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Heal the Bay Blog

Heal the Bay welcomed Dr. Shelley Luce as its new president and CEO this week. Shelley joins us from the influential Environment Now Foundation, where she led several statewide campaigns to improve water quality and protect forest lands. But she began her advocacy career at Heal the Bay, and was promoted to science and policy director in 2004. (You can read more about her background here.)

With a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Shelley can talk the acronym talk as well as walk the walk. But she’s as humble, funny and down-to-earth as they come. She’s also a working mom, raising two daughters with her husband in Baldwin Hills.

In a recent conversation with Communications Director Matthew King, Shelley shared her vision for Heal the Bay – and what’s on heavy rotation on her iPod.

What is your favorite memory of the sea or the beach?

Sitting on my surfboard and being startled, and then thrilled, and then mesmerized by a whale surfacing just a few feet away from me in Santa Monica Bay.

What’s a common misconception about scientists?

That we are not emotional. I think most people don’t know that scientists are full of wonder, and overcome by our admiration for this huge planet in all its beauty. Just because I like to learn the scientific names of those sea creatures doesn’t mean I don’t also marvel at them.

You were born in Canada. What’s unique about the Canadian sensibility?

I am proud of the values I learned growing up in Canada. Canadians seem to appreciate the global community, and that we need to take care of the water and air that we all share. There is a sense that it’s okay to give a bit more than you get sometimes, if it means that everyone can be better off. I like that.

What do you think the biggest threat to the Bay is right now?

I am concerned about the federal administration undermining the work of Heal the Bay and others by rolling back the laws that protect our clean water. We need a strong EPA to ensure the health of our kids and future generations. Heal the Bay will never stop fighting for that, but it will get harder if this administration stays on the track it has started on.

What is the most important thing that the average person can do to combat it?

We all need to get informed, at least a little bit. Join a group like Heal the Bay and learn where our water comes from and where it goes. Explore our beaches and rivers and remember why we fight to protect them. Then call our elected officials and demand they vote the right way and stand up to anyone who threatens the things we love. And support environmental groups who are fighting this fight for all of us, every day.

What does Heal the Bay mean to greater L.A.? What’s our role?

Heal the Bay is a symbol, an inspiration, a source of hope and a leader of movements. People trust us to fight for them, because we stand up for what’s right and we won’t back down.


Shelley Luce relaxing with the Stream Team in the Santa Monica Mountains, circa 2004

Heal the Bay is more than 30 years old. Do we need to change? If so, how?

Yes, we all need to adapt and face new challenges. Heal the Bay is always evolving. We started with a laser focus on wastewater discharge to the Bay. We didn’t have an aquarium and we didn’t work all the way up in the watersheds. When I served as a staff scientist at Heal the Bay in the early 2000s, we enacted the first trash policy for the LA. River. So we have taken on new challenges many times. Now, we face climate change, rising sea levels, an urgent need to change how we capture and use water, and a federal government that is hostile to environmental protection. We have to rise to meet these new challenges.

What would you tell a 20-year-old who is pessimistic about society’s ability to make meaningful change?

Hey, meaningful change is happening every single day, all around you. We stopped discharging dirty wastewater, we restored coastal wetlands that were former dumping sites, we banned plastic bags, TWICE. People are protesting the federal government’s appointments, their cuts to the EPA, and their threats to roll back environmental laws. People are coming together to ban Styrofoam, save endangered species, restore the L.A. River. You have to join the movement. That’s the only way it happens.

After your first year on the job, what would success look like to you? What’s top of your agenda?

One year in, I’d like to see Heal the Bay partnering with more communities to create greener, safer neighborhoods, and partnering with other organizations to support funding for green infrastructure, and ensuring everyone benefits from clean water in LA. I’d also like to be charting a path for Heal the Bay’s outstanding Santa Monica Pier Aquarium that takes it to the next level of engaging people’s hearts and minds with the ocean.

Why did taking this job appeal to you?

I’ve always worked for clean water, for our natural environment, and for people who rely on it. When I see something that’s not right I want to change it. I know Heal the Bay fights for what’s right and I want to be part of that fight.

What’s your biggest pet peeve about nonprofits?

Sometimes nonprofits succumb to competing rather than collaborating. It’s natural because of the funding world we live in, but it’s so unfortunate. All these smart, hardworking people should be free to put their heads together and combine their power and multiply their impact. I know we can do better at that.

What book is on your nightstand table? What’s your #1 most played song on your iPod?

Bossypants” by Tina Fey is on my nightstand, along with something about how to be a better parent I’m sure. The #1 song on my player right now is something from Beyonce’s latest album, I can’t stop playing it. And coming in a close second is “Snacktime” by the Barenaked Ladies, because my kids and I love to sing along to that one.

Are you a lover or a fighter?

I am a very loving fighter.

 



Ex-chief of Environment Now Foundation to broaden our reach and impact.

Affirming its commitment to science-based advocacy, Heal the Bay today named Dr. Shelley Luce as its new president and CEO.

Luce joins us from the Environment Now Foundation, where she served as executive director and helped fund innovative clean water and forest protection programs throughout California. During her tenure, Luce became a widely respected voice throughout the state on how nonprofits must reshape themselves to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st century.

