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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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Marine Protected Areas Attract More Than Just Ocean Life

Posted On May 8, 2012 by

Deer nibbling seaweed and wading in a shallow tidepool in the White Rock Cambria State Marine Conservation Area. Credit: Jim Webb

California’s marine protected areas were created to enhance ocean ecosystems for marine life — but it turns out that deer also like them. Cambria resident Jim Webb spotted these deer nibbling seaweed and wading in a shallow tidepool in the White Rock Cambria State Marine Conservation Area. He reports that numerous sea otters and a pod of dolphins were seen the same day not far from here. Wildlife watching is a fantastic opportunity in many of California’s MPAs.

The California Fish and Game Commission is in the final stages of creating a network of marine protected areas in Northern California. They need to hear from you before the next public hearing. Let them know you support MPAs in California.

Check out more photos from Jim Webb after the jump.

Continue reading »

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Five Ways to Enjoy California’s New Ocean Parks

Posted On May 3, 2012 by

A diver explores the kelp forests off Anacapa Island, part of the Channel Islands National Park. Credit: Heal The Bay flickr stream

Whatever one’s favorite ocean-touring activity, marine protected areas provide an enhanced experience. California is poised to be the first state to have an offshore network of reserves and conservation areas, places set aside with limited or no fishing, where habitat is protected and the creatures who live there can thrive. Here are five ways to get to know the ocean park near you – or help you make the most out of a vacation destination!

  1. Grab a Kayak and paddle out. Get some exercise while letting the mind relax, observe and savor the moment. My favorite part of kayaking is searching for shadows that lead to mysterious caves and crevices. Kayaking is also a great way to look out for whales in the distance – Grey whales migrate from December through May, and humpbacks can be seen in summer and fall.
  2. Tour by paddleboard. From your vantage point, you can see far out toward the horizon, but still get up close and personal with what’s right around you. Flashes of color reveal schools of fish. Sea otters float by in beds of kelp, cuteness personified. The steady rhythmic paddling always puts me in a more relaxed state of mind. Continue reading »

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Hector’s Dolphins Make Unlikely Comeback

Posted On April 26, 2012 by

The distinctive-looking Hector's dolphins are New Zealand's only endemic cetacean. Credit: NOAA

All over the world, marine protected areas do exactly what they’re supposed to  – a superior job of keeping sea creatures safe from harm. Good news, but what’s particularly exciting is a new study showing that marine protected areas improve survival for marine mammals.

For 21 years, ecologists in New Zealand studied a marine protected area near Christchurch. The area provides shelter for one of the rarest dolphin species in the world, Hector’s dolphins. These small dolphins boast distinctive black-and-white markings and an unusually rounded dorsal fins. They’re also notable for a sadder reason – once hunted as “bait”, often tangled in gillnets, currently threatened by pollution, the Hector’s dolphin population has dwindled to a fraction of what it once was.

But like the nickname “hope spots“ suggests, optimism for the species’ survival springs anew. Continue reading »