Heal the Bay Blog

We’re celebrating Pride Month with an aquatic-themed virtual drag show! Join us for the first-ever Queers on the Pier on Friday, June 25 at 7PM PT.

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Be prepared to have your wigs snatched by an amazing cast of performers and celebrate inclusivity in environmental spaces through representation and aquatic-themed drag art and dance. All folx are welcome in the outdoors no matter their sexual orientation or identity. Let’s celebrate the bridge between the Queer Community and Environmentalism.

In partnership with SaMo Pride‚ÄĒand just in time for Pride MonthūüŹ≥ÔłŹ‚ÄćūüĆąūüŹ≥ÔłŹ‚Äć‚ößÔłŹ‚ÄĒHeal the Bay is excited to present our first-ever Queers on the Pier¬†virtual event! This is an adults only (18+) show streaming on June 25 from Heal the Bay Aquarium at the Santa Monica Pier.

A variety of marine-inspired drag acts will showcase environmental issues connected to the ocean. In between acts, there’ll be interviews with professionals within the Queer community, highlighting both their voices and their work. Additionally, we will feature informative segments discussing queerness in the natural world, specifically in the ocean.¬† The show will star burlesque company¬†QWN, with performers Ricky ‘Merkin, Coochiano Pavornaughtti, Beyond Existence, Katinka, and Annie Mal√©.¬†Please join us on June 25, 2021 at 7PM PT and let‚Äôs slay summer 2021 like the Queens we are!

The Meaning of Queerness:

Queerness: n. The state or condition of being strange. The term ‚Äúqueer‚ÄĚ has a number of definitions, but historically the term ‚Äúqueer‚Äô has been used in a derogatory way to dehumanize, harm, and humiliate members of the LGBTQIA+ community. In today‚Äôs society, any sexual orientation other than heterosexual is scrutinized, invalidated, and othered. Like most things in life however, sexual orientation exists on a spectrum and to have variations in sexual behavior is a naturally occurring phenomena. Many members of the LGBTQIA+ community have reclaimed the term ‚Äúqueer‚ÄĚ as an all-encompassing expression to include all of the various members of the community, and that is how we at Heal the Bay are aiming to utilize this term as well.

Radical inclusion and increased queer representation are the essence of this show, and Queers on the Pier will deliver this through performance art, interviews with queer scientists, and with talks on queerness that exists in our ocean. Welcome to the Show!

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Plus, swing by in-person or on @HealtheBay’s Instagram Saturday 6/12 and 6/19 at 11AM for a Drag Queen Storytime for kids! We are stoked to have Facisha Farce reading at Heal the Bay Aquarium on 6/12 and Ruthless Envy on 6/19.

Thank you to ETC Hotels and Avocado Mattress for sponsoring this event.




There are new spots for fishing at Pier J in Long Beach. Here’s what anglers need to know about fishing in the red zone.

The pandemic has brought many changes¬†to¬†our lives, and Pier J is no exception. This beautiful spot has a spectacular view of the Long Beach marina, and now features new infrastructure¬†from which¬†to enjoy fishing.¬†Historically,¬†“Pier J” was not an¬†actual¬†pier, it was just a rocky area where anglers¬†were¬†required to have a license to fish.¬†

In a recent visit I made to this pier, I was surprised to see the changes that the Pier J area has undergone, making it even more inviting for people to visit, fish, or simply enjoy the scenery. Pier J now has two actual piers located along the rocky area. The first pier is just below the Cruise line Terminal and has benches, restrooms, parking, and a water fountain for people and pets. Moving a little further south, the second pier also has benches, bathrooms and parking, including amenities for people with disabilities.


Photos by Frankie Orrala. May 7, 2021

In addition, Pier J also has educational signs throughout the area about the complex interactions of marine animals and plants in Queensway Bay (home of the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific), as well as the 5 fish that people should not eat. These 5 fish (white croaker, barred sand bass, black croaker, topsmelt, and barracuda) caught at Pier J are within the red zone and should not be consumed due to their high levels of toxic chemicals. 

These toxic chemicals are mostly found in the skin and fatty tissues of fish.¬†To¬†reduce¬†exposure to these¬†chemicals, it is recommended to¬†only eat¬†the fillet of¬†‚Äúsafe-to-eat‚Ä̬†fish¬†species¬†that are not on the list of the most contaminated.

