The Channel Islands – A Model for Improvement

10/09/2018

Education . Journal . Americas . Photo . Conservation

     What is a marine protected area without diligent management and patrol? Aside from a paper park, it’s a true test of my patience. Having just returned from the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary I am filled with a familiar sense of vigor that only comes after truly remarkable trips – however, this time it’s more of a fire under my ass to help better protect this incredible ecosystem. An ecosystem where kelp forests envelop your body as you dive below and reveal a world unlike any other. A sanctuary for marine mammals and fish alike – it’s no wonder why efforts have been put into the MPA thus far, but somewhere along the line, we’ve fallen short. Enter KP.

     The Channel Islands are home to five distinctive landmasses, which after being isolated for thousands of years have developed their own unique plants, animals, and archeological resources. Our team has been lucky enough to dive in some of the most exotic and pristine waters around the globe so you can believe me when I say, there’s no place like it. Approximately 21% of the park’s waters are designated marine protected areas and play host to breeding pinnipeds, migrating cetaceans, and more biodiversity than you can possibly fathom. The area serves as a model for park management throughout America and considering this eclectic hub has been a monument for over 80 years, there are a few missing pieces that merit a palm to the face.

     At every dive site, we dropped anchor. For those of you who’s jaws didn’t drop as well, this is shocking because anchors are incredibly destructive to aquatic habitats, and not a practice you would expect to come across in a model marine park. Over 200,000 people visit the islands every year and it’s time they see things done right. We are proud to announce our latest partnership with the California Ocean Alliance in hopes of bringing knowledge of the area to students worldwide. As part of these efforts, I am determined to get KP and COA involved in the establishment of moorings throughout the Channel Island sites in hopes of shedding light on the importance of sustainable practices as we educate the next generation.

     The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is an extraordinary ecosystem deprived of the same protection it offers so much critical wildlife and it is with this in mind that we are excited to move forward. For the little harbor seal that bit my butt to the colorful nudibranchs combing the rocky reefs, we’re inspired to educate and motivate the public to take action for this unique habitat. Teaming up with COA will help us bring knowledge of the area to students worldwide and firepower to create a true model marine protected area.