Marine Ecology 101

Welcome to part two of our three part blog series (see part onethree, four and five) on the best ways to enjoy San Diego’s very own ASBS and Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores are both protected areas — the Cove and Shores are both classified as Areas of Special Biological Significance and La Jolla Shores is also a marine reserve known as the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. These posts will show you how to enjoy these special places while not harming those that live there. 

Before we go exploring the tidepools, let’s learn a little bit more about this habitat.

tidepool-zonation-sdck

Many species live in the narrow band between the sea and the land. Some of them make rocks their home because of the support it provides for them. These creatures are subject to many hardships: they have evolved to endure desiccation, wave impact, and insane temperature changes. Because of this they often have hard bodies with shells or calcareous (a hard, cement-like substance) deposits. Tidepools are filled with competition. Space is scarce on the rocky shore and the organisms are constantly fighting for it. They try to outgrow each other and often get creative to find new spaces. They also have to protect themselves from wave impact which is why they are often strongly attached to rocks.

The lower parts of the rocky shore are occupied by algae and other organisms that are willing to stay underwater most of the time. The higher parts are full of limpets (#8 on illustration) and barnacles (#3 on illustration) that are able to survive long periods with out water, also known as desiccation. The level of exposure to the waves and other environmental factors results in zonation of the tidepools.

Stronger organisms live in parts of the tidepools exposed to stronger waves (High Tide Zone) while fragile ones hide in protected areas (Low Tide Zone).

The zonation is very important to keep the balance of this amazing coastal ecosystem. The food web (who eats who) in the tide pools is quite complex — it consists of many levels and many different predators. As a consequence, each species has adapted to a different strategy to obtain food, creating rich and beautiful biodiversity.

tide-pool-tramplingFragile Beauty

All this ocean beauty could be menaced by our activities.

Walking (trampling)
The constant stepping on top of rocks removes their algal cover and destroys the tide pool community.

Collecting
Collecting animals or even empty shells can leave the hermit crabs homeless.

Urban runoff
After it rains, the sediments and pollutants from the streets can be deadly to the tidepool creatures.

Trash
Our trash can enter the tidepools and cause damage. We need to take action to protect the tidepool communities.

The tidepools house many living creatures — when we explore them we are only guests. In the next posts, we will see what it takes to be good guests. We will talk  about “house rules”, and the ways to take care of ourselves while in this beautiful wild place.

Written by Thais Fonseca Rech

Published in Marine Conservation

The Dos and Don’ts of Snorkeling

Welcome to part five of our five part blog series (see part onetwo, three and four) on the best ways to enjoy San Diego’s very own ASBS and Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores are both protected areas — the Cove and Shores are both classified as Areas of Special Biological Significance and La Jolla Shores is also a marine reserve known as the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. These posts will show you how to enjoy these special places while not harming those that live there. 

Hey, everybody! Here I am for the last of the posts in this series (insert your own dramatic music here) about the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. This time to talk about snorkeling etiquette. Although this is a low impact activity, snorkelers – who flock to La Jolla Shores – can cause significant damage. In order to prevent this, we can follow snorkeling etiquette similar to the tidepooling. Be sure to take care of your safety by making sure you know the basics of snorkeling and are well prepared before you enter the water.

1. Check that your equipment is well adjusted before entering the water.

2. Check the water and weather conditions.

3. Always go with a friend – it is safer and so much more fun.

4. Use sun screen. Sunburns hurt.

5. Please don’t disturb sediment/sand. This can cause harm to defenseless sea creatures by burying them.

6. Be careful while swimming. The waves can throw you like a rag doll, pushing you against rocks and other people. Algae can block your visibility and impede your swimming. More info here.

7. It is very important to retain your energy and stay close to the shore, especially if you are not a strong swimmer.
snorkeling-sdck
8. Pay attention to your surroundings, as you may encounter other swimmers, boats, and even sea mammals.

9. Don’t forget to take your trash away. Be mindful of your gear and don’t forget it on the beach.

10. Wash all your equipment and let it dry for some time, before you visit other bodies of water. By doing so, you minimize the chances of carrying an invasive species with you.