According to the anglers¬†at this pier,¬†Pier J reopened its¬†fishing activities in February.¬†Like¬†Rainbow¬†Harbor Pier described in my blog last month, Pier J is also very close to the mouth of the Los Angeles River, making it an¬†area of ‚Äč‚Äčwater quality¬†concern for those who enjoy fishing on these¬†piers. Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program¬†will resume¬†activities¬†in June, after a long hiatus due to COVID-19,¬†and we are thrilled¬†to¬†be back¬†educating Southern California pier anglers in-person about the¬†potential effects of eating¬†contaminated fish and¬†how¬†to stay healthy.¬†

Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program (AOP) is part of the Fish Contamination Education Collaborative (FCEC), a public outreach and education component of the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund program run by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The FCEC and AOP provide information on which fish should be avoided and which are safe to eat. Over the last 18 years, our Angler Outreach team members have talked with thousands of anglers (often in multiple languages) about the risks of consuming contaminated fish, what fish are safe to eat, and what cooking methods are safest. We also share other relevant information including maps showing the red zone, an area where toxic waste like DDT and PCBs, chemicals historically found in pesticides, were discharged through the sewer system and remain in sediment. Although DDT and PCBs are no longer used, their impacts can still be felt today; consuming DDT or PCB-contaminated fish can result in chronic health problems and the consumption of white croaker, barred sand bass, black croaker, topsmelt, and barracuda should be avoided. 

To learn more, visit

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Nuevas oportunidades de pesca en Pier J de la ciudad Long Beach: lo que debes saber sobre la pesca en la zona roja.

La pandemia ha tra√≠do muchos cambios a nuestras vidas y Pier J no es una excepci√≥n. Este hermoso lugar que tiene una vista espectacular de la marina de Long Beach ahora cuenta con una nueva infraestructura para disfrutar la pesca. Hist√≥ricamente, “Pier J” no era un verdadero muelle, era solo una zona rocosa donde los pescadores deb√≠an tener una licencia para poder pescar.

En una visita reciente que realic√© a este muelle, me sorprendi√≥ de los cambios que se han realizado en pier J durante la pandemia, haci√©ndolo a√ļn m√°s atractivo como lugar para visitar, pescar o simplemente disfrutar de su paisaje. Pier J ahora tiene dos muelles peque√Īos ubicados a lo largo de la zona rocosa. El primer muelle est√° justo debajo de la Terminal de cruceros y cuenta con bancos, ba√Īos, estacionamiento y un bebedero de agua para personas y mascotas. Movi√©ndose un poco m√°s al sur se encuentra el segundo muelle que tambi√©n cuenta con bancos, ba√Īos y estacionamiento, y que incluye facilidades para personas discapacitadas.


Photos by Frankie Orrala. May 7, 2021

Además, Pier J también tiene avisos informativos en toda el área para aprender sobre las complejas interacciones de los animales y plantas marinas en Queensway Bay (hogar del Queen Mary y el Acuario del Pacífico) y tiene tambien los letreros de los 5 peces que la gente no debe consumer, debido a los altos niveles de contaminación. Estos 5 peces capturados en pier J (corvineta blanca, cabrilla, corvineta negra, pejerrey y barracuda) se encuentran dentro de la zona roja y no deben consumirse debido a sus altos niveles de químicos tóxicos.

Estos qu√≠micos t√≥xicos se encuentran principalmente en la piel y en los tejidos grasos de los peces. Para reducir la exposici√≥n a estos qu√≠micos, se recomienda comer solo el filete de las especies “seguras para comer” que no est√©n en la lista de las m√°s contaminadas.

Seg√ļn los pescadores de este muelle, Pier J reabri√≥ sus actividades pesqueras en febrero de este a√Īo. Pier J se encuentra cerca de la desembocadura del r√≠o Los √Āngeles, lo que lo convierte tambi√©n en un √°rea de preocupaci√≥n por la calidad del agua para quienes disfrutan de la pesca en este muelle. El Programa Educacional Pesquero de Heal the Bay reanudar√° sus actividades en junio, despu√©s de una larga pausa debido al COVID-19, y estamos emocionados de volver a educar a los pescadores de los muelle del sur de California sobre los efectos potenciales de comer peces contaminados y c√≥mo mantenerse saludables.

El Programa Educacional Pesquero de Heal the Bay (AOP) es parte del Grupo Educacional sobre la Contaminaci√≥n de Peces (FCEC, por sus siglas en ingl√©s), un componente de educaci√≥n y divulgaci√≥n de la Agencia de Protecci√≥n Ambiental (EPA, por sus siglas en ingl√©s). La FCEC y AOP proporcionan informaci√≥n sobre qu√© peces se deben evitar y cu√°les son seguros para el consumo. Durante los √ļltimos 18 a√Īos, los miembros de nuestro equipo de AOP han hablado con miles de pescadores (a menudo en varios idiomas) sobre los riesgos de consumir peces contaminados, qu√© peces son seguros para el consumo y qu√© m√©todos de cocci√≥n son los m√°s apropiados. Tambi√©n compartimos otra informaci√≥n relevante, inclu√≠dos mapas que muestran la zona roja, un √°rea donde los desechos t√≥xicos como el DDT y los PCB, productos qu√≠micos que hist√≥ricamente se encuentran en los pesticidas, se descargaron a trav√©s del sistema de alcantarillado y permanecen en el sedimento. Aunque el DDT y los PCB ya no se utilizan, sus impactos todav√≠a pueden ser sentidos. El consumo de peces contaminado con DDT o PCB pueden provocar problemas de salud cr√≥nicos y deben evitarse el consumo de corvineta blanca, cabrilla, corvineta negra, pejerrey y barracuda.