Before that, she held executive director positions at state agency the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and its nonprofit partner, The Bay Foundation. The work of those organizations dovetails closely with Heal the Bay’s traditional mission.

An extensive nationwide search culminated in the hiring of Luce, who has been tasked with re-envisioning the scope of our advocacy and education programs. While focused on the core mission of clean water and healthy watersheds, she will implement strategies to better engage Southern California in battling the broader, intertwined environmental risks facing our region.

Formed three decades ago as a grassroots all-volunteer organization, Heal the Bay successfully led the fight to keep Hyperion from dumping sewage into Santa Monica Bay, thereby reclaiming Southern California shorelines. But the region now faces much bigger threats, from global warming to an uncertain water supply.

“The environmental landscape in greater L.A. is changing dramatically, and so Heal the Bay must transform,” said Craig Perkins, board chairman. “As a trusted partner in the community, people are counting on us to provide leadership locally to help solve problems that are increasingly national and global in scope.”

Luce, who holds a Doctorate of Environmental Science and Engineering from UCLA and a B.S. in Biology from McGill University, began her advocacy career at Heal the Bay. She served as a staff scientist from 2001-05, spearheading the successful fight to implement the state’s first zero-trash policy in L.A. River.

“Heal the Bay is at the heart of clean water advocacy in Southern California. I’m so proud of our legacy of science-based activism and I am honored to lead Heal the Bay in the next phase of growth,” Luce said. “Protecting our water and our larger environment is more important – and challenging – than ever. And I’m confident we’ll find innovative ways to get the job done, bringing in new practices and new partners.”

The board has given Luce a mandate to re-examine policy priorities, form smart strategic alliances, and grow public participation across the entire swath of greater Los Angeles. In the coming months, we will extend our impact with these key initiatives:

Building a world-class aquarium: We’re now engaged in a visioning process to drastically expand the physical footprint and programmatic offerings at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. A re-imagined facility would be part of a long-gestating Pier construction and refurbishment project, which the city of Santa Monica will likely begin in 2020.

Fighting federal government backsliding: We’re mounting a spirited campaign to protect local safeguards historically provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has seen its proposed budget and staffing levels severely slashed by the new administration. Fundamental work related to climate-change research and enforcement of the Clean Water Act is now in jeopardy.

Replumbing L.A.: We’re playing a lead role in helping build a more resilient water future for greater L.A. Heal the Bay staff is helping to drive the newly formed Our Water L.A. Coalition, a consortium of influential nonprofits working to place a ballot measure before voters in L.A. County next year. The measure would fund increased recycling of treated wastewater and capturing of stormwater and other runoff for reuse, which will reduce water pollution and increase local water supplies.


Luce formally joins Heal the Bay on May 8, taking the leadership reins from Stephanie Medina, a longtime board member who has served as interim president and CEO since last July. Read more about Luce’s vision for Heal the Bay’s future in an exclusive sit-down interview with communications director Matthew King.



Heal the Bay has found a unique way to draw attention to the new administration’s attack on climate change science – a sea turtle with a ninja star.

This weekend’s inspiring March for Science at cities around the nation has concluded, but the fight for rationality and reason lives on.

Many scientists and researchers working in the environmental field around the country feel as if they have a bulls-eye painted on their back – from the very government that has funded their important work for decades.

The new federal administration’s plan to curtail climate change research and to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency has stoked deep concerns in the nonprofit world.

But Heal the Bay isn’t sitting by quietly. We’re getting quite animated about the issue – literally.

Today, we launched a 60-second PSA to rally digital advocates across the country to petition their Congressional representatives to oppose proposed budget cuts to EPA programs and staff. Public dissent is critical to ensure that essential air- and water-quality safeguards and habitat protections are not abandoned by climate deniers sitting in positions of federal power.

Heal the Bay’s partners in the advertising and animation industries shaped the spot, dubbed “Nature’s Revolt,” as part of a new creative coalition called Our Next 4 Years. Ironically riffing on over-the-top TV cartoon violence, the video offers a humorous take on marine animals fighting fire with fire.

Sarah May Bates, a veteran creative director in the advertising agency world, served as writer and art director on the spot, working with Matthew King, Heal the Bay’s communications director. Scott Graham provided animation, storyboards and character designs. (Full credits are below.)

“Climate change is a huge downer, but the EPA plays an essential role in sustaining this planet in the face of it,” Bates said. “To make a dire message more palatable, we imagined a scenario in which nature could fight back. At the very least, a crab with a rocket launcher can make an important message more engaging.”

Heal the Bay asks “Nature’s Revolt” viewers to take action and add their name to the Change.org/ProtectOurOceans petition seeking continued funding for climate programs at the EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. To date, nearly 75,000 ocean-lovers have added their signatures to the Heal the Bay-sponsored petition, covering every state and major overseas territory in the United States.


 

 


Bates previously collaborated with Heal the Bay on “The Majestic Plastic Bag,” the BBC-style nature mockumentary that has been viewed more than 2.3 million times on YouTube, and featured in environmental conferences and classrooms around the world.

