LA JOLLA, Calif. – Environmentalists are warning beachgoers escaping the lockdown to be sensitive to the tide pools after an uptick in coastal activity has damaged sensitive marine habitats.
In the protected area at Scripps Coastal Reserve in La Jolla, people turned out Thursday to enjoy the tide pools, shallow areas of seawater which typically form along rocky coastlines.
Even more are expected to visit during the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
“COVID is definitely having an impact a lot more people are visiting the beaches then ever before — not just locals but people from out of state,” said Cory Pukini, California conservation manager at Wildcoast, an organization which works to conserve coastal and marine ecosystems.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tide pools tend to be home to “sturdy sea life,” such as small fish, barnacles and snails, among others. But some of these areas are protected. Southern California currently has 50 marine protected areas ranging from north near the Santa Barbara coastline to the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Experts say the public has been far too handsy in marine sanctuaries, in part because many don’t understand the rules.
They fear if the the environment becomes too stressed, life could die off, potentially taking decades to return.
“(They’re) poking things, taking things, removing things from tide pools, which is not allowed in a marine protected area,” Pukini said.
For visitors, the message from experts is simple: Try not to touch anything.
“Look with your eyes, be aware of your surroundings and try not to step on anything,” hesaid.