Soquel Canyon State Marine Conservation Area

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Bathymetric Chart of Monterey Submarine Canyon Monterey Canyon Bathymetric Chart.JPG
Bathymetric Chart of Monterey Submarine Canyon
Blue whales are found in the Monterey Submarine Canyon Blue Whale 001 noaa body color.jpg
Blue whales are found in the Monterey Submarine Canyon

Soquel Canyon State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is an offshore marine protected area in Monterey Bay. Monterey Bay is on California’s central coast with the city of Monterey at its south end and the city of Santa Cruz at its north end. The SMCA covers 23.41 square miles (60.6 km2). Within the SMCA, fishing and taking of any living marine resources is prohibited except the commercial and recreational take of pelagic finfish. [1]

Contents

History

Soquel Canyon SMCA was established in September 2007 by the California Department of Fish & Game. It was one of 29 marine protected areas adopted during the first phase of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. The Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (or MLPAI) is a collaborative public process to create a statewide network of marine protected areas along the California coastline. [2]

Geography and natural features

The Soquel Canyon SMCA captures an entire side-branch of the Monterey Submarine Canyon.

This marine protected area is bounded by straight lines connecting the points: [3]

Habitat and wildlife

The Monterey Submarine Canyon is a unique and biologically productive habitat. The rocky canyon walls and mud-and-sand canyon floor offer ideal habitat for rockfishes including depleted species. It contains communities of fragile deepwater corals and sponges. The area is also an important seabird forage ground and whale feeding area. [4]

Recreation and nearby attractions

The natural environment and ocean resources of the Monterey Peninsula draw millions of visitors from around the world each year, including more than 65,000 scuba divers drawn by the area's easy access, variety of wildlife, and kelp forests.[ citation needed ]

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a tourist attraction featuring a 28-foot (8.5 m) deep living kelp forest. The exhibit includes many of the species native to the nearby marine protected areas. The aquarium also houses sea otters, intertidal wildlife, and occasionally sea turtles.

In addition to diving and visiting the aquarium, people visit Monterey Bay for kayaking, whale watching, charter fishing, surfing, bird watching, tidepooling and walking on the beach.[ citation needed ]

California’s marine protected areas encourage recreational and educational uses of the ocean. [5] Activities such as kayaking, diving, snorkeling, and swimming are allowed unless otherwise restricted.

Scientific monitoring

As specified by the Marine Life Protection Act, select marine protected areas along California’s central coast are being monitored by scientists to track their effectiveness and learn more about ocean health. Similar studies in marine protected areas located off of the Santa Barbara Channel Islands have already detected gradual improvements in fish size and number. [6]

Local scientific and educational institutions involved in the monitoring include Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, University of California Santa Cruz, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Research methods include hook-and-line sampling, intertidal and scuba diver surveys, and the use of Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) submarines.

Related Research Articles

Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay is a bay of the Pacific Ocean located on the coast of the U.S. state of California. The bay is south of the major cities of San Francisco and San Jose. Santa Cruz is located at the north end of the bay, and Monterey is on the Monterey Peninsula at the south end. The "Monterey Bay Area" is a local colloquialism sometimes used to describe the whole of the Central Coast communities of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

Monterey Canyon A submarine canyon in Monterey Bay, California

Monterey Canyon, or Monterey Submarine Canyon, is a submarine canyon in Monterey Bay, California with steep canyon walls measuring a full 1 mile in height from bottom to top, which height/depth rivals the depth of the Grand Canyon itself. It is the largest such submarine canyon along the West coast of the North American continent, and was formed by the underwater erosion process known as turbidity current erosion. Many questions remain unresolved regarding the exact nature of its origins, and as such it is the subject of several ongoing geological and marine life studies being carried out by scientists stationed at the nearby Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and other oceanographic institutions.

Elkhorn Slough Body of water in Monterey County, California

Elkhorn Slough is a 7-mile-long (11 km) tidal slough and estuary on Monterey Bay in Monterey County, California. The community of Moss Landing and the Moss Landing Power Plant are located at the mouth of the slough on the bay.