Our Next 4 Years is a collective of nearly 300 animation professionals (Emmy- and Oscar- nominees among them) who are donating their creative talents to produce animated PSAs for progressive causes that will be negatively impacted by policies put forth by the current administration.

“For each attempt to roll back hard fought social and economic gains won over the past 70 years, we will fight back with messages to help stem the regressive tide,” said Mike Blum, owner of boutique animation studio Pipsqueak Films. He is one of the co-founders of Our Next 4 Years, along with veteran animation producer Carolyn Bates.

Production teams are matched with other nonprofits to create virtual animation studios in order to tackle causes, including the environment, immigrant rights, affordable health-care, government reform and religious tolerance.

“So often, animated PSAs are out of reach of charities and community organizations, because we move fast and don’t have the long lead time that many animation houses insist on,” said Jayde Lovell, director of film and video for March for Science. “But working with Our Next 4 Years was incredible. They really brought our ideas to life in meaningful, funny and emotional pieces in a week’s time!”

The coalition has debuted eleven videos to date, including “Nature’s Revolt.” In just a few days, the four videos they released in time for Earth Day and March for Science have a combined reach of more than 600,000 people on Facebook. You can watch other videos here.

Full Credits: “Nature’s Revolt”

Animation, Storyboard & Character Designs:
Scott Graham, ScottGraham.carbonmade.com

Creative Director/Writer:
Sarah May Bates, SarahMayBates.com

Backgrounds:
Carolyn Arabascio

Animal Character Designs:
Regie Miller, MyNameIsRegie.com

Text Animation:
Daniela Fernandes Smith

Music:
Jeremy Simon, FurnivalMusic.com

Producer:
Carolyn Bates

Production:
Our Next 4 Years



In honor of Earth Day, we break down the three biggest challenges our seas are facing and outline practical steps you can take to help turn the tide.

Sip smarter

Here’s a troubling thought: It’s estimated that there will be more plastic by mass than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050. In the last 30 years, our volunteers have removed more than 2 million pounds of trash from our shores – that’s the weight of two fully loaded 747 passenger jets! Drink related trash forms the bulk of man-made debris found at Heal the Bay cleanups, accounting for 36% of all items found on L.A. County beaches.

This summer, Heal the Bay is launching its “Rethink the Drink” campaign, but you can get started today by saying “No thanks” to single-use straws, plastic water bottles, coffee lids and beverage cups. And do your part by signing up for one of our monthly beach cleanups.

Change the climate

Here’s another disturbing thought: L.A. County could lose more than half of its beaches by 2100 due to coastal erosion related to warming seas, according to a just-released study from the U.S. Geological Survey. Reducing our carbon footprint is a complicated endeavor involving multi-national agreements, but there are easy steps you can take in your daily life to reduce your impact on the sea. Transportation and food choices are an obvious place to start as a consumer. If you own a car, try taking public transit once a week. If you aren’t a vegetarian, think about skipping meat one day a week.

Heal the Bay also encourages you to speak out against proposed federal budget cuts that would drastically slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate research. Read more about how essential the EPA is to our work and sign our petition.


Exposed bedrock on the beach, below the University of California, Santa Barbara. (Credit: Daniel Hoover, U.S. Geological Survey.)

Fishing for answers

Approximately 90% of fish stocks of large predatory fish like tuna have disappeared globally, and more than half of all fish stocks have been maximized. That means we should all opt for sustainable seafood and eat lower down on the ocean food chain. There is much more to fine sea-dining than tuna, salmon and halibut! Widen your palate and the ocean will thank you. Check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood guide so you can make ocean-friendly choices when eating from the sea. And visit the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium to learn more about our local marine animals and habitats.

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If you really want to get your activist on this Earth Day, please join staff and supporters Saturday morning in downtown L.A. for the national March for Science.



UPDATE: Culver City’s Polystyrene ban is scheduled for a final vote for adoption at the May 8 City Council meeting.

Earlier this week, the City of Culver City joined other local municipalities to pass a ban on two types of plastics which wreak havoc on marine life and are often used by food providers: polystyrene foam (commonly known as Stryofoam™) and oriented polystyrene.

Polystyrene foam is frequently used in take-out food packaging like cups and to-go boxes. It’s very lightweight and often flies away from trash bins and landfills. Oriented polystyrene (aka solid polystyrene) is used to make items like utensils, lids and food packaging.

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Polystyrene is seldom recycled due to its low quality and value, even though it’s designated with recycling code 6.

As a result, both types of polystyrene are ubiquitous at beach and watershed cleanups. According to Heal the Bay’s Marine Debris Database, our volunteers have picked up 504,832 Styrofoam™ items from beaches in L.A. County in the last 10 years. Banning these specific plastics is a big win for our coastal environment, especially considering Culver City is situated within the watershed of Ballona Creek and its downstream wetland habitat.

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Santa Monica started banning polystyrene ten years ago, and there continues to be talk of a ban on a state-wide level. But now Culver City has the bragging rights. This local municipality courageously chose to adopt some of the most stringent policies in the area by banning polystyrene coffee lids and straws from businesses as well.

