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Oceans Day 2021: Waters Off San Diego Rich With Life, But Under Assault

Photo credit: NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Five Gray whales are seen from above along the California coast.

The observance of World Oceans Day comes at a time the planet’s largest water bodies are being challenged by climate and people.

But the ocean is not shy about sharing its treasures with those who look.

Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

Migrating gray whales attracted a Wildcoast boat of ocean lovers in late May, and they saw what they came to see: gray whales breaching in the surf off San Diego. The huge mammals were traveling from the warm birthing lagoons of Mexico to the cold food rich waters near Alaska.

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But on this day there was more. Whale watchers were also greeted by scores of dolphins swimming in a large pod just off the coast.

“That's amazing isn’t it?” said Fey Crevoshay of Wildcoast. “We saw huge dolphin pods right there. Right in the same place. We were like, wanting to jump with them into the ocean. It was so great. It’s just incredible.”

But these are not the best of times for delicate ecosystems in the ocean’s open-water and nearshore environments.

Oceans cover three quarters of the planet’s surface and they help regulate the climate, but the bodies of water are under assault.

“In San Diego that includes sewage from the Tijuana River,” said Serge Dedina, Wildcoast executive director. “A huge amount of plastic. All the carbon that’s going into the ocean from pollution. Overfishing, overdevelopment. You name it, we seem to be throwing it at the ocean.”

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But Dedina remains hopeful that the ocean can restore itself if given time.

“All these ocean and coastal ecosystems that help fight climate change, like the wetland behind me that help sequester carbon. That’ll help us adapt to sea level rise,” Dedina said. “And so we’ve got this amazing ocean wilderness that surround us. These blue ecosystems. And we have to do everything we can to protect them and help restore them.”

The successful marine protected areas off the coast of La Jolla are a perfect example of what’s possible, according to Dedina.

It just takes work, he said.

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Photo of Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

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