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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Santa Monica Bay

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Oh, what a year! We reflect on some of our favorite milestones from this past year. A huge thank you goes out to our bold and dedicated Heal the Bay community. We would not have achieved these victories without your ongoing support.

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heal the bay aquarium

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Take a swim down memory lane with us and replay 6 unforgettable moments from 2019.

6. Released our first-ever Stormwater Report—a groundbreaking assessment of stormwater pollution management in Los Angeles County.

In our new Stormwater Report we found that local governments have made shockingly minimal progress in addressing stormwater pollution over the last 30 years. If the current rate of stormwater pollution cleanup continues, LA County communities will wait another 60 years for clean water.

The LA County stormwater permit, the only real mechanism we have for regulating stormwater pollution, is up for renewal in early 2020. Heal the Bay is pushing hard for a strong stormwater permit. We fear it will be weakened and deadlines will be extended, further delaying cleanup of local waters. Municipalities can tap into various funding sources to implement projects, so there is no reason for them to not make meaningful progress moving forward.

Our Stormwater Report was big news for LA and was covered by the L.A. Times, The Guardian, NBC, CBS, KCRW, KPCC, KNX, LAist, The Argonaut News, Daily Breeze, Patch and more.


Heal the Bay Aquarium
Photo by Kelton Mattingly

5. Welcomed our 1 millionth visitor to Heal the Bay Aquarium at the Santa Monica Pier.

Since our Aquarium opened its doors in 2003, our mission has been to give visitors an underwater experience of the Pacific Ocean without getting their feet wet. We invite all our guests to explore critically important marine habitats and environmental issues.

From swell sharks to red octopus, and seahorses to stingrays, more than 100 local wildlife species thrive at our Aquarium. And now we can proudly say that more than a million visitors have met our local underwater residents!

Around 100,000 visitors come to Heal the Bay Aquarium each year. Local residents and global tourists share their passion for their own local waterways with us and inquire about how to protect what they love. In order to better serve the public, we’ve centered our programs and events around environmental advocacy, community science, pollution prevention and family education.

We also host 15,000 students each year for school field trips and we offer fun, educational, zero-waste birthday parties.


4. Hosted our 30th anniversary of Coastal Cleanup Day as the LA County coordinator.

What an honor it has been for Heal the Bay to steward this annual event since the 1990s, especially with such vibrant community support. Our very first Coastal Cleanup Day hosted 2,000 volunteers – my how far we’ve come! From diving underwater in the Santa Monica Bay to hiking along the East Fork of the San Gabriel River and everywhere in between, 13,914 volunteers removed more than 30,165 pounds of trash — from 79 locations in Los Angeles County, in a span of three-hours — on Coastal Cleanup Day 2019.

The weirdest finds from 2019 included: A laptop and electric scooters (underwater in Santa Monica); A 20 foot industrial ladder (underwater in Redondo Beach); Horseshoe (Compton Creek); Cat skull (South LA); Positive pregnancy test (White Point Beach); Shake weight (Venice); Half a rat (Arroyo Seco Confluence); and a California King Mattress-sized Styrofoam block (Arroyo Seco Confluence).


Straws-On-Request

3. Supported Straws-On-Request going into effect in the City of LA.

Los Angeles City Hall passed the Straws-On-Request ordinance this past Earth Day, making single-use plastic straws available by request only at all food and beverage facilities in the City of LA. This, along with other plastic reduction strategies, will hopefully decrease the amount of trash we see in our environment while still giving patrons access to straws when needed.

Often times plastic trash flows from our streets into our storm drains and out to the ocean. Plastic straws and disposable beverage, food, and snack-related items are some of the top types of trash we find at Heal the Bay cleanups. In fact, our cleanup volunteers have picked up more than 138,000 plastic straws from LA beaches over the last two decades.

The Ocean Protection Council acknowledges that trash in the ocean is a persistent and growing problem that is negatively affecting human and ecosystem health, not to mention coastal beauty. We’ll continue to work locally and at the state-level in California to reduce the use of harmful single-use plastics.


2. Rejoiced over these announcements: Hyperion will recycle 100% of the City’s wastewater and LA will phase out gas-fired coastal power plants.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant (aka sewage treatment plant), one of the largest in the world, will recycle 100% of the City’s wastewater by 2035. The water will be treated extensively and then put into our local groundwater supply for additional treatment by natural soils. Afterwards, the clean water will be pumped up to replenish our local tap water supply. Hyperion’s capacity is 450 million gallons per day and treated water currently flows out to the ocean. But with full recycling at Hyperion we can re-use that water!

Garcetti’s next big announcement was that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will close three coastal gas-burning power plants in El Segundo, Long Beach and the Los Angeles Harbor area by 2029. The plants will be replaced by renewable energy sources and storage.

Heal the Bay was integral to both advancements. We advocated for over a decade for wastewater recycling and for eliminating the marine impacts of the coastal power plants. Our founder Dorothy Green would be so proud of us, and of our City, for taking these giant steps forward.


the inkwell

1. Celebrated the new listing of the Santa Monica Bay Street Beach in the National Register of Historic Places.

The shoreline at Bay Street in Santa Monica was an active hub of African American beach life during the Jim Crow era. This beach was popular from the 1900s to early 1960s among African Americans, who were barred from enjoying most other southland beaches. Santa Monica’s Bay Street Beach Historic District recent listing in the National Register of Historic Places recognizes this important coastal history.

Since 2013, with the help of African American historian Alison Rose Jefferson, we’ve joined forces with the Black Surfers Collective to honor Nick Gabaldón Day at Santa Monica Bay Street Beach.

Nick Gabaldón (1927-1951) was a pioneering surfer of African American and Mexican American descent. He was the first documented surfer of color in the Santa Monica Bay. Nick Gabaldón Day provides an opportunity for broadening outreach, action and education to connect Angelenos with their cultural, historical and natural heritage.


