Laguna Beach – photo copyright Mine Beyaz
Laguna Beach State Marine Conservation Area, Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve, and Dana Point State Marine Conservation Area)
The city of Laguna Beach, in Orange County, boasts three contiguous marine protected areas off of its shoreline. Directly to the north lies a fourth connected marine protected area– Crystal Cove SMCA. The Orange County complex of MPAs protect nearly the entire shoreline of South Orange County, including all of Laguna Beach’s coastline and it’s a good thing too, as this area is one of the major southern California tourist destinations.
- Some of the water off of Laguna has been protected since 1971. A legislative bill passed in 1968 delineated a series of seven State Marine Life Refuges along Orange County by 1971. This system enforced a policy that forbid the removal or harm of any marine life within the Marine Life Refuges. It was not until 2012 that the current zoning of marine protected areas within Laguna Beach became officially recognized.
- The Laguna Beach SMCA and SMR are great places to see California’s state fish, the Garibaldi. This fish is a favorite of divers and snorkelers due to their daring nature and their bright orange color.
- Shaw’s Cove, a secluded rocky stretch of beach in the Laguna Beach SMR, is ranked as the number one place to tidepool in California’s marine protected area network. See why here: http://www.visitcalifornia.com/Articles/Top-Ten-Places-to-Tide-Pool-in-Californias-Marine-Protected-Areas/
- Laguna beach is named after the name given to the region initially by the Spanish in the mid-1800’s: “La Cañada de Las Lagunas” or “The Canyon of the Small Lakes”.
- A lot of science goes on here! Many researchers continue to study how marine protected areas affect the ocean around them at this location. There are resource assessments, shorebird surveys, and several long-term monitoring programs of the plants and animals that live in the rocky intertidal.
- Tidepool to search for marine critters. There are a number of rocky coves that house anemones, starfish, and hermit crabs. Take a self-guided tour or get a helping hand from tidepool docents, volunteers that train to educate the public on site.
- Take a swim. The stretches of sandy beaches and southern location of Laguna Beach make swimming a more popular, and warmer, choice than many of the marine protected areas in California.
- Dive in. Laguna’s marine protected areas are on the short list of top 10 dive sites in California’s underwater parks.