CalOceans News

Showing all articles with tag: marine reserve.

Explore southern California's new underwater parks

December 22nd, 2011

On January 1, California will celebrate the grand opening of a series of underwater parks along the south coast. Enjoy this visual tour!


A great year for ocean protection

December 19th, 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, we reflect on a year of progress for ocean conservation in California. The state’s network of underwater parks moves ever closer to completion. Southern California ocean fans are eagerly awaiting the grand opening of new marine protected areas at south La Jolla, Laguna, Point Dume, Naples Reef and other hot spots in January 1. And progress continues on the far north coast, where an underwater parks plan will be finalized next year.

Fall and winter are primetime for whale viewing on the California coast.  Recently, visiting humpbacks made state and national news. Winter is also a fantastic time to go bird watching, or observe the annual, epic mating rituals of elephant seals at protected areas like Ano Nuevo or Piedras Blancas. Finally, seasonal low tides make for great tidepooling at Fitzgerald
Marine Reserve, Point Lobos, and Salt Point.

On California’s far north coast, conservationists, local residents, state officials and tribal communities have come together in support of a vision for the future where underwater parks and traditional tribal harvest co-exist in support of long-term ocean health. To cement that partnership, Hawk Rosales of the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council wrote an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee in which he said native tribes will “celebrate this significant progress and will stay focused on building a brighter future – for tribes and for California.” You can listen here to a radio interview in which Hawk discusses the growing partnership between the state and North Coast tribes.

Finally, the North County Times delivers this uplifting report from the marine reserve in Cabo Pulmo, Mexico, where the sea life has grown an astonishing 1,067 percent, much to the delight of the sharks, groupers and other predators in the region – and the humans that love them! It provides a positive example of the sort of benefits California can hope to derive from the creation of our own network of underwater parks through the Marine Life Protection Act.


Winter tidepooling in California's underwater parks

November 29th, 2011

Seasonal low tides make winter a great time to visit the tidepools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Point Lobos, Salt Point and Point Dume.

These coastal hotspots provide a window into the underwater world. From sea stars to anemones and fish to colorful nudibranchs, sharp-eyed visitors can see myriad plants and animals, often guided by volunteer docents.

Many of California's best tidepooling sites are marine protected areas, or underwater parks, which have been set aside to allow wildlife to thrive and people to enjoy nature. These marine protected areas are often located alongside state and county beaches, connecting land and sea, and offering great opportunities for bird and mammal watching, hiking, kayaking, and other activities.

To make sure the tidepools remain healthy and vibrant for future visitors, its important to practice good etiquette. This guide from Orange County Marine Protected Area Council has rules for being a good tidepooler, and this page from the California Department of Fish and Game includes great resources for teachers planning school field trips.


Ocean miracle for California?

August 16th, 2011

A new study from Scripps Institution of Oceanography has proven marine reserves—stretches of protected ocean habitat—to be even more powerful than previously thought.  These undersea parks can transform depleted areas into powerhouses of productivity, boosting fishermen’s catches and profits, as well as tourism and recreation activity.

The report showed the number of fish in a marine reserve near the southern tip of Baja California soared 463 percent between 1999 and 2009. That’s a world record, said authors of the peer-reviewed paper, which was published today in the journal Public Library of Science ONE.

The economic and ecological value of marine reserves is well established. Scientists have studied more than 150 reserves in 61 countries to date, and have found tremendous gains in the size and numbers of plants and animals, as well as increased diversity and resilience.

This news from the Cabo Pulmo marine park in Baja comes at a particularly exciting time for California, since the state will expand its network of marine reserves on October 1, adding critically needed protections for hot spots like La Jolla, Laguna, Point Dume, and Naples Reef.   

Octavio Aburto-Oropeza from Scripps, who led the decade-long research project at Cabo Pulmo told KGTV in San Diego that he hopes the success from Baja will inspire smart resource management elsewhere in the world:

"Few policymakers around the world are aware that fish size and abundance can increase inside marine reserves to extraordinary levels within a decade after protection is established -- fewer still know that these increases often translate into economic benefits for coastal communities…Therefore, showing what's happened in Cabo Pulmo will contribute to ongoing conservation efforts in the marine environment and recovery of local coastal economies."

Marine ecologist Enric Sala said in National Geographic:

“Opponents of conservation argue that regulating fishing will destroy jobs and hurt the economy–but they are wrong, and there are real-world examples that prove this. A scientific study published today by the Public Library of Science shows that protecting an area brings the fish back, and creates jobs and increases economic revenue for the local communities. I have seen it with my own eyes and, believe me, it is like a miracle, only that it is not–it’s just common business sense.”

