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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How to be a “Good Tide Pooler”

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Underneath the water off of San Diego’s coastline there is an array of marine wildlife for you to explore. You don’t have to go very deep to experience these amazing creatures up close. During negative tides, head to your nearest shoreline reefs where water pools and find a window into the intertidal world.

Our MPAs are home to San Diego’s best places to “tide pool.” On the reefs around Swami’s, La Jolla and Point Loma you can find a diversity of wild marine invertebrates like sea stars, anemones, octopuses and sea hares among many others.

Although terrific places to view and learn about coastal and marine wildlife, tide pools and the reefs that house them are very sensitive ecosystems. Additionally, these animals and their homes are protected by our network of MPAs and their take is prohibited. So please visit, experience and enjoy San Diego’s tide pools but follow these simple rules and spread the word when you do:

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Alpine Girl Scouts Get Excited About Their Marine Protected Areas.

This past Saturday I spent the morning with an amazing group of  105 girls, the Girl Scout Troop #6323 from Alpine, California.  The girls invited me to talk about the importance of “not littering” and keeping our streets clean, but I decided to add one thing to the talk: our ocean!  Though the community of Alpine is not “close” to the ocean, the girls learned how trash and other pollutants left in streets, near creeks or rivers, can affect our oceans and our Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).  It is important for us to see the BIG picture, just because we don’t see the trash doesn’t mean it’s gone.

The girls learned about San Diego’s new MPAs, which was a new concept for them, and all the different marine wildlife they can encounter in those areas. Like one girl said “so they are better than aquariums?” YES! You can see animals in their natural habitats, but you have to be very careful because they are protected by law so future generations can also enjoy them. The girls were so excited they could’t wait to tell their parents that they could go kayaking or snorkeling in these areas.

After we talked about MPAs, we dove in to how to keep them clean and healthy. We discussed different ways to make sure trash or any other pollutants don’t end up in the ocean were animals and humans can get hurt by them.

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Happy Anniversary California MPAs!

*Humpback Whale- Megaptera novaeangliae (Balaenopteridae)

California celebrates first anniversary of underwater state park system.  South Coast parks a destination for surfing, kayaking, tide pooling and bird-watching

On December 19 2013, California celebrates the one-year anniversary of the nation’s only statewide network of marine protected areas (MPAs). These “underwater parks,” dotting the coast from Oregon to Mexico, provide safe havens for marine life to rebound and opportunities for people to get outside and enjoy nature. (View a map here). For a look at the outdoor adventures to be had in Southern California’s marine protected areas, check out this new 60-second video from Ocean Conservancy, How Do You MPA?

Many of California’s marine protected areas are located just offshore from state and county parks, and offer great winter activities. Here are five local highlights:

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La Jolla, San Diego: Each year, more than two million visitors are drawn to La Jolla for its beauty and bountiful sea life. The marine protected area at La J

olla Cove has recently been expanded and renamed Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve in honor of its Native American heritage. La Jolla features a sheltered kelp forest that’s teeming with leopard sharks, bright garibaldi, lobsters, octopus and much more.

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