You are key in preventing impact in a rich and beautiful environment like the tidepools. We can’t risk losing such an iconic, ecological, and economically important habitat – all the effort taken to protect the tidepools and other marine habitats will pay off in the end.

See you at the cove!

Written by Thais Fonseca Rech

Published in Marine Conservation

Protecting Our ASBS Better: What Do You Expect From A Coastal Champion?

Watershed Management PlanASBS Blog 1

The City of San Diego, University of CA, San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD/SIO), and San Diego Coastkeeper make up the La Jolla Shores Coastal Watershed Management Group. Their priority is to manage urban runoff and protect the health of the two adjacent ASBS’s in La Jolla (see picture right). 

In 2008 the group authored the Watershed Management Plan that was developed from a series of stakeholder and project partner meetings. Experts from the fields of urban runoff management, ocean and environmental science, data management, and public participation were consulted to develop a holistic program to address the complex issues and California Ocean Plan standards associated with an ASBS.

La Jolla Shores has an ASBS Protection Implementation Program that represents the initial stage of ASBS protection. It supports four essential and interactive components of the Watershed Management Plan, including:

  1. Urban Runoff Management – addresses needs to reduce watershed pollutant impacts and the prohibition of waste discharges into an ASBS
  2. Ocean Ecosystem Assessment – addresses the need to identify health of the resources, impact of runoff, and effectiveness of management measures
  3. Information Systems – addresses the need to develop resource management tool serving variety of end users
  4. Public Participation – addresses the need to engage public in protection and management of resource

By incorporating all four components, the two La Jolla Shores ASBS will be protected by reducing urban runoff pollutants from discharges and establishes important assessment and monitoring tools. The focus is to reduce or eliminate the primary sources of water quality threats. This plan will provide multiple benefits by protecting not only the ASBS; it also includes high use public beaches and two Marine Protected Areas nearby.

Incorporating Information Management into ASBS Management

Integrated information management systems are a critical tool to efficiently assess and manage regulatory programs. Information management systems can display data in the interrelated language that biological-physical-chemical processes present in the watershed and marine environment. These data can then be assessed and available to a wide range of users that span both regulatory and non-regulatory based data collection efforts.

Our goal was to design a modular problem driven application that builds upon different standards and protocols.
We strived to emulate existing ocean observing systems web portals for ease of navigation and familiarity. Utilizing open standard formats and protocols enables access to varying structures and distributed data sources. Since some of the data shown on the website is derived from other sources, the goal has been to access services or data directly instead of hosting copies. This format allows for varying data types enabling a customized portal.

The online tool that is entering its’ beta testing mode now, was designed to establish the infrastructure needs and generate a conceptual design that is required for long term assessment of ASBS performance and related management decisions. The system will expand upon the current information management framework developed by UCSD/SIO for the La Jolla Shores Coastal Watershed Management Plan. Local and regional information sharing initiatives are promoted, and support low impact development (LID), water conservation, and public engagement through outreach and data visualization. The end-product will be to develop a usable information system for a range of users.

Online Features

ASBS Blogpic 2

The greatest attribute of this site is it allows for various data layers to be viewed together spatially via a central map. While providing metadata, specific data values and time series.

 

  • Large map with slide-able side panels
  • Adjustable map-time
  • Time series of selected data
  • Specific layers have options which can be changed once selected
  • Collapsible legends
  • Metadata for each layer and links to special studies and documents
  • Map bookmarks to help you zoom to areas of interest

Data Layers

The data layers that are included in online tool are grouped by near-real time observations, static point observations, and spatial observations/models.ASBS Blog pic3

