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a person standing next to a body of water


Reefs are vital for a healthy ocean ecosystem. And a healthy ocean ecosystem is vital for life on earth. Reefs are biologically rich and a source of natural beauty. They are the spawning and nursery grounds that support the entire food chain. Laguna is home to a dynamic patchwork of interconnected reefs, which support a dazzling array of sea plants and animals.

One of the things that makes Laguna Beach unique and stunning is its rocky coastline, filled with storied coves and steep cliffs. These cliffs often drop into the sea, where they form tide pools, and further out, reefs. This is where the fish find sustenance, the lobsters, octopus and eels hide in the holes, and fish feed off the micro plankton.

In addition, since 2012 Laguna has been designated a Marine Reserve, meaning it’s a no-take zone. No fishing or spearing. This has contributed to an even greater abundance of sea life along our reefs.

On the clear days we can paddle over these reefs and looks straight down at their rocky contours. Bright orange garibaldi, the state fish of California, dominate the scene. You’ll also see sheephead, bass and perch, halibut, and occasional sea lions or even dolphins passing through.


Another function of reefs is to slow the energy of waves down and protect the shoreline from dangerous storms. Conversely, they can also force the water to rise up in a particular place and form waves perfect for surfing (known as reef breaks).

When we paddle or kayak in Laguna, we launch on a beach that is actually ringed by a reef – Fisherman’s Cove. In fact, we would not be able to launch safely into the ocean without those reefs as they create a wave-protected channel that makes it easy to enter and exit the water. Look to your left and you’ll see a large rock formation that blocks southern waves. Look to the right and you’ll se a rocky promontory filled with mussels that protects from western waves. Thank you reefs.


Then when we paddle north we reach Seal Rock, home to a colony of California sea lions, grey pelicans, and cormorants. They thrive on the fish that live on the adjacent reefs. In fact, this rock is part of a reef that extends several hundred yards further into the ocean known as Deadmans, a favorite spot for scuba divers.

On warm summer days we might jump into the water and explore the reefs for ourselves. Otherwise, when you are back on shore, grab a snorkel and mask and swim right off Fishermans Cove to see a cornucopia of colorful sea life in Laguna’s amazing Marine Reserve

You’ll return with a newfound awe for the power and beauty of nature that lies underneath us in the reef-filled Pacific ocean.

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