Get to know your neighbor: Sea Urchin, Echinoidea

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I am a Sea Urchin and a part of a class of organisms called Echinoidea. There are 950 species of Echinoderms in all of the world’s ocean and found all over the world in warm and cold water, typically in rock pools, mud, coral reefs, kelp forests, and seagrass beds. I live in clumps of 5-10 and my lifespan often exceeds 30 years, however scientists have found some specimens to live over 200 years making me one of the longest living animals on earth. I am round and spiny ranging from 3-10 cm. I can be various colors including black, dull shades of green, olive, brown, purple, blue and red. Since I am nocturnal, I usually hide during the day and become more active and feed at night. I prefer to eat seagrass and seaweed that grows on the rocky seafloor. Sea urchins are a primary food source for sea otters, starfish, wolf eels, triggerfish, and others that hunt for me. In the San Diego area, sea urchins are important to kelp forest ecosystems as a food source for the California spiny lobster and sheephead.

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Saving Gray Whales and Responsible Whale Watching in Baja California

Photo by Eddie Kisfaludy

Photo by Eddie Kisfaludy

Gray whales have arrived in Baja California! Every winter these marine mammals visit the lagoons of Ojo de Liebre, San Ignacio and Bahía Magdalena to reproduce and give birth. Over the past 15 years, WILDCOAST has worked diligently to conserve gray whale habitat, train local whale watching guides in proper management techniques, and even help boat operators obtain less polluting outboard engines for their skiffs.

During their stay in the lagoons of the Baja California peninsula, whales are visited by thousands of tourists each year that want to get a glimpse of this majestic leviathans up close. Unfortunately, sometimes the desire to get close to whales, can sometimes stress the animals.

Therefore, in response to the growth of whale watching in Baja and in an effort to reduce impacts to these marine mammals, the Mexican government stablished strong whale watching guidelines (NOM- 131-SEMARNAT-2010). These guidelines are not only to regulate sightings, but to also promote the conservation of whale species, including the gray whale.

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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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Thank You for Another Successful BAJA BASH!

2016 WildCoast Baja Bash

WILDCOAST’s 4th Annual Baja Bash was again a huge success thanks to many people, volunteers, sponsor companies, organizations and foundations that support our work to conserve our coasts and oceans.

Special thanks to all our wonderful chefs, Javier Plascencia, Drew Deckman, Flor Franco, Bianca Castro-Cerio, and Luiciano Scagliarini for making it a truly unique and delicious experience, and to Baja Food and Wine, Don Ramon Tequila and Firestone Walker Brewery for providing us amazing drinks.

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How ocean pollution affects humans [Infographic]

Our returning guest blogger Andrew Dilevics from DIVE.in, a scuba diving online magazine, recently created a powerful infographic that shows the effects that ocean pollution has on humans. 

“The world is covered up to 72% in Ocean and it is these oceans that are the reason for life on earth. They provide over 70% of the oxygen that we breathe as well as 97% of the world’s water supply. Without them, we would not exist.

However, everyday the oceans come under attack from pollution, which is causing severe damage to the biggest ecosystem on the planet. Did you know that every year, over 8 million tons of plastic is being dumped into the ocean on purpose? Plastic is one of the largest factors of pollution and is threatening to wipe out many marine species. It is frightening to think that 50% of the plastics that we buy only get used once, such as plastic carrier bags and water bottles, which inevitably end up in the ocean once we dispose of them.

If you would like to know more about ocean pollution and how it affects marine life as well as life on earth, take a look at the fascinating infographic below, created by the team at divein.com.

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Gray Whales Arrive in Baja’s Magdalena Bay

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The gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) is one species of whales that was hunted mercilessly during the IX and early XX centuries and was taken to the verge of extinction. After many years and numerous conservation efforts the global  population of gray whales has recovered and there are now between 18,000 and 24,000 of these gentle giants.

Gray whales make one of the longest migrations of any mammal. They travel between 15,000 and 20,000 miles every year from their feeding grounds in the Arctic to and from the warm waters off the west coast of the Baja California Peninsula. At the end of the fall, gray whales begin their journey south where they will spend winter and the beginning of spring to give birth and reproduce in three coastal lagoons in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Scammon’s lagoon, San Ignacio Lagoon and Magdalena Bay offer shelter to pregnant whales, newborn cubs and adults during winter months.  These sites have been and still are essential for the recovery and survival of the species.

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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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WILDCOAST INAUGURATES “TREASURES OF MEXICAN CONSERVATION” PHOTO EXHIBIT IN CUBA AND LAUNCHES CONSERVATION INITIATIVE

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In July, WILDCOAST partnered with the Embassy of Mexico in Cuba and Patrimonio Comunidad y Medio Ambiente to inaugurate a photo exhibit at the Sala de Diversidad in Havana. The exhibit, which will run through September, highlights the conservation success stories of WILDCOAST in Mexico featuring stunning images by Claudio Contreras, Dr. Octavio Aburto of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Miguel Angel de la Cueva and Ralph Lee Hopkins. Photos featured globally significant sites that WILDCOAST works to conserve including Morro Ayuta in Oaxaca, and Cabo Pulmo, Bahia Magdalena and Valle de los Cirios on the Baja California Peninsula. On hand to open the exhibit were WILDCOAST’s Executive Director Serge Dedina, Mexico Director Eduardo Najera, and Communications and Policy Director Fay Crevoshay.

“We are grateful to the Embassy of Mexico in Cuba for sponsoring this exhibit and their role in fostering international cooperation to help preserve the coastal and marine ecosystems in Mexico and to partner with the Cuban National Park Service to assist in the preservation of world-class coral reefs and mangrove lagoons,” said Dedina. “This was an incredible opportunity to highlight our work and we were so pleased that Ana Lourdes Soto Perez, President of Patrimonio Comunidad y Medio Ambiente agreed to host the exhibit in the Sala de Diversidad in Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

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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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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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