  • San Diego ASBS Meteorological Sensors – Meteorological stations along the coast provide wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, solar radiation, rainfall, and water temperature data.
  • San Diego ASBS Outfall Monitoring Stations – Seawater and storm water outfalls at Scripps Institution of Oceanography that are monitored in accordance with the California Ocean Plan.
  • San Diego ASBS Bacteria Monitoring Stations – Bacteria monitoring in the surf zone is performed weekly in the San Diego-Scripps Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS). Data shown are the last reported results sent to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
  • Harmful Algae & Red Tide Regional Monitoring Program – Water samples and net tows are collected once per week to monitor for HAB (Harmful Algal Blooms) species, and naturally occurring algal toxins, as well as water temperature, salinity, and nutrients. Occurs at 8 piers along the California coastline.
  • State of California ASBS System Boundaries – boundaries of the 34 designated coastal regions in the California Ocean Plan as Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) in an effort to preserve these unique and sensitive marine ecosystems for future generations.
  • Historic Probability Exposure Maps (2008-2009) – estimated spatial extent of the surface plume for a historical dataset from 2008-2009, to determine the probabilities of exposure of each ASBS to coastal discharges for annual circulation patterns.
  • High Frequency Radar Surface Currents – Data collected from high-frequency (HF) radar can be used to infer the speed and direction of ocean surface currents (to 1 meters depth).
  • Regional Ocean Model System (ROMS) Model Output – a model produced and distributed by Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering (JIFRESSE) at UCLA and the west coast office of Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc.
  • Sea Surface Temperature – analysis map layer displays the NOAA/ NWS/National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s (NCEP) daily, high-resolution, global sea surface temperature analysis.
  • Winds – The North American Mesoscale Model (NAM), refers to a numerical weather prediction model run by National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) for short-term weather forecasting.
  • Wave Height – Wave Watch III (WW3) is a third generation wave model developed at NOAA/NWS/NCEP (National Centers for Environmental Prediction).

For more information regarding this online tool or the technical back-end specifics contact info@sccoos.org

Published in Marine Conservation

Coastkeeper-Global TIES Partnership Achieves Success with Creation of MPA Monitoring Tool

For over a year, San Diego Coastkeeper has partnered with Global TIES, an undergraduate engineering program at the University of California at San Diego. The program aims to provide non-profit organizations with technical expertise. Since the outset of the partnership, Coastkeeper and Global TIES have worked together to create a technical solution for monitoring local marine protected areas (MPAs) and enforcing the law.

California established new marine protected areas for the south coast region beginning on January 1, 2012. MPAs were created to conserve, protect, and restore California’s marine resources and to promote recreational and educational opportunities. Success of the MPAs will depend on effective monitoring and enforcement, and Coastkeeper has taken responsibility for monitoring three: the Scripps-San Diego state marine conservation area, the Matlahuayl state marine reserve, and the South La Jolla state marine reserve.

Monitoring efforts include MPA Watch. Coastkeeper launched a pilot MPA Watch program in fall 2012 that enlists volunteers to complete surveys of the MPAs. Volunteers record the recreational uses (e.g., swimming, surfing, or fishing) they observe at the MPAs. This data will be valuable to assess the success of the MPAs and to determine effective management and enforcement strategies.

Collecting this data, however, involves a lot of paperwork and tedious data entry. To solve this problem, Coastkeeper asked Global TIES to create a mobile app to streamline the process of collecting data and entering it into a database. Global Ties responded with a terrific effort and achieved a major success.

In a mere ten weeks, Global TIES brought Coastkeeper’s vision to fruition. In early December 2012, the engineering team presented Coastkeeper with a mobile web app that allows volunteers to input MPA use data and pollution issues that will instantly be uploaded to Coastkeeper’s database. Coastkeeper would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of Global Ties for their impressive efforts on this project: Sharon Chung, Sally Do, David Drabik, Sally Law, James Pitta, Jeff Schell (special thanks for web hosting during development), Josh Sykes, Parry Wilcox, Matt Murbach (undergraduate assistant), Greg Hattemer, and Geno Pawlak (advisor).

Coastkeeper looks forward to building on the efforts of fall 2012 and expects its relationship with Global Ties to remain fruitful. Projects already in the pipeline include further refinement of the app, MPA mapping, an MPA prosecution tracking database, and further efforts directed at enforcement. Together, the efforts of Coastkeeper and Global TIES should help ensure the success of our region’s marine protected areas.

