Oceana works to protect the diverse marine life and sensitive habitats within the California Current Ecosystem off the U.S. West Coast. Our work includes protecting small forage fish that form the foundation of a healthy food web; reducing bycatch of marine mammals, sharks and other fish in commercial fisheries; and conserving pristine seafloor habitats like corals and sponges.
The ocean ecosystem off the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington is truly a special place with global significance. The California Current, flowing south from Vancouver Island, Canada, along the west coast of the United States, and down to Baja California, Mexico, is one of the most diverse and productive temperate marine ecosystems in the world. Wind drives a process called upwelling, which brings nutrient-rich water to the surface. This sparks large blooms of phytoplankton (microscopic plant-like organisms) which support tiny krill and other forage species that then support over 150 species of breeding and migrating marine birds (including albatross, pelicans, plovers and oyster catchers), 32 species of marine mammals (many of which are threatened or endangered species like sea otters, sperm whales and blue whales) and four different types of sea turtles (including the endangered Pacific leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles that migrate here to feed), and over 700 fish species (such as Pacific salmon and sardine). This stretch of beautiful ocean is also an underwater highway for marine life making global migrations. The Pacific is home to colorful marine creatures such as slow-growing, fragile deep sea corals and sponges which provide habitat for groundfish species—like rockfish, lingcod, and Pacific cod—and marine invertebrate predators including sea stars, nudibranchs, and octopuses.
Overfishing, fisheries bycatch, coastal and ocean development, habitat destruction, pollution, acidification, and other stressors all threaten the health and diversity of the California Current Ecosystem. To address these threats, Oceana is working with scientists, the public, and policy makers to protect the marine food web, to identify and protect important ecological areas, and to advance sustainable, ecosystem-based approaches to ocean management.
You can learn more about Oceana’s work to preserve a healthy California Current ocean ecosystem, by exploring these projects in more detail: