The State of the California South Coast State of the Region Report


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:

[Read more…]

New study outlines importance of adaptive management strategies for MPAs

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

Students overlooking the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve

WILDCOAST has long supported the conservation of our coastal and marine resources through a number of management strategies. In recent years the primary tool used for natural resource management in coastal and marine ecosystems has been the implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs). The establishment of MPAs is a relatively recent advancement in conservation science and works by restricting resource removal in select areas. Areas selected to become MPAs are chosen because of their importance as critical habitat, cultural sites and for strategic resource management. Recent studies have supported the benefits of MPAs showing that they increase the size of fish and invertebrates and act as a sort of “recharge station” for fisheries while improving overall ocean and ecosystem health. Many of the MPAs established around the state, such as those in San Diego, are approaching their five year review.  

In a recent paper published in the journal of Ocean and Coastal Management titled Assessment and management of cumulative impacts in California’s network of marine protected areas, authors Megan E. Mach, et al. explain that simply establishing MPAs as stationary zones of protection may not be an effective management strategy without taking into consideration larger environmental stressors. As human population grows, sea surface temperatures rise, invasive species spread and the ocean becomes more acidic, management of MPAs needs to remain flexible the their ability to adapt. These adaptive approaches require the cooperation of stakeholders from all walks of life. The issue is that at times policy is slow to adapt to best management practices and as the paper points out “Marine protected areas are likely to result in desired conservation outcomes when human activities and their associated stressors impacting biodiversity and ecosystem integrity are understood, and the most important of these and their cumulative impacts are addressed.”

[Read more…]

Wilderness Thrives in Cuba’s Guanahacabibes National Park

IMG_2949

WILDCOAST has over 15 years experience working to preserve some of the world’s most pristine coastal wilderness areas such as Valle de los Cirios Pacific Coast, Laguna San Ignacio and the remote sea turtle nesting beaches of Oaxaca. Now we are fortunate to work in another globally unique wilderness area, on the Cuba’s western shore, in the 98,412 acre Guanahacabibes National Park.

 

The giant scallop bay that reaches to within 120 miles of the Yucatan Peninsula, is part of Cuba’s expansive network of protected areas. Both land and sea are conserved here by Cuba’s National Park System, keeping what could be so easily destroyed untouched. Wildlife thrives on shore, including iguanas, fascinating birds, giant hutias – a large rodent native to a few Caribbean islands, bats and crocodiles. Below the surface of the steamy Caribbean there is equally diverse life. Coral reefs, some of the least impacted by bleaching on the planet, create forests, canyons and cliffs of marine habitat. Tropical fish dart between fan and brain corals. Sea turtles cruise the upper levels of the water column. And the occasional reef shark calmly passes below.

[Read more…]

Marine Protected Area Watch Training with the San Ysidro Girl Scouts

IMG_5885

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.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

How to be a “Good Tide Pooler”

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.28.40 AM

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:

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

Surfing Dolphins in the Tijuana River Mouth MPA

Image

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!”

[Read more…]