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|Monterey Bay Issue Name: Wildlife Disturbance Tidepools||
The MBNMS currently lacks an overall strategy to address impacts to tidepools from human disturbance. Although a comprehensive regional analysis of the locations and extent of tidepool impacts is lacking, public concerns have been raised about disturbance to tidepools in many different areas of the Sanctuary including Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Pigeon Point, Bean Hollow, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Big Sur and Cambria. Concerns raised in areas of high visitor traffic include trampling of the resources, turnover of rocks, displacement of both living and nonliving resources, and collecting of intertidal species or shells that can provide habitat. More...
The MBNMS currently lacks an overall strategy to address impacts to tidepools from human disturbance. Although a comprehensive regional analysis of the locations and extent of tidepool impacts is lacking, public concerns have been raised about disturbance to tidepools in many different areas of the Sanctuary including Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Pigeon Point, Bean Hollow, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Big Sur and Cambria. Concerns raised in areas of high visitor traffic include trampling of the resources, turnover of rocks, displacement of both living and nonliving resources, and collecting of intertidal species or shells that can provide habitat.
Potential Visitor Impacts to Resources:
Tenera Environmental (2002) provided a useful literature summary from studies outside the Sanctuary region outlining the types of visitor impacts to intertidal resources. Trampling is defined as when animals are crushed or dislodged or algae are damaged. Disturbance may also occur if animals or substrate are not returned to the same location. Collecting is defined as picking animals out of the intertidal area, an activity conducted by casual individual visitors, school groups, aquaria, biosupply companies and for consumption. The largest and most common organisms are most often collected since they are most easily found. In the Sanctuary region, species selectively harvested for consumption commonly include owl limpets, black turban snails, abalone and others.
In addition to direct losses from disturbance and collecting, secondary changes may result from changes in distribution, prey availability, and habitat competition. Under heavy use, patches of habitat become more frequently disturbed, allowing less time for recovery.
Within the Sanctuary region, several studies on human impacts have been conducted at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in San Mateo County. Small areas of the reef that have been protected from human impact show increases in biodiversity, based on a monitoring program begun in 1994. Many typical intertidal biota are underrepresented or absent from the unprotected part of Moss Beach Reef, the most heavily visited portion of the reserve. Also, invertebrate populations have been shown to increase during fall and winter when high tides and bad weather reduce visitation.
Unfortunately, although there is a wealth of knowledge about tidepool life within the Sanctuary, there have not previously been studies that focused on evaluating the extent of human impacts at tidepool locations other than Fitzgerald.
MBNMS Currently Addressing Tidepools?
MBNMS continues to work with various partners to produce interpretive signage to provide information about tidepools and tidepool etiquette aimed at reducing impacts to heavily visited locations. Completed signs are in place in Pacific Grove, and new ones are underway in San Mateo County and San Simeon/ Cambria region. To supplement the signage, staff assisted California State Parks in the production of a new video for school groups and teachers that focuses on tidepool etiquette, and will be working on the local distribution of that product. As part of the Sanctuary’s new multicultural education program (MERITO), staff worked with the Monterey County Office of Migrant Education to provide guided intertidal field trips for Latino students, again emphasizing tidepool etiquette.
MBNMS has supported Bay Net in its efforts to develop a docent program that includes training volunteers to interpret at strategic tidepool locations along the Pacific Grove shoreline and elsewhere. Staff assisted in the development of a long-term intertidal monitoring program (LiMPETS) that provides education and training for high school students and other volunteers to collect intertidal data that can be used to detect changes in the ecosystem. Nine intertidal sites have been established within the MBNMS ranging from northern Santa Cruz County to San Simeon.
The Sanctuary has also compiled a detailed survey of the research and monitoring programs focused on rocky intertidal habitat within the Sanctuary (DeVogelaere et al, 1998). This provides basic information on tidepool resources, and also may serve as an initial estimate of locations of intertidal habitats that are accessible to visitors http://montereybay.nos.noaa.gov/research/techreports/rockyshores99/. Staff also collaborate with the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), a consortium of academic scientists which has been conducting extensive monitoring of rocky intertidal habitats.
