Top

Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Marine Protected Areas

Take Action for Our Ocean

Our ocean needs our help—from fighting for environmental justice and urgently addressing the climate crisis that impacts People of Color and low-income communities at disproportionate levels, to blocking a new federal attack on Marine Protected Areas that dampens progress for wildlife biodiversity, to stopping fossil fuel development and single-use plastic manufacturing that pollute our water, air, soil, and bodies. There is so much work to do.

Together, we need to tune in to the waves to recognize how much our ocean provides for us and raise awareness about our individual and collective duties to protect safe and healthy water for all people and marine life.


Support Ballot Initiative Against Plastic Waste

We have a chance to bring a groundbreaking plastic pollution reduction act directly to voters on the 2022 ballot in California, but to get it there we need signatures from people like you.

The California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act is on track to qualify for the statewide 2022 ballot thanks to signatures from hundreds of thousands of Californians. This act would require a 25% source reduction of single-use plastics by 2030 AND hold Big Plastic financially accountable for their pollution.

Help us get this on the ballot and up for a vote: Print. Sign. Mail. Done.

GET PLASTIC ON THE BALLOT

 


Fight the Federal Rollback on a Marine Protected Area

Our nation is in crisis. Yet quietly, in the background and for the first time in history, the federal administration has rolled back protections on a National Marine Sanctuary. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument protects ocean biodiversity and is invaluable to marine resource protection.

Sign this petition and urge for the reintroduction of protections for this marine protected area.

PROTECT MPAs

 


In Solidarity

Heal the Bay stands in solidarity with the Black community demanding justice for ongoing tragedies caused by systemic racism as well as social and environmental injustices.⁣⁣⁣

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color need to be protected. Black lives matter. The fight for this protection starts in our hearts by examining our own privileges and roles in systemic racism.

Environmental and social justice issues are intertwined. And it must be acknowledged that the hard work to dismantle systemic environmental and social barriers should not be a burden that continues to fall on BIPOC and marginalized communities who are most impacted by these issues.⁣⁣ We, who have access to a clean and safe environment, must fight for access, equity, and safety for all.⁣⁣

READ OUR FULL STATEMENT

 


Journey to Environmental Justice

In our latest two-part blog series, Heal the Bay Outreach Coordinator Danielle shares her environmental justice journey and what equality, equity, and justice can look like in the environmental movement.

READ: EJ JOURNEY

READ: EQUALITY, EQUITY, JUSTICE

 


Tune In to the Waves

Today’s Knowledge Drops webinar is all about the history of #WorldOceansDay and the Giant Sea Bass. Dive in with us to learn more about the ocean’s benefits, all the life it supports, and our duty to use its resources sustainably and equitably. Tune in at 1:30PM PDT.

REGISTER

 



Eight years have passed since Marine Protected Areas started to officially be implemented in California. Heather Leigh Curtis, MPA Watch & Outreach Associate at Heal the Bay, calls out eight reasons why we should expand our network of Marine Protected Areas. Even though we can’t visit our local MPAs and beaches in LA right now, we can reflect on their critical importance during Earth Month.

California’s network of Marine Protected Areas “MPAs” sustains a variety of majestic landscapes and thriving ecosystems by ensuring precious marine life habitats are safeguarded. Just like the beach, MPAs welcome guests to visit and explore. 

Los Angeles County proudly manages 13 MPAs in three regions: Point Dume, Ranchos Palos Verdes, and Catalina Island. As part of the California Statewide MPA Network, these 13 areas have special protections in place to preserve their biological, geological, and cultural resources.

MPAs not only offer protection to the marine life and ecosystems within their boundaries, but also provide benefits to all Angelenos. Read on to learn more about all the benefits from MPAs!

