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Underwater Detectives Take the Pulse of CA's Marine Sanctuaries

PHOTO: Fish Survey in Progress. Photo courtesy of Reef Check California
PHOTO: Fish Survey in Progress. Photo courtesy of Reef Check California
October 1, 2012

MONTEREY, Calif. - Volunteer divers are acting as underwater detectives to take the pulse of the state's newly-created Marine Protected Areas, MPAs. In collaboration with MPA Montoring Enterprise, divers are surveying the reefs along the Central Coast to document the number and types of fish, as well as the terrain.

Jan Freiwald, director of Reef Check California, says the citizen scientists are collecting data that will be used to see how the MPAs are performing.

"What they really like about Reef Check and the about the work they do with us is that the data they collect is actually used in marine management and that we make sure that all their efforts really get passed on."

The data collected by divers, researchers and fishermen along the Central Coast will be used by Monitoring Enterprise in a management review next year.

Madhavi Colton is an associate scientist with the MPA Monitoring Enterprise, which was launched in 2007 to keep track of how the state's network of Marine Protected Areas is doing.

"We're working with the information that's being collected through MPA monitoring programs to ensure that that information is useful and available to a wide variety of people, including resource managers and policy makers."

The data that's being collected now will provide a benchmark by which future MPA performance can be measured.

Stakeholders, policy makers and scientists will gather in Monterey early next year to discuss the first five years of the MPA along the Central Coast.

More information is at reefcheck.org and at www.monitoringenterprise.org.


Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA