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.
Spotted: Winter wildlife along the coast
Fall and winter are primetime for whale viewing on the California coast. Recently, visiting humpbacks made state and national news, and perhaps you saw that video of two feeding whales popping up a few feet from a surfer. 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.
Protecting the ocean and native culture
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.
A glimpse of the potential future
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.
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