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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Long Beach / Avalon

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.



July 22, 2016 — Science and policy director Rita Kampalath gets to the bottom of the massive sewage spill that made a mess of the L.A. River.

Perfect blue sky, 95 degrees outside … and the beaches are closed??

After years of hard work, Heal the Bay is thankful that the days of sewage fouling our waterways are largely behind us. But we got a bad flashback to the old days this week when an estimated 1.75 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the L.A. River late Monday and early Tuesday. The spill itself was estimated at 2.5 million gallons, roughly 800,000 gallons of which were captured before they reached the river. A rupture in an aging sewer pipe in the Boyle Heights area had been identified as the likely culprit.

We’ve heard a lot about our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and L.A. isn’t immune to these issues. But the City of Los Angeles’ decision to invest in sewer upgrades over the past few years has largely paid off.

An estimated investment of $200M per year has resulted in an 85% reduction of sanitary sewer overflows (i.e., sewage spills) since 2000. But when popular shorelines in Long Beach and Seal Beach are closed for days because of a spill, you know a major amount of waste must have been discharged and something had seriously gone wrong.

I wanted to find out more about what could have caused such a catastrophic failure of a major sewer line and what was being done to fix it. So Thursday morning, the City of L.A. Bureau of Sanitation staff graciously offered to give me an up-close-and-personal view of the rupture area.

Site of the bridge demolitionWe pulled up to the site, located where active construction is already going on – the highly publicized demolition of the 6th Street Bridge in Boyle Heights. The immediate rupture area was now cleared of the heavy machinery ever-present during the months-long razing of the iconic bridge, but I could still hear demolition crews working nearby. I couldn’t help but wonder if all this heavy construction nearby might have played a role in the failure of the sewer line.

As we surveyed the damage, City staff explained that the spill was detected following sinkholes that had recently formed in the road, roughly at the intersection of Mission Road and 6th Street. These collapses and the associated debris ruptured and then clogged the massive 60-inch trunk line known as the North Outfall Sewer (NOS), causing a back-up of waste, which, given the volume flowing through the enormous pipe, quickly and unfortunately made it into the river.

With crews working around the clock, a diversion was ultimately put into place to direct sewage around the damaged pipe. Cleanup quickly commenced and is still ongoing.

In the early days after a troubling incident like this, we have at least as many questions as answers. We are urging the City to continue investigating the causes and impacts of the spill. What conditions underground led to the sinkholes? Did the months of construction and associated heavy machinery and demolition play a role? What safeguards were put into place to protect the relatively shallow sewer lines during the demolition? The top of the NOS is only 16 feet below ground.

What sort of controls will be put into place to avoid future spills along our key waterways? And, who will be held accountable for this spill? It is also a keen reminder that we need to continue to invest in our aging infrastructure to avoid incidents like this in the future.

When our region’s famously perfect weather starts to veer towards scorching, people want to take advantage of another enviable asset – our recreational waters. But they need to know a day at the beach isn’t going to make them sick.

Barry Berggren, Rita Kampalath, Brian McCormick, and Adel Hagekhalil
Left to right: Barry Berggren, Rita Kampalath, Brian McCormick, and Adel Hagekhalil

So we commend and thank the authorities in Long Beach and Orange County for making the wise decision to prioritize public health and close the beaches as soon as news of the sewage spill came out. But it’s a shame that on this hot weekend some of our best avenues for relief may be out of commission. As a watchdog of our local waterways, Heal the Bay will continue to track the investigation and follow-up on this massive spill, advocating for appropriate accountability measures and preventative actions to protect our vital rivers and beaches.

Spills are fortunately rare occurrences on the river. But chronic bacterial pollution still plagues some of its popular recreational zones. That’s not good news for the increasing number of people who are now kayaking, swimming and angling in its waters.

My colleague Katherine Pease and her team have been collecting and analyzing water samples along the river for harmful bacteria. Next week she will release the results of her study. Let’s just say that if you care about public health, you will be very interested in its findings. Stay tuned.



July 20, 2016 — UPDATE: L.A. Sanitation estimates that 2,853,200 gallons of sewage was released from the broken sewer during Monday’s spill. Of this amount, 829,100 gallons were contained and returned to the sewer system, while 1,754,100 gallons ultimately reached the Los Angeles River. Emergency sewer repair crews are constructing a permanent bypass system to divert sewage flow around the portion of the pipe that collapsed.

We are still awaiting more complete water quality data from Long Beach and Seal Beach.

