Scripps Coastal Reserve provides excellent opportunities to examine the dramatic land-sea interface in Southern California. Commanding a view for 50 kilometers (30 miles), the precipitous upland portion of the reserve, located adjacent to the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), is topped by a grassy knoll and bounded by steep coastal canyons. The reserve’s rugged coastal bluffs plummet 100 meters (328 feet) to the ocean surface. From there, the marine portion of the reserve plunges to a depth of 227 meters (745 feet) below sea level into the tributaries of the Scripps and La Jolla submarine canyons. Scripps Pier juts 320 meters (1,050 feet) into the Pacific Ocean, providing access to rich, deep, underwater habitats.
Plant and animal communities at the reserve have adapted to the various stresses of life at the marine margin, such as shifting tides, sand migration, inundation, and desiccation. This site’s highly diverse, terrestrial and marine reserve habitats include coastal sage scrub, succulent scrub, disturbed grassland, coastal strand, rocky reef, sandy beach, submerged sandy plain, pier pilings, and submarine canyon and associated ledges.
Native prickly-pear and barrel cacti salvaged from nearby developed areas are transplanted onto the reserve to restore succulent-scrub upland habitats.
Visitors can take self-guided ecological tours along a half-mile biodiversity trail with accompanying brochure; each year the SIO Aquarium and local K-12 schools bring hundreds of students to visit the reserve tidepools.
Site visits by university courses in ecology, oceanography, biology, and geology.
- The effect of different reproductive strategies on the genetic variation of eastern Pacific eelgrass taxa.
- The leptostraca* of coastal California: A survey based on morphological and molecular evidence. [*a marine order of the class malacostraca, which is a subclass of the subphyllum crustacea]
- Leopard shark observation/collection.
- Development of a marine metazoan physiological bioassay for heavy metal contamination.
- Observation and mapping of populations of the seaweed Codium fragile.
San Diego County; upland portion is approximately 0.5 km (0.3 mi.) west of main campus and 1 km (0.6 mi.) north of Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO); marine portion is adjacent to SIO.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the San Diego campus provide real-time and long-term atmospheric and ocean meteorological data, laboratory and library support, diving facilities, small boats, aquaria, and pier. NRS office can provide field supplies and equipment, including water tanker, flatbed trailer, small tractor with attachments for rent.
The reserve bibliography includes citations of journal articles, books, theses, art, and other works published about or based on activities conducted at the reserve.
Collections of marine plants, animals, and sediments at SIO; synoptic vascular plant collection; vertebrate species lists; biological, archaeological, geological reports; site-related research bibliography, including reserve-based publications since 1995; hydrographic and meteorological records available through SIO; long-term monitoring data for rocky intertidal.
Academic coordinator on campus.
342 hectares (844 acres)
Below MLLW: 15 m (50 ft.)
Above mean sea level: 113 m (370 ft.)
22 cm (9 in.) per year.
Air: September maximum: 25 ºC (78 ºF)
January minimum: 8 ºC (47 ºF)
Water: August maximum: 21 ºC (69 ºF)
February minimum: 14 ºC (57 ºF)