Goleta Slough State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) (No-Take) protects a wetland system in Santa Barbara County where freshwater creeks empty into low-lying sandy soil along the Pacific Ocean. The slough is a partially enclosed body of water, and with each tidal change, the upstream network of creeks brings nutrients from the inland watershed. Where it meets the Pacific, fresh water mixes with rich upwelled sea water, supporting a productive coastal estuary.
Along the shores of the estuary are oak woodlands, riparian scrub, sage scrub, and grasslands. With such a diversity of ecosystems, this small marine protected area (MPA), covering less than one square mile, has become well known as a birding and hiking destination, offering the chance to see a great blue heron rookery, roosting black-crowned night herons, overwintering Canada geese, and Belding’s savannah sparrow. Bordered by the University of California, Santa Barbara and Goleta Beach Park, the Goleta Slough SMCA (No-Take) also overlaps the Goleta Slough Ecological Reserve.
It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource. Take incidental to certain permitted activities may be allowed. Other restrictions may apply. See CCR T14 §632(b) (link below) for details.
California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 632(b)(100)(opens in new tab)
MPA size: 0.16 square miles
Depth range: 0 to 10 feet
- Coastal marsh: 0.78 square miles
- Estuary: 0.15 square miles