Community members of all ages were called to virtually celebrate Underwater Parks Day, learning about marine protected areas and their importance in Santa Barbara’s ocean waters.
The purpose of MPAs is to protect and restore biodiversity, conserve historical artifacts and allow protected habitats for feeding, mating and spawning.
One of the events of Underwater Parks Day included a virtual animal encounter and tour of the Sea Center, where viewers joined the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Lead Aquarist, Nora Frank, as she fed the “Channel Tank” at the Sea Center.
The Channel Tank represents all the local animals that can be found along Santa Barbara’s coast line, the Channel Islands and within the channel.
Aquarists feed the fish three times a week with clams, squid and mackerel. The tank holds 1,200 gallons and holds 13 local fish species.
“One of my favorite species in here is the Garibaldi, the bright orange traffic cone with fins,” Ms. Frank said. “That is the California State Marine Fish. They’re pretty easy to spot.”
Sea Center aquarists and marine scientists highlighted the local animals that have been found in Santa Barbara’s MPAs, including: Horn Sharks, Swell Sharks, California Spiny Lobsters, Giant Sea Bass, Blacksmith, Kelp Bass, Anemones, Purple Sea Urchins, Endangered White Abalone, California Scorpionfish, Giant Kelpfish, Opaleye, Moon Jellies, Rockfish, California Moray Eel, Red Rock Shrimp, Two-Spot Octopus, Eccentric Sand Dollar, Spanish Shawl, Nudibranch, Blue-Banded Goby and more.
Viewers were able to submit questions to Ms. Frank as she fed the animals.
Other events within the celebration included an informative video on the importance of MPAs; a pledge to protect the MPAs with an ocean-themed reusable canvas tote filled with beach cleanup supplies; an art project about the Garibaldi; takeout from Rincon Brewery and a virtual dive into local underwater marine parks with Santa Barbara Channelkeeper; and an Art Meets Science workshop.
To learn more about the Sea Center and local marine life, visit https://sbnature.org/visit/sea-center/.