Laguna Beach is a seaside city in Orange County, California, situated approximately 50 miles south of Los Angeles. The city is renowned for its dramatic coastal bluffs, secluded coves, balmy Mediterranean climate, and art festivals, but it is the dynamic and diverse underwater world which attracts scores of divers to the temperate Pacific waters of Laguna.
All told, Laguna encompasses 7 miles of coastline, stretching from northernmost Abalone Point to Three Arch Bay in the south. The oceans along the Laguna coast fall entirely under the purview of three marine protected areas (MPAs) established in 2012: Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve (SMR), Laguna Beach State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), and Dana Point SMCA. There are over 30 beaches, coves, and bays (more than half of which are sheltered, easily accessible shore diving sites popular for training and recreation). As with much of Southern California, the marine environment of Laguna is changing in rapid and dramatic fashion.
Our personal observations in recent years include rising water temperatures, the proliferation of invasive Sargassum horneri, the decimation of the iconic kelp forests, expanding urchin barrens, and the near-complete disappearance of sea stars due to wasting disease (to name a few). The initial objective of this project is simply to utilize Project Baseline's database as a platform for documenting these and other changes, and all divers who visit Laguna are welcome to contribute data and images. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to participate.