1. Fun in the sun

There are so many reasons to go to the beach and visit your local MPAs! Some beachgoers are looking to relax and recharge while others are looking for adventure or physical fitness. Whatever you are searching for, beaches have a lot to offer. Activities such as swimming, surfing, stand up paddleboarding, sunbathing, wildlife watching, and tide pooling can be whole-heartily enjoyed at the beach and in our MPAs. 

2. Bigger fish in the sea

MPAs are underwater growth engines. These healthy habitats create the conditions for ample biodiversity, meaning a greater abundance and variety of marine life. Plus, wildlife populations are able to readily replenish and species can develop into larger sizes. Healthy, large animals often spillover into areas outside of the MPAs boundaries, which helps the overall ecosystem flourish.

3. A stronger blue economy

From whale watching excursions and recreational diving to seafood, the ocean is the backbone for both the tourism and fisheries industries. Prior to implementing MPAs in California, some feared that zoning off parts of the ocean from fishing could negatively impact local anglers visiting the area and the livelihoods of commercial fishers. Fortunately, a recent study suggests California MPAs boost local economies, which is also supported by similar research in the EU.

4. More resilient to pollution

The ocean is massive and incredibly deep, but it is not large enough to dilute all of the pollution from humans, nor should we rely solely on it to play that role. Some pollutants, including plastics, become more concentrated in the ocean as they enter the food chain (known as bioaccumulation). Animals high in the food chain such as sharks and sea lions can have contamination levels that are millions of times higher than the water in which they live. Stressors such as pollution and fishing are cumulative, and removing some pressure allows overall ecosystems to become more resilient. MPAs provide a natural buffer for species affected by pollution and allow them to recover. 

5. Mitigation against climate change

The ocean can facilitate extraordinary processes that fight against climate change, including carbon sequestration, oxygen creation, water purification, and storm buffering. In fact, new evidence has doubled the predicted carbon sequestration capacity of the ocean’s phytoplankton. Other research indicates MPAs are also effective at housing large, reproductive animals that could help replenish populations across the region when impacts from climate change like warming temperatures and reduced oxygen cause species to die-off.

6. Scalable science-based actions

While MPAs can help mitigate against some impacts of climate change, they can’t take on the climate crisis without our help. California’s MPAs were specifically designed as a network of several small zones to increase the area’s resilience to climate change. Changes in ocean temperature, ocean currents, oxygen availability, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and storm intensification all lead to a phenomenon known as species redistribution. In other words, as water conditions shift in the ocean, entire habitats and species follow. Few can predict beforehand exactly where habitats will move to, and a network of MPAs helps ensure that there are several stable and safe places to go. More MPAs will increase our ocean’s resilience. MPAs have the power to turn the tides on climate change, but only if we take urgent action to increase marine protection and decrease pollution from fossil fuels and plastics.

7. Learning opportunities for all

MPAs teach us how the underwater world works and what we can do to keep the ocean healthy, safe, and clean. Research divers, students, naturalists, and scientists alike can observe, study, and glean important information from MPAs. This new knowledge can be used to inform our environmental and economic policies to improve life for future generations. #bluemind

8. Inspiring ocean stewardship

Experience more wonder and adventure in your local MPA by volunteering with MPA Watch! As a volunteer, you can work alongside people who care about the ocean. You efforts will inform state and local MPA management about the specific needs of each MPA and how to keep them thriving. You’ll receive training on how to collect much-needed scientific data and stay in the loop about how MPAs are management and how they are changing.

Become a MPA Watch volunteer in Los Angeles by attending a Heal the Bay Volunteer Orientation. Or, learn more about other MPA Watch programs in California.


Maps of MPAs in LA County




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! 😀



¿Has pensado explorar lo que existe bajo la superficie de nuestro Océano Pacífico y de los animales acuáticos que lo habitan?

El único problema es que ¡no podemos bucear sin equipo, ni permanecer por largo tiempo en aguas frías!

Celebrando #UnderwaterParksDay

Este sábado 20 de enero, en el acuario del muelle de Santa Monica, vengan a celebrar y a disfrutar de la belleza marina y a participar en nuestro nuevo evento virtual llamado Underwater Parks Day.

