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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Palos Verdes Peninsula

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.



Planting one of the first MPA signs along Los Angeles’ coast felt like it’d been a long time coming.

California lays claim to the only statewide network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), or underwater parks, where ocean wildlife can thrive with less disturbance from humans. Yesterday our Coastal Resources Director Sarah Sikich and I, along with our colleagues at L.A. Waterkeeper, installed the first MPA signs in Los Angeles County along access points in Malibu’s marine reserve. 

Southern California’s marine protected areas have been in effect for a year — after years of hard work to implement them– and now they’ll finally be marked.

Point Dume State Marine Reserve is located on the Malibu Coast, and includes a rocky headland peninsula, one of the world’s most popular coastal destinations. Migrating gray whales often stop off and feed along Point Dume, and the reserve’s kelp forests, canyon, and tide pools teem with octopus, anemones, and sea stars. Historically, Point Dume’s kelp forest has been the largest in southern California, providing food and shelter for a variety of sea life, including sea lions, grunion, and spawning squid.

It took over a year to get these initial simple signs designed, approved, funded, and installed- but an even longer public process to identify, negotiate, and designate MPAs along the Southern California Coast. Big thanks to the collaborative efforts of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Los Angeles Waterkeeper for helping to make these signs become a reality!

Next up are installing MPA signs along the Palos Verdes coast and Catalina Island … and later on this year, beautiful and informative MPA interpretive signage which will include images, maps, and multi-lingual descriptions of our local MPAs. For Heal the Bay, this is just the first step in education signage, but an exciting one to help with marine protected area education.

 

Dana Roeber Murray, Heal the Bay’s Marine & Coastal Scientist

For ocean lovers who want to get more involved with underwater parks, join our MPA Watch training program on January 30 and February 2 to help monitor these vital environmental resources. 



Through a powerful collaboration between Holocaust survivors and teen filmmakers, Heal the Bay received a video gift that will definitely keep on giving.

Students produced It’s Not Just One, a public service announcement that vividly depicts the impact of littering on the health of our communities and ocean.

The PSA was created in a “Righteous Conversations Project” workshop held over the summer at Harvard-Westlake school aimed at students in 7th-11th grades from all over L.A.

These teens worked with Holocaust survivors to pinpoint injustices they wanted to confront together. Through the workshop they learned to harness the power of media messages, the ways video can be used to raise awareness and effect change.

Participating survivor Idele Stapholtz’s message was simple. “I was a child survivor,” she recalled sharing with the students. “To be a survivor in this world means that you need to understand and respect something precious, help save it and keep it pure.” 

It’s Not Just One was inspired by Harvard-Westlake freshman Michael Kellman’s love for the ocean. “I really wanted to do something about pollution in the ocean because the ocean is a huge part of my life,” he said. “I row crew in Marina del Rey every day and that’s my favorite thing in the world.”

Once the student filmmakers (Sarah McAllister, Kelly Morrison, Kyra Perez and Jordan Seibel) completed the PSA, they decided to gift it to Heal the Bay, which pleased Idele, a longtime supporter of Heal the Bay’s work. With her husband Ben, Idele spent years volunteering at what is now Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.

“I thought It’s Not Just One was incredible. The result is so powerful,” she said.

Righteous Conversations launched in 2011 and is a project of Remember Us.  Harvard-Westlake’s Visual Arts and Film Chair Cheri Gaulke led the workshops.

Learn more about participating in the Righteous Conversation workshops.

Watch Heal the Bay’s videos, from mockumentaries to hip hop music videos and silent films.



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.



You may have difficulty fulfilling your New Year’s resolution this week if it involves morning outdoor exercise, and your preferred location is the beach, especially if your go-to spot is typically narrow like Dan Blocker or Carbon Beach. Why, you wonder? Because the King Tides are upon us.

King Tides are extreme high tide events that occur when the earth, moon, and sun are aligned in such a way that their gravitational forces reinforce one another causing the highest and lowest of tides. They occur in the winter and summer, but tend to be most dramatic in the winter, as they often coincide with storm events. The rain, wind, and high surf can intensify their effects. Places like Huntington Beach and Newport Beach experienced major flooding during last month’s King Tides, which overlapped with some big surf.

These are naturally occurring and predictable, but the King Tides can also shed light on the challenges coastal California faces with the threat of climate change and sea level rise. Predicting sea level rise is not an exact science, but under moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, sea level rise along the California coast is projected to rise from 1-1.4 meters by 2100 (3 to 5 feet).  The King Tides can help us visualize the impact of rising waters on the California coast.

King Tides at Carbon Beach January 8-10 2013
King Tides at Carbon Beach, January 8-10, 2013

Approximately 85% of California’s residents live or work in coastal areas.  These communities and the associated environment are threatened by sea level rise and increased storm intensity, which is likely to cause increased erosion and flooding. But the good news is that if we plan for it, we can adapt. Heal the Bay is involved in such planning efforts, through groups such as Adapt LA. And, we can look to cases like Surfers’ Point in Ventura, where climate change adaptation plans have already been implemented.

