THE BLOG
12/19/2013 08:05 pm ET Updated Feb 18, 2014

Happy Birthday California Marine Network!

As the holidays approach, I tend to wax reflectively on what has transpired over the preceding year. I like to take stock: thinking about where the year started and revelling in the rambling journey that ensued over the 12 months following. This year I am very happy to reflect on an awesome milestone for our oceans -- the one year anniversary of a complete network of marine parks and reserves, dotted brilliantly along the California coast, 124 strong.

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As with most birthday celebrations the first one is extra special and with so many diverse & unique marine protected areas to visit & explore everyone can dive into the party!
One of my favorite things to do is view the spectacular wildlife that inhabits these special places.

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Whether they are majestic marine mammals or stalwart seabirds foraging for fish, or colorful invertebrates simply hanging out, it's a veritable feast for the eyes, the senses and the soul. And in some of these underwater parks, the recreational take of fish & seafood is a delectable benefit too -- (just make sure you check the regulations and have your fishing license before you head out.)

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My pals over at the Ocean Conservancy have produced a video to demonstrate how other Californians are immersing themselves in this spectacular network of marine parks - how do you MPA? Whether you are a surfer or a citizen scientist, a swimmer or a tide-pooler, a big kid or a little kid you too can join in the festivities.

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What's more, now that we have a few years of data under our belts for certain portions of the coastline (in 2007 the Central Coast became the first region in California to implement a network of 29 marine protected areas under the Marine Life Protection Act ) we'll actually be able to establish a benchmark of ocean conditions and human activities at the same time, to be better informed about making changes and adapting the management of such a dynamic resource. Monitoring is a critical tool that will help to sustain this terrific ocean resource for generations to come...so we can celebrate even more birthdays!

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