Now go check out our top Instagram posts from 2019. And view our 2019 wrap up for environmental legislation in California.



Nancy Shrodes, Associate Director of Policy and Outreach at Heal the Bay, shares our top five reasons for opposing an ocean desalination plant in the Santa Monica Bay. Join our Anti-Desal Rally on November 18 — this is our LAST CHANCE to speak out against the proposed $480-million dollar plant that will literally suck the life out of our Bay.

West Basin, a water wholesaler for seventeen cities serving nearly one million people in LA County, is proposing to build an ocean desalination plant in the Santa Monica Bay.

West Basin released their Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) on October 23, 2019 for a local plant that would produce twenty million gallons-a-day (MGD), and potentially an expanded regional plant at sixty MGD. It would be placed adjacent to the coast in El Porto, using some decommissioned infrastructure from the El Segundo Generating Station (ESGS) located at 301 Vista del Mar in the City of El Segundo, California.


Why we oppose ocean desal in LA

Ocean desalination currently does not exist in the Santa Monica Bay, and its arrival would bear concerning consequences for the Bay. Heal the Bay joins many other NGOs, municipalities, state agencies, and individual community members voicing concerns about the project. We oppose the proposed ocean desalination plant for the following reasons.

1. Desal is the MOST expensive and energy intensive form of water.

It is even two times more expensive than our imported water supplies that come from the State Water Project and the Colorado Aqueduct, which travel hundreds of miles to be delivered to SoCal. In fact, just moving water from Northern California up and over the Tehachapi Mountains is the single biggest energy use in the entire state, but ocean desalination uses more energy! And in the midst of our climate crisis in which we have an eleven year ticking clock, choosing ocean desalination (the most energy intensive form of water) to augment our water supply, would be a big step in the wrong direction.

2. Ocean desalination negatively impacts marine wildlife through both the intake of ocean water and the disposal of what’s left over after desalination, called “brine.”

West Basin is proposing an open ocean intake pipe with a screen, despite the fact that subsurface intake (a less harmful method of water intake) is recommended in the State’s Ocean Plan. In open ocean intake, small larval stage animals can be sucked into the system despite the screen (entrainment), and small fish that cannot fight the velocity of the intake water (at thirty feet per minute) can get stuck against the screen (impingement). The brine left over from desalination is extremely salty, and also contains any contaminants like metals that were in the ocean water originally as well as chemicals used in the desal process. This extremely concentrated brine water is disposed of via jet diffusers back into the ocean, which can be very toxic to marine organisms. As salt is much denser than freshwater, the discharged brine can accumulate and pool along the ocean floor. Considering the negative impacts of such a project, Heal the Bay believes ocean desal should only be used as a last resort for the region.

3. West Basin’s project is currently unfunded, which means that ultimately the price tag will lie with the ratepayers themselves.

West Basin currently quotes the project at half a billion dollars, but as we saw with the Carlsbad Poseidon plant, it’s likely underestimated. Ocean desalinated water from Poseidon ended up being four times more expensive than their original projected cost per acre foot of water. And the high cost of water is an environmental justice issue. West Basin has already had high costs in their environmental review process totaling $60 million to $80 million to date.


West Basin’s Service Area includes: Carson, Culver City, El Segundo, Gardena, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lomita, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, and City of West Hollywood.

4. Ocean desalination should be an absolute last resort.

What about other places that have pursued ocean desalination? Santa Barbara commissioned a plant that was built in 1991 as an emergency response to drought. After four months of use, it was mothballed when the rains came because rainwater provided a much more cost-effective source of water. A similar situation happened in Australia. During a historic twelve year drought, they built six ocean desal plants. Four have since been decommissioned. Although Santa Barbara has turned their plant back on and Australia, in the face of another drought, is considering recommissioning a plant, it’s not without significant costs (you can’t just flip a switch to turn back on an idle plant). There are other places, like Israel, who have excelled in conservation and recycle almost all of their water, but still can’t meet their water demand. Since Israel had no other choice to meet their demand, they turned to desalination. Only as a last resort, once all alternative water sources are exercised to the fullest extent, should ocean desal be considered.

5. There are much more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives that we can pursue.

  • Conservation is the best choicethe cheapest form of water is water not used. LADWP customers averaged eighty gallons per person per day (gpd), while some water customers in LA County use upwards of two-hundred gpd. After Australia’s twelve year drought, residents upped conservation efforts and now operate around forty-five gpd. Needless to say, we still have a long way to go towards conservation and efficiency.
  • Stormwater capture is another amazing source of local water. In an average one inch rainstorm in LA, ten billion gallons of water rush through our city streets, pick up pollution, and are sent straight out to the ocean. For a region that gets ten to eleven inches of rain per year on average, that’s a lot of local water we can take advantage of. Luckily, in November 2018 we passed Measure W, which provides funding to create and maintain stormwater capture projects! The Safe, Clean Water program is well on its way to cleaning up our water and putting it to good use.
  • Water recycling and groundwater augmentation are other great options. In fact, West Basin has been a leader in Wastewater Recycling, and we would love to see them continue in that direction. And just this year, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced 100% water recycling in Los Angeles by 2035! It makes no sense to clean the wastewater up well enough to discharge into the ocean, only to pull it out of the ocean further south. Cut out the ocean middle man with wastewater recycling. We need to continue to cleanup any contaminated aquifers, and recharge our local groundwater storage that we are so lucky to have plenty of in the region.

For these reasons, among others, the Smarter Water LA Coalition is asking West Basin to not certify their FEIR or move forward with the project. The draft EIR resulted in more than two-hundred comments from NGOs, municipalities, state agencies, and individual community members voicing concerns about the project, many of which were not adequately addressed in the final EIR. Ultimately, the five publicly elected Board of Directors will decide if they should move forward with the project or not.

