Lurking in the mists and fog, just thirty miles from San Francisco, lie the Farallon Islands. Called the Devil's Teeth by wary mariners and the islands of the Dead by Native Americans, these jagged spires and barren rocks are a Fish and Wildlife Refuge, and nested within the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. These enigmatic islands are critical habitat for 350,000 nesting seabirds, 6 species of seals and sea lions, amazing fish including great white sharks! The Farallon Islands are also part of our California Marine Protected Area network.
Lesser known are our coastal Marin Protected Areas in the Golden Gate region including Point Reyes, Duxbury Reef, Drakes Estero and several special closures. The MPA Watch program is part of the collaborative effort to monitor MPAs for human activity and habitat, and educate the public on marine protection. We are using the Trident to examine habitat and species offshore, but also nearshore in eelgrass beds in the San Francisco Bay and Drakes Estero.
This program provides monitoring opportunities, education and adventure. Located so close to our coastline, the island wildlife and habitat have been impacted from overfishing, sealing and pollution historically and remain at risk from oil spills and shipping. As part of the ecosystem managed of 124 MPAs, our marine wildlife and habitat have an opportunity to recover.
Solutions include event protection as part of our State network of marine protected areas and applying citizen science observations collecting data on wildlife and human behavior using app technology. With the Trident ROV we are recording observations of benthic and nektonic wildlife, and human interactions within the MPAs. Every fall Shark Stewards leads public education expeditions to the islands discussing history, natural history and ocean solutions and applies citizen science to marine conservation.
Now using the Trident drones, we are collecting scientific observations for our California Marine Protected Area network that can be used by fisheries biologists and managers. Using Whale Alert and iNaturalist apps we also record whale and shark observations inside the Sanctuary.