Marine Protected Areas Education Resources

Marine Protected Areas

  • Note: This course can be played via Flash or HTML5. If you would like to play the Flash version and don't currently have Flash installed, download the Flash Player here.



These modules, developed by California State Parks and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, teach students about what MPAs are, why they were created, and how they are being monitored for progress. The modules align with both Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. They are written at a 5th grade level, but are easily adaptable for students in grade 3-7. Start with the introduction module titled "Dive In." Next choose one, or all three, of the specific MPA modules (Año Nuevo, Crystal Cove, or Pyramid Point). Finish with the conclusion module titled "Resurface." Students may work independently, in groups, or led by the teacher.


Dive In

MPAs were created with six main goals in mind. This module will introduce students to some of those goals and explain why ocean habitats and habitat communities are important resources that humans should protect and sustain.


Año Nuevo SMR

Año Nuevo SMR is located along California's central coast right off Año Nuevo State Park, home to a large breeding colony of elephant seals. In this module, students will discover the ways in which this SMR could be protecting elephant seals and other organisms sharing this habitat.


Crystal Cove SMCA

Crystal Cove SMCA is located in Southern California. In this module students will explore the idea of monitoring habitats with indicator species, and they will get to know the organisms that live in the area.


Pyramid Point SMCA

Pyramid Point SMCA is located on California's northern coast near a salmon run. In this module, students will learn the struggles that salmon face during their complicated life cycle, and how they are part of a larger food web.


Point Lobos SMR

Point Lobos SMR is located along the central California coast, where a well-protected giant brown kelp forest grows. In this module, students will become familiar with this underwater forest, its importance to wildlife, and what we are doing to preserve it.



Students will reflect on their learning about MPAs by interpreting MPA data and reviewing main points through a series of interactive videos.


For more information, questions or if you require special accommodations to access this content,
 please contact the Interpretation and Education Division at or (916) 654-2249.