California’s scenic and spectacular 840-mile coastline and ocean are among the country’s most treasured resources and is central to the state’s identity, heritage and economy. California also leads the nation and the world in ocean protection, ensuring the preservation of important ecosystems along its coastline.
Volunteers are often the lifeblood of the many and varied organizations, both public and private, that help preserve and protect the coast and ocean. One of those organizations is MPA Watch, a community science monitoring program that trains volunteers to observe and collect unbiased data on human uses of coastal and marine resources both inside and outside of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
By involving local communities in this important work, MPA Watch programs inspire and empower stewardship of the coast and ocean, and educate community members about California’s ocean ecosystems.
MPA Watch programs across the state of California are continually training a network of volunteers to monitor resource use inside and outside these protected areas. Volunteers use standardized protocols to collect relevant, scientifically rigorous, and broadly accessible data.
Not only do local volunteers learn about their coastal environment and become “community scientists” and stewards of the area, but they generate large quantities of monitoring data that would not be possible under the current state budget.
Community science is research conducted by trained volunteers from the general public who are interested in science, monitoring, and conservation of the marine environment. But, you do not need any scientific background to collect data for these surveys.
Volunteers will be trained to collect valuable data on ocean users and their activities, such as surfing, kayaking, fishing, boating, running, etc. Specifically, the MPA Watch volunteers will observe and record both consumptive and non-consumptive offshore and onshore activities in and around MPAs, which will improve our understanding of how people are using these new MPAs.
Data are meant to inform the management, enforcement, and science of California’ MPAs and allow us to see how human uses are changing as a result of implementation of these MPAs.
From 2010 to 2015, more than 850 MPA Watch volunteers were actively engaged in surveying MPAs from Mendocino County to San Diego County, resulting in more than 10,000 surveys.
Organizations in your community are always looking for volunteers to do this important work. To get involved, contact organizations that are operating MPA Watch programs in your area. Current organizations and their contact persons include:
Heal the Bay – Los Angeles County (Land-Based)
Jenna Segal, firstname.lastname@example.org
Los Angeles Waterkeeper – Los Angeles County (Boat-Based)
Michael Quill, email@example.com
Orange County Coastkeeper – Orange County
Ray Hiemstra, firstname.lastname@example.org
Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (EAC) – Marin County
Morgan Patton, email@example.com
California Academy of Sciences
Rebecca Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper – Santa Barbara County
Penny Owens, email@example.com
WILDCOAST – San Diego County
Angela Kemsley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greater Farallones Association – San Francisco and Surrounding Counties
Kirsten Lindquist, email@example.com
Eagle Eyes of False Klamath Cove – Del Norte County
Ruthie Maloney, firstname.lastname@example.org