Today I give thanks. In the San Diego Coastkeeper office hangs a map of San Diego County on which staff, volunteers and community advisory council members are adding push pins to note where we use our beautiful waterways. I added surfing in Encinitas, running around Mission Bay and boating in San Diego Bay this morning. What water tells the story of your life? Come on down to the office or email us and we’ll add your push pin!
 
This is not about push pins, though. It is about a community and a legacy. We can add those pushpins because we protect our waters from runoff pollution in our storm drains, trash on our beaches and climate change everywhere. This is our call to action and I am ready to answer. I am ready because I am not alone.
 
At the Seaside Soiree, more than 100 of our partners, supporters and donors gathered. We raised more than $11,000 to protect our waters.
 
This was made possible thanks to the contributions of our sponsors:
 
Harriet Lazer & Jim Walker
David Welborn & Ann Hunter Welborn
Coast Law Group
Ecology Auto Parts
Liquid Environmental Solutions
Regency Centers Corporation
San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council http://www.unionyes.org/
The Waitt Foundation
Kona Brewing Company
Barefoot Wine & Bubbly https://www.facebook.com/barefootwine
Terra American Bistro http://www.terrasd.com/
 
The many individuals who participated in the prize drawings and art auction or “adopted a crab” with a donation to protect clean water
 
And we have you, our contributing members. Thanks to you, we have clean water to enjoy. You may have not have attended, but you can be a part of this call to action, this coming together to protect what is our right, our responsibility and our legacy. Adopt a crab today through your online donation or call me at 619-758-7743 x103 and tell me what you want to support. I’ll add your push pin myself and send you your crab.Today I give thanks. In the San Diego Coastkeeper office hangs a map of San Diego County on which staff, volunteers and community advisory council members are adding push pins to note where we use our beautiful waterways. I added surfing in Encinitas, running around Mission Bay and boating in San Diego Bay this morning. What water tells the story of your life? Come on down to the office or email us and we’ll add your push pin!
 
This is not about push pins, though. It is about a community and a legacy. We can add those pushpins because we protect our waters from runoff pollution in our storm drains, trash on our beaches and climate change everywhere. This is our call to action and I am ready to answer. I am ready because I am not alone.
 
At the Seaside Soiree, more than 100 of our partners, supporters and donors gathered. We raised more than $11,000 to protect our waters.
 
This was made possible thanks to the contributions of our sponsors:
 
Harriet Lazer & Jim Walker
David Welborn & Ann Hunter Welborn
Coast Law Group
Ecology Auto Parts
Liquid Environmental Solutions
Regency Centers Corporation
San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council http://www.unionyes.org/
The Waitt Foundation
Kona Brewing Company
Barefoot Wine & Bubbly https://www.facebook.com/barefootwine
Terra American Bistro http://www.terrasd.com/
 
The many individuals who participated in the prize drawings and art auction or “adopted a crab” with a donation to protect clean water
 
And we have you, our contributing members. Thanks to you, we have clean water to enjoy. You may have not have attended, but you can be a part of this call to action, this coming together to protect what is our right, our responsibility and our legacy. Adopt a crab today through your online donation or call me at 619-758-7743 x103 and tell me what you want to support. I’ll add your push pin myself and send you your crab.
 
 
Published in Marine Conservation

Diver Alert: Keep an Eye Out for Baited Lobster Traps This Weekend

thumb_lobster-trap

Yesterday, a student attorney and I had the opportunity to go out on the water with a game warden from the Department of Fish and Game. The day’s goal was to investigate effective methods to patrol our local marine protected areas, or MPAs. For those unfamiliar with the designation, MPAs restrict fishing and harvesting of marine life to allow the ecosystem to rejuvenate. The new MPA designations in Southern California came into effect January 1, 2012, and the legislative goals for the MPAs include protection, conservation, and rehabilitation of our marine resources. Great public policy, and great for the ocean.