In an effort to help document King Tides throughout the state and help people visualize the threat of sea level rise, the California King Tides Initiative encourages people to photograph King Tides at their local or favorite beach and share them through Flickr. These photos will also help educate Californians about threats associated with sea level rise. If you are interested in visiting the beach to help document this unique event, Friday morning marks the highest of tides this week. Tides will top almost 7 feet at 8:15 a.m. in Santa Monica. Check out a tide chart to time your visit, and be careful exploring!

 Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay Coastal Resources Director

Many of Heal the Bay’s initiatives are connected to climate change. Learn how you can help turn the tide.



Veteran TV broadcaster Huell Howser passed away Sunday night. Here Communications Director Matthew King remembers his work with Heal the Bay.

If anyone could make plastic bags come alive, it’d be Huell Howser.   

As Heal the Bay’s newly hired Communications Director six years ago, I’d been grappling with how to engage the public about the environmental costs associated with society’s addiction to single-use plastic bags. I’d sent out press releases, assembled fact sheets and written earnest letters to the editors about Los Angeles County’s proposed bag ban. But something was missing. We needed some human interest.

So I sent a long email to Huell suggesting that California’s Gold spend a day on the beach taking an up-close look at what plastics were doing to our shorelines. To my surprise, he responded positively and quickly to my pitch. I’ve placed several Op Eds in the L.A Times and successfully arranged dozens of segments on local TV news programs since then, but Huell calling me back that afternoon and coordinating the filming schedule marked one of my greatest professional moments here.

Media relations professionals often lose perspective about the issues they pitch. Self-doubt naturally creeps in when success hinges on the mercurial interests of overworked journalists. Is this topic compelling to most people? Does anyone really care about this?

Huell served as bit of a gold standard. He had made a career of mining the profound in the mundane. So if he found plastic bags interesting, then by default they were interesting.

On the drive down the 405 freeway to the Manhattan Beach Pier, my colleague Kirsten James and I did our best Huell impersonations. I made a bet with Kirsten that I could get Huell to drawl the amount of plastic bags we use each year in L.A. County in dragged-out astonishment. “Noooooo, Kirsten! NINE BILL-YUN plastic bags??!!”  I won my bet.

Huell became a bit of a caricature to some jaded members of L.A.’s media community, with his beefy biceps and cornpone demeanor. But that sunny afternoon in the South Bay proved to me that his TV personality wasn’t some calculated act. Off camera, he bubbled with the same Southern charm and decency as shown on screen. It could’ve been model trains or an old mill, but on this day plastic bags inspired that sense of wonder and incredulity that marked his best work.

Huell never proselytized about environmental protection, letting the sheer beauty of California’s special places speak for itself. Before you can expect people to act, you have to inspire. And inspire he did. For that, environmental organizations up and down the state owe Huell a debt of gratitude.

In subsequent years, I’d occasionally suggest other ideas to Huell: looking for great white sharks in Santa Monica Bay or exploring Compton Creek. He didn’t take the bait, but he always made a point of calling me back personally to tell me why. Most journalists don’t respond to pitches, no matter how well-crafted and personalized, either by phone or email. You get used to the rejection, but it still grates. It’s a simple thing, but Huell’s calls showed class and consideration. He didn’t have to telephone, but he did.

My last phone call from Huell came a few months ago, declining an invitation to attend a Heal the Bay event in Santa Monica celebrating African-American surf culture in Southern California. He wanted to attend, he said, but would be traveling. As we chatted on a fading Friday afternoon, he seemed a bit tired. I said goodbye and wished him well.

Huell will be remembered as the champion of the obscure. But I think of him celebrating the essential: to be kind, to be curious, to be connected. California will miss him.



It’s been a long road – more than 12 years – but, California’s statewide network of coastal marine protected areas (MPAs) is now complete. As of Dec. 19, 2012, the final piece of the coastal MPA network (along the North Coast) is effective.

Our state’s marine life will now have safe haven along about 16% of our entire California coastline, lining our 1,100 miles of coast like a string of pearls, protecting habitats, ocean ecosystems, and marine natural heritage.

California’s state legislature enacted the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) in 1999, directing the Department of Fish and Game to design and manage a statewide network of MPAs to protect marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems, and marine natural heritage. Heal the Bay was most actively involved in the effort to designate MPAs in southern California under the MLPA, and is now working with partner groups throughout the state to monitor and conduct outreach about these new underwater parks.

Through the phased “MLPA Initiative” process various interests ranging from fishing groups to conservationists designed 119 MPAs, which have been adopted off the CA coast- first in the Central Coast in 2007 and 2010, then along the Southern California coast, which entered into regulatory effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

This network of MPAs is designed to function together as an interconnected system.  California’s MPAs are being monitored by state and federal agencies, researchers, citizen science groups, and others.

