Crystal Cove | MARINe

Crystal Cove

Click here for Long-Term trends

Click here for Biodiversity Survey findings

Crystal Cove is located in the South Coast region of California, in Crystal Cove State Park. The site is located in an Area of Special Biological Significance (Irvine Coast Marine Life Refuge ASBS) within the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area, and is near the Crystal Cove State Beach Mussel Watch site. This site is one of many rocky reefs located on the Crystal Cove State Park grounds, which receives a high number of visitors, including tidepoolers. Reef Point, where the site is located, has a flattened and angled bench separated by crevices resulting from uplifted bedding planes.

Crystal Cove biodiversity survey overview

Crystal Cove is dominated by a mixture of consolidated bedrock and boulder fields, and the area surrounding the site is comprised of a mixture of consolidated bedrock, boulder fields, and sandy beach. Sand levels in the splash and upper intertidal zone vary greatly within a year, sometimes covering the upper limits of barnacles. The primary coastal orientation of this site is west/southwest.

Long-Term Monitoring Surveys at Crystal Cove were established in 1996, and are done by California State University Fullerton and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Long-Term MARINe surveys currently target the following species: Chthamalus/Balanus (Acorn Barnacles), Mytilus (California Mussel), Silvetia (Golden Rockweed), Phyllospadix (Surfgrass), and Pisaster (Ochre Star). In addition, motile invertebrates and mussel size structure are monitored at this site. Click here to view Long-Term trends at this site.

Crystal Cove long-term monitoring overview

Biodiversity Surveys were done in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2012, 2018, 2021, and 2022. The Biodiversity survey grid encompasses one section that is approximately 30 meters (along shore) x 33 meters (seaward). Click here to view Biodiversity Survey findings at this site.

For more information about Crystal Cove, please contact Jennifer Burnaford ( and Jayson Smith (

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