Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Bring Back the Beach Gala

Ana Luisa Ahern, Heal the Bay’s Communications Manager, shares her experience flying in a Cessna 210 on an aerial tour of L.A.’s marine protected areas.

Marine Protected Area Garibaldi in Kelp ForestA few weeks ago I had the incredible opportunity to fly in a four-passenger, single engine airplane over L.A.’s beautiful coast. The flight was provided by LightHawk, a nonprofit whose mission is to champion environmental protection through the unique perspective of flight. Mike Sutton, president of the California Fish and Game Commission, served as pilot on this eye-opening journey.

Mike and I were taking Los Angeles Times environmental reporter Tony Barboza and photographer Luis Cinco on an aerial tour of L.A.’s new marine protected areas, or MPAs. Our new MPAs are best viewed at either extreme — below the surface of the ocean or thousands of feet above it. Flying over the ocean on a sunny day provided an incredible view of the thriving kelp forests off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The view highlighted the beauty and important placement of our new underwater parks in a statewide network of protected places.

Staring down at the expanse of different hues of blue, accentuated by deep brown kelp beds off the Malibu coast near Point Dume, I recalled my recent scuba dives there, both within and just outside of the marine reserve. The contrast was startling. Diving outside of and then in the reserve was akin to stepping out of the desert and into a grove of giant sequoias, surrounded by life. After seeing only a few straggling fish on the first dive, I was awed by the dazzling display of color and variety of species I encountered inside the reserve. Brilliant orange garibaldi darted across my path, a startled swell shark shot off into the deep. Tiny Spanish Shawl nudibranch, those flamboyantly costumed stars of the ocean, swayed in the surge as rockfish stopped to side-eye me in the vast underwater kelp forest. It was like night and day, and the importance of protecting this special place, allowing it to rest and recover in order to thrive, was so beautifully illustrated for me in that moment.

I shared my love for these spots with Tony and Luis on that flight. Mike and I recounted our personal stories about MPAs and the process that brought them to Southern California. We also highlighted the findings of Heal the Bay’s citizen-scientist monitoring program, MPA Watch. The report shows that things haven’t changed all that much for the lives of the fishing community. Life below the surface is on the road to recovery, given a special opportunity to thrive.

Read Tony Barboza’s article about marine sanctuaries in the Los Angeles Times.

Kelp Forests in the ocean in marine protected areas off the Palos Verdes coast

Sipping on an artisanal cocktail, winning a life-changing vacation and jamming to the music of Ziggy Marley during a Santa Monica beach sunset — does life get any better? Yes, it does when it goes to benefit clean oceans!

Bring Back the Beach on May 16, 2013, at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica, was truly the ultimate beach party. Hollywood A-listers and guests joined us for an evening under the stars to honor Heal the Bay’s former president Mark Gold, D. Env., Oscar-winning actor and environmental champion Jeremy Irons, and founder of the Inclusive Health movement and philanthropist Dr. Howard Murad.

Our supporters were treated to a special acoustic performance by five-time Grammy Award winner Ziggy Marley, who received the true VIP treatment, with Heal the Bay’s Marine & Coastal Scientist Dana Roeber Murray and her husband Brian chauffeuring him home after the show!

Guests had the chance to bid on a completely decorated cabana set, courtesy of Coastal Living magazine, and a new 2013 Scion FR-S, contributed by LAcarGUY.

Thanks to our dedicated guests, we exceeded our goal, and raised more than $1 million for programs that work toward clean beaches and oceans. Rest assured: Our teachers, water quality scientists, policy advocates, beach cleanup organizers, and aquarists, to name a few, plan to put those dollars to good work.

Check out photos from Bring Back the Beach or spot your friends in the Lucky Laughter Photo Booth!

Update: We’ve added even more photos of guests at Bring Back the Beach on Flickr! Or tag your blue carpet moment on Facebook!

