Waypoint 1: N 36 48.594 W 121 47.319 A = On interpretive sign, how many sea otters are swimming UNDER water? Minus 2.
Waypoint 2: N 36 48.751 W 121 47.380 B = Small white sign, how many harbor seals on the sign? Plus 2
Waypoint 3: N 36 48.973 W 121 47.381 C = Two large interpretive signs, # of blue herons + # snowy egrets + # great egrets + # pea crabs + # or sanderlings? Plus 2
Waypoint 4: N 36 48.761 W 121 46.979 D = How many foxes are pictured? Plus 6
Cache is hidden here: N 36 48.8AB W 121 46.7CD - substitute the answers above for the letters in the coordinates
By the way, answers for A+B+C+D = 18
California's Underwater Parks
In December 2012, California became an international leader in ocean protection by completing the United States’ first statewide network of marine protected areas (MPAs). Like the nation’s parks, forests and wilderness areas protect wildlife and habitats on land, MPAs protect and restore unique areas of the ocean. California’s MPAs come in many “flavors”; the size and level of protection, including fishing restrictions, can vary from one area to the next. Also called underwater parks or “Yosemites of the Sea”, they’re designed to protect plants and animals within an entire ecosystem, rather than protecting just a single species and ensure healthy, vibrant ocean life for generations to come.
California’s MPAs safeguard critical ocean habitat, allowing sensitive marine communities such as rocky reefs and seagrass beds to thrive and recover. They also protect biodiversity hotspots and important foraging grounds that support numerous species of fish and invertebrates, as well as seabirds and marine mammals. This in turn benefits a wide range of species including plants like bull kelp, invertebrates like sea stars, and marine mammals such as seals and otters. As safe havens, underwater parks offer a home and refuge for Big, Old, Fertile Female (BOFF) fish to recover, grow and replenish our ocean. They're "nurseries"!
The central coast region of California was the first of the four coastal regions to establish a network of MPAs. Underwater parks in the central coast protect areas like the iconic Point Lobos, winding waterways of Elkhorn Slough, the tidepools of Natural Bridges, the elephant seal rookery at Piedras Blancas and many more important marine environments! Altogether, 29 MPAs were designated from Pigeon Point in the north to Point Conception in the south. These MPAs represent approximately 204 square miles (18%) of state waters within the region with approximately 85 square miles (7.5%) designated as "no take" state marine reserves. These MPAs went into effect in 2007.
Explore California's Underwater Parks without getting your feet wet through new online tours!
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Elkhorn Slough State Marine Reserve (SMR), Elkhorn Slough State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) and Moro Cojo Slough State Marine Reserve SMR
Elkhorn Slough, one of the state’s largest estuaries, provides essential habitat for over 700 species including marine mammals, fish, invertebrates, sharks, algae, plants, and both migratory and resident seabirds.
Nearly 7 miles long, Elkhorn Slough shelters an abundance of marine life. The best way to enjoy the area is by kayak. Two kayak & standup paddleboard rental companies are located adjacent to the north harbor. Don't feel like paddling? Two companies offer tours on pontoon boats.
Commonly seen animals include southern sea otters, harbor seals, California sea lions, brown and white pelicans, cormorants, and of course sea stars on the pilings under the Highway One bridge. Elkhorn Slough SMCA allows for recreational take of clams on the north shore adjacent to the Moss Landing State Wildlife Area and finfish by hook-and-line only; the SMR is a no-take area.
Moro Cojo Slough provides representation of rare brackish habitats that support threatened species. Moro Cojo is a no-take area extending from Highway One to the Southern Pacific railroad tracks. The only places to get a good look at this slough are from Highway One or from a few spots along Dolan Road.