Birch Aquarium was one of five Southern California science centers to host Underwater Park Day on Saturday, celebrating California’s marine protected areas. Underwater parks, or marine protected areas, help to preserve important underwater habitats like our vibrant kelp forests, sea grass beds and deep-sea canyons in La Jolla.
The day was a huge success with a great crowd of families ready to learn about their underwater parks. Scripps Oceanography graduate student Mike Navarro thrilled the crowd with a market squid dissection and children had a great time drawing their ideal marine park on a reusable tote bag.
Many wonderful photographs were submitted for this year’s Underwater Parks Day Photo Contest. Each one of these amazing photos help bring the wonders of marine parks to the surface. Joining the existing category of “Local MPA,” this year we introduced two new categories: “Above the Reserve,” highlighting the recreational use of the reserve from above; and “Marine Protected Areas,” in which we accepted photographs from any MPA in the world.
Our panel of judges made their decisions based upon three criteria: representation of the category, aesthetic value, and technical skill. The winning photographs for each category are on display in the main galleria of the Aquarium. Thank you to everyone who submitted photographs and especially to DUI Divers and OEX La Jolla for their prize donations.
Local La Jolla MPA Category: John Huber for his photograph Blue Banded Beauty (La Jolla Shores)
Above the Reserve Category: Skip J. Cynar for Waterline (La Jolla Sea Caves)
On January 1, new protected areas under the Marine Life Protection Act went into effect in Southern California. From the Tijuana River Mouth on the US/Mexico Border to Point Conception, Santa Barbara, over 354 square miles of state waters (approximately 15 percent of the region) are now set aside for the protection of marine life and ecosystems for all Californians. See maps and regulations for all Marine Protected Areas in California including those in San Diego at the Department of Fish and Game Website.
Tune in tomorrow, when we post the other amazing submissions we received!