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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
This past week was an exciting one for MPA Watch.
As everybody who works in conservation knows, protecting anything is an ongoing task. The job doesn’t simply end once the regulations have been written and the signs have been posted. Further work is needed, including ongoing policy work, enforcement, and continued outreach to educate people on the importance of properly managing protected areas. In the case of California’s marine protected areas (MPAs), MPA Watch has been working to fill some of these needs, at least partially.
As the year comes to an end, WILDCOAST is proud to announce our accomplishments from 2013. We couldn’t have done it without those who support us in our conservation endeavors. Take a moment to look over our accomplishments from 2013, and please continue to support our work through 2014 by donating today: https://app.etapestry.com/hosted/WildCoast/OnlineDonation.html