**This blog entry orginally appeared on the website oceanspaces.org.**/p>

“Researchers explore the important role that wrack, sand grain size, and the slope of a shoreline can play in supporting ecologically diverse beach communities…”

Growing up, I loved spending time exploring, cartwheeling, and basking in all the fun that local beaches had to offer, making me a firm believer that life is better with sand between your toes. Later, as an ecology student, I learned that the ecology of sandy beaches is not as well studied as many other marine ecosystems, even though they make up over a third of the Southern California coast and are extremely important to coastal cultures and economies.

In the South Coast Sandy Beach Monitoring Project, (part of the South Coast MPA Baseline Program), researchers took steps to build our understanding of these diverse and valuable habitats. Key highlights from this work are now available in our latest Snapshot Report: Baseline Highlights from South Coast Sandy Beach Ecosystems: Monitoring the Secret Life of Beaches! 

In this project, researchers explored the important role that wrack, the size of sand grains, and the flatness of a shoreline can play in supporting ecologically diverse beach communities. They even found that South Coast beaches may represent a biodiversity hotspot for sandy beach macroinvertebrates – including the native beach beetles that rely on wrack for food and shelter. (Not sure what “wrack” is? Click here!)

We invite you to check out the Sandy Beach Snapshot Report to learn more about the 12 South Coast beaches that were surveyed, as well as the meaningful collaborations that took place between project researchers and citizen science groups like LiMPETS and Surfrider. Even better, enjoy reading it while you’re at the beach!

Visit the South Coast State of the Region Page to read other reports in the South Coast Snapshot Series. Coming soon: Monitoring deep ecosystems with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs)!

Interested in receiving an email alert when Snapshot Reports and other South Coast updates are posted? Click here to join the South Coast Community page!




Top photo credit: Jenny Dugan