Enforcing the MPAs will be critical for their long-term success. Coastkeeper intends to work with the Department of Fish and Game and local law enforcement and prosecution agencies to ensure success. For example, marine debris and lobster poaching have been identified as a couple important issues, and we look forward to being involved in crafting creative, effective solutions to these challenges. Collaboration with other environmental and governmental agencies will also likely drive our work going forward. And ultimately, we hope to build relationships with anglers, who are the most persistent eyes and ears on the water. It is an exciting time, ripe with opportunities to set a game plan for the future.

Our friend with the Department of Fish and Game reminded us, however, that poaching problems are not just limited to the MPAs. No different from years in the past, a few “bad apple” lobster fishermen will probably set baited lobster traps before the season begins. This issue goes beyond MPAs, and early traps might be found anywhere lobster fishing happens. This is not only unfair to good, honest fishermen, but also illegal. So, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone, and especially divers, who see lobster traps set with bait to let the Department of Fish and Game know — they have asked for your help! Early baiting can only happen until Tuesday (commercial lobster season opens Wednesday, October 3 ), so keep an eye out on your weekend dive. Enjoy the ocean this weekend, and do your part to take care of it!

Follow this link to see a photo of real lobsters in a trap: www.oceanlight.com/spotlight.php?img=10138

To report a baited trap: 1-888-CalTIP

For information about lobster season: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/calendar.asp

For DFG’s mobile site with maps and contact info: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mobile/

Published in Marine Conservation

MPA Update: Keeping an eye under water

It’s summer–what better time to get your feet wet in the name of science?  We’re talking about marine protected area monitoring, which will help us understand the state of our sea, and track the effects of the underwater parks going into effect off the south coast in October. Thanks to $4 million in grants from the Ocean Protection Council, a number of southern California groups will soon begin a “baseline study” that will give us a snapshot of current ocean health and uses, and a yardstick for future changes.
San Diego Coastkeeper is getting involved, too. We need help with local efforts and data collection to help monitor San Diego’s MPAs. Are you out on the water (or underneath it) and want to help track what’s going on inside our protected areas? Contact me to get involved.
The word is out on the wonders of California’s underwater parks—they are good for sea life, of course, but that also makes them great places to snorkel, kayak, bird watch, and tidepool. That’s why we’re so excited about this new interactive map showing the location of all marine protected areas in U.S. waters. Check it out – it’s a great way to learn the rules and get to know your local ocean sanctuary.
Finally, if you want to show your love for Big Blue, consider a new Whale Tail license plate.  Proceeds help fund the Adopt-a-beach program, Coastal Cleanup Day, and other worthy causes. Speaking of which, Coastal Cleanup Day is just around the corner – check out this website for a cleanup site near you.

It’s summer–what better time to get your feet wet in the name of science?

michael-king_3-082705-santa
Photo credit Michael King

We’re talking about marine protected area monitoring, which will help us understand the state of our sea and track the effects of the underwater parks going into effect off the south coast in October. Thanks to $4 million in grants from the Ocean Protection Council, a number of Southern California groups will soon begin a “baseline study” that will give us a snapshot of current ocean health and uses, and a yardstick for future changes.

San Diego Coastkeeper is getting involved, too. We need help with local efforts and data collection to help monitor San Diego’s MPAs. Are you out on the water (or underneath it) and want to help track what’s going on inside our protected areas? Contact me to get involved.

The word is out on the wonders of California’s underwater parks—they are good for sea life, of course, but that also makes them great places to snorkel, kayak, bird watch and tidepool. That’s why we’re so excited about this new interactive map showing the location of all marine protected areas in U.S. waters. Check it out – it’s a great way to learn the rules and get to know your local ocean sanctuary.

Finally, if you want to show your love for Big Blue, consider a new Whale Tail license plate.  Proceeds help fund the Adopt-a-beach program, Coastal Cleanup Day, and other worthy causes.

Speaking of which, Coastal Cleanup Day is just around the corner – check out this website for a cleanup site near you.

