California’s MPA Watch: Harnessing the Power of Citizen Science

California is home to the largest integrated network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world with over 500,000-acres of underwater parks. These marine reserves not only protect ocean wildlife, they also provide amazing opportunities for snorkelers, surfers, kayakers, divers, and anyone else who loves spending a day at the beach.

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To help safeguard California’s treasured coastal and marine resources, WILDCOAST has stepped up to coordinate an innovative, impactful, and fun citizen science project called MPA Watch.

MPA Watch is a statewide citizen science initiative designed to engage and inspire the next generation of ocean stewards, research scientists and marine biologists. Anyone can volunteer, and all participants use the same protocol to ensure the highest possible data quality.

“The MPAs of California are so extensive, that we have begun recruiting the public to help collect and analyze real scientific data on everything from birds to DNA to human use of natural resources”, says Angela Kemsley, MPA Watch Managing Coordinator.

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This data will help real scientists come to real conclusions. In other words, you can help protect California’s beautiful beaches and oceans just by joining WILDCOAST and walking the beach!

If you are ready to unleash your inner scientist or if you just really enjoy long walks on the beach, consider becoming an MPA Watch volunteer today! The data you collect will be added to a database of over 19,000 observations and applied to inform the educational outreach, legal enforcement and future management of California’s MPAs!

Visit to learn more about how you can become a citizen scientist for WILDCOAST


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