Si desea más información, visite 

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For the seventh straight summer, Heal the Bay is posting daily water quality predictions for California Beaches at the Beach Report Card with NowCast. To make daily predictions, we use computer models to examine correlations between environmental conditions (such as temperature and tide) and historical bacteria concentrations. Our NowCast models then predict with a high accuracy how much bacteria could be present in the water given the current local conditions at the beach. 

A day at the beach should not make anyone sick. That is why health officials across the state monitor water quality at the beach every week during the summer. And when officials detect high levels of bacteria, they issue a public health advisory. By the time traditional water quality samples are processed, a minimum of 18-24 hours have passed and the information is already outdated ‚Äď and with samples taken only every 7 days, a weekly water quality grade may not provide the most useful or updated information as water quality can fluctuate rapidly. Heal the Bay believes that we need daily water quality information in order to better protect public health ‚Äď our NowCast program does exactly that, issuing daily water quality information for 25 beaches.¬†

NowCast predictions appear on the Beach Report Card website and app with the symbols seen below. A Blue ‚ÄúW+‚ÄĚ symbol indicates that there is a low risk of illness by coming in contact with the water, and a Red ‚ÄúW-‚ÄĚ symbol indicates that there is a high risk of illness by coming in contact with the water.¬†

Head to to find daily predictions for 25 beaches across California. Or download our free app on your iOS or Android device to get daily predictions on-the-go. 

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer 2021, we are excited to announce the 25 beaches in our NowCast program, with five new beaches added to the program in 2021:

  1. Trinidad State Beach, Humboldt County *NEW
  2. Luffenholtz State Beach, Humboldt County
  3. Bolinas Beach at Wharf Road, Marin County
  4. Aquatic Park, San Francisco
  5. Ocean Beach at Balboa Street, San Francisco
  6. Linda Mar Beach at San Pedro Creek, San Mateo County
  7. Half Moon Bay State Beach, San Mateo County *NEW
  8. Rio Del Mar, Santa Cruz County
  9. Lover’s Point, Monterey County *NEW
  10. Morro Bay at Atascadero Road, San Luis Obispo County
  11. Hammonds Beach, Santa Barbara County *NEW
  12. Promenade Park at C Street, Ventura County *NEW
  13. Leo Carrillo, Los Angeles County
  14. Venice Beach at Brooks Avenue, Los Angeles County
  15. Venice Breakwater, Los Angeles County
  16. Dockweiler/Toes Beach, Los Angeles County
  17. El Porto, Los Angeles County
  18. Manhattan Beach at 28th Street, Los Angeles County
  19. Redondo Breakwater, Los Angeles County
  20. Torrance Beach at Avenue I, Los Angeles County
  21. Long Beach at 5th Place, Los Angeles County
  22. Long Beach at 72nd Place, Los Angeles County
  23. Seal Beach Pier, Orange County
  24. Huntington Beach at Brookhurst Street, Orange County
  25. Newport Beach at 38th Street, Orange County

Don’t see your beach on the map? Let us know if you have a beach we should consider for NowCast. We are continually refining and expanding this program and hope to cover more beaches in the future. Predicting water quality is complex and we want to make sure we get it right. This means we need access to a myriad of data sources in order to make accurate predictions, and when data are not readily available, we can’t make the prediction. 

Communities looking to bring daily water quality predictions to their favorite beach spots can advocate for this cause in the following ways:

  • Advocate at town halls and city council meetings for increased funding toward ocean and environmental data observation, collection, standardization, and analysis programs.
  • Support Heal the Bay‚Äôs staff scientists efforts to expand monitoring programs and directly fund our work.
  • Stay informed about your local water quality and reach out to your representatives in California demanding improvements be made to protect public health and the environment.

If you can’t find NowCast predictions in your area, you can see the latest water quality grades issued to over 500 beaches on the Beach Report Card. In the meantime, we are working to expand NowCast, so check back soon to see if your favorite beach has water quality predictions.


Mike Couffer has been working alongside Heal the Bay Aquarium to research giant sea bass, the largest bony fish local to LA waters. In this blog, Mike recounts his research on these fish and their uniquely identifying spots, as well as our Aquarium’s journey raising and releasing a giant sea bass.