Asilomar State Marine Reserve

Asilomar State Marine Reserve (SMR) is one of four small marine protected areas (MPAs) located near the cities of Monterey and Pacific Grove, at the southern end of Monterey Bay on California’s central coast. The four MPAs together encompass 2.96 square miles (7.7 km2). The SMR protects all marine life within its boundaries. Fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited.

Año Nuevo State Marine Conservation Area

Año Nuevo State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is one of two adjoining marine protected areas off the coast of San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties, on California’s central coast. The area is approximately 55 miles south of San Francisco. The SMCA is 11.07 square miles. Except for limited taking of giant kelp, all living marine resources are protected.

Carmel Bay State Marine Conservation Area

Carmel Bay State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is a marine protected area in Carmel Bay. Carmel Bay is adjacent to the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea and is near Monterey, on California’s central coast. The marine protected area covers 2.12 square miles. Recreational fishing of finfish and limited commercial taking of kelp is permitted within the SMCA.

Duxbury Reef State Marine Conservation Area

Duxbury Reef State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is a marine protected area located about 1 mile (2 km) west of Bolinas in Marin County on California’s north central coast. This marine protected area covers 0.66 square miles (1.7 km2). Duxbury Reef SMCA prohibits the take of all living marine resources, except the recreational take of finfish from shore only and the recreational take of abalone.

Salt Point State Marine Conservation Area

Salt Point State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is a marine protected area that lies onshore from Fisk Mill Cove and south along Salt Point State Park in Sonoma County on California’s north central coast. The marine protected area covers 3.12 square miles. Salt Point SMCA prohibits the take of all living marine resources, except the recreational take of abalone and finfish.

Montara State Marine Reserve & Pillar Point State Marine Conservation Area

Montara State Marine Reserve (SMR) and Pillar Point State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) are two adjoining marine protected areas that extend offshore from Montara to Pillar Point in San Mateo County on California’s north central coast. The combined area of these marine protected areas is 18.42 square miles (47.7 km2), with 11.76 square miles (30.5 km2) in the SMR and 6.66 in the SMCA. Montara SMR prohibits the take of all living marine resources. Pillar Point SMCA prohibits the take of all living marine resources, except the recreational and commercial take of pelagic finfish by trolling or seine, the commercial or recreational take of Dungeness crab by trap and the commercial or recreational take or market squid by hand-held dip net or round haul net.

Estero de Limantour State Marine Reserve & Drakes Estero State Marine Conservation Area

Estero de Limantour State Marine Reserve (SMR) and Drakes Estero State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) are two adjoining marine protected areas along the Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County on California’s north central coast. These marine protected areas cover a combined 4.04 square miles (10.5 km2), with 1.49 square miles (3.9 km2) in the SMR and 2.55 square miles (6.6 km2) in the SMCA. Drakes Estero SMCA prohibits the take of all living marine resources from Drakes Estero except the recreational take of clams and formerly the commercial aquaculture of shellfish pursuant to a disputed state water bottom lease and permit, which has been the subject of ongoing legal proceedings since 2012, when the lease was allowed to expire.

Point Reyes State Marine Reserve & Point Reyes State Marine Conservation Area

Point Reyes State Marine Reserve (SMR) and Point Reyes State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) are two adjoining marine protected areas that extend offshore of Point Reyes Headlands and within Drakes Bay in Marin County on California’s north central coast. The combined area of these marine protected areas is 21.49 square miles, with 9.38 in the SMR, and 12.11 in the adjacent SMCA. Point Reyes SMR prohibits the take of all living marine resources. Point Reyes SMCA prohibits the take of all living marine resources, except the recreational and commercial take of Dungeness crab by pot and salmon by trolling.

Cambria State Marine Conservation Area

Cambria State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is a marine protected area located off the coast of the city of Cambria, California on California’s central coast in San Luis Obispo County, California. The marine protected area covers 6.26 square miles (16.2 km2). Within the SMCA recreational fishing and take is allowed while commercial fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited.

