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By Audrey

When I started working as Coastkeeper’s environmental education intern in January, I had just begun volunteering at the Marine Protected Area (MPA) Watch program for my local MPAs in Los Angeles County.

Since December of 2020, I’ve been recording data about how humans are using the MPAs in Rancho Palos Verdes, California – which has given me the opportunity to explore and learn more about the wonders of Southern California’s coast. My time volunteering and interning helped me develop an immense love for MPAs.

Because I completed my internship entirely from my desk at home in the Los Angeles area, my access to the Orange County community and coastline was limited. Nevertheless, I still feel like I got to know OC much better by participating in virtual presentations and emergency beach cleanups, as well as by drafting social media posts for the education department.

I promoted the department’s work to help the community learn a little more about its connection to water. I am proud of all the work I produced during my internship, but the MPA social media series I created was truly a labor of love.

Learning about the MPAs


I learned that there are seven MPAs in OC and immediately wanted to create a social media post for each one. My goal for this was to help the community learn about the local MPAs (myself included) and give people an idea of how they can enjoy them.

The designations for MPAs are all different, and I can tell you from my research that it’s not the easiest information to access or understand. So, I explored all seven MPAs through my laptop screen. I learned the names of cities the MPAs are located in, the landmarks surrounding them, their designation and what it means for each MPA, how people can recreate there, and how to keep these habitats safe when visiting – which I got to share with the OC community.

Doing this research and creating these posts have only increased my love of MPAs, and I hope they can do something similar for the people who see them on social media. I even got inspired to visit Crystal Cove for the first time – a visit I got to capture in photos.

Now I have so many places I want to visit when I have the time and it’s safer to travel!

Being able to visit my local beaches and the ocean is such a fantastic privilege that I have and I am so grateful for it. Even though the California coast belongs to all of us by law, it really is a scarce resource, and not everyone is able to access it.

I hope my love for MPAs encourages you to visit these wonderful places in Orange County and helps you learn about them. And if you’re not able to get to the coast, I hope it gives you a glimpse of the magic of your marine protected areas. Thank you to Coastkeeper for this opportunity to learn more about marine protected areas and our precious coastline. If you’re a water lover like me, learn more about Coastkeeper’s wide selection of internship opportunities.

And click here to stay updated on all things MPAS and water conservation.