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:

kayak mpas

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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Surfing Dolphins in the Tijuana River Mouth MPA

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Two weekends ago, I spent my Sunday morning with the San Ysidro Girl Scouts at the Tijuana River Mouth State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA). The girls had a long weekend filled with activities and a trip to Los Angeles.

We had planned a beach cleanup, lunch and to then start our new Junior MPA Watch training. When I got to the site, their Girl Scout leader, Irene Barajas, informed me that the girls were really tired and would like to skip lunch and do the cleanup and the training, that way they could finish early.

It was a nice and breezy morning, the water was calm, and few people were out at the beach. We started the cleanup; the girls were very active, picking up cigarette butts, trash bags, plastic bottles and candy wrappers.  After an hour we started the training, I talked to them about why this Marine Protected Area (MPA) is biologically important  and all the different marine wildlife that inhabit the area.  As we were starting the training you could see they were tired, but these girls are tough and were ready to start learning.  I started explaining how to conduct the surveys and what to write on the data sheets when I pointed to the ocean and asked “What do you see?” Suddenly a pod of about three dolphins were swimming in the MPA. The girls got really excited, their eyes lit-up quickly and started talking to each other about how cool it was. Just when we thought it could not get any better, dolphins started jumping up, and putting on a show. We stopped the training for a few minutes and waited until the dolphins headed south.  One girl said, “This is better than Sea World, it’s natural!”

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Water Quality Workshop

South San Diego Bay Water Quality Workshop.

Do you surf in south San Diego or know someone who does? Ever wonder when it is safe to surf?

Join us this Wednesday from 6-8pm for our South San Diego Water Quality Workshop at the Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center.

To register click on this link:

http://southsandiegoh2oqualityworkshop.eventbrite.com

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