Nuestros científicos revelarán las maravillas de nuestros paraísos acuáticos a través de una experiencia de video muy cautivadora. Usando gafas especiales, tendrán la oportunidad de bucear y explorar la vida marina del área de Long Point en la Isla Catalina ¡sin mojarse!

Nuestra nueva exposición virtual les dará la oportunidad de explorar la vida marina que habita las aguas de la Isla Catalina, incluyendo a la lubina gigante (giant sea bass) que se encuentra en peligro de extinción.

Nuestro agradecimiento a Alex Warham y a Diatom Productions por hacer estas imágenes de la vida marina fascinantes y disponibles para el público en general.

The BOSCO—una compañía destacada en instalaciones fotográficas, proveerá de recuerdos gratuitos para todos los visitantes, los mismos que tendrán la oportunidad también de tomarse una fotografía con animales acuáticos desde una cabina fotográfica. Todas las fotos serán compartidas con los visitantes a través de correos electrónicos y tendrán la oportunidad de participar en una petición diseñada para proteger las áreas marinas.

Todas estas actividades estarán incluidas con la entrada al acuario.

Honrando a las Áreas Marinas Protegidas

A partir del 2011, una red de áreas marinas protegidas o parques subacuáticos, fueron establecidas en El

Sur de California. Heal the Bay ha trabajado en asociación y con el estado de California para identificar áreas de estos territorios especiales donde la vida marina pueda mejorarse.

Las áreas marinas protegidas están presentes en las aguas de Point Dume en Malibu, Catalinas Island, Abalone Cove en Palos Verdes, y en Point Vicente. Nuestros logros como guardianes de nuestras áreas marinas protegidas han sido posible a través de la educación, investigación, supervisión y programas de apoyo.

Si no pueden asistir al evento de Underwater Parks Day, únanse al programa de MPA Watch como voluntario y ayuden a monitorear estos lugares especiales en las costas de Malibu y Palos Verdes.



Have you ever wondered what lies beneath the surface of our big beautiful Pacific Ocean? Ever pondered what animals lurk in the deep, both big and small?

But there’s just one hitch – you don’t know how to SCUBA dive or have the nerve to brave its chilly waters.

Celebrating #UnderwaterParksDay with “Underwater Treasure”

Well, we’ve got you covered with a new virtual exhibit called “Underwater Treasure” – at our Underwater Parks Day celebration in Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Families and friends of the sea are encouraged to come!

Our scientists will reveal the wonders of our local underwater paradises through a 360-degree experience. Donning special goggles, guests will have the opportunity to dive into the Catalina Island Long Point marine protected area and explore its vibrant marine life without getting wet.

Visitors to our new virtual exhibit will be able to see the animals that call the waters off Catalina Island home, including a peek at the endangered giant sea bass – the so-called ‘VW Bus of the Sea’. We thank our creative partner Alex Warham and his company Diatom Productions for making these astounding underwater images available to the general public.

All special activities are included with Aquarium Admission.

Honoring Marine Protected Areas

In 2011, a network of marine protected areas, or underwater parks, became effective in Southern California, providing safe haven for ocean wildlife. Heal the Bay spent years working with partners and the State of California to identify areas for these special places to be strategically located for enhancement of marine life populations.

Marine protected areas are present in the waters off of Point Dume in Malibu, Catalina Island, and Palos Verdes’ Abalone Cove and Point Vicente. We have continued on as guardians of our local marine protected areas through research, educationmonitoring and advocacy programs.

Can’t join us for Underwater Parks Day? Come join us as an MPA Watch volunteer and help monitor these special places from shore in Malibu and Palos Verdes.

(En español)



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



Snapshot CalCoast 2017
Ever wanted to be a scientist? Now is your chance! The California Academy of Sciences is teaming up with the Marine Protected Area Collaborative Network for Snapshot CalCoast 2017!