Early in the morning on May 21, 2021, aquarists from Heal the Bay Aquarium arrived in Redondo Beach with a truck and a seawater tank holding precious cargo: a 40-pound giant sea bass. This giant sea bass, which had been raised for research and education over the last 5 years, had outgrown its tank and was now ready to be released into the ocean. The fish was fitted with an acoustic transmitter that would send signals for about 10 years as it passed receivers scattered along the coast. It’s a straight shot to the open sea along the harbor’s jetty, and the fish could leave the harbor or stay awhile and feast on the lobsters near jetty rocks. Either way, the giant sea bass would be free and in another 5 years or so should be old enough to spawn and help boost California’s recovering population of this historically overfished species.

Giant sea bass are the largest bony fish inhabiting California and Mexico’s near-shore waters, reaching 9 feet long and over 800 pounds during at least a 76 year lifespan. They range from Northern California to Oaxaca, Mexico, including parts of the Gulf of California. After overfishing decimated their numbers during the early 1900s, they were listed as a critically-endangered species internationally and restricted from intentional catch in California.

But while protecting adult fish from fishing pressure is important, protecting their young is also needed. Until 2013, little was known about giant sea bass babies but masters degree candidate Stephanie Benseman found that in California, most of the babies grow up in soft bottomed nursery sites along beaches inshore from the few heads of submarine canyons that start close to shore. The best location known for baby giants are the shallows off Redondo Beach in Los Angeles from Redondo Pier outside of King Harbor to a jetty 800 yards down the coast.

During my first baby giant sea bass dives with Stephanie, I was hooked into studying them by an incongruity; how could we not know even the most basic information about the babies of our largest nearshore fish? I would spend the next seven (and counting) years studying them. As they age, the fish change color from jet black to brown, to orange, a mottled calico, and then a dark brown with black spots. But it’s the orange with black polka dots phase of the babies that draws your attention; this spot pattern develops in the early brown stage and becomes striking when their background color turns orange.

I noticed that each fish’s spot pattern was different from every other. Could we use underwater photos of their spot patterns like fingerprints to identify individual fish in the ocean? If so, maybe we could learn about the behavior and movements of individual fish in the ocean. I couldn’t answer this question in the ocean because if I photographed a fish one day and the fish’s spots changed slightly, I couldn’t be absolutely sure that the fish I photographed next time was the same fish or a different one.

That’s where teaming up with Heal the Bay Aquarium came in. I needed experienced aquarists to raise a baby sea bass while I photographed its spot patterns as it grew. I would use my collecting permit and expertise to catch a baby giant and bring it to them. They would care for and display the little bassling for visitors to enjoy and learn about. Once a month for a year, I’d visit and take photos of the spot patterns on both sides of the fish and they would weigh and measure it. If the spot patterns of baby giant stayed similar enough to be recognized in photos as the fish aged, photos of their sides could be used like fingerprints to identify individual giant sea bass, maybe for the rest of their lives. After a year, I would write my scientific paper on any changes in the spot patterns of the baby giant sea bass that I gave to Heal the Bay.

In November 2015, I dived the Newport Pier giant sea bass nursery site in Orange County with a little hand net and caught a 1 3/8 inch brown-phase baby giant with a special permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. I photographed the spot patterns of both sides in a tank and brought the baby giant to Heal the Bay Aquarium. No baby giant of this age had ever been successfully raised before, so there was little knowledge about how to care for them, but Aquarium staff were up for the challenge and succeeded!

At the end of each month, I photographed the baby bass in its tank and watched the Aquarium team measured and weighed the fish. A year passed and by November 2016 the baby bass had grown from 1 3/8 inches long and 5/10 tenths of an ounce to 7 inches long and five ounces. In my 2017 scientific paper, I showed that you could compare baby pictures of five baby giant sea bass by eye and recognize individuals for the first year. This meant that it was possible to study the babies in their shallow nursery sites using underwater photography and perhaps learn something about their behavior and movements.

By the end of 2016, the sea bass had become an important member of Heal the Bay Aquarium’s fish community where over 70,000 visitors a year learned about the fish or just enjoyed watching it. Managers and aquarists joined the aquarium, cared for the fish, and left to chart other courses in the world. The fish continued to educate and entertain and there was no motivation to release the fish yet; it’s believed that they don’t breed until they are at least 10 years old, so keeping a fish for five years and releasing it wouldn’t impact the population. I kept photographing the fish and aquarists weighed and measured it every six months. After the fish was transferred to the aquarium’s largest tank, I hoped that we could photograph and measure the fish until five years from its arrival date at the aquarium before it got too big for its tank.

