The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Ocean Protection Council and California Ocean Science Trust this week released what is billed as the most comprehensive study to date on Southern California’s coastal ocean.
“State of the California South Coast,” which will be presented to the public in Orange County (details below), brings together research from more than 45 academic, bureaucratic or citizen-scientific groups. Participants helped tag bass and spiny lobster to help assess the ocean’s health as part of the ongoing statewide marine protected area (MPA) monitoring program. California’s MPA network is among the world’s largest.
“The South Coast baseline study period included two years of record-breaking high ocean temperatures,” notes Tom Maloney, executive director of Ocean Science Trust. “Climate change already has hit California’s coast, and researchers are seeing marine plants and animals moving north in search of cooler waters. This report creates an important benchmark to help state resource managers make informed decisions that support ocean health.”
That is critical for the South Coast, which is popular for recreation, fishing and commerce, supporting more than $40 billion in ocean-related tourism. The baseline monitoring examined the full range of human activities going on, from the kelp forests of La Jolla to the beaches of Malibu and up to underwater caves off the coast of Gaviota.
“It spans ecosystems from shore to sea, and reveals the interdependence of things like the health of our beaches, kelp forests, and shorebirds,” says Jenn Eckerle, deputy director of the Ocean Protection Council, of the report’s coverage area. “The better we understand the state of our coast, and the links between ecosystems, the better we can manage them.”
The report will be presented from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, March 23, at Holiday Inn Express, 35 Via Pico Plaza, San Clemente. If you cannot attend at that time, there are also presentations March 20 in San Diego, March 21 in San Pedro, March 22 in Malibu and March 24 in Santa Barbara. Click here for more on those.