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OCH News

2nd Quarter 2024
(April - June)

Quarterly News

What’s Love Got To Do With Us?:
Sex in the Sea Book Spotlight

By Ellis Waterman

Sex in the Sea, a book written by Dr. Marah J. Hardt outlines how a variety of different species in our oceans reproduce and how certain environmentally harmful practices can alarmingly decrease reproductive rates. According to Hardt, reproduction rates affect “food security, human health, coastal development, climate change, and other global issues” (3). Thus, it is clear to see how important stabilizing the reproduction rates of key species is to maintaining balance in other vital processes of the world. Unfortunately, there are several commonly used practices that are making it harder for certain species to reproduce. Luckily, some of these practices such as overfishing and the multiple forms of pollution have yet to permanently damage reproduction numbers, so there’s still hope we can reverse these effects (209). 


An adult copepod. Photo by thedailyECO.

One species that has been notably affected by human activity is the copepod (Copepoda). Copepod are crustaceans that are so tiny they can fit on the tip of a pencil. They are a major food source in the sea as they are eaten by “countless larval crabs, fish, and squid” (10). Copepod are found throughout different ocean ecosystems, and they need to breed frequently to support the species that rely on them as a food source. Since copepod are so small, water behaves in a unique way when they move through it. They move by pushing through the water, “leaving temporary tunnels of disturbed water behind” (11). This is how male copepod find females to reproduce with. Males follow these trails like footprints and in some species, females can actually release pheromones that make their trails smell stronger. This process occurs in specific zones of the ocean depending on water temperature and salinity. However, as climate change progresses, the surface temperature of ocean water increases which can “shift where those layers can occur, how much oxygen exists (warmer water holds less oxygen), and the availability of food within each zone” (12). This confuses the copepod as they try to reproduce and, if they fail to do so, can decrease the availability of a vital food source for other creatures. Continue reading here...

iNaturalist Teaching Through a Local Lens to Connect Students with the Real World

By Steve Addison

Connecting our Learners with Local Environments

How can we connect learners with their local environment?


Similar to many residents in Orange County, I spend time out in nature exercising and exploring our local places. My main interest is learning about our marine habitats and over time, as a science teacher, I have shared these experiences with students to spark curiosity and wonder. This past year, a parent had remarked to me about their daughter’s increased interest in science outside of the school after I shared observations of tide pool organisms from iNaturalist during class. Using the free iNaturalist app, anyone with access to a cell phone is able to photograph and record their observations. Discussions, curriculum support, and projects are just three of many ways that local observations could be used by teachers, facilitators, and families. 


Prompt questions source - National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. National Academies Press.

Observations may be used for active discussions that engage students thinking about the local environment. Teachers and facilitators could reference A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas to develop a prompt that includes questions relating to core science ideas. If student notebooks are used to record discussions, these may be helpful to reference during their experiences on field trips such as those facilitated by OC Habitats. Continue reading here.

Species Spotlight

Kelp forests are among the most productive habitats in the world and are present along the west coast of North America. Kelp (order Laminariales) are large brown algae that grow vertically from the rocky substrate (hard surface where organisms live or grow) to the water surface, and they can occur in high density that resembles a forest. Their structure supports a diverse community of species, from large marine mammals (e.g., sea lions) to microscopic invertebrates (e.g., zooplankton). One of the most notable species that inhabits kelp forests along the Orange County coastline is the California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher). California sheephead belongs to the family Labridae (Wrasses) (FishBase). This species is native to the eastern Pacific Ocean, from Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico to Monterey Bay, California (Braje, et al., 2017). They are found in rocky nearshore reefs (6-30m depth), near and in kelp beds. Those who have gone snorkeling or diving along the Southern California coast and Santa Catalina Island may have seen this fish before.

Education & Outreach


OC Habitats continues to host our Coffee & Conservation (C&C) events. These talks are typically hosted on Saturdays, where we discuss diverse environmental topics. Head on to our Learn page or OCH YouTube channel to watch!

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OC Habitats started to record podcasts of our Coffee & Conservation (C&C) events last summer! New episodes are released on the 1st Friday of each month. Listen to our episodes at OC Habitats Coffee & Conservation (OCH C&C) in Spotify!


Eelgrass when it is flowering. Photo Credit: Dudla Jyothi from Quora.

California sheephead have an interesting life history in that they are protogynous sequential hermaphrodites (California Sea Grant). This means that they are all born as females before transitioning into males as they grow older and larger. This transition can be socially triggered by the removal of an alpha male in a harem, in which the largest female then undergoes hormonal changes to become a fully functioning male (Santa Barbara Independent). Juvenile sheephead have a reddish-orange body with dark blue spots on their fins. Adult males and females are sexually dimorphic (different) in coloration and body shape, with males having bolder coloration and larger body size. Males are black with a red-pink midsection and a white chin; they have red eyes, protruding canine teeth, and prominent sheep-like head. Females have a monochromatic pink coloration with a white chin (California Sea Grant). Under optimal conditions, sheephead have a lifespan of 20-30 years and can reach about 37 inches in length (Braje, et al., 2017). Continue reading here!


