March 31, 2014

Get to Know Your MPA Monday

                                                                                                                                                                      Photo by Christian Arballo
Natural Bridges Marine Protected Area (MPA)

One of the smallest MPAs in the Central Coast, Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve is just a half mile long and extends only 21 feet into the ocean.    

Located at the northern edge of the City of Santa Cruz, Natural Bridges is an accessible and popular area where visitors and scientists alike can explore extensive and biologically rich tide pools and sandy beaches.  The famous tide pools at Natural Bridges provide habitat for a wide range of species from baby Giant Pacific Octopus to Gumboot Chiton.

The Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve is a special MPA that does not allow any type of fishing, hence the word reserve.  There are many different types of MPAs that allow some fishing but since this is such a special and unique area along the coast of California, it is protected from all fishing and harvesting activities.

This beach, with its famous natural bridge, is an excellent place to view birds, migrating whales, seals, and otters playing offshore. 

                        Photo by Anders Ohlsson
Natural Bridges is home to the only State Monarch Preserve in California and provides a temporary home to over 100,000 Monarch butterflies each winter!

Did you know? Although only one arch remains at Natural Bridges, at one time three arches once stood here until they collapsed from erosion. The outer arch fell during the early 20th century and the inner arch fell during a large storm in 1980 – all that remains is the middle arch!

For more information about Natural Bridges State Park click here.  For more information on all of the MPAs in the Central Coast of California click here.

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