To our table sponsors, ticket buyers, and auction bidders, new and long-time supporters alike, we are truly grateful.

On May 16, Heal the Bay honors three supporters who’ve lent their formidable voices to protecting the ocean from plastic pollution at our annual benefit gala Bring Back the Beach.

In 2010, Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons narrated our mockumentary The Majestic Plastic Bag, lending gravitas to the story of a single-use plastic bag as it migrates to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The film screened at the Sundance film festival and remains popular on the film festival circuit. To date, The Majestic Plastic Bag has been viewed more than 1.8 million times on Heal the Bay’s YouTube channel.

We honor Jeremy Irons, not merely for sharing his rich, haunting voice with us, but for his ongoing work to stop the proliferation of trash. In his new feature documentary “Trashed: No Place for Waste,” Irons takes a different journey, this one following the migration of rubbish, the tons of waste that goes unaccounted for each year. Irons serves as the film’s chief investigator as well as the executive producer.

Heal the Bay will also honor our longtime champion Mark Gold for his years of laser-like focus and tireless advocacy in support of clean water. Mark was Heal the Bay’s first employee and served with our organization for 25 years, leading and inspiring our work as our executive director and president. He continues to support us as a researcher, fundraiser and board member. We can count on Mark as a sounding board, resource and guiding force as we tackle future attacks on clean water.

Philanthropist Dr. Howard Murad will be honored on May 16 for raising awareness for environmental issues and causes. Employees from Dr. Murad’s skincare company Murad, Inc. have joined us on numerous beach cleanups, as well as solidly supporting our efforts in curtailing marine debris.

You’re invited to join our celebration of these eco warriors on May 16, 2013 at the Jonathan Beach Club.

Congratulations Julia Louis-Dreyfus on winning your third Emmy® award last night. The Heal the Bay family is fortunate to have you as a board member!

Julia earned her latest Emmy for her performance on HBO’s Veep. She won her other two awards for playing Elaine on Seinfeld and the title character on The New Adventures of Old Christine.

But here’s our favorite of Julia’s versatile performances: Her address to the Los Angeles City Council before it approved a ban on plastic bags earlier this year.

“What is hideously ugly, gigantically dangerous and outrageously expensive, and yet we still use it every single day in Los Angeles? No, it is not the 405. It is plastic bags,” Julia said in public comment.

Whether she’s lending her star power to our annual Bring Back the Beach gala, advocating for clean water issues in publicity interviews or lending her voice at city council meetings, Julia remains down-to-earth and charming no matter the task.

As the actress recently told an interviewer: “I have taken my so-called celebrity and occasionally spent it down on causes or things that I’m passionate about. I’m not running for office. I’m not a scientist. But I’m a concerned citizen.”

Watch Julia crack up Los Angeles City Council members during her testimony in support of the plastic bag ban.

Emmy winners aren’t the only people who can support Heal the Bay’s work. You can too! Join us today.

On May 17 Heal the Bay hosted nearly 1,000 of our closest friends and biggest supporters at our annual Bring Back the Beach gala. Themed “Sea of Love,” this year’s sold-out event celebrated eco-couple Danny Moder and Julia Roberts, as well as Amy Smart and Matthew Hart on the sand at the Jonathan Beach Club.

With such A-List honorees, Bring Back the Beach drew top government officials, including City of Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, as well as Hollywood celebrities Peter Fonda and Ali Larter and sports luminary Michelle Kwan.

In addition, Heal the Bay board members Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Sharon Lawrence lent their voices to the upcoming vote in L.A. for a ban on single-use shopping bags and their all-star talent to the awards presentations.

The band Entourage provided high-energy, dance-along tunes that got partygoers out of their seats and up on stage to groove until late in the evening.

Earlier, guests were given a chance to bid on a new Toyota Prius c, generously donated by long-time Heal the Bay supporter and community member LAcarGuy.

To view photos from the event—including a shot of the evening’s amazing Technicolor sunset—visit our Flickr photo set.