The Culver City ban will begin on November 8, 2017, giving local businesses time to run through their current stock and prepare for the changes. According to the Culver City ordinance, no food provider shall use, distribute, or sell any single-use foam polystyrene or polystyrene service ware, denoted by recycling identification code 6 (PS).

In an additional and welcome caveat to the ordinance, Culver City businesses now must first ask if you want cutlery before simply throwing in plastic utensils with your take-out food. This idea works hand in hand with Heal the Bay’s Rethink the Drink campaign—coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

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Ballona Creek Renaissance lead the charge on this effort, with multiple Surfrider chapters reliably showing up in force over the nearly year-long endeavor. Our own Gnarly Beach Cleaner, Michael Doshi, was consistently there for the countless council and sustainability sub-committee meetings, while recent Heal the Bay Super Healer award winner, environmental science educator, and Team Marine leader at Santa Monica High School Benjamin Kay was present to seal the deal on Tuesday, April 11 right before midnight.

If there was one loser in this endeavor it would have to be impromptu beach parties.  Starting in November, “No [Culver] City business shall sell polystyrene coolers.” So in light of this, Heal the Bay recommends you simply do not procrastinate in the planning of those.

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The waves curl and crash ashore before slowly bubbling back to sea, a potion of water, foam and sand. The light of the full moon grazes the sandy beach at its feet while a bright Pacific breeze wanders through the night. There’s an air of romance. Thousands of wild fish certainly got the memo as they flop and dance around on the beach, performing one of nature’s most exceptional reproduction rituals.

If you’ve never witnessed a grunion run, you’ve been missing out on a classic Southern California beach tradition! Tonight and over the next few weeks you will have the rare opportunity to spot grunion coming to spawn.

Heal the Bay’s Marine Scientist Dana Murray answers some common questions about these special fish:

What are grunion?
Grunion are a sleek, silver fish that are most well known for their unique spawning behavior. These charismatic 6” fish surf the waves to shore, flop onto land to lay and fertilize eggs in the moonlight on our local beaches. Grunion are found in California (including Baja) and nowhere else in the world!

Why do they come to shore?
Grunion come to shore to lay their eggs at high tide. Spawning on sandy beaches, their eggs remain buried in the sand where they incubate for about two weeks until the next high tide comes and they hatch and return the ocean. The premier grunion expert in the world, Dr. Karen Martin, has written a book, “Beach-Spawning Fishes: Reproduction in an Endangered Ecosystem,” where you can read all about these fascinating fish.

When is the best time to try and see them?
At nighttime high tides during the spring and summer. Grunion may run as early as March on into September but peak season is from the start of April through June. Runs typically occur for a few nights after the highest tides during full and new moons. Your best chance to spot them is to plan ahead and stay out on the beach for an hour or so on either end of high tide.

Consult this grunion run 2017 schedule for the best times to observe these “silver surfers.”

What So Cal spots are best to try and spot them?
All you need is sand and a very high tide at night during grunion season! In the greater Los Angeles area, good grunion run locations include Surfrider in Malibu, Cabrillo Beach in Santa Pedro, Santa Monica State Beach, Hermosa Beach and Venice Beach.

What can I expect to see?
Although grunion sightings are never guaranteed, with a keen eye you can increase your chances. Look for predators such as black-crowned night herons or raccoons waiting for the surfing silversides along the shore. Some grunion runs are just a few scouts flopping onto the beach, whereas other runs involve thousands of fish, covering the wet sand entirely!

What should I do to prepare?
Bring warm clothes, your patience and a friend to walk the shoreline with. Leave your dog at home, and come knowing that as with any wildlife it’s a chance and not a guarantee that you’ll see them.

Are there things I shouldn’t do?
Do not to touch or interfere with spawning – especially during closed fishing season (April and May). Also, don’t shine lights on the water or grunion as it can interfere with their spawning, as can loud talking and noisy crowds.

Are grunions doing well? Are they in danger in any way?
The grunion population is believed to have decreased, so it’s important to protect them during spawning for the future population. Leaving domestic predators like dogs at home is advised, as canines may devour the eggs or disturb the fish. Also, not disturbing the buried grunion eggs along the high tide line after a spawning event helps ensure that grunion remain around into the future.

Dr. Karen Martin from Pepperdine University regularly works with and trains beach groomers to avoid the high tide line in grunion season, so as not to disturb eggs. Beach grooming operators now follow a specific protocol during grunion season to avoid disturbing sand where grunion eggs incubate.

How can I help grunion?
Observers of grunion runs are urged to report the time and location of the run for scientific purposes for Grunion Greeters.

Try not to disturb spawning grunion, and encourage others to do the same. During open season, follow the Fish and Game Regulations (which include not using any form of gear, nets or traps – only bare hands) and encourage observation or “catch and release.”  If you observe poaching or any violations of grunion fishing regulations, such as use of gear or nets, please advise the California Department of Fish and Game or call 1-888-DFG-CALTIP.



Annual Awards Gala 2017

Advocates form the backbone of our work at Heal the Bay. Where would we be without passionate supporters rising up, speaking out and taking action?

