As the holidays approach, I tend to wax reflectively on what has transpired over the preceding year. I like to take stock: thinking about where the year started and revelling in the rambling journey that ensued over the 12 months following. This year I am very happy to reflect on an awesome milestone for our oceans -- the one year anniversary of a complete network of marine parks and reserves, dotted brilliantly along the California coast, 124 strong.
As with most birthday celebrations the first one is extra special and with so many diverse & unique marine protected areas to visit & explore everyone can dive into the party!
One of my favorite things to do is view the spectacular wildlife that inhabits these special places.
Whether they are majestic marine mammals or stalwart seabirds foraging for fish, or colorful invertebrates simply hanging out, it's a veritable feast for the eyes, the senses and the soul. And in some of these underwater parks, the recreational take of fish & seafood is a delectable benefit too -- (just make sure you check the regulations and have your fishing license before you head out.)
My pals over at the Ocean Conservancy have produced a video to demonstrate how other Californians are immersing themselves in this spectacular network of marine parks - how do you MPA? Whether you are a surfer or a citizen scientist, a swimmer or a tide-pooler, a big kid or a little kid you too can join in the festivities.
What's more, now that we have a few years of data under our belts for certain portions of the coastline (in 2007 the Central Coast became the first region in California to implement a network of 29 marine protected areas under the Marine Life Protection Act ) we'll actually be able to establish a benchmark of ocean conditions and human activities at the same time, to be better informed about making changes and adapting the management of such a dynamic resource. Monitoring is a critical tool that will help to sustain this terrific ocean resource for generations to come...so we can celebrate even more birthdays!