Make your voice heard

Join us on Monday, November 18 at 2:15 pm in Carson for a Rally and the Special Board meeting to let West Basin know how you feel. This is our LAST CHANCE to oppose the ocean desal plant in El Segundo! Remember to wear blue, and bring your anti-desal signs.

RSVP TO RALLY

 


 

Can’t attend our Rally or looking to spread the word? We recommend taking the following actions BEFORE November 18 to make your voice heard:

  1. Send your concerns to West Basin directly by email
    • Sample Email: I oppose an ocean desal plant in El Segundo for the following reasons: Desal is the MOST expensive and energy intensive form of water. Ocean desalination negatively impacts marine wildlife through both the intake of ocean water and the disposal of what’s left over after desalination, called “brine.” Your project is currently unfunded, which means that ultimately the price tag will lie with the ratepayers themselves. Ocean desalination should be an absolute last resort. There are much more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives that we can pursue. I strongly urge West Basin’s Board of Directors to NOT build this proposed plant. Sincerely, YOUR NAME, YOUR CITY
  2. Tweet at West Basin with your concerns
    • Sample Tweet: We Don’t Want Desal in the Santa Monica Bay! Ocean desalination is the MOST expensive, energy intensive and environmentally harmful way to get local water. Desal doesn’t belong in LA. I urge @WestBasin to NOT build this proposed plant. 

  1. Retweet this post: https://twitter.com/HealTheBay/status/1191511709229502464
  2. Share with your network on Facebook and Instagram:
    • I oppose an ocean desal plant in El Segundo. That’s why I’m joining Heal the Bay at their Anti-Desal Rally on Nov. 18. Desal is the MOST expensive and energy intensive form of water. Ocean desalination negatively impacts marine wildlife through both the intake of ocean water and the disposal of what’s left over after desalination, called “brine.” Ocean desalination should be an absolute last resort. There are much more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives that we can pursue. Join me at healthebay.org/desalrally



honor the ocean 2018

We are blessed to live in a place where we are rich in history, diversity and ecology. And we should take every opportunity granted to us to celebrate this.

This past fall, the Los Angeles County Marine Protected Area (MPA) Collaborative Network hosted the 2nd annual Honor the Ocean event at Zuma Beach in the City of Malibu to acknowledge and celebrate Chumash maritime culture, stewardship and science efforts to preserve and protect the ocean. From seeing dolphins to hearing stories about dolphins, here are my top 4 moments from the event.

4: Enjoying the Bay

Surfers of all ages paddled out in the water. Seeing them get on their boards was thrilling because they were so excited to catch a wave. Like Phil Edwards once said, “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.” Edwards makes a great point. Even though surfing is a challenging sport, you simply can’t help but have fun. The more fun you have, the more you want to practice it. And with practice comes passion. This quote can apply to anything in life, really.

3. Celebrating the Chumash People

The Chumash and the Gabrielino-Tongva peoples were the First People of the Channel Islands and Santa Monica Mountains areas. I learned so much about their traditions and culture at the event. To kick off the event we all surrounded the tomol, which is redwood sewn-plank canoe. Pretty amazing!

There was a Ceremonial Chumash blessing that was led by Mati Waiya, Founder and Executive Director of the Wishtoyo Foundation. After the blessing, we had the opportunity to talk to one of the members of the Chumash Women’s Elders Council. She encouraged all the youth to carry forward the Chumash tradition of protecting the environment for future generations. Her words and wisdom were inspiring.

2. Story time!

No amount of technology can replace the beauty of live, spoken word storytelling. At the event, the Chumash people shared a beautiful story about dolphins and how singing a special blessing can bring dolphins closer to us on land. Just as the story came to a close, the crowd spotted dolphins leaping out of the ocean. Coincidence? I think not! It was pure joy. Which leads me to what’s next…

dolphin symbol on the tomol

1. Dolphins!!!

No doubt, dolphins are awesome. And it’s truly mind-blowing to think about how much humans have in common with them. We both feel sadness, pain, anger and happiness. We protect our young and we do our best to stay together as a family (pod). It was thrilling to see a small pod of dolphins swimming by during the Honor the Ocean event. Especially since dolphins were etched on the tomol and a centerpiece during story time. What a magical moment to have witnessed.

At the closing of a wonderful day, the Chumash leaders gave us a few heartfelt suggestions that I wanted to pass along to you:

  • Bless the day that we have been given to see.
  • Give thanks for the sun that rises in the distance.
  • Less screen time, more real time!

So what are you waiting for? Go out and discover something new.

Thanks to all the Honor the Ocean event partners for a great day: Wishtoyo Foundation, City of Malibu, Chumash Maritime Foundation, Los Angeles County Lifeguards, Los Angeles Waterkeeper, The Bay Foundation, California Conservation Association, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Santa Monica Mountains Restoration Conservation District, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and USC Sea Grant Program.


About the Author:

Lidia Grande-Ruiz is a Digital Advocacy Intern on Heal the Bay’s Communications team. She has also volunteered at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Lidia is currently a Film Production student at Santa Monica College. Aside from her love of the ocean, she’s also obsessed with Buffy, Bones, reading, writing and orcas! 😀



Apryl Boyle, Heal the Bay’s resident shark guru, says that when it comes to apex predators all you need is love!

When people watch the 1975 movie “Jaws” one of two things usually happens. They become completely terrified to go in any body of water, including their bathtub, or they are motivated to learn more about sharks. I am part of the latter group.

I don’t recall exactly when I first watched this classic tale. But I do remember my instant identification with the shark researcher character, Matt Hooper. Richard Dreyfuss plays Hooper as a laid-back, unaffected rich kid fascinated by sharks. He’s the voice of reason and remains calm, which is opposite of the salty boat captain, Quint. He assists protagonist Chief Brody in finding and dealing with the great white shark terrorizing the New England island in the movie.

