Ocean Day California 2017

Image Oceana Pacifica

On Tuesday, March 14th, WILDCOAST’s conservation team headed to California’s state capital for the 12th annual California Ocean Day 2017. This annual event allows coastal and marine conservation focused agencies the opportunity to connect with elected officials at the state level to advocate for healthy ecosystems and clean oceans. This important work comes just weeks after one of the largest sewage spill in recent history in the Tijuana River. This unprecedented spill of sewage just south of WILDCOAST’s offices in Imperial Beach has close beaches throughout south San Diego county and poses a major public health and safety risk. To highlight the importance of our oceans, WILDCOAST sat down for face-to-face conversations with some of California’s most influential legislators to discuss important upcoming legislation and inspire conservation of California’s iconic ocean and coastline.

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The State of the California South Coast State of the Region Report


The South Coast State of the Region report is a summary (2011-2015) that sheds light on the ecological and socioeconomic state of the South Coast region during the implementation phase of the South Coast Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This report takes into account the expansion of the statewide MPA establishment to San Diego county in 2012.

The South Coast State of the Region report discusses the baseline ecological monitoring that occurred in the first few years after MPA establishment and the importance of these finding. Varying projects and stakeholder groups came together to produce a comprehensive report that provides insight into the overall health of the region’s coastal and marine ecosystems and human use in these areas. It is important to establish accurate baselines for ecological and human use monitoring to create a basis of understanding for improved management of resources through informed decision making.

Some KEY HIGHLIGHTS from Baseline Monitoring:

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WILDCOAST Women in Conservation

Today we are celebrating and honoring International Women’s Day by recognizing the women at WILDCOAST behind the conservation of some of the most beautiful places in the world!

These women have fought large corporations and stopped big developments in the Cabo Pulmo Marine Reserve; they have collaborated with indigenous communities along the coast of Oaxaca to help protect endangered sea turtles; they have swam with Great White Sharks in order to bring awareness to their protection and importance.

Learn More About Them:

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FACTS about the “Largest Sewage Spill in a Decade”

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You probably already have seen it on the news, or on your Facebook/Twitter feed but here are some important facts you need to know about this MASSIVE SPILL!

Between February 6 and February 23, over 143 million gallons of raw sewage was sent into the Tijuana River, in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. This sewage reached the Pacific Ocean heavily polluting beaches from Rosarito, Baja California to Coronado, California and potentially further, impacting over 25 miles of coastline.

Here are some other facts and things you should be aware of:

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Oil Spill Response Plan for Wildlife in Oaxaca.

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The coast of Oaxaca in southern Mexico is incredibly unique with a diversity of wildlife including four of world’s seven sea turtle species which nest on its shores  (green, hawksbill, leatherback and olive ridley sea turtles).

Although the coastal ecosystems and habitats of Oaxaca are relatively intact, they face a number of threats. One of which comes from a major oil refinery in the port of Salina Cruz, where large volumes of petroleum are processed and shipped daily. In 2012, the refinery spilled hundreds of gallons of crude oil on neighboring sea turtle nesting beaches. The refinery processes 330,000 barrels per day and continues to be a latent risk to the flora and fauna of the region.  

In 2017, WILDCOAST, in coordination with the Mexican Turtle Center, organized our third “Immediate Response Plan for Oil Spills and Management of Affected Wildlife” workshop in Huatulco, in order to properly train sea turtle camp staff and groups dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles, on how to handle wildlife in case of an oil spill accident.

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Get to know your neighbor: Sea Urchin, Echinoidea

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I am a Sea Urchin and a part of a class of organisms called Echinoidea. There are 950 species of Echinoderms in all of the world’s ocean and found all over the world in warm and cold water, typically in rock pools, mud, coral reefs, kelp forests, and seagrass beds. I live in clumps of 5-10 and my lifespan often exceeds 30 years, however scientists have found some specimens to live over 200 years making me one of the longest living animals on earth. I am round and spiny ranging from 3-10 cm. I can be various colors including black, dull shades of green, olive, brown, purple, blue and red. Since I am nocturnal, I usually hide during the day and become more active and feed at night. I prefer to eat seagrass and seaweed that grows on the rocky seafloor. Sea urchins are a primary food source for sea otters, starfish, wolf eels, triggerfish, and others that hunt for me. In the San Diego area, sea urchins are important to kelp forest ecosystems as a food source for the California spiny lobster and sheephead.

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New study outlines importance of adaptive management strategies for MPAs

Ourdoor Outreach students learn about tide pools, tagging and estimating sealife populations at Scripps Institiute of Oceanography.

Students overlooking the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve

WILDCOAST has long supported the conservation of our coastal and marine resources through a number of management strategies. In recent years the primary tool used for natural resource management in coastal and marine ecosystems has been the implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs). The establishment of MPAs is a relatively recent advancement in conservation science and works by restricting resource removal in select areas. Areas selected to become MPAs are chosen because of their importance as critical habitat, cultural sites and for strategic resource management. Recent studies have supported the benefits of MPAs showing that they increase the size of fish and invertebrates and act as a sort of “recharge station” for fisheries while improving overall ocean and ecosystem health. Many of the MPAs established around the state, such as those in San Diego, are approaching their five year review.  

In a recent paper published in the journal of Ocean and Coastal Management titled Assessment and management of cumulative impacts in California’s network of marine protected areas, authors Megan E. Mach, et al. explain that simply establishing MPAs as stationary zones of protection may not be an effective management strategy without taking into consideration larger environmental stressors. As human population grows, sea surface temperatures rise, invasive species spread and the ocean becomes more acidic, management of MPAs needs to remain flexible the their ability to adapt. These adaptive approaches require the cooperation of stakeholders from all walks of life. The issue is that at times policy is slow to adapt to best management practices and as the paper points out “Marine protected areas are likely to result in desired conservation outcomes when human activities and their associated stressors impacting biodiversity and ecosystem integrity are understood, and the most important of these and their cumulative impacts are addressed.”

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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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