At this year’s annual awards Gala on Thursday, May 18 at the iconic Santa Monica Pier, we are excited to honor two of our most authentic and vocal supporters: KTLA 5 and Sharon Lawrence.

Our Gala honorees continue to generously open up their trusted platforms to evangelize Heal the Bay’s mission, going above and beyond the call of duty to protect our local ocean, rivers, and watersheds. These incredible advocates don’t wait for change to take place they’ve taken the lead to spark change right here in L.A. County.

Please join us in recognizing this year’s Gala honorees:

KTLA 5 is Heal the Bay's 2017 Annual Awards Gala Honoree

KTLA 5

As the trusted news source for millions of Southern Californians since 1947, KTLA 5 has also been a generous media supporter of Heal the Bay.

The dynamic team at KTLA 5 continues to elevate and celebrate our efforts to protect the environment. Their deep involvement spans across the media organization from Don Corsini, KTLA’s President and General Manager, to the news team and staff. They can always be counted on to help us spread the word about the complex environmental issues we face here in L.A.

From special broadcasts about our ocean and watersheds to year-round coverage of Heal the Bay’s milestones to covering events on KTLA’s award-winning newscasts, the KTLA 5 team has created a more informed and aware public, fostering deep connections between our community and the environment.

KTLA channel 5 is a CW television station located in Los Angeles, California. Follow KTLA 5 at ktla.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Sharon Lawrence is Heal the Bay's 2017 Annual Awards Gala Honoree

Sharon Lawrence

For more than six years, Sharon Lawrence has served on Heal the Bay’s board, championing the vision of clean and thriving oceans both locally and nationally.

Whether it’s on the red carpet, a podcast, on social media or at a Heal the Bay Board meeting, Sharon speaks about our mission from her heart. She’s catalyzed peers, colleagues and fans in the entertainment community to become environmental stewards. Her thoughtful messages about caring for the environment and living a green lifestyle instill a real urgency to take action.

We thank Sharon for her strong advocacy and support of Heal the Bay for nearly a decade.

Sharon Lawrence is an Emmy Award nominated actress and an illustrious, longtime member of the entertainment community. You may know her from leading roles in NYPD Blue, One Tree Hill, Rizzoli & Isles, and Shameless. Follow Sharon Lawrence at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Don’t miss out! Reserve your seat for our annual awards Gala at the Santa Monica Pier. This exclusive seaside experience happens just once-a-year and goes a long way towards our mission of making Greater L.A.’s coastal waters and watersheds safe, healthy and clean.

 



Imagine what the rush of a wave looks like from underneath. The powerful pressure culminating, viciously spinning around you, and vanishing before the very eye.

Chris DeLorenzo, LA and NY based photographer, captures the essence of a breaking wave in his current exhibit “Breath of Disruption” at Gallery 169 in Santa Monica. His collection of moving, abstract photographs were taken just off the coast of Southern California.

“Many artists approach Gallery 169 to show their work, and many photographers have brought beach and water scenes,” says Frank Langen, Owner of Gallery 169. “It is difficult to find something new … a fresh perspective. When I met with Chris I was immediately intrigued by his statement coming from a sincere, unique connection to the ocean. From this sacred relationship he fosters with the ocean, its currents and waves, his eye provides a sensational, humbling, and original vision.”


“Genesis” by Chris DeLorenzo

Ocean photography serves many purposes, from scientific documentation to education to cultural symbolism. Photos and videos deepen our understanding of the complexities of marine life, and also help us reflect on our connection with water.

“I have spent my entire life in, on, and under our beloved Pacific. Living and working along the edge of the continent has been my good fortune,” says Brian Murphy, an architect and surfer who helped discover Chris DeLorenzo. “There is something unique in this young man’s connection to the ‘wet side.’ His work manages to capture something that few artists convey in their work. Special, magical, uplifting … are but a few words that come to mind.”

We recently sat down with Chris for an interview and chatted about how he got started with ocean photography, his favorite ocean in the world, and his go-to green traveling tips.

How did you get started with ocean photography?

Chris DeLorenzo: It’s kind of funny because I’m not a surfer or diver, but the ocean always had a huge place in my life. I didn’t even grow up near the ocean. It’s so crazy though, because I swear­ my first memory is from the beach in Florida. I must have been three years old … for some reason the ocean has always stayed with me.

I went to college for a semester and then dropped out and started working. Photography is not easily taught, and I’m not the best person to be told what to shoot in an academic setting. School is great, but it just wasn’t my path at the time. I did take some awesome classes, like entrepreneurship at Santa Monica College.

I spent a year and a half in Cali before I started landing professional work. Los Angeles is a photographer’s dream location; it has the city, sea, snow, and desert all so close by. I was able to build my professional portfolio in California in under two years. It’s a great place to launch a career.

As I was getting started, a few mentors helped me gain a strong base. I interned with Steven Lippman, renowned commercial photographer and former competitive surfer, for a year and put to use all this knowledge about how to work with clients and promote myself.