The film turbo-charged Steven Spielberg’s career and became a worldwide box office hit. It also became a cultural touchstone that catalyzed a global fear of sharks. It sparked sequels, spin-offs, and a “justifiable” reason for people to be afraid of going into the ocean. The filmmakers effectively created a suspenseful thriller by accentuating the fear of the unknown, hidden natural world. After all, who knows what really lurks beneath the waves? The creators tapped into an anxiety that is unmatched by immersion into any other natural environment.

When you swim in the ocean, you cannot see everything underneath or around you. You cannot breathe under water without aid. And the inhabitants of the ocean are far better swimmers than you and I will ever be. For many people this is terrifying, but for marine lovers it’s a source of wonder and excitement—not fear.

From a young age, I have been enamored with all creatures, regardless of their size, shape, or teeth. But the common myths about sharks seemed to always be at odds with my unwavering passion. When I was in college I was actually told that my last words would be, “That shark won’t bite me.”

Fast-forward a few decades.

After receiving my master’s degree in Biomedical Science and working at various aquariums throughout the U.S.,  I’ve become an expert in the shark research field. I’ve been a part of the well-known “Shark Week” programming on Discovery Channel. I’ve been tapped as an expert in the media not only for sharks, but also for marine research.

A great white shark observed by Apryl in Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Watch the video.

In my travels to Fiji, Peru and Mexico I’ve observed beautiful sharks of all types. My trips have even brought me face-to-face with 18-foot great whites, as well as blue sharks, white tips, tiger sharks, nurse sharks, and many more species. I’ve never had an aggressive encounter with sharks over the decades of countless dives.

Now, as the Associate Director of Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, I get to take care of three types of shark and a host of other ocean inhabitants and get paid to do it. This is my job!

I guess you could say that I’ve become a real-life Matt Hooper. And the kid in me is just as excited about sharks as when I first saw “Jaws.”

Apryl speaks at EcoDive Center’s Dive Club to get the group excited for Coastal Cleanup Day, which features underwater cleanup locations in Santa Monica Bay and helps to keep the local marine habitat clean for sharks and other aquatic animals.

The bottom line is that sharks need our protection. As apex predators they keep marine populations stable and thriving. They help regulate the health of the world’s ocean, which is a major source of oxygen on our planet.

Despite these benefits, humans kill an estimated 11,000 sharks every hour (!) and mostly in the horrific practice of finning. A shark is taken out of the water, its fins are cut off for use in shark-fin soup, a supposed “delicacy.” The butchered animal is thrown back into the water, where it can take up to three grueling days to finally suffocate and die.

Slowly, popular culture is starting to replace fear with facts. Peter Benchley, the late creator of the book and screenplay for “Jaws” realized the harm he had done with his product and, together with his wife, spent the rest of his career as a shark advocate. Programming during “Shark Week” has also become less alarmist since its early days. Effective nonprofits have been formed to help protect sharks locally and globally. Legislators have taken action to try and curb the atrocity of shark finning, such as California lawmakers forbidding the importation of shark fins in our state.

I’ve been surfing at El Porto in the South Bay during what I call “baby white shark season” – the time when newborns and juveniles are migrating. I’ve seen juvenile sharks in the lineup and they want nothing to do with surfers. They’re looking for one of their favorite food, stingrays. Young-of-the-year, or infant great white sharks, are born at around 4 feet long. They’re not bullies and don’t try to pick on anything their size or larger (aka humans).

Even 18-foot great whites don’t want to eat humans. We simply aren’t their food. They’re actually picky eaters and prefer the dense fat of seals and sea lions. There is no such thing as a shark “attack” – no great white is out to deliberately stalk and target human beings with some kind of premeditation or vengeance. In the extremely rare case of a shark encounter, it’s usually the case that a splashing swimmer or surfer is mistaken for a shark’s normal prey – a distressed animal.

To underscore how rare it is for someone to be seriously harmed by a shark in the ocean, you may want to remember some of these factoids. More people die each year from eating hot dogs than by shark bites – by far! You are 25 times more likely to be killed by a random strike of lightning than by a shark encounter.

What can you do to help these 400-million-year-old species?

Become a shark ambassador and educate yourself. Speak up for shark-friendly protections. Come visit Heal the Bay’s Aquarium and see our shark nursery and learn why we need to safeguard these special animals.

Sharks are essentially dinosaurs that have survived mass extinctions, but now face such great pressure from the human population that they may not survive for much longer. Whether or not you have a fear of these animals, you need to be concerned about their survival because their survival mirrors the health and biodiversity in our precious seas.

A swell shark lays eggs at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.

Want to get an up-close view or our local sharks? Come down to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium for our Shark Sunday programs

 



We are lucky to live in sunny Los Angeles where millions of tourists and locals converge along the lovely shores of the Santa Monica Bay to enjoy paradise. It’s a mixed bag on the beach, where hordes of visitors come to bathe and sun themselves. Why? Well, they know just how good we have it.

Yep, they want a piece of the Angeleno culture, and the beach, and our Bay. If you haven’t been out to the beach yet, well may I suggest you hop on the Metro, or your bike, or drive down for a visit. You’re not going to regret it, especially since we have so much happening underwater too. On your next visit to the beach you may be lucky enough to encounter a local that most people miss altogether.

Sharks are swimming along the shores of this Bay and they are swimming alongside you and those fine visitors that come to live the California dream. In fact, there are more than 20 different species of sharks1 that inhabit or visit these waters. One of my favorites sharks to see in the summertime is the leopard shark. An elegant fish, the leopard shark is gray with spots and saddle-bars, usually reaching a length of five feet or so. They like to school with their kin and other sharks like smooth greyhounds, eating small fish, octopus and crustaceans along the shallows.