July 19, 2016 — BREAKING NEWS: Yesterday afternoon around 2 p.m., a large sewage pipe ruptured near Boyle Heights, spilling 2.4 million gallons of sewage into the L.A. River. The river empties out in Long Beach, so, as a precautionary measure, all beaches in the city of Long Beach are currently closed until further notice. Beaches in Seal Beach from the mouth of the San Gabriel River to Anaheim Bay are also closed.

It’s too early to pinpoint the exact cause of the spill, but aging water and sewage infrastructure is likely to blame: The pipe that collapsed was built in 1929.

While no sewage has been seen on the beach yet, ocean water samples are currently being tested for bacteria that could make swimmers sick. Results should be available on Wednesday, and beaches could reopen as early as Thursday.

Heal the Bay water quality scientists are in touch with public health officials and will keep this blog updated as the situation develops.

For the latest updates, follow us on Twitter at @healthebay and @beachreportcard.

Long Beach closed due to sewage spill (Image by Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Patch.com



Just in time for the last hurrah of summer, beachgoers on the West Coast can head to the shore this Labor Day secure that they’ll be swimming and playing in healthy water.  According to the 2013 End of Summer Beach Report Card®, beach water quality in California, Oregon and Washington was excellent for the fourth consecutive summer.

We collected water quality data at more than 640 monitoring locations along the West Coast between Memorial Day and Aug. 21, 2013. Then we assigned an A-to-F grade based on bacterial pollution levels. Nearly 96% of California beaches earned an A or B grade. Washington earned A or B grades at 91% of its beaches, and Oregon earned all A grades for the fourth consecutive year. 

To find out which beaches didn’t make the grade and how your county stacks up, consult our 2013 End of Summer Beach Report Card®:

Beachgoers can find out which beaches are safe, check recent water quality history and look up details on beach closures using our Beach Report Card. On the go? Download a free Beach Report Card mobile app for iPhone or Android.



The Beach Report Card Summer Shades Contest

APP UPDATE: We are currently experiencing some issues with the Beach Report Card App due to opperating system changes. In the meantime, please go directly to beachreportcard.org for all your healthy beach reporting needs!

Is the water quality at your favorite California beach shady? Find out in the Beach Report Card (BRC) Summer Shades Contest! Watch the water quality at your favorite beach and you could win an exclusive pair of Heal the Bay shades.

 

We’re giving away ten pairs of our limited edition “I Heal the Bay” sunglasses over the next ten days. Every day, starting Tuesday August 6th, we will pick a winner and announce them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To win a pair of shades, be the first to answer the daily trivia question found on our Facebook page.

To enter, download the Beach Report Card mobile app and leave your answer as a comment in the feedback tab including the hashtag #SummerShades.

Here’s How To Leave Feedback on the Beach Report Card App:

How-To Leave Feedback on the Beach Report Card App

 

Amy Smart sporting Heal the Bay sunglasses at Bring Back the Beach



Free Bird! You might be grateful to hear your favorite band cover this song…or not.

At Heal the Bay, we can say without irony that we are grateful to Freebirds in Agoura Hills for teaming with us to restore the Malibu Creek Watershed in January. Not only did a group of Freebirders join us, but they surprised us and brought burritos! It was an awesome day, pulling weeds, planting mulefat, eating burritos. Thank you, Freebirds!

A big thanks to the Gesso Foundation for their longtime support of our Key to the Sea program.  Due in large part to their generosity, we’ve successfully provided thousands of Los Angeles County-based students and their teachers (K-5th grade) with high-impact environmental education and memorable field trip experiences. For many of these students, participation in the program marked their first chance to explore the beach environment and witness marine life up close! 

The Gesso Foundation was created in accordance with the wishes expressed in the will of acclaimed artist Frank Moore, who died in 2002. The Foundation’s purpose is twofold: to preserve, protect, and expand awareness of Frank Moore’s art; and to support non-profit organizations devoted to the arts, social justice, environmental or AIDS-related causes.Morphing Swallow by artist-philanthropist Frank Moore

Much like Mary Poppins herself, moms rely on Mommy Poppins LA, consulting the site for non-boring, low-cost activities to do with kids. Meanwhile Heal the Bay and our Aquarium couldn’t spread the word about our kid-friendly, fun AND educational happenings without their help. As parents and as youth educators, we thank the staff at Mommy Poppins LA for being such a helpful resource.

Do you devote your free time to volunteer with Heal the Bay? Then it’s time for us to thank YOU. Please join us on February 19 at Bodega Wine Bar as we celebrate you and all that you do to help protect our Bay…and beyond.

