Students go behind the scenes at Scripps Pier to learn about marine protected areas
Published - 06/05/19 - 11:55 AM | 2687 views | 2 2 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Students from Mt. Carmel High School took a tour of Scripps Pier and spotted marine life down below. Photo by Emily Blackwood.
Students from Mt. Carmel High School took a tour of Scripps Pier and spotted marine life down below. Photo by Emily Blackwood.
Even in California, there are children who still have yet to see the ocean. That’s something Wildcoast — an international nonprofit environmental organization located in Imperial Beach — aims to change with its Explore My MPAs youth education programs this summer. Because the more kids interact and connect with MPAs, or marine protected areas, the more likely they are to try to protect them. 

On June 3, students from Mt. Carmel High School visited La Jolla Shores to participate in a shoreline laboratory community project called “Snapshot Cal Coast.” While walking along the beach, students took photos of any and all living things (except each other) to submit to iNaturalist, a free app used by Snapshot Cal Coast to collect data worldwide. 

According to Wildcoast Conservation Development Manager Angela Kemsley, getting this generation to participate as "community scientists" is crucial if we want to keep these underwater state parks intact and around for future generations. 

“We try to take underserved and tribal youth from around San Diego County and connect them to the beach,” she said. "Even though they might live a few miles from the beach, a lot of students have never been to the coast. So we try to bring students to the beach to engage them in actual hands-on research, like science projects and kayaking inside MPAs.

“Our hope is that by bringing them to the beach, we can connect them to the ocean and the marine protected areas. Then, when they grow up, they will love them and hopefully take action to save them.”

The students also got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Scripps Pier, which is not open to the public. The tour was led by one of Scripps' graduates, who talked to students about their careers in science and marine biology.  They also got to tour the Experimental Aquarium, which is only used by Scripps' scientists and researchers.  

For many of the students, Kemsley said these labs are a day to remember. 

“We had this one boy last year who, when we're starting to walk down the beach to start our activities, goes ‘Can you just wait a minute?’ And we were like, 'Well sure, why?' He said, 'I've never felt the sand between my toes before.’”

Starting in late spring and going through early fall, Wildcoast hosts 10 shoreline labs and 10 floating labs, where students ride on a chartered fishing boats into MPAs to monitor water quality and collect samples. 

For more information about Wildcoast’s programs, visit
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