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Underwater Areas

Underwater areas in or adjacent to State Park System units are located primarily along the coastline, stretching from Mendocino County in the north to San Diego County in the south.  However, four of the underwater areas at Mono Lake, D.L. Bliss, Emerald Bay-Lake Tahoe and Lake Perris are located in the interior of the state.  Eleven of the underwater areas have overlapping boundaries with other marine area designations.  For example, some of the underwater areas at Point Lobos State Reserve are part of Point Lobos State Marine Reserve.

Beginning in 1960, California State Parks began to identify and provide special recognition to underwater areas with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational features.  A marine area offshore of Point Lobos State Reserve is considered the first underwater area in the nation. The California Department of Parks and Recreation's underwater areas program was established in 1968 to preserve the best and most unique representative examples of California's natural underwater ecosystems found in coastal and inland waters.
Beyond the rich marine resources available to prehistoric people and people today, many of California’s underwater areas are also shipwreck graveyards. The state’s 1,100 miles of coastline have troubled mariners with treacherous rocks immediately off our shores for years. The SS Pomona, Frolic, Norlina, the British freighter Pacific Enterprise  and many other vessels have been lost off coastal California and inland.  Select from the right panel for more information on Underwater Areas.

Garibaldi fish (Hypsypops rubicundus) can be seen in Crystal Cove and Doheny underwater parks. The Garibaldi is the Official State Marine Fish of California.

Underwater Archaeology Online Articles:

California's Maritime Heritage

History Beneath the Sea

Pomona Historic Shipwreck Project

The Sterling on the Sacramento Riverfront

Historic Dories of Emerald Bay

Devil-Fish to Archaeology: Diving at the SS Pomona Shipwreck

Navy Corsair Fighter at Crystal Cove