A leopard shark swims through kelp.

Another favorite is the horn shark. You might see these sharks if you are snorkeling around the rocky shores of Point Dume or off of Palos Verdes. At three and a half feet long, this squat nosed fish has two pokey spines (not venomous) at each dorsal fin – an adaptation for protection. Since they hatch from an egg, measuring a mere six inches, those spiny horns protect this cute little shark from halibut and other marine predators. To be honest, they are so cute that sometimes when I see them diving, I cannot resist reaching out and giving them a kiss for good luck. Another local favorite is the swell shark, a small shark that protects itself by swallowing an enormous amount of water to protect itself from being swallowed – like a swimming watermelon! Their eggs are sometimes found washed on shore but if you want to get a close-up look, I invite you to visit Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. The Aquarium has several eggs on display where you can witness the tiny embryos growing into tiny shark pups.

A horn shark swims along the ocean floor. Photo by Scott Gietler.

One of my favorite sea animals to see is the white shark, lovingly known as “the Landlord.” I have been lucky enough to swim with and surf with a few small white sharks and it seems like each year we are seeing more and more of them. Why are there white sharks in SoCal and why so many? Well, we are probably witnessing something really special because the coast of southern California is like a nursery. These white sharks are here because food is available and they like to eat small fish, like stingrays. We have been working hard to protect white sharks and maybe this is the positive result of all of our conservation efforts. Let’s hope so because this fish is a very important indicator of how well our oceans are faring. As a top predator, we expect that their recovery is indicative of an improving food web and ecosystem. It is still early to be absolutely sure but I do hope that we continue to see improvements in their population and in the health of our fisheries.

I am proud to work for Heal the Bay because I know that the work we have done over the past three decades has improved the life of our local sharks and is helping to restore and protect our unique and fragile ecosystem. We started our work in the 1980s by improving water quality in our watersheds and our Bay. That work continues daily, and we have expanded healing efforts by supporting and ushering in a network of Marine Protect Areas (MPAs) all along our coast. MPAs function like underwater parks, where marine life can live free from fishing pressure, promoting more growth, reproduction and species diversity.

We’ve worked alongside many of our colleagues and communities to pass a statewide ban on the possession and sale of shark fins. Shark finning is a cruel and destructive practice that is decimating shark populations worldwide. At our Aquarium, we teach tens of thousands of students and visitors about sharks, debunking the myths and providing the facts so that everyone can do their part to help sharks.

We still have a great deal of work to do. We need to keep eliminating plastics and other pollution from our ocean, we need to continue to educate our communities on how to be healthy in order to keep our seas and beaches healthy and we need to continue our love affair with nature. All this starts with you. Join us at Heal the Bay as a volunteer or a member, and join us in the fight to protect our environment.

You, your family and friends need a good day at the beach. If you’re lucky, maybe you will see a shark. Regardless, you live in paradise and it is right outside your door. I hope to see you out there. Even if you can’t make it into the water, you can still visit us at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium!

1http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt938nb3cq&&doc.view=entire_text



Update: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has issued a reminder that White Sharks are a protected species under both state and federal fisheries laws and regulations.

An increase in shark sightings in Southern California – and even some beach closures – have raised long-standing concerns among many ocean users. Here staff scientist Dana Murray Roeber separates fact from fiction.

Why are we seeing reports of white sharks in the Bay?

Santa Monica Bay is home to dozens of species of sharks and rays. Many of them are small, like the swell shark and horn shark, and live in kelp forests and rocky reefs. Juvenile great white sharks are seasonal residents of Southern California’s coastal waters, likely congregating in Santa Monica Bay due to a combination of abundant prey and warm water as summer comes. White sharks are frequently spotted by boaters, pier-goers, surfers and paddlers – especially between the surf spot El Porto and the Manhattan Beach Pier. Juvenile white sharks, measuring up to 10 feet long, prey mostly on bottom fishes such as halibut, small rays and other smaller sharks. Progress to protect marine species has advanced over the past 50 years, including protections for marine mammals, an important food source for adult white sharks. These protections have likely led to a healthier and growing population of white sharks and marine mammals alike, which is a good sign for our oceans.

Is it a good or bad thing there are so many of them in the water?

Sharks are at the top of the food chain in virtually every part of every ocean. They keep populations of other fish healthy and ecosystems in balance. In addition, a number of scientific studies demonstrate that the depletion of sharks can result in the loss of commercially important fish and shellfish species further down the food chain, including key fisheries such as tuna.

Where are they coming from and where are they going?

White sharks usually migrate south in the winter when California’s coastal waters drop below 60 degrees. However, our local ocean waters stayed warmer in 2014-16 due to El Niño-like conditions and climate change. Again this winter, it is believed that most of the juvenile white sharks didn’t leave Southern California.

What are the popular spots from them in So Cal?

White sharks are congregating in shallow waters off Huntington Beach, San Onofre, Long Beach, Santa Monica Bay and Ventura.

What are the real dangers to humans?

There is always a risk when entering the habitat of a large predator – whether in the ocean, or the African savanna, or Kodiak Island. Poor water quality, powerful waves, strong currents and stingrays pose a greater threat to local ocean-goers than sharks.

How can I avoid sharks in the sea?

According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, there have only been 13 fatal white shark attacks in California since the 1920s. Eating a hot dog poses a greater danger to life and limb than any shark. If you’re still concerned, here are some quick tips to avoid run-ins with fins:

  1. Avoid waters with known effluents or sewage.
  2. Avoid areas used by recreational or commercial fishermen.
  3. Avoid areas that show signs of baitfish or fish feeding activity; diving seabirds are a good indicator of fish activity.
  4. Do not provoke or harass a shark if you see one!

What should you do and what shouldn’t you do if you think you see a shark?

