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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Week #4: Giant Spined Sea Star, Pisaster giganteus

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Photo by Dana Roeber Murray

I am one of the ocean’s most fascinating creatures and can only be found in marine environments. I am a member of phylum Echinodermata (Ancient Greek: echinos – “hedgehog” derma – “skin”) and we are special in that we are not found in freshwater or terrestrial environments. Like my brothers and sisters, I also possess the unique ability to regenerate my spiny limbs lost to predators like seagulls and can detach my arms to act as a distraction while I make my escape. If I am cut in half, I have the ability to grow into 2 new starfish—pretty cool! When I’m not avoiding predators I’m on the lookout for my next meal, which generally consists of barnacles, snails, mussels, limpets, and pretty much anything else I can find. I feed a bit differently that other organisms, which in my case means that I can extend my stomach out into tiny cracks in my prey’s shell and digest the soft tissue found inside.

Why should humans care about me?

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Week #3: Giant Kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera

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I am the single most important organism in kelp forest ecosystems. So important in fact, scientists named the entire ecosystem after me. I am uniquely adapted to thriving in nearshore rocky habitat that covers much of the benthos of San Diego county’s marine areas. Something that most people do not know about me is that I am not a plant but actually an algae. I differ from plants in many ways, but most noticeably I do not have roots. I have what is known as a holdfast, which I use as an anchor to secure themselves to the seafloor. As one of the fastest growing organisms on the planet, I have been recorded growing by as much as 2 feet a day and reaching sizes of 150 feet in a single growing season. As a primary producer, I provide nourishment for the entire southern California ecosystem and facilitate San Diego counties vast biodiversity. 

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Get to Know Your Neighbors, Week #2: The Garibaldi Fish

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You may have seen me florescent orange, ebbing and flowing with tidal surges against the dark backdrop of the sea floor. If you have snorkeled, swam, or kayaked near La Jolla Cove (in the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve) you may have noticed me curiously pecking away at exposed sections of rocky reef in search of tidbits of food, my favorite being small invertebrates. Just like you I also have a home and at a certain age I built myself a house in order to find a mate. My mate or mates lay eggs in the rocky substrate that I maintain and fiercely protect. I have been known to aggressively attack anything swimming too close to my developing eggs… even humans! Because of my charisma and tenacity I was named the California state marine fish and was also the inspiration for Dr. Seuss’ “red fish” in the popular story of Cat in the Hat.

Why should humans care about me?           [Read more…]

Inspired by the Our Ocean Conference

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Serge Dedina, WILDCOAST’s Executive Director

Last week, the U.S. State Department issued a last minute invitation for me to attend the Our Ocean Conference in Washington D.C. hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. According to Secretary Kerry, the purpose of the conference was, “To catalyze actions to protect our ocean from these threats and to empower a new generation to lead the way toward a healthy and sustainable ocean.” As the Executive Director of WILDCOAST, I have worked tirelessly with my amazing team and fishing communities, governments, and the private sector to establish safe havens in the ocean to protect key ecosystems and ocean wildlife. Areas such as Cabo Pulmo National Park are now global models for ocean conservation, with fish stocks rebounding at an incredible pace after banning fishing. And in California, our advanced and extensive system of MPAs are recovering fish populations up and down the coast. So it was great to see global leaders come together to announce new measures for ocean conservation and funding initiatives to further on the ground marine protection initiatives.

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Get to Know your Neighbors!

Get to know your neighbors in San Diego county media segment

Photo by Octavio Abuerto

Photo by Octavio Aburto

In this media segment WILDCOAST would like to introduce San Diegans to some of their closest neighbors… wildlife. San Diego county and its nearshore marine areas are home to one of the most diverse and dynamic ecosystems on the planet. The interactions, both intentional and passive, between humans and wildlife create some complex issues at such an extreme urban/ natural interface. Many San Diegans are keen on issues that arise between humans and wildlife for competing space but may not understand things from a wildlife point of view. WILDCOAST is here to act as translator for local wildlife and inform human residents that wildlife residents, although voiceless, need to be heard. This segment will also act as a reminder to WiLDCOAST followers that opportunities to volunteer are plentiful.

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WILDCOAST’s Floating Laboratories are Helping to Conserve our Marine Protected Areas

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This summer and fall, WILDCOAST is carrying out an exciting project to engage San Diego County students in the conservation of the region’s marine protected areas, or MPAs. Through our Floating Laboratory project, students from the Sycuan Teen Center, La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, San Ysidro Girl Scout Troop 5912 and Imperial Beach Junior Lifeguards are conducting real scientific research on the water to help guide MPA management decisions and enhance their ability to protect coastal and marine resources.

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Exciting Times for MPA Watch

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Photo credit: Heal the Bay

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.

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Hoover High School Students Explore La Jolla’s MPAs

On Tuesday, March 29, WILDCOAST took out a group of 25 students from Hoover High School’s mentoring program Cardinals Interact Club to learn more about San Diego’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Students got a chance to tour the special facilities of Scripps Institution of Oceanography that included the Scripps Pier and the Scripps research aquarium and lab.  During the tour, students learned about the wonderful work our partners at The Semmens Lab at Scripps are doing to asses the health and effectiveness of La Jolla’s MPAs and the marine species that live in them.

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Exploring Oregon’s Marine Reserves

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Last week I was invited to attend the first Oregon Marine Reserve Summit in Cannon Beach, Oregon. The Summit brought together conservationists, scientists, educators, coastal business people, state park rangers and agencies that form the Oregon Marine Reserve Partnership. The Partnership is working in the Oregon coast on successfully implementing their five marine reserves that were established in 2012 to restore and sustain Oregon’s marine ecosystems.

It was really interesting to learn and compare about all the wonderful work being done north of our state border and making sure future generations are able to enjoy, explore and learn about their underwater parks. As part of the San Diego MPA Community Collaborative and being part of California’s network of MPAs, it’s important to learn from our state neighbors on our shared efforts to conserve our marine ecosystems.

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