OCH has been leading at least one guided hike per month, providing safe weather conditions. One of our hikes include a 2.5-mile Marine Protected Area (MPA) hike along the tide pools at Little Corona Beach to learn about the tide pools and the species living therein. We are always developing and expanding our hiking program to include new hikes at Laguna Canyon, Santiago Oaks Regional Park Trail, Dripping Cave Trail, San Joaquin Marsh Hike, and more, where the public can learn about the various species living in the area and how to leave no trace. If you’re interested in joining us on our hikes, space is limited, so register through Eventbrite!

California Sheephead
(Semicossyphus pulcher)

By Kim Yumul

OCH Volunteer
of the Quarter!

Habitat Restoration


Upcoming Events & Opportunities

July 2024​

  • Friday, July 5th, 4 PM: OC Habitats Coffee & Conservation (OCH C&C) Podcast Drops

  • Saturday, July 13th, 8:30 - 11 AM: Guided Hike at Carbon Canyon

  • Saturday, July 20th, 9 - 12 PM: Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy (HBWC) Restoration

  • Saturday, July 27th, 12 - 3 PM: OCH Booth at LUSH Mission Viejo

August 2024

  • Friday, August 2nd, 8:30 - 10:30 AM: Upper Newport Bay (UNB) Salt Marsh Restoration

  • Friday, August 2nd, 4 PM: OC Habitats Coffee & Conservation (OCH C&C) Podcast Drops

  • Saturday, August 17th, 9 - 12 PM: Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy (HBWC) Restoration

  • Saturday, August 24th, 4 - 7 PM - OCH Booth at Barks & Brews - Outlets at San Clemente

September 2024

  • Friday, September 6th, 8:30 - 10:30 AM: Salt Marsh Restoration at Upper Newport Bay (UNB)

  • Friday, September 6th, 4 PM: OC Habitats Coffee & Conservation (OCH C&C) Podcast Drops

  • Saturday, September 21st, 9 - 12 PM: Coastal Clean-Up Day at Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy (HBWC)

Please visit Eventbrite to sign up for our events. Contact for inquiries.

Join Our Crew!

OCH is always looking for people who want to share their talents and time to improve their local environment and habitats.  We have many opportunities to get involved and some are listed below.



  • Become a Habitat Monitor

  • Join our Habitat Education Team

  • Help with Administrative Tasks

  • Help with Outreach and Marketing

  • Become a Nature Hike Guide

  • Work on OCH's Social Media Outreach

  • Help with ongoing Restoration Projects

  • Work with our Grant Writing Team to secure funding for our organization, programs, and projects.



  • College students earn credit through CSUF, CSULB, Saddleback, UCI, and more

  • Gain experience in the conservation field, a grassroots nonprofit, business administration, public speaking, education, and more.

  • Become a film or art intern for OCH.

  • Click Internships above for application.

Join our Board

  • We are always looking for people to help us reach our goals and mission. ​Submit your resume, references and cover letter to

We look forward to hearing from you!

OCH Volunteers
of the Year!

OCH Employee
of the Year!

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Amanda Park

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Ellis Waterman

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Tabitha Martinez


Gina Thompson

OC Habitats has partnerships with several organizations in Orange County to restore and protect our local habitats and species. We continue to look for volunteers who are committed to restoring and maintaining our native habitats and species here in Orange County. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please contact! We love collaborating with other organizations to recruit volunteers.


Marshland Conservation with Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy. Help with habitat restoration of the Magnolia, Brookhurst, Talbert, and Newland Marshes along PCH in Huntington Beach. Work in these marshes include non-native plants and debris removal, creating channels to allow water flow, installing native plants, and more! Occurs every 3rd Saturday of the month.​


Salt Marsh Restoration with Project Grow. Join OC Habitats and Project Grow in our effort to restore the salt marsh habitat at Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve! Occurs evert 1st Friday of the month in 2024.​

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Santiago Park Cleanup with the City of Santa Ana. Help with the beautification of Santiago Park in Santa Ana to encourage people to spend more time outdoors and make a difference in the community!​


Coastal Sage Scrub Restoration with Turtle Rock Nature Center. Help to restore habitat at Turtle Rock Nature Center in Irvine by removing plants and invasive species.​

Volunteers of the Year



Ginny Gregurek
Drew Kosicki
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Tiffany Chao
Marge and Jo King at Crystal Cove_edited.webp
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Evie Andrade
& Jo King
Eric Peña


Tom Gee


Bianca Borja


Crystal Ryan &
Trevor Stocking


Ross Griswold


Cheryl Dyas &
Michelle Lee

2023 Staff of Year

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