Marine SanctuariesMay 2010
Home The Business of the Journal Town Business It's Our Nature Slo Coast Life Slo Coast Arts Archives

Photo by David Georgi: Estuary

Intertidal Zone
Photo by Carol Georgi: Intertidal Zone

Kelp Forest
Photo by Terry Lilley with Lighting by Sue Sloan: Kelp Forest

Coastal Ecosystems and Marine Sanctuaries

by Carol Georgi

We can learn from marine sanctuaries how to restore, protect, and appreciate our coastal ecosystems in San Luis Obispo County.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA), "National Marine Sanctuaries are unique places addressing key issues facing our world - one special place at a time. Marine sanctuaries are helping to create a new paradigm, one that encourages a change in behavior. A lifestyle that sustains our planet, rather than using our planet to sustain our lifestyle. These special places not only offer beauty and inspire wonder, but also provide solutions to the challenges facing the ocean, the planet, us. By working together, Marine Sanctuaries connect communities while working on solutions to complex problems. Now, more than ever, the protection of sanctuaries is critical to the health of fragile ecosystems."

Coastal Ecosystem and Coastal Ecosystem Science

"An ecosystem is an ecological community comprised of biological, physical, and chemical components, considered as a unit. Coastal ecosystem science is the study of inter-relationships among the living organisms, physical features, bio-chemical processes, natural phenomena, and human activities in coastal ecological communities."

Examples of Coastal Ecosystems

According to U.S. Department of Fish and Game, "A coastal ecosystem includes estuaries and coastal waters and lands located at the lower end of drainage basins, where stream and river systems meet the sea and are mixed by tides. The coastal ecosystem includes saline, brackish (mixed saline and fresh), and fresh waters, as well as coastlines and the adjacent lands. All these water and land forms interact as integrated ecological units. Shorelands, dunes, offshore islands, barrier islands, headlands, and freshwater wetlands within estuarine drainages are included in the definition since these interrelated features are crucial to coastal fish and wildlife and their habitats. A variety of animals and plants complete the ecological system. Coastal wetlands are commonly called lagoons, salt marshes, or tidelands."

Some of our San Luis Obispo County coastal ecosystems include: Estuaries, intertidal zones, and kelp forests. These three types will be explored in future marine sanctuary articles. They are important because we depend on them to provide filtering of water, food, biodiversity, shoreline stabilization, and tourism.

According to a study by Lauretta Burke, Yumiko Kura, Ken Kassem, Carmen Revenga, Mark Spalding, and Don McAllister, at the World Resources Institute, "As coastal and inland populations continue to grow, their impacts—in terms of pollutant loads and the development and conversion of coastal habitats—can be expected to grow as well. Nutrient pollution has increased dramatically this century due to greater use of fertilizers, growth in quantities of domestic and industrial sewage, and increased aquaculture, which releases considerable amounts of waste directly into the water. Increasing fishing pressure have left many major fish stocks depleted or in decline. Global climate change may compound other pressures on coastal ecosystems through the additional effects of warmer ocean temperatures, altered ocean circulation patterns, changing storm frequency, and rising sea levels."

We urgently need to learn from marine sanctuaries how to restore, protect, and appreciate our coastal ecosystems. Since those in San Luis Obispo County fall into various city, county, and state jurisdictions, the best option for a coordinated marine effort is to become an extension of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, with a local sanctuary advisory council for county stakeholders.

Banner image of Otter & Pup by Cleve Nash
Site Menu

The Business of the Journal
About the Slo Coast Journal
Contact Us
Just for Fun
Letters to the Editor
Stan's Place

The Business of Our Towns
As Seen From My Couch
Behind the Badge
Community Calendar
County & Town Contacts
Morro Bay Library
Morro Bay Police File

It's Our Nature
A Bird's Eye View
A Sense of Place: State Parks
Elfin Forest Activities
Eye on the Estuary
Marine Sanctuaries
Ocean Creatures
State Parks Events

Slo Coast Arts
Art Talk
Genie's Pocket
Great Shots
Observations of a Country Squire

Slo Coast Life
Adventures in Fitness
Best Friends
Beyond the Badge
Body, Mind, Spirit
Double Vision
Get Involved
Let's Go Green
Medical Myth Busting
Meet the Neighbors
Morro Musings
Surfing Out Of The Box
Wilderness Mind

Front Page
--Graffiti at Morro Rock
--In Response
--In Response II
--More Oversight of City Staff Needed
--New State Policy on Power Plant Restrictions: Full of Leaks?
--New Wastewater Treatment Ideas Blocked
--Research Candidates Before Voting
--A Sense of Whale-Being Is In Question
--What Morro Bay Candidates Think About Key Issues

Green Web Hosting
All content copyright Slo Coast Journal and Individual Writers.
Do not use without express written permission.