become protected areas, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced Monday at the opening of the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity being held in Cancun this week and next.

The President signed a decree creating three new marine biosphere reserves, on the occasion of hosting COP13. Ministers and delegates from over 190 countries are attending the conference.

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Mexican President Peña Nieto Establishes New 2.7 Million-Acre Baja Pacific Islands Reserve

Coronado Islands, offshore of the US-MEXICO border, Pacific Ocean, Baja California, Mexico

Coronado Islands, offshore of the US-MEXICO border, Pacific Ocean, Baja California, Mexico. Photo by Ralph Lee Hopkins

Ensenada, Mexico. December 5, 2016. The President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, today established the 2.7 million acre Islands of the Pacific Biosphere Reserve just offshore of the Pacific Coast of the Baja California Peninsula. This new federal reserve includes 21 islands that are often referred to as the “Galapagos of Mexico” and protects the marine areas around the islands that are habitat for marine mammals, seabirds, and commercially valuable species of fish and shellfish.

“The Islands of the Pacific Biosphere Reserve, that includes the Coronado and Todos Santos Islands off of Tijuana and Ensenada and just south of San Diego, provide habitat for a variety of species that do not exist in any other part of the world,” said Dr. Serge Dedina, Executive Director of WILDCOAST. “In total, this new reserve is home to 50 percent more endemic species of vertebrates and plants per unit of surface area than the Galápagos Islands.”

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