At first I thought I wanted to be a surf photographer. I do surf, but wouldn’t necessarily call myself a surfer — it’s the community I love. When I was swimming in L.A. one time about two years ago, I saw this incredibly clear water. I was maybe 50-100 feet out, very close to the shoreline. From then on I started to look for clear water. It was trial and error. And I really started to think about this: why is the water clearer on some days and in some locations than others?


“Venus” by Chris DeLorenzo

I began to discover that water’s clarity has to do with quite a few factors, including pollution and ocean sediment. Location matters too, like whether there are cliffs nearby. Most of the time the farther out you go, the clearer the water is. But after a certain point the waves stop breaking, so you have to stay relatively close.

From then on, whenever we go surf I always ask whether the water was clear. People will laugh. Whatever … these narrow windows of clear water … I am drawn to them.

For the “Breath of Disruption” series, I photographed some 50,000 images of waves in Southern California over the course of 40 days. 9/10 days the water isn’t clear enough to shoot in.

What does “Breath of Disruption” mean?

Chris: It’s me in the space with the ocean on the edge of violent storm clouds. It’s a quick breath, the ocean lets you see it, and then it’s gone.

It’s my favorite thing in the world, being under the water and looking at waves going over my head. No one sees what I see. I feel like other people need to witness this amazing world … the air, water, sand, and the ocean floor … it’s a serene space that we think we know; a sacred paradise juxtaposed with sudden, fierce forces.


“Aquatic Cumulus” by Chris DeLorenzo

Everyone says, “Let’s go to the ocean and relax on the beach.” But this series is not that tranquil, peaceful vibe. It’s moody, intense, and electric. Beneath the surface, the waves look like arteries and veins with severe momentum. There are deep tints as the water swells, big vast concepts of time, space, light, and energy.

It’s surreal and humbling to use the reality of waves to create thoughtful, self-interpretive abstractions.

Photography is so relatable because it’s actually real life and energy; by its very nature it’s not abstract. But there is a fine balance when you’re creating impactful work in an oversaturated market. I want to do something different in my personal work, and connect with a deeper purpose.

It’s very easy to take a photograph that means nothing. It’s very powerful when you get it right, especially as the internet, computers, and cell phones make it possible for tens of thousands of people to see your work.

Do you have any professional advice about how to safely take photographs in the ocean?

Chris: Don’t get hit by the waves. And … you only have one shot. [Chuckles]

Physicality is key. You have to be pretty agile, and quickly get your body in the right position to take the shot at the right angle; it’s a very physical approach to photography. The tricky part is staying under. I can only hold my breath for about a minute, but when swimming intensely underwater, I last even less time.

My ocean photography gear includes a wet suit, fins, mask, and an underwater case for the camera. The camera is strapped to me, but it floats as well. Saltwater destroys equipment, so you have to clean and soak it all after every swim.

Where is your favorite ocean in world?

Chris: Indian Ocean, Maldives – it’s the ocean as it should be. Perfect water, 85 degrees. You can find your own spot. Door to door from L.A. to Maldives is 30 hours … it’s totally worth it.

What are your go-to tips for staying green while traveling?

Chris: I carry a big 64 ounce reusable water bottle around, which I think is made for beer, but works just fine for water.

I’m obviously against pollution in water. If I am out by the ocean and I see trash I’ll throw it away right there on the spot. We really have to be aware of our actions.

I think people just have to understand that everything comes full circle. What you do has an impact. There’s the whole “I’m just one person” thing, but if everyone doesn’t think like that, we are going in the right direction. For instance, in New York, they used to plow the streets and dump the snow in the water, but they stopped it, which is great. But there are so many other actions happening that have to stop to make our oceans cleaner. Fortunately, people are more aware than ever before.


“Layers of Life” by Chris DeLorenzo


Come to our Featured Earth Month Event:
“Breath of Disruption” Exhibit by Chris DeLorenzo at Gallery 169
Gallery 169, the “hub + cultural generator” of Santa Monica Canyon, is hosting an exhibit “Breath of Disruption” by LA/NY based photographer Chris DeLorenzo. The collection features beautiful, abstract photos taken under waves along the Southern California coast. Gallery entry is free. Best of all, 10% of proceeds from artwork sales in April support Heal the Bay.
When: April 8, 5-8pm (Artist meet and greet with Chris DeLorenzo from 5-5:30pm)
Where: 169 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402
See More


 

Chris DeLorenzo is a 22-year old photographer based in Los Angeles and New York. When he’s not capturing waves underwater he works with top agencies and brands on advertising and editorial content. See his “Breath of Disruption” collection prints and follow him on Instagram.

 

Gallery 169 is the “hub+cultural generator” of Santa Monica Canyon exhibiting established and emerging artists drawing from a rich reservoir of residents. Gallery 169 is located at 169 W Channel Road in Santa Monica, CA 90402. View current exhibits at their site and see more art at Instagram.



Climate change is real. We could lose two-thirds of our beaches in L.A. by 2100, writes Heal the Bay vice president Sarah Sikich.

As a surfer, scientist, and unabashed fan of romanticized sunset walks on the beach, my heart sunk as my news feed was blasted with a double whammy of bad beach news this week.

