Keep California’s Coastline… California!

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I am riding north along the blessed California coastline on an Amtrak train bound for SLO. The bustle is happily out of reach as we whiz by crammed intersections and the afternoon I-5 slog. Open space fills the absence of noise. There is no better way to experience the continuity of the California coastline than on the train. You get to see the glittering line-ups of Church and Trestles; retirees calmly sliding along weekday peelers. You can stare out the window at emerald wetlands and flocks of gulls on the exposed cobbles of an afternoon low tide.

California’s coastal zone governance via the Coastal Commission has largely enabled this opportunity. It is a shame they weren’t around before 1972. I day dream of a Solana Beach without the country’s most armored cliff-line…and a Dana Point with one of the state’s best point breaks. I didn’t get to experience those things and time travel does not exist yet without reconfiguring my anatomic structure so I must accept the baseline that is. Fortunately that includes still a darn nice place to live and surf.

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50 fascinating facts about the ocean

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With over 71% of the world’s surface covered in ‘global ocean,’ there is a huge amount still to learn about this vast watery desert. It is strange to think that we already know quite a lot about the waters that cover our planet, however scientists and marine biologists have only really explored 5% of the oceans. Seeing as the ‘global ocean’ is so large, it has been divided into 5 separate oceans, all of which are connected.

The largest ocean out of the 5 is the Pacific. The pacific is roughly the same size as all of the land on earth, put together. The Pacific Ocean is home to the deepest depths on earth, which is situated in the ‘Marina Trench’, which sits at approximately 11Km (6.8miles) below sea level. The Pacific is also home to the highest mountain on earth, which sits at 10Km (6.2miles) above sea level. Mount Everest is only 8.8Km above sea level.

The smallest ocean on earth is the Arctic Ocean and is home to the majority of sea ice on the planet. Did you know that nearly 7% of the ocean is covered with sea ice?

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MPA Watch Takes to the Skies

Coastline View

“Recreational, sport fisher, actively fishing.”

We’re flying in a Beechcraft BE-36 aircraft approximately 750 feet above the Pacific Ocean as our spotter in the front seat makes the call.

“Mark it…now”.

The person she’s relaying this information to is sitting directly behind her, operating a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) device that can log the types of vessels encountered and their activities, as well as their geographic coordinates. Photographs of the different vessels are also taken to help verify vessel types and activities prior to being uploaded to a database.

This aerial survey, and others like it, are being conducted by The Bay Foundation with support from Lighthawk. The aerial surveys compliment land-based surveys that are being carried out as part of a data collection program called MPA Watch. The MPA Watch program, which is being carried out statewide by 10 different organizations, including Wildcoast, monitors human use of the California coastline, especially in marine protected areas and surrounding locations. While MPA Watch data is most often collected through shore-based surveys conducted by trained volunteers, boat-based surveys and aerial surveys are also used to collect data on off-shore activities.

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San Diego County MPA Interpretive Signs Installed!

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Congratulations to the City of Encinitas and the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation for the first installment of MPA interpretive panels in San Diego County! These incredible signs highlight the ecological significance, natural beauty and history of Swami’s and Batiquitos Lagoon MPAs.
Special thanks to everyone involved in the process! City of Encinitas, Surfrider Foundation, California State Parks, Marine Sanctuary Foundation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation, and our staff at WILDCOAST!
We can’t wait to see the rest of the signs installed across San Diego County!

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Learning and Exploring La Jolla’s Marine Protected Areas

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

For the effective conservation of our coastline and our marine protected areas (MPAs), community engagement is key. And it is essential that people love these special areas for that needed public support.

To help youth in San Diego County get to know and hopefully fall in love with our local MPAs, WILDCOAST partnered with Outdoor Outreach to take five students from El Cajon Valley High School to Scripps Institution of Oceanography. There the students interacted with marine species that inhabit the Matlahuayl and San Diego-Scripps MPAs and learned how to make population estimate of various marine wildlife.

Marwa, one of the students, said, “I love enjoying the ocean but also learning about it”. Tamara, another student said, “I am so glad I got the chance to learn about marine species and actually see them!”

We would like to thank SIO scientist Brice Semmens and Rachel Labbe Bellas, Outdoor Outreach and the students of El Cajon Valley High School.