First, assess the risk. If you see as small horn shark or thornback ray, it is safe to swim in the area. But keep your distance from the animal. If a larger shark is spotted, it is best to evacuate the water calmly, trying to keep an eye on the animal. Do not provoke or harass the shark. Report your shark sighting, with as much detail possible, to local lifeguards. If you or a companion are one of the very, very few people each year bitten by a shark, experts advise a proactive response. Hitting a shark on the nose, ideally with an inanimate object, usually results in the shark temporarily curtailing its attack.

Why are many species of sharks protected?

Despite popular perceptions of sharks being invincible, shark populations around the world are declining due to overfishing, habitat destruction and other human activities. It is estimated that over 100 million sharks are killed worldwide each year. Of the 350 or so species of sharks, 79 are imperiled according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. There are several important spots for Northeastern Pacific white sharks in California, yet they are vulnerable to ongoing threats, such as incidental catch, pollution and other issues along our coast. White shark numbers in the Northeastern Pacific are unknown but are thought to be low, ranging from hundreds to thousands of individuals. They’re protected in many places where they live, including California, Australia and South Africa. It is illegal to hunt, pursue, catch or kill a great white shark in California, with anyone caught causing harm liable to criminal prosecution.

Can I fish for white sharks in California?

Federal regulations implemented in 2004 prohibit white shark retention in California, requiring their immediate release if caught. Additionally, in 1994, white sharks received special protected status in California State law, which prohibits take of white sharks except by special permit and some commercial incidental take allowances. State of California regulations also protect white sharks from recreational fishing. Under these protections, it is illegal to fish for or pursue white sharks, and they must be released immediately if caught inadvertently while fishing for other species.



Por Matthew King | traducido por Beatriz Lorenzo | 25 enero 2017

La semana pasada el nuevo gobierno ordeno la congelación de los fondos para las becas y los contratos con la EPA. El director de comunicaciones Matthew King repasa cinco formas en las que esta directiva podría dañar la bahía.

Estos son tiempos revueltos y extraños en Washington D.C. Muchos conservadores y populistas están eufóricos con el nuevo gobierno, mientras que los progresistas cada día que pasa se sienten más pesimistas.

También nos podemos aventurar a decir que también son tiempos revueltos en nuestras oficinas a medida que vamos entendiendo y procesando lo que las acciones de la administración de Trump suponen para nuestro trabajo y para la bahía.

Como un perro guardián de confianza, Heal the Bay se guía por la mejor ciencia y no por las emociones. Y cuando una acción federal de la nueva administración amenaza la salud y el bienestar de la Bahía, hablamos bien claro.

Pues bien, éste es uno de esos momentos.

La semana pasada llegué al trabajo y nos enteramos de que la nueva administración había impuesto la congelación inmediata de todos los contratos y becas de la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de Estados Unidos (U.S. EPA). El alarmante procedimiento “amenaza con interrumpir operaciones tan importantes como las limpiezas de tóxicos o la monitorización de la calidad del agua”, según la investigación de ProPublica.

En total, la U.S. EPA reparte aproximadamente unos $6.4 billones en becas federales cada año para apoyar testeos, limpiezas e iniciativas para la recuperación, incluyendo varios de los programas de Heal the Bay.

Los funcionarios de la transición insisten en que es una mera pausa para permitir a los nuevos gerentes valorar si los programas deben continuar. Pero los empleados con más antigüedad y abogados especializados dan una imagen diferente – normalmente se congelan las contrataciones de empleados, pero no las becas, esto es inusual y amenaza con la interrupción de las contratas.

Según ProPublica, así respondió un contratante con la EPA a las preguntas de un empleado de una gestora de aguas pluviales: “ahora mismo estamos esperando. La nueva administración de la U.S. EPA ha pedido que todas las contratas y becas se suspendan temporalmente con efecto inmediato. Y hasta que recibamos clarificación del asunto, esto incluye tareas y asignación de proyectos.”

Hay muchas preguntas en el aire con esta suspensión, como cuanto durara y a que contratas impactara de modo más directo.

Como destinatarios de casi $200,000 anuales en formas de becas de la U.S. EPA estamos preocupados. De forma similar, muchas de las organizaciones con las que estamos asociados reciben fondos federales que impulsan iniciativas de colaboración con Heal The Bay.

Aún tenemos más preguntas que respuestas, pero vamos a ver el top 5 de los que se podrían ver afectados por la congelación de los fondos:

  1. Monitorización habitual de la calidad del agua de las playas

Nuestro Informe de Playas da una nota semanalmente de A a F a más de 500 playas en California, evitando que millones de personas que van a la playa se pongan enfermas. Los fondos de la U.S. EPA respaldan el testeo semanal del agua llevado a cabo por muchas agencias de salud condales por todo el estado. Sin dinero = no hay testeo = no hay datos = no hay informe de playas = puesta en peligro de la salud pública. En el pasado nos hemos enfrentado a problemas de este estilo cuando ha habido reducciones temporales del presupuesto, y hemos podido articular fondos poco a poco para poder seguir haciendo la monitorización. Pero ahora mismo, respecto a programas en las playas, no hay un plan del estado u otras instituciones financieras de recoger los pedazos que la EPA ha dejado.

  1. Mantener los ríos y arroyos locales sanos.

La salud de la bahía no se puede separar de la salud de las aguas que desembocan en ella. Arroyos, ríos y riachuelos fluyendo limpios traen consigo numerosos beneficios medioambientales, de hábitat, de mejor calidad del agua y de espacios de ocio. La U.S. EPA financia nuestro programa Stream Team pagando a los científicos empleados en la monitorización del agua y educación del público en lo referido al rio de Los Ángeles. Programas como el U.S. EPA’s Urban Waters Grant están especialmente diseñados para respaldar la restauración y protección de importantes vías de agua que fluyen por nuestras comunidades en los sitios en los que se necesita más un entorno natural al aire libre. La pérdida de programas como este es particularmente devastador para L.A.