First, the White House declared war against the smart climate change policies enacted by the previous administration, which served to protect our communities and the economy. Second, the U.S. Geological Survey unveiled a report that projects that Southern California could lose up to two-thirds of its beaches by 2100 due to climate-related sea-level rise. We cannot afford to move backwards with climate policy when now, more than ever, public health and our environment need proactive solutions to mitigate against and adapt to negative impacts related to rising temperatures.

Los Angeles is known for its beaches. They fuel tourism in the region and provide Angelenos a place to breath, relax, and take in the horizon – offering a break from the buzz and stress of city life. But, these beaches also buffer our coastal communities from the incoming tide and pounding waves. With sea level rise projections of up to 6.5 feet by 2100, eroded beaches would give way to flooding in low-lying neighborhoods, such as Wilmington and Venice. Floods would do damage to coastal infrastructure, like PCH and water treatment plants, pump stations, and other structures that service our communities. A detailed report came out last month from USC Sea Grant that projects detailed impacts from sea level rise along the entire Los Angeles County coastline, and the projections are even starker with the new USGS study released this week.


Exposed bedrock on a beach near Santa Barbara. Daniel Hoover, U.S. Geological Survey

The best way to prepare our coastal communities is to invest in strong climate policy in two ways: mitigating the impacts of climate change by curbing emissions, and by buffering our built and natural environments through adaptation measures that help protect against climate change impacts already underway.

These measures work best when the natural environment is enhanced through measures like dune restoration, protecting and restoring kelp forests, and beach nourishment. And, as demonstrated by the USGS study, agency research is a critical part of the process. Unwinding climate policies and gutting budgets for EPA and NOAA — key agencies that invest in climate research and preparedness — will only leave us with our heads in the sand, drowning from the rising seas.

The good news is that research, planning, and management measures can be put into place to help curb the impacts from sea-level rise. But, the longer we wait, the more difficult it will be to take meaningful action. Now is the time to double down on efforts to prepare and defend our coastlines. Please join Heal the Bay and our supporters in making your voice heard by signing our petition calling for funds to be maintained for climate programs in both NOAA and EPA. More than 70,000 ocean lovers and science believers have joined the call. Please add your voice.

Some comments from our supporters around the nation:

“I’m signing because I believe in science. Climate change is real, and our planet is in peril.” – Andrea from Mill Valley, CA

“These cuts in funding are directly against our country’s and humanity’s best interests.” – Floyd from Anchorage, AK

“The EPA is indispensable – I want myself, my family, my community, my country and my planet to be protected!” – Meg from Salt Lake City, UT

“Any proposed reduction in funding for the EPA and NOAA will adversely affect the U.S.’s ability to combat climate change in ways that we cannot afford.” – Elizabeth from Dallas, TX



california earth month and earth day with heal the bay

L: South Bay. C: Underwater in SoCal by Chris DeLorenzo. R: Rocky Point at Mugu Beach.

Our excitement for Earth Day can’t be contained to just 24 hours – that’s why we’re celebrating our environment all month long. Of course it goes without saying, every month is Earth Month at Heal the Bay, but April will be something else altogether.

This month, Heal the Bay is involved in over 40 different events and programs all over Los Angeles County. From an epic sandcastle competition to our monthly beach cleanup, to exciting new activities at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium — below are the best science, art, and educational events to celebrate a clean and thriving ocean this April.

So choose your path, have fun, learn something new, and make a wave with us all month long to protect what we love.

Featured Earth Month Events

Protect What You Love Sandcastle Competition

Unleash your inner architect! Builders are wanted for a friendly competition with Heal the Bay and the Boys & Girls Club to design some amazing sandcastles in celebration of Earth Month. Do you have what it takes to work on the sandy shores while curious beach cleanup volunteers stand by?
When: April 15, 8:30-11:30am
Where: Santa Monica Beach near Lifeguard Tower 1550
Sign Up


Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanup

UPDATE: Amazing! This Earth Month event is totally maxed out. Lots more to sea hare… eh hem… see here:

-Hop on over to the beach cleanup at Ballona Creek on Earth Day.

-Help out Pacoima Beautiful at a cleanup in the City of San Fernando on Earth Day.

-Come to our volunteer orientation in April to learn more about all the opportunities to give back with Heal the Bay.

-Sign up for our beach cleanup in May.

Do you like dirty beaches? NO!? Then, one of these buckets has your name on it. In April, we’re gathering in full force to sweep Santa Monica Beach clean and leave behind Nothin’ But Sand. This is a great opportunity for families and friends to volunteer for good cause. Feel free to saunter on over to the nearby Sandcastle Competition and gaze upon the sandy constructions. Participants also earn free admission to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium that afternoon, and with it the chance to interact with the local animals that call our Bay home.
When: April 15, 10am-12pm
Where: Santa Monica Beach near Lifeguard Tower 1550
RSVP


March for Science on Earth Day with Heal the Bay

H2O is life! The rest is just science. As a science-based organization, we know that scientific literacy drives informed decision-making. That’s why on Earth Day we are marching for science in Los Angeles — joining hundreds of other locations worldwide and thousands of scientists and advocates — because the threats to our local waters and waterways are real and must be addressed scientifically.
When: Earth Day, April 22, 9am-12:30pm
Where: Pershing Square, 532 South Olive Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013
See More