November 2020 arrived and I photographed the fish one last time. Aquarists weighed and measured the fish five years after I had brought it to the aquarium. With these photos and measurements and the fish growing larger in the aquarium’s biggest tank, it was nearing time to release it into the sea. The Department of Fish and Wildlife gave permission for the release and I contacted Dr. Chris Lowe of the California State University at Long Beach who had years of experience tracking adult giant sea bass and white sharks with underwater transmitters. Dr. Lowe said that he could fit the now 40-pound fish with the same transmitter worn by white sharks that could “ping” for 10 years. So long as the underwater receivers are maintained, if the fish passes within a receiver’s range it should be recorded as it moves up and down the coast and perhaps to and from the Channel Islands.

On May 21, 2021 at the King Harbor Yacht Club, a small group of scientists and fish caretakers watched the giant sea bass release. Aquarists carefully lowered the fish into the water, while I photographed the occasion. It was a bittersweet moment as the fish swam out across the sandy bottom, but we were all excited by the successful release after five years of raising the baby giant sea bass. With the fish’s unique transmitter active and the underwater receivers ready and waiting, we hope to get occasional electronic travel updates as the giant sea bass swims up and down the coast.


 About the Author

Michael Couffer is sole proprietor of Grey Owl Biological Consulting. Mike contracts to conduct focused presence or absence surveys for rare, Threatened, or Endangered wildlife. For the past seven years, Mike has focused on surveys, research, and underwater photography of Giant Sea Bass out of pure fascination with the species and the hope that he can help this historically-overfished species to recover. His latest scientific journal paper was published in the 2020 Department of Fish and Wildlife’s journal California Fish and Wildlife. It focuses on Giant Sea Bass nursery sites and how cities with nursery sites along their shores can build and maintain shoreline infrastructure without impacting baby Giant Sea Bass.

Photo credit: Ashlee Malyar, Marine Mammal Volunteer

Heal the Bay MPA Watch intern, Alex Preso, saw a distressed seal pup while conducting beach surveys, and helped it get the care it needed by alerting the California Wildlife Center. Alex shares what happened, plus the “Do’s” and Don’t’s” of helping a marine mammal in distress.

At first I thought it was a piece of driftwood on the beach… it was actually a distressed seal pup.

On Wednesday, March 18, I was taking surveys for Heal the Bay’s MPA Watch Program on El Pescador Beach in Malibu. As I was making my way along the beach, I noticed what looked like a washed-up log in the distance. As I moved closer, I realized that it was actually a small seal. The seal was lying on its back, barely moving, and was thin with wrinkled skin. It looked noticeably uncomfortable and I immediately suspected that something was wrong.

Sometimes a seal pup like this one simply struggles to survive on its own after separating from its mother, but there are also a variety of human impacts that can cause a marine mammal to be in distress. 

1) First, plastic debris in the ocean or on beaches poses a significant threat to marine mammals. When ingested, these animals cannot digest the plastic, so it stays in their bodies. This plastic can leach harmful chemicals into their bodies or even block their digestive tract, leading to starvation and malnourishment. Heal the Bay is working to combat this through our plastic pollution and beach cleanup programs. These programs aim not only to help remove plastic from our oceans, but also to keep this harmful marine debris from entering our oceans in the first place.

2) Second, overfishing of important food sources for marine mammals limits available nourishment and puts these animals at risk. Heal the Bay’s sustainable fisheries work aims to maintain healthy fisheries so that these animals have abundant food sources.

3) Third, loss of habitat can endanger marine mammals. Heal the Bay’s MPA program helps to monitor protected areas that are critically important to protecting these habitats, so that these animals have safe places to live, reproduce, and find food.

4) Fourth and finally, poor water quality can cause marine mammals to become sick. Polluted water can cause a variety of health issues for marine mammals, including bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. Heal the Bay’s water quality work aims to prevent harmful bacteria, toxins, and other pollutants from ending up in the ocean and endangering marine life.

Heal the Bay is doing what we can to prevent these threats to marine mammals, but while these issues persist, it is important that we all keep an eye out for stranded marine mammals on our local beaches.

But even if you see a seal on the beach, how can you tell if it is in danger or simply catching some rays?

Many people don’t know how to tell if an animal like this is actually in trouble, let alone what actions to take if it is distressed. When I encountered this young seal, I saw many other people walking along the beach, barely taking notice of the animal.

Here is are some clear signs that a marine mammal is in distress and in need of help:

  • visible entanglement in trash or fishing gear
  • visible malnourishment or open wounds
  • a young pup without an adult nearby
  • erratic behavior¬†

Fortunately, you don’t need to be an expert to help a seal in need. If you suspect that a marine mammal may be in distress, always call the appropriate rescue hotline. It is better to have the rescue crew come to the beach to find a healthy animal than to leave an animal in distress without help. The numbers to call vary by location and are listed below.

Here are a few things to avoid if you find a distressed marine mammal:

  • DO NOT touch or approach the animal
  • DO NOT attempt to return the animal to the water¬†
  • DO NOT pour water on the animal
  • DO NOT attempt to move the animal

If you wouldn’t want someone to do it to you while you’re sunbathing on the beach, chances are the animal wouldn’t like it either. Marine mammals intentionally seek out dry land when they are in distress so that they can rest and soak up the sun.