 

 

Published in Marine Conservation

MPA Update: Implementation Date

Great news from Stockton, CA:
The Fish and Game Commission set an October 1, 2011 implementation date for the southern California marine protected areas! The network was designed to protect sea life and habitats at iconic coastal areas like south La Jolla and Swamis, leaving nearly 90 percent of the coast open for fishing.  The new underwater parks, many of which connect to public beaches, will improve access for recreation, study and education while boosting the overall health of our ocean. You can learn all about it on KPBS or in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
If you’d like to find out more or get involved in the protection of your local marine protected area, let us know!  We’re excited to begin a new phase of ocean protection, and we’ll need volunteers like you to spread the word and act out for marine conservation

Great news from Stockton, CA:

Save_South_La_jolla_Square

The Fish and Game Commission set an October 1, 2011 implementation date for the southern California marine protected areas! The network was designed to protect sea life and habitats at iconic coastal areas like south La Jolla and Swamis, leaving nearly 90 percent of the coast open for fishing.  The new underwater parks, many of which connect to public beaches, will improve access for recreation, study and education while boosting the overall health of our ocean. You can learn all about it on KPBS or in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

 

If you’d like to find out more or get involved in the protection of your local marine protected area, let us know!  We’re excited to begin a new phase of ocean protection, and we’ll need volunteers like you to spread the word and act out for marine conservation.

 

 

 

Published in Marine Conservation

Discussing Ocean Policy With Legislators in Sacramento

Every year, California’s leading environmental organizations join forces in the State Capitol building to lobby for policies that will benefit the health of our oceans and coasts. Ocean Day 2011, organized by Environment California , brought together 54 participants from 37 different organizations to visit 73 legislative offices on April 4. While many of the organizations represented work on a statewide or national level (i.e. the Surfrider Foundation, Ocean Conservancy and Natural Resources Defense Council, local groups like San Diego Coastkeeper end up being crucial to the success of our environmental lobbying efforts.

First, most legislators want to meet with someone from their district. Since I live in the City of San Diego and represent our Coastkeeper members from all over the county, I am a more direct link to the pulse of their citizenry than someone working for a larger organization with an office in San Francisco or Sacramento.

Second, I was the only person at Ocean Day advocating for coastal environment protection specifically with San Diego County in mind. We are the third most populous county in California, and our coastline makes up about 10% of California’s coast. Yet Coastkeeper was the only local organization that made the trip to Sacramento to fight for what’s important to San Diego’s coastline and water quality! The ability to tell our area Senators and Assemblymembers about our San Diego beach cleanup data in the context of the upcoming Styrofoam bill (SB 568) was an important local link to push for their support for foam reduction legislation.

Third, many legislators and staffers from both parties simply need a regular reminder of why ocean protection needs to be a priority. We talked about marine debris reduction, support for implementing the Marine Life Protection Act , the plight of sharks and the need to ban shark fin soup, planning for oil spills and climate change and much more. Who else brings that stuff up in their offices in Sacramento, when there are so many issues to consider on a day to day basis?

Finally, we have a few big battles ahead of us. Intense opposition from big budget industries often gets in the way of our environmental

A ban on shark fin soup was a hot topic at Ocean Day – along with oil spills and marine debris

goals – we need to be in the offices of our legislators just as much as they are. For example, lobbying from the plastics industry with millions of dollars and campaign contributions beat out our grassroots efforts and the voices of thousands for last year’s statewide plastic bag ban, AB 1998. Let’s not let that happen again with upcoming bills for copper reduction, shark finning and marine debris.

Ocean Day ends with a sustainable seafood reception where important connections are made between legislators, environmental leaders, agency representatives, and funders. The event is always an excellent way to end a full day of ocean advocacy – by planning future collaborative efforts, celebrating accomplishments, and supporting California businesses that see the value in sustainable fisheries and oceans. Plus, the Drakes Bay Oysters are truly delicious…..

Published in Marine Debris

Volunteering to become the heart and soul of Coastkeeper

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”
– Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

volunteer-san-diego-coastkeeper-taya
San Diego Coastkeeper’s Volunteer of the Year Amanda Sousa and Volunteer Hall of Fame inductee Taya Lazootin checking out San Diego Bay water quality while aboard Clean Sweep.

