Get to know your neighbors: Western Sand Dollar

Photo courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium

I am the western sand dollar, scientifically known as Dendraster excentricus. Contrary to popular belief, I am neither a rock nor a shell but an actual living animal! I am probably what comes to mind when you picture a sand dollar but just like many organisms, we come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. My fish friends never believe me when I say that I am a flattened sea urchin. I know that my spines are not as big but we are both echinoids!

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Stand Up for Clean Water Now!

ACTION ALERT!

Calling All San Diego County Residents, Stand Up for Water Quality and Working Families!

For decades, South San Diego beaches have been pummeled by cross-border sewage infested pollution, causing hard working families and children to get sick from playing in dirty water. For many, the beach is one of very few free recreational opportunities available.

For years, federal agencies like the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) has stood by and done next to nothing. Meanwhile, the problem keeps getting worse and kids keep getting sick. The City of Imperial Beach, California has had enough and they are taking legal action against International Boundary and Water Commission. We need the rest of San Diego County’s cities to come together in support of working families and we need YOU to help get them on board.

CALL your Port Commissioner and County Supervisor and demand they join the fight for clean water. Ask them to join City of IB’s lawsuit!

Sample talking points:

“Hi my name is ________, I live in San Diego County, I’d like to ask the Port Commissioner to join City of IB’s lawsuit against IBWC, thank you for your time.”

“Hi my name is ________, I live in San Diego County, I’d like to ask the County Supervisor to join City of IB’s lawsuit against IBWC, thank you for your time.”

Port Commissioner Robert Valderrama 619-686-7296

County Board of Supervisors
District 1 Supervisor Cox: 619.531.5511
District 2 Supervisor Jacobs 619.531.5522
District 3 Supervisor Gaspar 619.531.5533
District 4 Supervisor Roberts 619.531.5544
District 5 Supervisor Horn 858.694.3900

To learn more about this ongoing issue, check out this latest news story: http://www.foxnews.com/…/millions-gallons-mexican-waste-thr…

#CleanWaterNow!

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Responsible Whale Shark Tourism in Mexico

Ralph Lee Hopkins

The whale shark (Rhinocodon typus) is an extremely large, slow-moving, filter feeding, carpet shark and the world’s second largest fish. Despite their size (equivalent to a school bus when fully mature), whale sharks’ diet consists mainly of planktonic organisms, to which they open their large mouths and filter the tiny organisms floating through the water column.

The whale shark is listed as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The most significant threat to whale sharks is human activity particularly hunting.

Whale sharks are found in the open waters of tropical oceans and prefer water temperatures above 72°F.  They spend a majority of their time swimming at the ocean’s surface, make them vulnerable to poor fishing practices, boat-strikes and greater susceptibility to plastics ingestion.

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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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