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Marine Protected Area Watch Training with the San Ysidro Girl Scouts

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In the beginning of 2014, WILDCOAST and the Girl Scouts of San Ysidro, developed the first Junior Marine Protected Area (MPA) Watch program in California. The program is designed to gather data on how people are using the MPA network and help guide future management decisions. The Junior MPA Watch program is engaging younger audiences in citizen science and greatly contributing to the statewide project. Today, over 100 youth in San Diego County have participated in the program, many from Girl Scout troop 5912 in San Ysidro, one of the county’s most park-poor communities.

Although the Girl Scouts love to play and learn in their closest MPA, the Tijuana River Mouth SMCA, they are also spending their free time helping WILDCOAST protect it. On June 15, 2015 two girl scouts from 5912 took on a new role in the program and trained eight of their group members to conduct the MPA Watch surveys.  Maite and Ileana, both have been very active in the program and other efforts to improve the MPA and nearby estuary. They have carried out beach cleanups, done storm drain stenciling in their community and have even visited local elected officials to ask for further open space and MPA protection. With their help, now even more local youth are stewarding one of the county’s underwater parks and helping to guide an effective future for our MPAs.

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Oil Disaster at Refugio

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Image by KTLA News 5

About a year ago my husband, daughter and I were on a quick weekend road trip to Santa Barbara. On our drive south we stopped at Refugio State Beach to admire the long beautiful stretch of pristine beach and stretch our legs a little. My husband (a native of Mexico) was in awe that undisturbed pieces of coast still exist in Southern California.

Last week I was in Washington D.C. with partner California NGOs to advocate against offshore oil exploration and drilling. A Santa Barbara resident that was in the group said, “it’s not about if a spill can happen, it will happen, it happens all the time in our beaches, little or small we get that stuff on our beaches.”

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On the water with WILDCOAST and LA Waterkeeper

Last week, WILDCOAST got the opportunity to join Captain Michael Quill and the team from Los Angeles Waterkeeper to experience first-hand their boat-based MPA Watch Program off Palos Verdes. Over the last two years, WILDCOAST has been carrying out a shore-based MPA Watch program in San Diego County, as part of a statewide effort, to understand how people are using our MPAs. Through the project we have trained over 80 volunteers.

Los Angeles Waterkeeper has a similar program, but from a different perspective; taking the surveys from a boat. Their mission is to record how people are using Los Angeles MPAs, specifically off-shore activities, while conducting outreach and education in and around the MPAs. Through volunteerism and friendly outreach this is an excellent way to directly educate and engage community stakeholders.

Most MPA Watch surveys in the state are being carried out from shore. LA Waterkeeper’s boat-based surveys compliments this work and greatly contributes to our understanding of how people are using the MPAs.

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Enjoy, but do not disturb!

The last weekend of spring break my husband and I took our daughter to La Jolla. She loves seeing the sea lions and brown pelicans and it was the perfect day for a beach day. When we got there, we noticed that there was a car show at Scripps Park. There was a lot of people, so we slowly made our way to La Jolla’s Cove beach and hoping that since it was later in the day, there wouldn’t be a lot of people.  We were wrong, the beach was packed, and right in the middle of that beach were five sleeping sea lions. There were a few more scattered around that small beach, some looked sick and tired. My husband and I wanted to leave but we decided to stay in case anybody would start harassing the sea lions. We could let them know, in a friendly way, that they shouldn’t be doing that.

We stayed at the beach and sat at good distance from the sea lions and saw people, mostly tourists, taking pictures of them and with them. Most of them were in awe of seeing wild animals in their natural habitats.  The sea lions were only there to rest. They were sleeping, trying not to care about all the crowd that surrounded them. But it was tough; kids were playing very close to them, people almost stepping on them, and some were trying to touch them. Fortunately, lifeguard J. Kerr was there on duty to make sure people kept a safe distant from the marine mammals.

 

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Dive Into Your Underwater Parks, Virtually.

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California Google MPA Tour

Explore California’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) or “underwater parks” through new online tours!

Looking for your next vacations spot? The California Google MPA Tours feature detailed descriptions of each of the State and Federal Marine Protected Areas, National Marine Sanctuaries, and National Estuaries, with stunning photos and videos, and links to local “things to do” for your enjoyment and ease of vacation planning.

The Google MPA tour is recently completed for the entire state, featuring more than 125 underwater parks from the Oregon border to the Mexico border, and is divided into easy to navigate regional tours. Each tour explores all of the underwater parks along our amazing coast with breathtaking pictures and videos and links to nearby activities to enjoy these special ocean areas.

Hope you make your next vacation an MPA vacation! Click here to dive in!

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