The Cabo Pulmo results are extraordinary, but Scripps fisheries ecologist Brad Erisman said in the San Diego Union Tribune that a similar turnaround is possible in southern California.

Local groups are hard at work laying the groundwork for success. From citizen science programs like MPA Watch to public private partnerships like Orange County Marine Protected Areas, and education events and materials by local aquaria, many organizations are already spreading the word about the protections going into place on October 1.

The new southern California ocean parks are just one piece of a statewide system called for in the Marine Life Protection Act, MLPA, designed to improve the health of marine systems for the benefit of all ocean users.  The Cabo Pulmo study is just further evidence California is on the right track.


Belize marine reserve is "a model of hope"

May 6th, 2010

This recent New York Times article higlights Glover's Reef, the latest example of how marine reserves succeed at restoring the health of depleted ocean habitat. Belize’s largest “no-take” marine reserve, a 17,500-acre zone where all types of fishing are prohibited, has done wonders for the local reef habitat and the fish populations have increased significantly.

The area is known as Glover’s Reef, and the Times article features the research conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society on the local sharks and rays – which has revealed that sharks play a critical role in the ecosystem. Check out a video here.

According to Ellen K. Pikitch, a marine biologist at the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and runs the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science:

“I think Glover’s Reef is a model of hope. The effort at Glover’s shows that marine reserves, even small marine reserves, can work. I think it’s very transportable this concept.”

Along with other top predators, sharks help keep barracuda populations in check, which is important because barracuda consume algae grazers like parrotfish that prevent runaway algae growth from choking the corals.


Spotlight on the south coast

December 22nd, 2009

The planning meetings have come and gone. The Blue Ribbon Task Force, Regional Stakeholder Group, Science Advisory Teamand general public have all had their say. Now the future of southern California’s coastal waters sits with the Fish and Game Commission, which met December 9, to gather input from the community and MLPA advisors before sending off four marine protected area plans for further economic and scientific analysis.  

South coast residents can still weigh in via mail or email, and will have additional opportunities to comment in person when the Commission returns to southern California for three more meetings in 2010.  

Although the Commission has adopted the BRTF’s Integrated Preferred Alternative as the “proposed project,” all four of the current proposals for marine protected areas on the south coast remain on the table.

So what does that mean? It means now is the time to remind the Fish and Game Commission that science should guide our state’s resource management decisions.  And the conservation plan—also known as Proposal 3—is the only one that meets science guidelines and protects all southern California’s iconic ocean places, like Naples Reef, Point Dume, Palos Verdes, Laguna, Catalina Island and La Jolla. At the December 9 meeting, Dr. Steve Murray of the Science Advisory Team confirmed that Proposal 3 would produce the greatest ecosystem benefits.
Please send an email or note to the Commissioners voicing your support for Proposal 3.

Marine Life Protection Act Initiative
c/o California Natural Resources Agency
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311
Sacramento, CA 95814

Tell them to adopt a plan that will serve the region’s economy and environment. We only get one shot at this and we need to get it right!


A sea change for Southern California?

October 26th, 2009

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle has logged more than 6500 hours underwater during her 50 years exploring the world's oceans.  She has seen many changes to plant and animal life over the years, and feels the ocean is now at a tipping point.  The good news, she says, is that we still have a chance to "tip things back in the right direction--if we act now."

The Marine Life Protection Act is our opportunity to create a sea change that will restore depleted sea life and habitats throughout California's coastal waters.  If we follow the science and create a strong, science-based marine protected area network, we can turn things around and leave a legacy of healthy oceans for our kids and grandkids.

In this Los Angeles Times opinion editorial, Sylvia explains why the conservation plan--or "Proposal 3"--is the best choice for southern California's ocean.  It will protect iconic places like south La Jolla, Naples Reef, Point Dume, and Laguna while leaving nearly 90% of the area open for fishing. 

The Los Angeles Times editorial board agrees--they too urge the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force to recommend Proposal 3 to ensure south coast waters remain healthy and productive for generations to come. 

Dr. Earle likens marine protected areas to jewels on a necklace: treasured areas where kelp flourishes, fish and invertebrates grow and multiply, and divers, snorkelers, and scientists can glimpse marine life at its healthiest.

Join the Los Angeles Times, along with southern California divers, surfers, educators, conservationists, scientists, and kayakers in supporting meaningful protection for our special ocean places.