|Big Sur Expedition 2017 Survey Team|
Reef Check California's annual expeditions to the remote coasts of the Northern Channel Islands and along Big Sur were a big success again this year. Combined, we surveyed 22 sites on these two trips. We were able to do this in large part because of the generous support we received during our Kickstarter campaign and through contributions of the volunteers who participated in these excursions. Thank you to all our supporters for making this possible!
This year we expanded the length of our Big Sur trip to four days and completed more sites than in previous years while also having some time for some "fun dives" to explore the coast further . The Big Sur coast was particularly inaccessible this year. Strong rains last winter created huge mudslides and a collapsing bridge closed down Highway 1. Being on a boat off its coast thus felt even more remote than in previous years when you would see a string of cars along the famous highway. In addition to surveying the 11 Big Sur sites, we also installed temperature sensors as part of our statewide effort to collect information on the physical changes we are seeing in the ocean in a warming world. Later this year, we will return to the Big Sur coast and install additional sensors to measure indicators of ocean climate change such as acidification and dissolved oxygen. Next year, when we return on our 2018 expedition, we will collect these sensors and retrieve a year-long temperature record from these sites. We hope this will contribute to a clearer understanding of the dramatic changes we have seen over the last years along the California coast. Luckily, we have not seen the massive loss of kelp forests and the expansion of urchin barrens along this remote stretch of coast that we see in other regions of the state.
|Northern Channel Islands Expedition 2017 Survey Team|
|White sea urchin using a shell fragment for camouflage. Santa Cruz Island. Photo: Selena McMillan||Red and purple sea urchins in urchin barren. Anacapa Island. Photo: Selena McMillan||Red abalone. Santa Rosa Island. Photo: Selena McMillan|
|Sunrise. Anacapa Island. Photo: Chris Glaeser||Kelp rockfish "hanging" out. Santa Rosa Island. Photo: Chris Glaeser||
Huge male sheephead. Anacapa Island. Photo: Zack Gold