It wasn’t until the first time I snorkeled off the shore of Catalina Island as a teenager that I was able to completely grasp the beauty and wonder of the ocean I had been swimming in my entire life.  With that awakening came a greater love and appreciation for the sea, resulting in continuous efforts today to bridge the gap between existence and contribution within my community, my students and myself.  In a lifetime we may learn the value of natural resources in San Diego , yet, as former historian Thomas Fuller states in the quote above, it is often too late.

This is probably one of the main reasons I joined San Diego Coastkeeper in September of 2010.  I started out as a water monitoring volunteer, journeying throughout the county to collect water samples from various watersheds that were later to be tested in lab.  The first water quality monitoring training provided a great perspective on what goes on behind the scenes at San Diego Coastkeeper; and yet, it was less of a “training” and more of a “hands on” learning experience that instilled the desire to be part of a team.

Wanting to be more involved, within a few months, I joined the Volunteer Core, where I not only met interesting people with similar interests to my own, but I learned from many amazing speakers about conservation methods and sustainability practices that are presented at outreach events and beach cleanups.  As a teacher, I see the immediate effects of outreach events and the long term effects of educational resources, and I want more than anything for our youth to gain perspective on conservation and preservation.  

While each volunteer creates their own custom plan for getting involved, one of my biggest highlights so far was teaming up with the Coastkeeper staff to create a Marine Protected Area Education Project in my school district.  Students in my school district were educated on the Marine Life Protection Act and given the unique opportunity to present California Kelp Ecosystem Projects at the California Fish and Game Hearing on MPA expansion this past October, assisting in the resolution for increased Marine Protected Areas along our coast. Yay!!

Taking one day out of your hectic week to be part of Coastkeeper will make you feel enriched and as though you play a major role in the ongoing trek to promote conservation and stimulate public awareness, just as it does for me.  The many new friends I have made and resources I have been introduced to make it attainable to fulfill my goal of being a successful steward for my environment, and I truly believe this would not be possible had I not made myself at home with San Diego Coastkeeper!

Contact the Dylan, Volunteer and Outreach Coordiantor, to learn more about this amazing program.

A Day Without a Dial Tone

Did you know that the average 8-18 year old American youth spends over 7.5 hours a day accessing entertainment media? That 71% of them has a TV in their room and 66% of them has a cell phones?  Really?!

I don’t want to sound like an old fogey yapping about “the kids these days.” I get it. Being able to instantly tell thousands of your closest friends that you are eating a burrito at Ranchos with Steven Roach is cool.  There is no doubt that “Googling it” is the best way to call out your buddy when he’s spouting nonsense about Tom Brady being the greatest quarterback of all time (anyone remember a guy named Joe Montana?).  But over 50 hours a week?  That means that the average kid makes more than a full-time job of avoiding the actual, non-digital world.  

San Diego is beautiful. The sun shines over us.  The hiking is epic.  We just got a sweet new network of Marine Protected Areas.  Enjoy them!  Put down the i-phone, turn off the TV and don’t forget to shut the door on your way out.  Tell junior if he wants to LOL at his friends latest OMG before Gilmore Girls comes on Youtube, that he’d better go spend some time hugging trees and rolling around in the dirt.  Send them out for a surf.  Spend the day at Torrey Pines.  Better yet, bring them to a beach cleanup.  The possibilities are endless.

We have a mantra here at San Diego Coastkeeper that asks: “Do you spend enough time enjoying the resource you help protect?”  How can we fully understand the need to protect our environment if we don’t take time to experience how valuable our environment is?  

The ever-increasing role of media technology and remote communication in our daily lives can create a dangerous disconnect between us and the natural world.  Now more than ever we must actively maintain our relationship with nature in order to appreciate our dependence on it.  More importantly, we need to teach the younger generation to do the same.  The youth of today may grow up in a world where encyclopedias, travel agents and the yellow pages are obsolete. I’m cool with that.  But it would be a crying shame to see that enjoying the great outdoors go out of style.

So stop reading my ramblings, lace up d’em boots, disconnect from your fancy pants wireless server and go reconnect with what matters.

GO PLAY!

Published in Marine Conservation