MPA Observer Program

La Jolla North

Employing Local Expertise for Marine Reserve Monitoring

Nestled within the scenic landscape of La Jolla, California, the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve and San Diego-Scripps Coastal State Marine Conservation Areas stand as guardians of precious habitats and species. Over the past decade, these coastal waters have undergone unprecedented environmental shifts. To deepen our understanding of how these changes affect ecosystem health, continuous monitoring of biodiversity and human activity within these marine protected areas (MPAs) is paramount.

Enter the MPA Observer Program, a visionary initiative that harnesses the expertise of local kayak, dive, and surf instructors. These dedicated individuals form the backbone of our efforts, enabling us to stay attuned to the dynamic shifts in these vital regions.


Visit the Project on eOceans!

How to Participate


We rely on local experts and naturalists to collect data for this important monitoring effort. Experts collect information on the marine life within the MPAs as well as associated human-use within and surrounding the MPAs. To "Join" the project means you would like to contribute to the data collection, for which we rely on divers/dive masters, kayak guides, coastal walk observers, surf instructors and marine ecologists. If this describes you and your interests, please fill out the form below and we will follow with  information regarding collecting data! 


Marine protected resources (MPAs) are a shared space for our San Diego County community and serve as an important ecosystem safeguard. In addition to the benefits to marine life, our community is provided the opportunity to participate via recreation and tourist activities including kayaking, diving, surfing and leisurely walks along the beach. If you fall within the category of individuals interested in keeping tabs on the health of this important ecosystem, and learning more about the organisms in the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve (SMR) and San Diego-Scripps Coastal State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), please feel free scan the code below, search for the MPA Observer Program - La Jolla North and "Follow"! If you are a follower, you can see results as described below in the "Contributor's Corner"


eOceans "Join" Request Form

Please complete this form if you are interested in contributing as a local expert to the MPA Observer Program for the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve (SMR) and San Diego-Scripps Coastal State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) regions (inside as well as outside and adjacent). We will contact you shortly after you complete this form.

Contributor's Corner

For program participants seeking further guidance on how to contribute to the project, we've compiled a range of resources to assist you in sharing data and getting answers to your questions.
Need a bit more guidance? eOceans has created a video to walk you through data entry on the app.
eOceans "How To" Video


To see the data summarization and analytics associated with this group, you need to login to the eOceans website. Visit and after logging on and clicking on "Teams" and the MPA Observer Program, select the "Results" tab. Those who join and follow are able to see results!

For additional help or if you have questions, contact us at [email protected]

eOceans is a streamlined data collection and analysis tool that enables data collections from mobile app devices for paired observations of marine life and human activities within a project site. The platform allows for collaborative data entry in near real-time and provides users with instantaneous summaries of and meaningful assessments for a project. eOceans evolved from a number of collaborative research projects including eShark, eManta and the Shark Sanctuary Evaluation. It connects those who follow the health and state of local ecosystems and allows for all eyes to be on ocean monitoring. 

Frequently Asked Questions

For those local experts that "Join" the project as data contributors

In the MPA Observer Program, we are enlisting the support of local experts intimately acquainted with the La Jolla marine ecosystem. They play a crucial role in gathering data related to the diverse marine life, human activities, and more that they encounter during their recreational pursuits in this area. We assume you possess a deep familiarity with the local sites and the general marine biodiversity found here.

The minimum frequency of observations is two times per year in the area. We would love to have more observations, and the ideal number would be monthly observations from most participants in this project. We hope for this to be an enjoyable experience that will enrich your already-planned recreational activities to help log the health of the environment.

We kindly request that you document the following during your observations: the species (either specific identification or a general description), the quantity of species identified, any noteworthy behaviors or distinctive characteristics you observe, and any human activities or impacts in the vicinity. By providing comprehensive observations with these details, we can maximize the utility of the data for gaining insights into the overall environmental health.

The aim of this project is to provide timely data insights regarding the marine biodiversity inside and adjacent to the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve and San Diego-Scripps Coastal State Marine Conservation Areas. This data can help in identifying any significant changes in marine life over time and how humans are impacting the region.

 This data can be used for individual planning of recreational activities in the area. By seeing what others have recently observed, you can plan when you want to go kayaking, diving, or snorkeling to maximize the different organisms that you are able to see. Local tour companies can additionally use this data to help educate their customers on what is typically observed in the region and plan when to offer tours. 

Additionally, we foresee the data collection can be used by anyone in our community who is interested in learning more about this MPA and the diversity of marine life available in our coastal backyard.

Currently, we are limited to 20 participants in the program. As the program gets more established, we can expand the number of participants. However, if you are simply following the progress of the project, there are an unlimited number of people that can “follow”!


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