Thursday, June 7, 2012

Our coastline is protected!

California made history today when the Fish and Game Commission voted to adopt a network of Marine Protected Areas for northern California. The vote marks the completion of the nation’s first statewide underwater park system. Thanks to the landmark Marine Life Protection Act, beloved areas like Cape Mendocino, Point Reyes, the Big Sur Coast, and La Jolla will be enjoyed by divers, kayakers, swimmers, birders, and tidepoolers for generations to come.
Over the last eight years, business  owners, scientists, tribes, fishermen, conservationists and government  officials have met up and down the coast to map out protections that  will provide economic and environmental benefits for their communities. Their hard work, guided by input from tens of thousands of Californians, has created a system of safeguards that we can all be proud of.
CalOceans thanks all of the stakeholders, policymakers, and members of the public that worked so hard to make this possible.  Please see our press release, and check out a statewide map of California's marine protected areas.

The coast needs to be protected: two dolphins were found shot this past week.

From the San Luis Obispo Tribune:

State and federal investigators are looking into the possible shooting of a dolphin found on a beach near San Simeon last week.
William Alvarez of Cambria found a dead dolphin Wednesday during a regular beach stroll south of San Simeon near where a beached gray whale was discovered April 21. Thinking the wounds could have been caused by birds pecking at the carcass, he did not report the find.

But when he found a second dead dolphin about 100 yards away Saturday with similar wounds, he notified authorities. By then, the first dolphin had washed away, but officials examined the second dolphin and “verified it was bullet holes,” Alvarez said. “They felt they were shot.”
Alvarez came into the Coastal Discovery Center at San Simeon Bay, said Carolyn Skinder of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. She and a State Parks ranger examined the carcass.
“It was pretty nasty looking,” Skinder said. “There appeared to be an entry and exit wound.”
“It had decomposed a fair amount already,” said State Parks District Superintendent Nick Franco. “There’s not a lot to go on.”
A necropsy was not done, Franco said. Because there was an exit wound, it appeared that the bullet would no longer be in the dolphin.
It’s the first marine mammal shooting reported on the North Coast since three elephant seals were shot at Piedras Blancas in May 2008, Franco said. Investigators eventually received a tip that led to a suspect in that case, but the suspect died before any charges were filed.
“I don’t want to get into what kind of person did it,” Skinder said. “It’s a big-time federal offense.”
Shooting a dolphin is a violation of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. Depending on what weapon was used where, it could also be a violation of a number of other laws, Franco said.
The state Fish and Game Department, State Parks and federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Officer Bob Yerena are cooperating on the investigation.
A Fish and Game boat that patrols off the North Coast will be keeping watch for anything that could be related to the dolphin shooting, Franco said.
Yerena said late Monday that a total of six puncture wounds were on the dolphin found Saturday, but it “could not be determined whether those were a result of gunshots or if the birds had been eating on it, and they classified it as a suspicious death.”
He said the dolphin found Wednesday had “no indication it had been shot, just a dead dolphin on the beach.”

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