What you should do if you find a distressed marine mammal:

  • DO stay approximately 50 feet away
  • DO call the appropriate rescue hotline
  • DO take a picture of the animal
  • DO try to pinpoint the animal‚Äôs location
  • DO wait near the animal until the rescue crew arrives

The number for the rescue hotline varies by location, but any of them can connect you to the correct region if you do not have the right number. 

  • For animals found in San Pedro up to Pacific Palisades (including all beaches between them) ‚Äď call Marine Animal Rescue # 1-800-399‚Äď4253 [WHALE]
  • For animals found in Malibu ‚Äď call the California Wildlife Center # 310-458‚Äď9453 [WILD]
  • For animals found in Long Beach ‚Äď call Long Beach Animal Control # 562-570‚Äď7387

When you call the hotline, they will ask you to send a photo of the animal as well as its location. Try to be as precise as possible so that they can save time and arrive at the animal directly.

In this instance, I called the Malibu number. Then I waited with the seal for about 30 minutes until the rescue crew arrived at the beach. While waiting, I was careful to keep my distance from the seal and ensured that other passersby did so as well. When the crew arrived, they expertly loaded the seal into a crate and took him back to their facility for rehabilitation.


Later, I learned that this animal was a 12 week old elephant seal pup that was badly malnourished. He had shrunk back down to his birth weight of about 75 pounds when he should have been closer to 300 pounds. They named him ‚ÄúYellow‚ÄĚ because they used a yellow marker to make an identifying mark on him while in their care.

The California Wildlife Center (CWC) is permitted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide rehabilitative care to seals and sea lions. They will rehabilitate Yellow and help him gain the necessary body weight and skills to better fend for himself before returning him to the wild. All of the animals they rescue stay in their facility temporarily, as their mission is to rehabilitate and return marine mammals to the wild where they belong. 

For Yellow, the outlook is bright and he is expected to be released back into the wild in May. This instance just goes to show that a chance encounter on the beach can be the difference between life and death for a marine mammal. It was for Yellow.

Photo credit: Ashlee Malyar, Marine Mammal Volunteer

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Photo by Frankie Orrala (April 16, 2021)

This month, through our Angler Outreach Program, we’re spotlighting Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach.

Rainbow Harbor is an area with three mini piers located south of downtown Long Beach, right at the mouth of the Los Angeles River. Like many other local piers, it is a beautiful place for walks, with nearby spots to eat and enjoy fishing. It has a spectacular view that can be enjoyed all day. Rainbow Harbor has benches, and a great view of the park and the historic RMS Queen Mary. Fishing is allowed here, and you don’t even need a fishing license. In Rainbow Harbor, some of the most common fish caught are surf perch, mackerels, halibut, and white croakers.

On a recent visit to Rainbow Harbor, I enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of the harbor, and had the privilege to speak with a diverse group of anglers. I was relieved to learn that most of them set out to catch perch or mackerels, for reasons I will discuss below. However, I became concerned when I learned most of them were not aware that the heavily polluted Los Angeles River discharges near the fishing pier.

Unfortunately Rainbow Harbor is within the red zone for fish contamination, and the consumption of white croaker, barred sand bass, black croaker, topsmelt, and barracuda should be avoided due to high levels of contaminants like DDT, PCBS, and mercury in their body tissue. The majority of these contaminants originate from the Montrose Chemical Plant’s illegal dumping activities 30 plus years ago, which creates health concerns for all ocean anglers in LA County to this day. Rainbow Harbor’s close proximity to the mouth of the Los Angeles River means anglers have even more contamination to worry about. The Los Angeles River discharges pollutants such as metals, toxins, and sewage into the ocean, near where these anglers are catching fish to eat.

That pollution does not originate in the Los Angeles River; it comes from the streets, sidewalks, lawns, and parking lots throughout our communities in the entire watershed. If we are going to protect the health of the anglers who are catching fish and their families, we need to acknowledge and address pollution on our streets, in the Los Angeles River, and in the ocean.

Our Angler Outreach Program, an educational program for shore and pier anglers in Los Angeles and Orange Counties about the risks of consuming contaminated fish will soon continue educating anglers that are fishing in the red zone in-person. The in-person outreach program was paused due to COVID-19. We also continue to encourage all to learn about water quality and ask questions about the latest water quality results at:

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Photo by Frankie Orrala (April 16, 2021)

Rainbow Harbor es un √°rea con tres mini muelles ubicados al sur del centro de Long Beach, justo en la desembocadura del r√≠o Los √Āngeles. Como muchos otros muelles locales, es un hermoso lugar para pasear, con lugares cercanos para comer y disfrutar de la pesca. Tiene una vista espectacular que se puede disfrutar todo el d√≠a. Rainbow Harbor tiene bancas a sus alrededores, una gran vista del parque y del hist√≥rico RMS Queen Mary. La pesca est√° permitida y no se necesita una licencia de pesca. En Rainbow Harbor, algunos de los peces m√°s comunes son la mojarra, la macarela, el lenguado y la corvineta o roncador blanco.

