Range Changes in the Intertidal

Latest update July 18, 2017 Started on March 26, 2017
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Using the assistance of citizen scientists, we are monitoring intertidal and subtidal communities in Los Angeles County Marine Protected Areas, looking for range shifts in species composition which may be due to changes in sea level, ocean pH and temperature to and to understand the impacts on our coastal ecosystems.

March 26, 2017
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Preparation Stage

We had an amazing Cal Coast Snapshot at Pelican Cove over 30 volunteers showed up by 7:30 am ready to go. It was wonderful to see returning faces with new friends and many new participants. We focused on areas we didn't get as many observations last year.
The Together we collected 510 observations representing 26 species. Two unusual for the area (Tegula brunnea and Trimusculus reticulatus). All the observations are posted at iNaturalist Pelican Cove Bioblitz 2017.

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June 23 - July 2nd are the dates for Snapshot Cal Coast. We will be in the field at Pelican Cove June 30th from 7:00 am - 9:30 am capturing images of the biodiversity in the intertidal with support from community volunteers and Terranea Recreation and Sustainability staff. Look forward to see what is different from last year and which organisms are also present again this year.


June 27 - 28th Snapshot Cal Coast at Big Fisherman, Catalina Island, early morning low tides will provide a great opportunity to add images in better understanding biodiversity and seasonal changes in algae as well as other organisms.

Expedition Background

There is mounting evidence that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) increase the health and abundance of key marine species. MPAs are therefore considered to be one of the best ways to safeguard the health of coastal ecosystems. Maintaining MPAs, however, and expanding marine protections to new regions, requires dedicated conservation and enforcement efforts. These efforts require a substantial amount of ongoing monitoring and data.


Our coastlines are changing. Living along an urban ocean makes it especially critical to engage the public in understanding the roles we play in ocean conservation. In partnership with citizen scientists, we have begun intertidal monitoring, looking specifically at identifying populations and looking at how they are changing over time due to climate change and other factors. Pelican Cove on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Blue Cavern at Catalina Island were both established as MPAs in 2012. At Pelican Cove we have coordinated and continue to establish a biodiversity index as part of the MPA “Snap the Coast” snapshot using iNaturalist. The research at Catalina Island Blue Cavern MPA has been more extensive involving citizen scientists with iNaturalist to develop a biodiversity index and in completing transects using a modified LiMPETS protocol, but we have been limited in engaging citizen scientists primary due to lack of access to the subtidal. We need to monitor subtidal communities if we are going to understand the entire picture (to see if species are moving to deeper zones). These needs would most efficiently be met using two OpenROV Tridents (one on the mainland and one on the island).

A significant goal of this project is to engage the community in our efforts through citizen science. Engaging participants of all ages is a wonderful way to connect them with the ocean, conservation, science and Marine Protect Areas. Currently, we collaborate with citizen scientists made up of community volunteers, Earthwatch, Aquarium of the Pacific, Los Angeles and Catalina MPA Collaboratives and Terranea on these two projects as well as several researchers. With two OpenROV Tridents, we will expand the capacity to collect data for analysis by the volunteer community and provide participants resources to share in outreaching about the importance of MPAs and the impacts of sea level rise, ocean acidification and temperature change on range changes with both native and invasive species. If we are successful, we hope these tools and approaches will be able to be used all along the coastline as part of the California MPA collaboratives.

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Sounds great! I'm excited to be following along!

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