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June 24, 2013

Exploring San Diego's Matlahuayl Marine Reserve with El Hijo del Santo

King/Chavez Preparatory Academy students explored and enjoyed the Matlahuayl Marine Reserve in La Jolla.
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El Hijo del Santo with King/Chavez surfers

For the students of King/Chavez Middle School a day at their local Marine Protected Area (MPA) was one they will remember for a lifetime.   For most of the students, it was their first time going in the beach and actually doing some sort of recreational activity in it. WILDCOAST Marine Coordinator, Diane Castaneda had visited their school back in December 2012 to talk to them about MPAs and the ecological and economic benefits they bring to their community, and they couldn’t wait to check it out themselves.

As part of the Marine Life Protection Act, one of the goals is to “improve recreational, education and study opportunities” inside the MPAs, WILDCOAST invited 30 students from King/Chavez Preparatory Academy to explore San Diego’s oldest and most productive Marine Protected Area: the Matlahuayl Marine Reserve. As part of our “Meet your underwater parks” project, WILDCOAST took the kids out to learned how to surf, snorkel and kayak, while learning about the different types of marine life that exist in the marine reserve. They saw kelp, sting rays, sea lions, brown pelicans, leopard sharks, garibaldi fish, among other types of fish.  As a special treat, Mexican wrestler El Hijo del Santo showed up to greet the children and talk to them about the importance of preserving special areas in the area so future generations can enjoy the areas just like they did.

Students certainly had an experience of a lifetime and couldn’t stop talking about how they wanted to go back to the beach so they can do more activities and experience wildlife in their natural habitat.  It was truly a great experience for the WILDCOAST staff to be able to provide a group of students from underserve communities an opportunity to explore and enjoy their marine ecosystem.

One girl was a little scared to get into the kayak right before going into the ocean, as soon as she saw her first sea lion swimming next to hear kayak, she had the biggest smile on her face. "I want to go back to the ocean and kayak some more, it was the first time I had seen marine animals in person, I loved it!" Ana, a King/Chavez student told Diane.  Another student that was in the snorkeling group said he really enjoyed learning how to snorkel and learning about leopard sharks and sting rays and actually seeing them. 

We would like to thank HIKE BIKE KAYAK for their continued support and donating their equipment for the day so kids and enjoy their local MPA. They are truly about conserving and educating the community about San Diego’s natural resources. 

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