Join us to help revive Malibu Creek by removing weeds and planting natives on February 10. 



Do you care about clean water in your community? Love putting on a show? Want to make change (not just the money kind)?

Join our elite Speakers Bureau team to help raise educational awareness across Los Angeles in schools, workplaces and social groups.

For more than 25 years, Heal the Bay has relied upon people just like you to help spread the word about ocean pollution.

Last year we were able to reach 55,000 people! Obviously, we can’t do this on our own: We need you!  

Our winter training sessions begin on Tuesday, March 5, 1-4:30 p.m. at the Los Angeles River Center. Sessions run through the month on Tuesdays in March  (the 12th and the 19th), with a talk on Saturday, March 16, 9:30 a.m.-noon at Venice Pier. Attendance at all sessions is mandatory.

Register for Winter Speakers Bureau Training.



As representatives of Heal the Bay, we often get asked: “Is the bay healed yet?” People know we’ve been at this a long time (more than 25 years). While the answer is a qualified “yes,” we still work every day to fulfill our mission to make southern California’s coastal waters and watersheds, including Santa Monica Bay safe, healthy and clean. Our tools?  Science, education, community action and advocacy.

Each year we discuss where we’ve been, where we’re headed and how we’re going to get there. It’s a valuable process requiring that we all know what our HtB colleagues are up to: whether we’re teaching school kids at our Aquarium, coordinating our next advocacy campaign or analyzing water samples in Malibu Creek.

Here’s what we came up with for our goals of 2013:

Science

Marine Protected Areas and Fisheries

In 2013, we plan to continue to build our MPA Watch program. We will review data collected by MPA Watch volunteers and interns, and share it with management, enforcement, and other monitoring agencies to help understand and evaluate how local Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are being used. We also plan to inform and evaluate the development of fisheries management plans for key southern California fisheries, including spiny lobster. Additionally, in 2013, we will work with local and statewide partners to advance the statewide sustainable seafood policy developed by the Ocean Protection Council (with Heal the Bay’s involvement) and local efforts to promote sustainable seafood. On the education front, we are playing a leadership role in creating new MPA curriculum for teachers with the Southern California Aquarium Collaborative.  

Stream Team

Heal the Bay will continue to develop our Stream Team program. We plan to begin evaluating watershed impacts associated with agricultural development in the Santa Monica Mountains, including vineyards. Additionally, we hope to inspire residents and recreationists in the watershed to become Creek Stewards, and help scout for watershed health impacts throughout these mountains.

Malibu Creek Watershed

We will educate local partner groups and management agencies about the findings of Heal the Bay’s State of the Malibu Creek Watershed report. We will also work with watershed partners and policymakers to prioritize and implement recommendations detailed in the report aimed at improving local stream and watershed health.

Predicting Beach Water Quality

Heal the Bay will continue our partnership with Stanford University in developing a predictive beach water quality models. The models will use oceanic and atmospheric factors (i.e. tides, waves, temperature, wind direction etc.) as inputs to forecast indicator bacteria concentrations at beaches, as means of providing early “nowcast” warnings of human health risks (our current methods take 18-24 hours to process, leaving the public with day-old water quality information). We plan to develop simple models for 25 different California beaches that will rapidly “predict” when beaches are in or out of compliance with water quality standards. Additionally, these models will be helpful in identifying and prioritizing beach cleanup and abatement priorities.

Education

Youth Summits

To take student learning beyond the classroom into community action and civic engagement, Heal the Bay will organize more youth summits. Students learn how to protect what they love through adjusting their own behavior, speaking publicly to businesses and governments and educating others in their local communities.  This year we will focus on scheduling these events quarterly, formalizing their structure, and expanding their reach throughout Los Angeles County high schools.     

Teacher Opportunities

Heal the Bay will expand our teacher education and professional development opportunities in 2013.  New workshops and field experiences will be offered to help increase teacher expertise in teaching environmental principles and concepts, marine and watershed science knowledge, and best practices for melding field and laboratory activities into their own classroom curricula. 

Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

To further educate the 75,000-80,000 annual visitors to the Aquarium about water conservation, we plan to overhaul the Green Room, named after Heal the Bay’s founding president Dorothy Green, with a new exhibit in her honor. The education room will include interactive, bilingual exhibits on watershed education and the urban water cycle, as well as a space dedicated to Dorothy’s accomplishments and inspirational vision.

Classroom Enrichment

In 2013, we’ll expand our environmental education outreach to more low-income communities and to a wider range of age groups. Through our partnership with the Discovery by Nature program, we’ll be able to reach classrooms in underserved communities, where public education in the sciences — as well as field trip funding — are limited.

