Off the coast of California, from the Mexico to Oregon borders, lies the world’s largest network of underwater reserves – 545,280 acres of marine protected areas known as MPAs. San Diego County has 17,779 acres of MPAs, which protect the rocky reefs of La Jolla, the Encinitas shoreline, the Tijuana River Mouth in Imperial Beach, and the bird-filled saltwater estuaries in Solana Beach, San Diego, Del Mar, Carlsbad, and Cardiff. These vibrant and essential ecosystems are home to submarine canyons and towering kelp forests, rocky reefs and seagrass beds, habitats for sea lion colonies and seals, and myriad fish, colorful gastropods, and fascinating wildlife. California’s network of 124 MPAs also helps protect and feed migratory species like gray whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles, and more. They are also some of the best places for humans to play and engage with the wonders of nature. Unfortunately, these ecosystems are some of the most exploited. Many people do not know the locations and regulations of these MPAs, while some purposefully poach our precious coastal and marine resources.

To study the effects of human use on coastal and marine resources, Angela Kemsley manages MPA Watch, a community science research program that trains volunteers to observe and collect data on human uses of coastal and marine resources both inside and outside of marine protected areas (MPAs). Volunteers use standardized protocols to collect relevant, scientifically rigorous, and broadly accessible data. Data are meant to inform the management, enforcement, and science of California’s marine protected areas, and allow our network of programs and networks to track how the public uses coastal areas.

Angela Kemsley is the Conservation and Communication Manager of WILDCOAST. Based in San Diego, Angela manages the California statewide MPA Watch community science program, a network of over 15 organizations collecting human use data in and around marine protected areas, as well as supporting WILDCOAST’s communications and development campaigns. She joined WILDCOAST’s marine protected area (MPA) team in 2017 as the Statewide Coordinator of the MPA Watch Community Science Program. In 2018, Angela assumed the role of Conservation Development Manager, before expanding her position to include communications. Prior to joining WILDCOAST, Angela worked for San Diego Zoo Global, facilitating community-based conservation projects in northwest Mexico as well as leading tours of the San Diego Zoo. Angela also worked in the outdoor education department of the San Diego County Office of Education in addition to numerous field research positions throughout North and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe. She currently serves as a board member for the California Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (AEOE). Angela holds a B.S. in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution and a B.A. in Biological Anthropology from UCSD and an M.A. in Biology from Miami University in Ohio.