Earth Day at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

Thanks to our friends at The Albright, admission to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium will be free on Earth Day! It will be chock-full of eco-friendly activities down at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Make a biodegradable planter, enjoy a special Earth Day story time followed by live animal presentation, join in our interactive “Who Pollutes?” presentation, and check out the local fauna.
When: Earth Day, April 22, 12:30pm-5pm
Where: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
See More


“Breath of Disruption” Exhibit by Chris DeLorenzo at Gallery 169

Gallery 169, the “hub + cultural generator” of Santa Monica Canyon, is hosting an exhibit “Breath of Disruption” by LA/NY based photographer Chris DeLorenzo. The collection features beautiful, abstract photos taken under waves along the Southern California coast. Gallery entry is free. Best of all, 10% of proceeds from artwork sales support Heal the Bay. See a fresh interview with Chris DeLorenzo.
When: April 8, 5-8pm (Artist meet and greet with Chris DeLorenzo from 5-5:30pm)
Where: 169 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402
See More


Spring Break Camp at the Aquarium

In honor of Earth Month, our campers will have fun becoming Planet Protectors as they explore the ocean through games, crafts, animal interactions, beach investigations, and science experiments.
When: April 10–14, 9am–2pm daily
Where: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
Sign Up


Malibu Library Speaker Series Presents Dr. Sylvia Earle

The April 2017 Malibu Library Speaker Series has a special treat in store for Earth Month. Dr. Sylvia A. Earle, world renowned oceanographer, explorer, author, diver, and former chief scientist of NOAA (among many, many other brilliant things) will speak about her extraordinary experiences.
When: Wednesday, April 12, 7pm
Where: Elkins Auditorium, Pepperdine University
See More


Aquarium Volunteer Open House

Learn about all our amazing volunteer and internship opportunities at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, requirements to join our volunteer and intern teams, and Aquarium expectations, as well as all the great benefits the Aquarium has to offer our volunteers and interns.
When: April 13, 6-6:45pm
Where: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
RSVP


The City Nature Challenge 2017

Even in urban settings the natural environment is all around us, sometimes hidden in plain sight. Exploring and documenting nature in cities is critical, which is why we rely on citizen science to sustain and grow our knowledge. What better way to celebrate National Citizen Science Day on 4/15 than to rep Los Angeles in the the City Nature Challenge 2017? Roll up your sleeves, whip out your cellphone or camera, and go for a walk outside to help Los Angeles get smarter about its natural environment. Over a dozen U.S. cities are competing to see who can observe the most nature from 4/14-4/18. PS – When you are documenting species, please be mindful not to disturb the wildlife and habitat.
When: April 14-18
Where: Everywhere in L.A.! No, really.
See More


Heal the Bay’s Volunteer Orientation

Get an introduction to Heal the Bay, our current issues, and how you can get involved in one of our many exciting volunteer programs. Founded on the principle that one person can make a difference, we’ve empowered thousands of volunteers to improve their environment and communities. Now you can make a difference too.
When: April 17, 7pm-9pm
Where: Heal the Bay main office, 1444 9th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401
RSVP


Earth Focus: “Vanishing Coral” Documentary

Tune in for the latest episode of EARTH FOCUS, a television program that reflects on Earth’s changing resources and climates and how it affects people, animals, and habitats all over the world. This installment explores the story of scientists and naturalists who are working with local communities to protect coral reefs that are facing imminent danger from warmer seas, pollution, and unsustainable fishing practices. 
When: April 18, 8:30pm
Where: Your couch or on the go via: KCET in Southern California, Link TV Nationwide. Also streaming at KCET.org/Coral and LinkTV.org/Coral.


Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th Birthday

We’re thrilled to celebrate Ella Fitzgerald’s “would-be” 100th birthday at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. There will be Ella-themed decor and music, and the chance to feed some sea stars in honor of one of our favorite stars. The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation has been an amazing partner to Heal the Bay for the past 7 years, providing assistance in educating over 7,760 students about protecting the ocean.
When: April 25, 2-5pm
Where: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
See More


LA2050 #EarthMonthLA Pledge

Did you know Los Angeles has an ambitious goal of becoming the healthiest place to live by the year 2050? Metrics like sourcing local water, utilizing public transportation and reducing air toxins are all being tracked so we can see our progress and reach our target. What better time to reflect on creating a more resilient LA than Earth Month? Take LA2050’s Earth Month Pledge with us and learn more about our 2050 goal.
When: All Month Long
Where: Anywhere
See More


If you can’t make it to any of our events in April, you can still make your voice heard by signing our petition urging Congress to maintain EPA & NOAA funding. Keep the Earth Month party going in May, and reserve your seat for our annual awards gala at the Santa Monica Pier. Don’t miss out! This exclusive seaside experience happens just once-a-year and goes a long way towards our mission to make Greater L.A.’s coastal waters and watersheds safe, healthy, and clean.