En una visita reciente a Rainbow Harbor, pude disfrutar de un ambiente relajante del puerto y tuve la oportunidad de conversar con un grupo diverso de pescadores. Me sent√≠ aliviado al saber que la mayor√≠a de ellos se disponian a capturar mojarras o macarelas, por razones que discutir√© a continuaci√≥n. Sin embargo, me preocup√© cuando supe que la mayor√≠a de ellos no sab√≠an que el r√≠o Los √Āngeles, est√° muy contaminado y que se descarga cerca del muelle de pesca.

Desafortunadamente, Rainbow Harbor se encuentra dentro de la zona roja de la contaminaci√≥n de peces, y el consumo de la corvineta blanca, cabrilla, corvineta negra, pejerrey y barracuda deben evitarse debido a los altos niveles de contaminantes como DDT, PCBS y mercurio en sus tejidos. La mayor√≠a de estos contaminantes se originaron de las actividades de vertido ilegal de la planta qu√≠mica Montrose hace m√°s de 30 a√Īos, lo que ha creado preocupaciones de salud para todos los pescadores oce√°nicos en el condado de Los √Āngeles hasta el d√≠a de hoy. La proximidad de Rainbow Harbor a la desembocadura del r√≠o Los √Āngeles significa para los pescadores tener a√ļn m√°s contaminaci√≥n de que preocuparse. El r√≠o Los √Āngeles descarga en el oc√©ano contaminantes como metales, toxinas y aguas residuales, cerca de donde estos pescadores capturan sus peces para su alimntaci√≥n.

Esa contaminaci√≥n no se origina en el r√≠o Los √Āngeles; se origina en las calles, aceras, jardines y estacionamientos de nuestras comunidades dentro de toda la cuenca hidrogr√°fica. Si vamos a proteger la salud de los pescadores y sus familias, debemos reconocer y abordar la contaminaci√≥n en nuestras calles, r√≠o de Los √Āngeles y del oc√©ano.

Nuestro Programa Educacional Pesquero, continuar√° educando a los pescadores de costa y muelle en los condados de Los √Āngeles y Orange sobre los riesgos de consumir peces contaminado. El programa de divulgaci√≥n en persona ha estado paralizado por ahora debido al COVID-19. Continuaremos tambi√©n alentando a todos para aprender sobre la calidad del agua y preguntarse sobre los √ļltimos resultados de calidad del agua en:

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Yes, that’s right. We’re reopening Heal the Bay Aquarium! Come visit our outdoor patio experience on Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25 from 12pm to 4pm for our Aquarium’s Earth Day Celebration.


The health and safety of our community and staff are our number one priority.¬†When you plan a visit,¬†follow our COVID-19 guidelines and reserve your tickets in advance.¬†Heal the Bay Aquarium is located at 1600 Ocean Front Walk in Santa Monica, California ‚Äď under the Santa Monica Pier.

When you visit our new outdoor patio exhibits, you’ll get to explore local marine animal exhibits, study a gray whale rib bone, learn about ocean pollution and what we can do to prevent it, snag a sustainable souvenir from the Gift Shop, and more!

Discover your inner marine scientist at the Sharks & Rays and the Tide Pool animal exhibits. Sharks & Rays demonstrates the full lifecycle of sharks, and features baby swell shark pups. Observe the development of this important native species as they grow from egg to pup, and learn about all the local sharks that live in Santa Monica Bay. The Tide Pool display allows you to get up close and see local tidepool creatures like sea cucumbers, bat stars, hermit crabs, and marine snails.


Swim by our Watershed exhibit to learn about the Los Angeles ecosystem and view California native plants that are found in these habitats. Check the water quality grade at your favorite beach with our Beach Report Card, find out how you can take the Climate Action Challenge, and take action to #SkipTheStuff at our Plastic Pollution exhibit. A visit to the Aquarium will give you a greater understanding of the ocean, and inspire stewardship of the marine environment and its inhabitants.

We’ll have fun, eco-friendly crafts and activities you can take home, and beach cleanup kits available to purchase, so you can continue to Heal the Bay, the ocean, and the planet even after your visit.

Plus, you can bring the memories home with a souvenir from our Aquarium Gift Shop. Check out zero-waste goodies, plushies, green travel items, limited edition Heal the Bay gear, and more. Every purchase directly supports our marine education and clean water programs.

