Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Blue Cavern Onshore State Marine Conservation Area and Blue Cavern Offshore State Marine Conservation Area

Just twenty miles off the coast of Los Angeles, Santa Catalina Island is home to about 4,000 people and nine marine protected areas (MPAs), including Blue Cavern Onshore State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) and Blue Cavern Offshore SMCA. Continue reading

Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Gerstle Cove State Marine Reserve

cove
A foggy summer morning at Gerstle Cove State Marine Reserve, one of the many pocket coves on the Sonoma coastline.
photo by Sara Worden

The northward path across the Golden Gate Bridge leads away from the bustle of the Bay Area, past the headlands and rolling hills of Marin, to the windy, wild coastline of Sonoma County. Continue reading

Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve and State Marine Conservation Area

map
Laguna Beach SMR and SMCA. Also shown are Crystal Cove SMCA to the north, and Dana Point SMCA to the south. (click to enlarge)

The idyllic shoreline of Laguna Beach is made up of rocky headlands with towering cliffs, sandy beaches and a myriad of tide pools teeming with life. It is also home to one of the largest coastal “no-take” marine protected areas (MPAs) in southern California. Located adjacent to a densely populated city, the area is a popular attraction for scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, beach walking and sun bathing. These popular activites make Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve (SMR) and Laguna Beach State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) two of the most visited MPAs in California’s statewide network.

Laguna Beach SMR and SMCA, along with 48 other MPAs along California’s southern coast, were established in 2012 to protect critical marine species and habitats, including intertidal tide pools Continue reading

Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Van Damme State Marine Conservation Area

Located on the northern California coast just south of the town of Mendocino, Van Damme State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) encompasses a small, protected bay sheltered from north winds and large ocean swell. The bay is popular with freedivers, kayakers, scuba divers, and recreational anglers. Continue reading