The North Coast MPAs going into effect marks a historic moment to be celebrated – this is the first statewide network of underwater parks in the U.S. As an investment for future generations, this system of MPAs will lead to a stronger and more resilient marine ecosystem in California.

Dana Roeber Murray

Heal the Bay’s Marine & Coastal Scientist 

Want to do more to steward our ocean environment? Join Heal the Bay’s citizen science program, MPA Watch. Training begins January 30.



Today we celebrate how hard work does pay off. Nineteen marine protected areas (MPAs) will become effective December 19, completing the statewide network of MPAs in California’s coastal regions. Last year we rejoiced as the MPAs along the south coast became effective, and now the state will boast a suite of MPAs all the way up to the Oregon border.

Heal the Bay staff and partners worked for years to designate these MPAs, which protect entire ecosystems, allowing animals living in these areas to repopulate.

We extend our thanks to the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation for their ongoing support of our ocean conservation work, especially for establishing these Marine Protected Areas in Southern California!

In addition, we thank Sempra Energy and the Southern California Gas Company for their generous support of our Key to the Sea program and commitment to volunteerism. We are also grateful to the John W. Carson Foundation —established by Tonight Show host Johnny Carson in 1988  for their longtime support of our beach cleanup and educational programs

This week Heal the Bay staff got to ring in some festive cheer at our annual holiday party.  It was a day to celebrate each other and the hard work and dedication that goes into protecting Southern California’s coastal waters. 

Heal the Bay Holiday Party 2012

We had a wonderful time and it would not have been the rockin’ party it was without the help and generosity of some amazing people and businesses:

  • Huge thank you to our awesome board member Barry Gribbon who graciously let us use his home to host our party.  You rock, Barry!
  • Our party was so sweet thanks to the incredibly moist and delicious bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes
  • Tru Protection not only continues to donate 15% of the proceeds from the Abel Art series of Iphone cases, but they also generously donated a few to raffle off to staff!
  • And finally, Alchemie Spa helped us feel pampered when one lucky staffer got to walk away with a gift certificate for an organic manicure. Come treat yourself for a good cause on December 18 when Alchemie throws a party for us, complete with food, drinks, mini-treatments and so much more. All of the proceeds from the evening’s $10 entrance charge, raffle tickets, silent auction and a portion of spa treatments will go to protecting what we all love…the ocean!

We’d also like to thank surfwear retailer O’Neill, which has offered a special edition Heal the Bay surfer t-shirt at their Santa Monica store since September 2011. We appreciate the ongoing support!

More: Visit the Heal the Bay holiday gift guide for the ocean lovers on your list. 

Want do more to protect the ocean? Heal the Bay offers myriad ways to get involved—from our citizen science program MPA Watch to beach cleanups.



It’s that time of year….

Gifts to buy, presents to wrap, crowds, parties, lines, stress, debt, more shopping, more wrapping, cooking, planning … and oh yes, giving back.

It’s that time of the season when you tell yourself: This year’s going to be different. This year, I’m going to remember the true spirit of the season. This year, I’m going to do something charitable.  I’ll serve meals at a shelter, I’ll make time to volunteer, I’ll adopt a family for Christmas …

And suddenly, you’re out of time. The holidays are over, and you haven’t had a chance to do a thing but shop, eat, drive, wait in line, wrap, eat, and stress more. You resign by saying, “Next year. I’ll make the holidays less commercial and more about love and giving — next year.”

Don’t give up. Heal the Bay is here, and we’ve made it easy for you to do it all. Shop, eat, drink, be merry AND be charitable without spending an extra penny.  When you shop, eat or drink at one of our holiday partners, a portion of your sale will be gifted back to Heal the Bay.  

Having a party? As much as you’d love another potted plant, tell your guests what you really want are donations for the bay. We’ll even give you games, supplies and a gift wrapped box to collect their “treasure.”

Looking for a special place for your party?  It doesn’t get any more awesome than the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium!  The décor is done! Kelp Forests in awesome neon! Entertainment? How many holiday parties have you been to that included petting a seastar, feeding a shark or communing with a moon jelly?

However you enjoy the holidays, remember a gift for you: give yourself a moment, an hour a day, to take in the splendor of the sea.

                                                                                –Nina Borin

Development Manager, Corporate Relations and Special Events

Send Nina an email if you want your business included in Heal the Bay’s holiday shopping guide or if you want to throw a HtB-themed holiday party.



Sustain the “doing good” momentum generated by the Giving Tuesday initiative and make a difference in your community. Not all giving needs to be material (although we appreciate the donations). Here are three ways this week that you can give back with Heal the Bay:

In case you are feeling material, our holiday shopping guide is up with all kinds of gift options for the ocean lovers in your life. The guide is also handy for sharing when someone asks what you want for Hanukkah or Christmas this year. 

Visit Heal the Bay’s calendar to discover more ways to get involved.