    1. Proteger nuestros menguantes humedales

L.A. ya ha perdido el 95% de sus lagunas costeras. Con el cambio climático y la urbanización invadiendo los pocos humedales que quedan, es crítico que actuemos ya para defender este hábitat natural. A través del National Estuary Program, la U.S. EPA trabaja para coordinar la protección y restauración de hábitats importantes en la bahía de Santa Mónica, como el Ballona Wetlands o las dunas costeras. Sarah Sikich, vicepresidenta de Heal the Bay’s, es también la vicepresidenta de la Junta Directiva de la Comisión de Restauración de la Bahía de Santa Mónica (Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission Governing Board), el socio estatal del programa nacional de estuarios (National Estuary Program). Sin esta comisión, la protección y revitalización de los hábitats y de la calidad del agua en la Bahía de Santa Mónica quedaría seriamente incapacitada.

Son iniciativas esenciales para la salud a largo plazo de la bahía y en último caso, del sur de California. Congelar o reducir estos programas sería realmente imprudente.

      1. Deshacerse del DDT en la Bahía

Mucha gente no se da cuenta de que la Bahía es lo que se llama un EPA Superfund site – que significa que somos uno de los lugares más peligrosamente contaminados de la nación. Un espacio de 180 acres de fondo marino cerca de Palos Verdes es el depósito más grande del mundo del pesticida DDT, un legado químico de los años 50 y 60.

El plan a largo plazo de la EPA de limpiar este desastre no debería quedarse en el limbo, ya que existe un acuerdo legal que requiere la limpieza de estos vertidos para proteger la vida animal y la salud pública.

      1. Prevenir el consumo de pescados locales contaminados

Gran cantidad de los peces pescados en la Bahía de Santa Mónica son aptos para el consumo. Pero algunas especies están contaminadas con niveles tóxicos de DDT, PCB y mercurio. Gracias a los fondos de la EPA, nuestro laureado equipo “Pier Angler Outreach” ha sondeado los sitios comunes de pesca local y ha advertido directamente a cerca de 150,000 personas sobre los peces aptos o no para consumo en una variedad de idiomas, desde tagalo a español. Por ser este un trabajo contratado requerido por un acuerdo legal, se encuentra en peligro por la congelación de fondos.

Por último, la congelación de fondos y contratas son parte de preocupaciones mayores. El nuevo gobierno ha empezado a avanzar amenazas reales para reducir programas de aguas limpias y regulaciones para proteger la salud pública; proteger hábitats como humedales y arroyos que amortiguan los impactos del cambio climático en comunidades y salvaguardan la fauna y otros logros importantes en materia de medioambiente.

Amordazando a sus agencias para que no comuniquen su importante labor y el estado real del medioambiente también es perjuicio enorme para el público, pues mantiene a los americanos en la ignorancia sobre importantes descubrimientos y sobre el estado de sus recursos naturales.

En los próximos días, prometemos compartir más información sobre los cambios de la U.S. EPA según los vayamos recibiendo. Y aun preocupados por las acciones de la semana pasada, seguimos en alerta por si se retira algunas de las regulaciones federales de las que se ha hablado que tuviese impacto en California. Si le preocupan estos problemas, es el momento de hacer oír su voz.

Contacte a su representante para pedirle la protección de estos programas tan importantes para el medioambiente. Pronto pondremos en marcha una alerta para que pueda pedir a los legisladores que mantengan los fondos de la EPA que más afectan a la Bahía en marcha. Permanezca a la escucha.

Según vamos haciendo la estrategia para la respuesta formal a la congelación de fondos, le animamos a hacer una donación para respaldar nuestro trabajo protegiendo la Bahía.



Por Matthew King | traducido por Beatriz Lorenzo | 25 enero 2017

La semana pasada el nuevo gobierno ordeno la congelación de los fondos para las becas y los contratos con la EPA. El director de comunicaciones Matthew King repasa cinco formas en las que esta directiva podría dañar la bahía.

Estos son tiempos revueltos y extraños en Washington D.C. Muchos conservadores y populistas están eufóricos con el nuevo gobierno, mientras que los progresistas cada día que pasa se sienten más pesimistas.

También nos podemos aventurar a decir que también son tiempos revueltos en nuestras oficinas a medida que vamos entendiendo y procesando lo que las acciones de la administración de Trump suponen para nuestro trabajo y para la bahía.

Como un perro guardián de confianza, Heal the Bay se guía por la mejor ciencia y no por las emociones. Y cuando una acción federal de la nueva administración amenaza la salud y el bienestar de la Bahía, hablamos bien claro.

Pues bien, éste es uno de esos momentos.

La semana pasada llegué al trabajo y nos enteramos de que la nueva administración había impuesto la congelación inmediata de todos los contratos y becas de la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de Estados Unidos (U.S. EPA). El alarmante procedimiento “amenaza con interrumpir operaciones tan importantes como las limpiezas de tóxicos o la monitorización de la calidad del agua”, según la investigación de ProPublica.

En total, la U.S. EPA reparte aproximadamente unos $6.4 billones en becas federales cada año para apoyar testeos, limpiezas e iniciativas para la recuperación, incluyendo varios de los programas de Heal the Bay.

Los funcionarios de la transición insisten en que es una mera pausa para permitir a los nuevos gerentes valorar si los programas deben continuar. Pero los empleados con más antigüedad y abogados especializados dan una imagen diferente – normalmente se congelan las contrataciones de empleados, pero no las becas, esto es inusual y amenaza con la interrupción de las contratas.

Según ProPublica, así respondió un contratante con la EPA a las preguntas de un empleado de una gestora de aguas pluviales: “ahora mismo estamos esperando. La nueva administración de la U.S. EPA ha pedido que todas las contratas y becas se suspendan temporalmente con efecto inmediato. Y hasta que recibamos clarificación del asunto, esto incluye tareas y asignación de proyectos.”

