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MPA/No Take Zone

Open Zone

Map made by Natalie Plumb

How To: Beachcomb Responsibly

Before You Go: Know the Protected Areas

Before you set out on your beachcombing adventures, make sure to identify where exactly you will be beachcombing because some areas of our coastline are classified as "Marine Protected Areas" (MPA's).  While these areas are great places to enjoy the beach, see amazing wildlife, and visit the tidepools, it is ILLEGAL to remove any natural materials from these areas.  You can use the map above to figure out the best place for your beachcombing experience based on what you are trying to accomplish.  As a general guideline, try to only take man-made materials such as sea glass or trash from the beach.  

What You Will Need:

  • Bucket, jar, or bag for collecting your beachcombing treasures

  • a camera or phone for taking photos and identifying shells, plants, and animals

When to Go:

The best time to beachcomb is at low tide, which is when the greatest amount of sand is visible and you are more likely to find treasures.

Marine Protected Areas:

Campus Point MPA: The area between Campus Point and Coil Oil Point, which includes Devereux Beach, is classified as an MPA.  As an MPA, this expanse of the coastline (shaded in red) is a "No Take" zone, meaning that it is illegal to remove any natural materials from these areas, including rocks, animals, shells, plants, sand, or seaweed (Santa Barbara Channel Keeper).  However, this area is the perfect place to find sea glass, which is a man-made material and therefore not included in MPA regulations.  Additionally, the area along Devereux and Sands Beach is often littered with man-made "trash."  Some of this trash can be re-purposed into useful pieces of art.  For example, one day while beachcombing, my friends and I stumbled across a broken old Wavestorm surfboard.  While perfect for beginning surfers, these surfboards are made entirely from Styrofoam, which is harmful to our coastal environment.  In order to prevent the Styrofoam from polluting the ocean, we decided to bring it home with us, sand it down, and make it into the perfect portable picnic/camping table.  

What you can take: only man-made materials such as sea glass and "trash"

What must stay: all natural materials (shells, animals, rocks, plants, etc.)

Activities you can enjoy: (rentals available through UCSB Excursion Club or UCSB Adventure Programs)

  • Kayaking

  • Surfing

  • Stand up paddle boarding

  • snorkeling

  • walks on the beach

  • beach clean-ups

Photograph by Marco Mazza

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  • Flickr
Open Area

Open Zone:

Anacapa Beach: The area between Campus Point and Goleta Pier, which includes Anacapa Beach, is not part of any MPA.  As an "Open Zone", this expanse of the coastline (shaded in blue) is the only area along the UCSB and Isla Vista coastline where you can collect natural materials such as seashells and rocks.  However, if you do decide to take shells from this area, first make sure that it is not currently serving as the home to any sea creature.  You do not want to take home a beautiful shell only to discover that there was a hermit crab or sea mollusk living inside, which is now stinking up your room.  To determine whether a shell is safe or not to take, follow these simple steps:

  1. Only take from the sand, not in the water.

  2. Turn the shell over in your hand and look to see if there is anything inside.  Usually, if something is living inside the shell, you will be able to see a small hermit crab claw or the bottom of the mollusk.  However, some smaller creatures are not immediately visible, so make sure to wait a few seconds to allow time for any small organisms to emerge.

What you can take: shells, rocks, plants, and man-made materials

What must stay: all living animals (check shells before taking them)

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  • Flickr

Photograph by Marco Mazza

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