The Sanctuary participated in the Point Pinos Tidepool Task Force, a citizen-based group established several years ago in response to public concern about degradation of tidepool habitats in Pacific Grove. This group focused on improving public awareness about tidepool conservation and conducting research about the role of human impacts in changes that occur in rocky intertidal communities.
In collaboration with the Point Pinos Tidepool Task Force Research Committee, the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation is overseeing a contract to evaluate visitor use patterns and resource impacts at Point Pinos. This study is evaluating locations, amounts and types of visitor uses, assessing documents and conducting interviews about historical patterns at the site. It also includes field monitoring of intertidal organisms to evaluate species abundance, distribution patterns, size-frequency and other factors at sites that differ in their levels of visitor use, in an attempt to distinguish visitor impacts from other factors that may influence tidepool life such as oceanographic temperature change. Sanctuary staff are also participating in a similar study of tidepool impacts which is beginning at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve under the direction of the San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Division. This study will build on initial work conducted by the Reserve to evaluate impacts of visitor use via use of control sites that limit access. At the southern boundary of the Sanctuary, Sanctuary Advisory Council member Ron Massengill and MBNMS staff are conducting initial efforts on both tidepool monitoring and educational outreach.
The Sanctuary is also involved with a variety of other programs which could potentially be further developed as partners in addressing tidepool impacts, such as SIMoN, the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network, a Sanctuary enforcement program conducted in collaboration with the state, and development of an interpretive Sanctuary Trail underway initially in Santa Cruz County.
California Fish and Game Code 8500 restricts the taking of mollusks, crustaceans, or other invertebrates for commercial purposes by any person in any tidal area without a valid tidal invertebrate permit. This restriction covers tide flats or other areas between the high tide mark and 1,000 feet beyond the low tidemark.
For non-commercial collection, a more complex set of constraints is outlined in Title 14 §29.05 of the California Code of Regulations. In general, tidal invertebrates may not be taken in any tidepool or other areas between the high tide mark and 1000 feet seaward and lateral to the low tide mark. However, exceptions are made for abalone, limpets, moon snails, turban snails, chiones, clams, cockles, mussels, rock scallops, native oysters, octopuses, squid, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, sand dollars, sea urchins and worms, all of which may be taken, unless prohibited by additional restrictions imposed in a designated protected area or special closure (see below). For non-commercial collection, the bag limit on all invertebrates for which take is authorized is 35 specimens without a permit, unless the code establishes a different specific bag limit for that species. The full text of the Code and Regulations for commercial and non-commercial collection, including various exemptions, can be found at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/fg_comm/regs.html.
In certain locations within the Sanctuary there is an additional layer of regulation imposed by city ordinance or by virtue of its state or local designation as a protected area. There is a panoply of these small protected areas within the MBNMS including state beaches, state parks, state ecological reserves, state marine reserves, state fish refuges, and city marine refuges. These designations restrict the take and disturbance of the intertidal zone to varying degrees, but generally afford tidepool habitats and organisms greater protection from both commercial and non-commercial impacts. Some allow the take of specified plants and invertebrates while others may prohibit both take and disturbance. A comprehensive list of these sites and their associated regulations is available at http://montereybay.nos.noaa.gov/research/techreports/marinezones/. With certain exceptions, the general rule provides that when separate entities issue conflicting permits, the more restrictive requirement controls.
The Sanctuary itself
prohibits the alteration of the seabed without a permit
As a starting point for Workgroup discussions, a list of potential topics to be addressed is provided below. The Workgroup will be asked to review, revise and add to or delete items from this topic list over the course of its meetings, and to jointly develop specific, more detailed recommendations for those topics which emerge as priorities.
Further evaluation of the problem:
Tenera Environmental, 2002. Proposal to Develop and Implement a Resource Assessment Project. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. For San Mateo County Parks and Recreation.
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