 Keep Making Waves with Heal the Bay Aquarium: 

Exciting advancements are happening right now when it comes to tackling the climate crisis. Global action continues to move forward with the Paris Climate Accord, as the US re-enters this agreement with a renewed focus on climate justice. California continues to push climate progress with legislation like SB467, which would ban the most dangerous types of oil drilling and fracking and introduce health and safety setbacks across the state. And right here in Southern California, the City of LA is finalizing plans to achieve 100% Clean Energy by 2035. But in each of these cases, the question remains: Are we doing enough? 

While we are excited about the progress that is being made globally and locally, we can still step back and question if our goals are robust enough to actually achieve climate resiliency and justice, if decision makers are doing what is necessary to achieve those goals, and if big industries (oil, gas, plastics, etc.) are being held accountable. 

Worldwide, we are spewing 152 million tons of human-made global warming pollution like CO2 into the thin shell of our atmosphere every day, causing average temperatures to rise and throwing natural processes off track. 

CO2 levels passed 420 parts per million (PPM) for the first time in April 2021. This unfortunate milestone means we’re halfway toward doubling pre-industrial CO2 levels.‚Ā† And, we are rapidly approaching the 1.5¬įC climate tipping point that makes it more difficult to sustain healthy natural systems. If we continue “business as usual” we are on a fast-track to double our CO2 levels by 2060, and the world will be 3¬įC warmer on average, which would mean significant food shortages, more intense droughts and wildfires, and more frequent deadly urban heat waves.‚Ā†

‚Ā†Oceans have helped to buffer this steady pollution stream by absorbing ¬ľ of our CO2 emissions, but this has wreaked havoc on our marine ecosystems with sea temperature rise and ocean acidification.‚Ā†

Tackling the climate crisis is a massive undertaking that may leave many of us with climate anxiety, wondering what one single person can do.

But the truth is that we are not alone. Together, our actions can make huge waves. Whether you are starting with small changes at home, or playing your part in critical systemic change by signing petitions or calling political representatives, your actions play an essential role in this transformative time! 

Take the Climate Challenge

As we continue our struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of life in general, it is a privilege to have the time, energy, and financial resources to make environmentally conscious choices and take action against climate change. Yet for many communities the decision to take climate action now or later can mean the difference between life and death. 

So let’s do our best to get creative and be intentional with our actions and resources. Whether you have money, time, creativity, passion, or something else entirely your own, we all have a unique contribution to make in the fight against climate change. 

Start by picking one action you can take today. 

Don’t stop there! Consider the skills, experiences, and resources you have to offer and create a personal list of climate actions. And because Every Day is Earth Day, take this list with you throughout the year, and do what you can when you can with what you have. 

Here are some ideas to choose from to get you started with your personalized climate challenge…

Where We Live

  • Pick up trash around your¬†neighborhood¬†
  • Ditch single-use plastic and switch to¬†reusables¬†at home
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle our waste ‚Äď yes the order matters!¬†
  • Remove any hardscape or lawn on your property and replace it with a vegetable garden or drought tolerant¬†native vegetation¬†
  • Start or join a community garden
  • Sign up for¬†Green Power¬†or install solar panels
  • Reduce your energy needs¬†
    • Turn off lights, unplug unused electronics, and swap out old lights with LEDs (once the bulbs burn out)
    • Bring in a professional to insulate your home, or find simple swaps around the house like adding thick curtains around your windows¬†¬†
    • Set your thermostat for maximum energy (and cost) savings, or regulate temperature without a thermostat by opening/closing windows and using those thick curtains
    • Wash clothes in cold water, and hang dry rather than using the dryer
  • Decrease your water usage

How We Commute

  • Telecommute if it is an option
  • Choose public transportation
  • Walk or skateboard for shorter distances
  • Ride a bicycle
  • Support projects that improve access to alternative and active transportation¬†
  • If you must drive
    • Carpool
    • Invest in a hybrid or electric vehicle
    • Use car sharing services with electric vehicles
    • Make sure your vehicle is in tip top shape for optimal efficiency (secure gas cap, inflate tires, etc.)

What We Eat

What We Learn

How We Vote

  • Vote in local, statewide and national elections!
  • Support just and equitable environmental policies in support of:¬†¬†
    • Climate resiliency
    • A tax on carbon
    • The end of fossil fuels
    • Regenerative agriculture
    • Renewable energy
    • A reduction in plastic waste
  • Be an advocate
    • Attend and give public comments at local Agency, City Council, or County Board of Supervisor meetings¬†
    • Send a letter to your representatives so they know climate action is important to you
    • Participate in public demonstrations and rallies
    • Sign petitions
    • Create climate inspired art and share it with the world
  • Join existing efforts by Heal the Bay and partner groups to demand climate action now¬†

Questions about any of these possible actions? Contact Annelisa Moe here at Heal the Bay for more information or support in your advocacy work!