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Project: Bight '18 Regional Monitoring

Southern California Bight 2018 Regional Monitoring Program

The Southern California Bight 2018 Regional Monitoring Program (Bight ’18) is the sixth iteration of an ongoing marine monitoring collaboration that examines how human activities have affected the health of 1,539 square miles of Southern California’s coastal waters. Via this partnership that runs in five-year cycles, nearly 100 participating organizations pool their resources and expertise to investigate the condition of marine ecosystems across both time and space. Because participants come together to design studies and interpret data, they reach broad consensus on scientific findings and can speak with a common voice about the ecological health of the Southern California Bight.

Bight ’18 Kickoff

SCCWRP will host an all-day meeting to initiate planning for
Bight ’18 on Thursday, September 14, 2017. All Bight partners and other interested parties are welcome. If you plan to attend, please RSVP by September 7 to Christina Rivas at

For more information about Bight ’18 and to learn how you can become a Bight partner, please contact Ken Schiff at 714-755-3202 or


The Bight’s rich ecosystem diversity is at risk from human activities

The Southern California Bight, which is a concave bend in the coastline stretching from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to Punta Colonet in Mexico, has long been vulnerable to the impacts of human activities. The Bight coastal zone is home to more than 22 million people engaged in a wide variety of industrial, military and recreational activities along the coastline. Additionally, about 5,600 square miles of watersheds across coastal Southern California drain to the Bight, nearly half of which have been intensively developed. Through the Southern California Bight Regional Monitoring Program, researchers and water-quality managers pool their resources and work together to extend greater protections to the Bight’s diverse habitats and natural resources, including more than 500 species of fish and thousands of invertebrate species, as well as a diverse array of sea birds and mammals. The Bight program has become the region’s premier regional monitoring collaboration, using a stratified, random sampling design to paint a comprehensive picture of regional ecosystem condition.

In the Southern California Bight, cold waters from the north mix with warm waters from the south,
creating conditions that support rich ecosystem diversity.

Bight ’18 involves tremendous collaboration and leveraging of resources

The sixth cycle of the program, Bight ’18, builds on the collaborative spirit and commitment to scientific excellence that have been hallmarks of Bight regional monitoring since the program’s inception in 1994. During each five-year program cycle, participants self-organize into committees that are then responsible for conceptualizing, planning for, implementing, interpreting, and integrating the program’s many study elements. Each participating organization is a part owner of the Bight Program, providing in-kind monitoring resources and sharing in the program’s governance. The highly leveraged program is facilitated by SCCWRP.


Bight ’18 builds off the success of the previous Bight monitoring cycle

Bight ’13, which concludes in 2017, has organized its monitoring activities around five main research elements exploring various facets of Bight health. Bight participants generated the study questions for each element, as well as agreed upfront on the courses of action they would take depending on the study findings.
  • The Contaminant Impact Assessment element assessed Bight sediment quality using five main lines of evidence, including chemistry, toxicity and benthic communities that live in and on sediment; the CIA element also compared sediment quality across key habitats and tracked trends over the past two decades.
  • The Trash and Debris element documented the spread of trash and debris across aquatic environments, from coastal watersheds to the Bight continental shelf.
  • The Rocky Reefs element investigated the relative impacts of fishing vs. water quality on the ecological health of the Bight’s subtidal rocky reefs and kelp beds.
  • The Water Quality element explored how best to measure ocean acidification, then used these approaches to assess the extent and magnitude of corrosive ocean waters across the Bight.
  • The Shoreline Microbiology element introduced environmental and public-health laboratories that conduct routine water-quality monitoring at Southern California beaches to next-generation molecular methods for identifying human sources of fecal contamination, then ranked the worst drains across the region for future investigation and remediation efforts.
All Bight ’13 documentation, including planning documents and final assessment reports, are accessible on the Bight ’13 documents page. For more information about Bight ’18, contact Ken Schiff at 714-755-3202 or
For more information on Bight '18 Regional Monitoring, contact Ken Schiff at (714) 755-3202.
This page was last updated on: 5/26/2017