Advocacy

A “Yes” for Clean Beaches

In the new year, Heal the Bay will mobilize support for the Clean Waters, Clean Beaches funding measure, which will drive an extensive and multi-faceted water quality clean up and conservation program in Los Angeles County.  The proposed measure would address contaminated drinking water, polluted stormwater runoff as well as toxins and trash in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers, among other challenges.

Plastic Bag Bans

In 2013, we will take a leadership role in advocating for a strong single-use bag ordinance for the City of Los Angeles that is consistent with several other policies adopted by local governments in the area. We will work with partner groups and City Council offices to conduct outreach to the community about the pending ordinance, and ensure that a final policy is adopted that eliminates single-use plastic bag usage in the City at grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores, and greatly reduces paper bag distribution from these locations.

Community Action

Zero Waste Cleanups

In 2013, Heal the Bay plans to run all Nothin’ But Sand monthly beach cleanups as Zero Waste events.  Building upon the success of the 2012 Zero Waste cleanups in October and November, we shall focus this year on not generating excessive waste in the process of performing large-scale public volunteer events. The hope is that the public will witness our commitment to practicing what we advocate, by going reusable and minimizing trash.

Compton Creek

Heal the Bay, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Goldhirsh Foundation, will complete a project to build trash capture devices in the concrete portion of Compton Creek, just upstream of the earthen-bottom, riparian section. Compton Creek is the last major tributary that feeds into the Los Angeles River before it ultimately reaches the ocean in Long Beach. The devices ‑- adjustable metal racks that will be bolted into the channel bottom — will capture trash from dry weather urban runoff and low volume producing storm events and go a long way toward improving water quality.  

A Park in South L.A.

Heal the Bay is partnering with Wisdom Academy for Young Scientists (WAYS) Charter School to complete the construction of the WAYS Reading & Fitness Park on the site of 4,000-square feet of unused City land in 2013. This park, located at the intersection of McKinley Avenue and 87th Street in South Los Angeles, will be on the leading edge of green technology, recycling street water to irrigate its own landscape.

Help us reach our goals this year, donate now and keep the field trips, advocacy campaigns and water testing afloat!

Read more about Heal the Bay and how we work to fulfill our mission.



This trashcan tells quite a tale, discovered more than 2,500 miles away from our Santa Monica base on a Hawaiian beach.

Researchers found the intact plastic trashcan emblazoned with Heal the Bay stickers while they were surveying 2011 Japanese tsunami debris at Ki’i Dunes on Oahu.

“It really highlights the fact that trash travels very far,” Nicholas Mallos, a conservation biologist and ocean debris specialist at the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy told LiveScience.

Mallos and colleagues from the Japan Environmental Action Network, the Oceanic Wildlife Survey and the Japan Ministry of the Environment just completed the beach survey in Hawaii in search of tsunami debris.

Heal the Bay Trash Can in HawaiiThe Hawaii survey turned up masses of typical ocean garbage, including fishing nets and traps, Mallos said, noting the irony of also finding a “Heal the Bay” trashcan.

The problem of typical ocean trash is inextricably linked to the issue of tsunami debris, Mallos continued. Tsunamis aren’t preventable, but regular ocean litter is, he said. Apparently even trashcans can become part of the problem.

You can help reduce the problem of plastic in our oceans by ditching one-time use plastics and going reusable instead, from grocery bags to coffee mugs and water bottles.

UPDATE 1.22.13: A Hawaiian Islands Land Trust employee reported today that another Heal the Bay trashcan has washed up in the Aloha state; this time along the shoreline of Maui’s Waihee Refuge.

Read more about plastic marine debris.

Become part of the plastic pollution solution: Join a cleanup effort, our Speakers Bureau or the many other ways we offer to get involved.



On January 8, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the suit, Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council, which was initiated by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Los Angeles Waterkeeper in 2008. The suit focuses on the issue of liability for the discharge of toxic pollutants under the District’s municipal storm water permit (“MS4”). 

The Court ruled very narrowly on the case and remanded it back to the 9th Circuit Court. 

The good news is that the Clean Water Act’s enforceability has not been changed as a result of their decision.

For more information please see the NRDC and LA Waterkeeper’s press release and this blog post on the Center for Progressive Reforms Page.

Learn more about the Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure which would reduce harmful pollution from getting into our waterways.

Stay up-to-date on our clean water advocacy work, follow us on Twitter.