Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Pacific Grove Marine Gardens State Marine Conservation Area

The Monterey Peninsula is famous for its scenic views and amazing wildlife. Along the coastline, in the city of Pacific Grove is a beautiful place that exemplifies these features called the Pacific Grove Marine Gardens State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA). This marine protected area (MPA) is nestled between two other MPAs: Asilomar State Marine Reserve (SMR) and Lovers Point-Julia Platt SMR. These three MPAs are all part of California’s MPA Network of 124 MPAs that spans the entire coastline, and is managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The Pacific Grove Marine Gardens SMCA, as well as its neighboring MPAs, are encompassed within the larger federally managed Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

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Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Cabrillo State Marine Reserve

Cabrillo SMR Coast
Cabrillo SMR at low tide
CDFW photo by C. Shen

If you’ve never been tidepooling, the Point Loma tidepools in San Diego are a good place to start. These tidepools lie within Cabrillo State Marine Reserve (SMR) and Cabrillo National Monument, just a short drive down the hill from the national monument’s main entrance and visitor center. Continue reading “Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Cabrillo State Marine Reserve”

Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Cambria State Marine Conservation Area

Along Highway 1 nestled between the cities of San Simeon and Cambria in San Luis Obispo County is a 5.8 mile stretch of beautiful coastline and the Cambria State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA).

Map of Cambria State Marine Conservation Area/State Marine Park
Cambria State Marine Conservation Area/State Marine Park* (click to enlarge)
CDFW map by Marine Region GIS Lab

Regulations for Cambria SMCA, and its neighbor to the south, White Rock SMCA, were adopted by the Fish and Game Commission in 2006 and went into effect in 2007 as part of the first regional implementation phase of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). Passed in 1999, the MLPA mandated California create a science-based ecologically connected network of marine protected areas (MPAs). While recreational take is allowed, commercial take is prohibited in this MPA. Cambria SMCA is also nestled within the larger federally managed Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary which was implemented in 1992. Continue reading “Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Cambria State Marine Conservation Area”

Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area

Map of Swami's SMCA
Map of Swami’s SMCA (click to enlarge)

Located offshore of Encinitas, about 50 miles north of the United States-Mexico border, Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is a popular destination for visitors year-round, owing to its consistently pleasant weather and expansive beaches. Established in 2012 along with 49 other marine protected areas (MPAs) south of Point Conception, Swami’s SMCA protects nearly 13 square miles of marine habitats, including sandy beaches, surfgrass beds, rocky coasts, underwater reefs, and kelp forests. Protecting multiple habitats within MPAs, especially large MPAs like Swami’s SMCA, was one of the scientific guidelines stakeholders used when tasked with designing California’s MPAs. With these habitats protected in one location, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and enjoy the underwater world along this stretch of coast. Continue reading “Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area”

Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Montara State Marine Reserve

Hopkin's rose nudibranch
Montara State Marine Reserve is an excellent place to find many different species of tiny sea slugs, such as this Hopkins rose nudibranch.
photo by R. Cala

Summer temperatures in California’s land-locked central valley can soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, forcing residents to take refuge in their air-conditioned homes. Another popular way to beat the heat is to visit the coast near San Francisco, where billows of silvery fog and a cool, salt-soaked breeze beckon visitors during the summer months. Continue reading “Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Montara State Marine Reserve”