Divers mark 40th anniversary of La Jolla’s underwater reserve


What’s a celebration without a cake?


To celebrate the 40th year since the creation of the San Diego-La Jolla Ecological Reserve, the San Diego Council of Divers held a ceremony at La Jolla Cove July 14, near the plaque that honors the late two divers who helped establish the marine reserve and popular diving spot.

An underwater 6,000-acre park that spans the La Jolla Cove to Torrey Pines Gliderport, the San Diego-La Jolla Ecological Reserve was officially recognized by the City of San Diego in 1972.

Scott Anderson, president of the Council of Divers, said two artificial reefs exist in the underwater park where fishing and scavenging is prohibited.

“One is 70-feet near Scripps Canyon,” he said.

“The other reef was built in 1945 near Black’s Beach and is about 40-feet.”

The men who helped form the underwater park were Conrad F. Limbaugh and Howard F. Riley. Both died water-related deaths before the city established the reserve as a protected marine area.

In the 1940s, researchers at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography noticed a decline of marine animals in the area – mainly giant sea bass, broomtail grouper and abalone.

Community members and researchers joined efforts to lobby until the City of San Diego and the California Department of Fish and Game established the reserve, according to the national Marine Protected Areas (MPA) organization.

Squid trawlers who worked in the area were believed to be responsible for damaging the habitats near the rim of the submarine canyon, causing the decline in marine life.

Anderson said the celebration was co-hosted by Rocks, Rips and Reefs (3Rs) an in-water education program for divers and snorkelers.

The San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park spans 6,000 acres of ocean bottom and tidelands. It actually has two other parks within it — the Ecological Reserve and the Marine Life Refuge.

Scott Anderson remembers the two late divers who helped create the underwater park 40 years ago at a July 14 commemoration at La Jolla Cove.