From June 23rd-July 2nd, teams across California will head to tide pools in marine protected areas (MPAs) to discover, photograph, and identify intertidal marine species. Put your smartphone to good use, download the iNaturalist app, and become not only a citizen scientist, but a conservation superhero today!

Why Care About Biodiversity?
Biodiversity is at the heart of ecosystem balance. By better understanding and protecting biodiversity, we are taking action toward more effective conservation. Ecosystems that have a higher level of biodiversity are more robust, can more easily bounce back from environmental changes and are generally more sustainable. MPAs in particular have been identified to successfully increase biodiversity, which, in turn, boosts productivity, increases resilience and establishes overall healthier ecosystems.

What is a BioBlitz?
A Bioblitz is a community event in which many people come together to document biodiversity by observing and recording as many species as they can in one area at one time. Bioblitzes are not only fantastic opportunities to get involved in the community, but also to connect you to both nature and science in a positive and rewarding way. Snapshot CalCoast uses the iNaturalist platform to bridge the gap between technology and outdoor nature, connecting social media to conservation and enabling you to share your discoveries through a fun, inspiring, and easy-to-use medium.

Get Involved!
For more information about Snapshot CalCoast and how you can get involved, visit here. See below for a list of bioblitzes happening in the Los Angeles area:

Heal the Bay
Wednesday, June 28
7:30am-9:30am
Point Dume State Park
RSVP here

LA Waterkeeper
Wednesday, June 28
10:00am-1:00pm
Paradise Cove

Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation
Sunday, June 25
6:30am-11:00am
Leo Carrillo State Park
RSVP to Eventbrite required. Spaces are limited.
For more information, please contact: kmelendez@wishtoyo.org, (805) 323-7023

Aquarium of the Pacific, Sea Grant, Terranea Resort
Friday, June 30
7:30am-10:30am
Pelican Cove
RSVP to Eventbrite required. Spaces are limited.

Natural History Museum – LAC
Sunday, June 25 and Monday, June 26
5:00am-8:00am
Point Fermin
RSVP here

Want your own adventure? Head out on your own, or with friends and family! Choose any coastal location between June 23rd and July 2nd, especially within Marine Protected Areas, and share your observations. Be sure to keep an eye out for the animals on the most wanted species list! All information collected will not only help improve knowledge of coastal biodiversity, but also be used by coastal managers to improve conservation efforts. Spread the word, invite your friends and family, and together, let’s make a positive impact and document our beautiful California coast! To learn more about how to use iNaturalist, click here and be sure to share! #SnapshotCalCoast @SnapshotCACoast.



Sept. 30, 2016 — This Saturday, October 1, marks the opening weekend of the recreational lobster fishing season in California, officially beginning at 12:01 a.m. This is one of the busiest weekends on the water in Southern California, and it’s important that people stay safe and know the rules. So, here’s Heal the Bay’s cheat sheet to the recreational lobster regulations.

On the resource side, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife recently adopted California’s spiny lobster fishery management plan (FMP) to ensure that the fishery is sustainable for both the commercial and recreational sectors, while keeping the Southern California lobster population healthy and thriving. New regulations associated with the FMP won’t take effect until next year’s 2017/2018 lobster season. Heal the Bay participated as the environmental stakeholder on the advisory committee for the management plan.

Spiny lobster play an important role in our kelp forest and rocky reef systems, keeping things balanced by feeding on sea urchins, mussels, and other invertebrates. And, it’s not just people that enjoy rich, sweet taste of lobster, California sheephead, cabezon, horn sharks, and other animals also eat lobster. The good news is that lobster populations are generally doing pretty well in Southern California, especially with the implementation of marine protected areas in 2012.

There has been a commercial fishery in California for spiny lobster since the late 1800s, and now California’s lobster fishery is consistently one of the top five in the state. It is almost entirely based in Southern California. The commercial fishery season typically opens about 5 days after the start of the recreational lobster season.