Carmel Pinnacles State Marine Reserve

Carmel Pinnacles State Marine Reserve (SMR) is a marine protected area in Carmel Bay including a unique underwater pinnacle formation with adjacent kelp forest, submarine canyon head, and surfgrass. Carmel Bay is adjacent to the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea and is near Monterey, on California’s central coast.

Edward F. Ricketts State Marine Conservation Area

Edward F. Ricketts State Marine Conservation Area is one of four small marine protected areas located near the cities of Monterey and Pacific Grove, at the southern end of Monterey Bay on California’s central coast. The four areas together encompass 2.96 square miles (7.7 km2). Within SMCAs fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the recreational take of finfish by hook-and-line and the commercial take of giant and bull kelp under certain conditions.

Greyhound Rock State Marine Conservation Area

Greyhound Rock State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is one of two adjoining marine protected areas off the coast of San Mateo County and Santa Cruz County, on California's central coast. The area is approximately 55 miles (89 km) south of San Francisco. The SMCA is 11.81 square miles (30.6 km2). Within the SMCA fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the recreational take of giant kelp, squid, salmon, and other finfish, subject to various conditions. Also permitted is the commercial take of giant kelp, salmon, and squid, subject to various conditions.

Lovers Point State Marine Reserve

Lovers Point State Marine Reserve (SMR) is one of four small marine protected areas located near the cities of Monterey and Pacific Grove, at the southern end of Monterey Bay on California’s central coast. The four MPAs together encompass 2.96 square miles (7.7 km2). The SMR protects all marine life within its boundaries. Fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited.

Pacific Grove Marine Gardens State Marine Conservation Area

Pacific Grove Marine Gardens State Marine Conservation Area is one of four small marine protected areas located near the cities of Monterey and Pacific Grove, at the southern end of Monterey Bay on California’s central coast. The four MPAs together encompass 2.96 square miles (7.7 km2). Within the SMCA fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the recreational take of finfish and the commercial take of giant and bull kelp by hand under certain conditions. According to the Frommer's guide, the Marine Gardens area is "renowned for ocean views, flowers, and tide-pool seaweed beds."

Portuguese Ledge State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is an offshore marine protected area in Monterey Bay. Monterey Bay is on California’s central coast with the city of Monterey at its south end and the city of Santa Cruz at its north end. The SMCA covers 10.9 square miles (28 km2). Within the SMCA fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the commercial and recreational take of pelagic finfish.

White Rock (Cambria) State Marine Conservation Area

White Rock (Cambria) State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is a marine protected area located off the coast of the city of Cambria, California on California’s central coast. The marine protected area covers 2.32 square miles (6.0 km2). Within the SMCA the take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the commercial take of giant kelp and bull kelp under certain conditions.

San Diego-Scripps Coastal Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) and Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve (SMR) are adjoining marine protected areas that extend offshore from La Jolla in San Diego County on California’s south coast. The two marine protected areas cover 2.51 square miles. San Diego-Scripps Coastal SMCA prohibits the take of all living marine resources except that coastal pelagic species, not including market squid, may be taken recreationally by hook and line. Matlahuayl SMR prohibits the take of all living marine resources.

References

  1. California Department of Fish and Game. "Online Guide to California’s Central Coast Marine Protected Areas". Retrieved on December 18, 2008
  2. California Department of Fish and Game. "Online Guide to California’s Central Coast Marine Protected Areas". Retrieved on December 18, 2008
  3. "Central Coast Marine Protected Areas". California Department of Fish and Game. Archived from the original on February 2, 2010. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  4. Department of Fish and Game. "Appendix O. Regional MPA Management Plans". Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas (approved February 2008). Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  5. Department of Fish and Game. "California Fish and Game Code section 2853 (b)(3) Archived 2013-03-26 at the Wayback Machine ". Marine Life Protection Act. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  6. Castell, Jenn, et al. "How do patterns of abundance and size structure differ between fished and unfished waters in the Channel Islands? Results from SCUBA surveys". Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO) at University of California, Santa Barbara and University of California, Santa Cruz; Channel Islands National Park. Retrieved December 18, 2008.