Hay muchas preguntas en el aire con esta suspensión, como cuanto durara y a que contratas impactara de modo más directo.

Como destinatarios de casi $200,000 anuales en formas de becas de la U.S. EPA estamos preocupados. De forma similar, muchas de las organizaciones con las que estamos asociados reciben fondos federales que impulsan iniciativas de colaboración con Heal The Bay.

Aún tenemos más preguntas que respuestas, pero vamos a ver el top 5 de los que se podrían ver afectados por la congelación de los fondos:

  1. Monitorización habitual de la calidad del agua de las playas

Nuestro Informe de Playas da una nota semanalmente de A a F a más de 500 playas en California, evitando que millones de personas que van a la playa se pongan enfermas. Los fondos de la U.S. EPA respaldan el testeo semanal del agua llevado a cabo por muchas agencias de salud condales por todo el estado. Sin dinero = no hay testeo = no hay datos = no hay informe de playas = puesta en peligro de la salud pública. En el pasado nos hemos enfrentado a problemas de este estilo cuando ha habido reducciones temporales del presupuesto, y hemos podido articular fondos poco a poco para poder seguir haciendo la monitorización. Pero ahora mismo, respecto a programas en las playas, no hay un plan del estado u otras instituciones financieras de recoger los pedazos que la EPA ha dejado.

  1. Mantener los ríos y arroyos locales sanos.

La salud de la bahía no se puede separar de la salud de las aguas que desembocan en ella. Arroyos, ríos y riachuelos fluyendo limpios traen consigo numerosos beneficios medioambientales, de hábitat, de mejor calidad del agua y de espacios de ocio. La U.S. EPA financia nuestro programa Stream Team pagando a los científicos empleados en la monitorización del agua y educación del público en lo referido al rio de Los Ángeles. Programas como el U.S. EPA’s Urban Waters Grant están especialmente diseñados para respaldar la restauración y protección de importantes vías de agua que fluyen por nuestras comunidades en los sitios en los que se necesita más un entorno natural al aire libre. La pérdida de programas como este es particularmente devastador para L.A.

    1. Proteger nuestros menguantes humedales

L.A. ya ha perdido el 95% de sus lagunas costeras. Con el cambio climático y la urbanización invadiendo los pocos humedales que quedan, es crítico que actuemos ya para defender este hábitat natural. A través del National Estuary Program, la U.S. EPA trabaja para coordinar la protección y restauración de hábitats importantes en la bahía de Santa Mónica, como el Ballona Wetlands o las dunas costeras. Sarah Sikich, vicepresidenta de Heal the Bay’s, es también la vicepresidenta de la Junta Directiva de la Comisión de Restauración de la Bahía de Santa Mónica (Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission Governing Board), el socio estatal del programa nacional de estuarios (National Estuary Program). Sin esta comisión, la protección y revitalización de los hábitats y de la calidad del agua en la Bahía de Santa Mónica quedaría seriamente incapacitada.

Son iniciativas esenciales para la salud a largo plazo de la bahía y en último caso, del sur de California. Congelar o reducir estos programas sería realmente imprudente.

      1. Deshacerse del DDT en la Bahía

Mucha gente no se da cuenta de que la Bahía es lo que se llama un EPA Superfund site – que significa que somos uno de los lugares más peligrosamente contaminados de la nación. Un espacio de 180 acres de fondo marino cerca de Palos Verdes es el depósito más grande del mundo del pesticida DDT, un legado químico de los años 50 y 60.

El plan a largo plazo de la EPA de limpiar este desastre no debería quedarse en el limbo, ya que existe un acuerdo legal que requiere la limpieza de estos vertidos para proteger la vida animal y la salud pública.

      1. Prevenir el consumo de pescados locales contaminados

Gran cantidad de los peces pescados en la Bahía de Santa Mónica son aptos para el consumo. Pero algunas especies están contaminadas con niveles tóxicos de DDT, PCB y mercurio. Gracias a los fondos de la EPA, nuestro laureado equipo “Pier Angler Outreach” ha sondeado los sitios comunes de pesca local y ha advertido directamente a cerca de 150,000 personas sobre los peces aptos o no para consumo en una variedad de idiomas, desde tagalo a español. Por ser este un trabajo contratado requerido por un acuerdo legal, se encuentra en peligro por la congelación de fondos.

Por último, la congelación de fondos y contratas son parte de preocupaciones mayores. El nuevo gobierno ha empezado a avanzar amenazas reales para reducir programas de aguas limpias y regulaciones para proteger la salud pública; proteger hábitats como humedales y arroyos que amortiguan los impactos del cambio climático en comunidades y salvaguardan la fauna y otros logros importantes en materia de medioambiente.

Amordazando a sus agencias para que no comuniquen su importante labor y el estado real del medioambiente también es perjuicio enorme para el público, pues mantiene a los americanos en la ignorancia sobre importantes descubrimientos y sobre el estado de sus recursos naturales.

En los próximos días, prometemos compartir más información sobre los cambios de la U.S. EPA según los vayamos recibiendo. Y aun preocupados por las acciones de la semana pasada, seguimos en alerta por si se retira algunas de las regulaciones federales de las que se ha hablado que tuviese impacto en California. Si le preocupan estos problemas, es el momento de hacer oír su voz.

Contacte a su representante para pedirle la protección de estos programas tan importantes para el medioambiente. Pronto pondremos en marcha una alerta para que pueda pedir a los legisladores que mantengan los fondos de la EPA que más afectan a la Bahía en marcha. Permanezca a la escucha.

Según vamos haciendo la estrategia para la respuesta formal a la congelación de fondos, le animamos a hacer una donación para respaldar nuestro trabajo protegiendo la Bahía.