Because lobster are most active at night, recreational fishing also largely occurs in the dark. Conflicts between boats, divers, and hoop-netters are not uncommon during opening weekend. Here are a few tips to stay safe while lobster fishing, especially during the busy opening weekend:

  • Never dive alone. Always dive with a buddy, and keep him or her close. Divers who are dozens of feet apart may not be quick enough to respond in an emergency situation. When free-diving, one buddy should remain on the surface while the other dives in case of a shallow water blackout situation.
  • Don’t dive in areas you are unfamiliar with. If you’d like to try a new spot, check it out in the day first to familiarize yourself before heading out at night.
  • Watch the weather and ocean conditions. Winds and surge can threaten boats and divers, especially near rocky areas and close to shore.
  • If you are setting hoop-nets, be aware of your line. The polypropylene line can get tangled in your boat prop if you are not careful and may disable your boat.
  • Keep a back-up flashlight or headlamp aboard your boat. Divers should also carry a back-up dive light.
  • As a diver or boater, avoid encroaching on boats that have staked out a spot.
  • Inform someone at home of your dive plan or boat plan before you head out on the water.
  • When driving your boat at night, watch the water closely for lights and bubbles from submerged divers and avoid those areas. If you end up too close to divers, put your boat into neutral until you pass them to avoid an unsafe encounter.

And, here’s a recap of the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) recreational lobster fishing regulations. Check the DFW website or sport-fishing guide for detailed regulations:

  • All recreational lobster fishermen 16 years old and older must have a valid sport fishing license.
  • All recreational lobster fishermen (regardless of age) must have a spiny lobster report card in their possession while fishing for lobster or assisting in fishing for lobster. Report cards must be reported online at wildlife.ca.gov/reportcards by April 30, following the close of lobster season.
  • A $21.60 non-return fee will be charged when purchasing a spiny lobster report card if the previous year’s report card is not returned or reported by the April 30 deadline. To avoid the fee, you may either return or report your card by the deadline, or skip one lobster fishing season. After skipping one season, you can purchase a spiny lobster report card the following season at no extra cost.
  • The recreational catch limit is seven lobster, and no more than one daily bag limit of seven can be taken or possessed at any time. (You cannot have more than seven lobster per angler at home at any given time).
  • Minimum size limit is 3.25 inch carapace length (measuring from the rear of the eye socket between the horns to the back of the body shell, or carapace). You must carry a lobster gauge to accurately measure catch. All undersize lobster must be released immediately after measurement.
  • Do not tail your lobster. Separating the tail from the head makes it impossible to determine whether the lobster is legal size or not, so the lobster must be landed whole.
  • Open lobster recreation season runs from the Saturday before the first Wednesday in October, through the first Wednesday after March 15. The 2016-2017 season runs from October 1, 2016 – March 22, 2017.
  • Lobster can only be taken by hand or hoop net, and recreational fishermen are limited to no more than five hoop nets/person and vessels may not carry more than 10 hoop nets. When fishing from land, fishermen are limited to two hoop nets.
  • Interference with commercial traps or recreational hoop nets is prohibited.

Both commercial and recreational fishing are part of California’s coastal culture. And, charismatic lobster are also a favorite species to spot for non-consumptive divers, making great photo subjects as well. Be safe and have fun this lobster season!

More information is available on the Department of Fish and Wildlife website and through this tip-card.

Spiny lobsters are most active night, posing some challenges for divers.



June 7, 2016 — Julie Edwards, Heal the Bay MPA Intern, highlights the recreational opportunities – such as tide pooling – that Angelenos can enjoy in our local marine protected areas. Join us for our next MPA Watch citizen science training in late July!

This month, I did something I haven’t done since I was a child – I went tide pooling. Tide pooling is a great activity for anyone at any age; all it takes is a keen eye! With a little luck you can find curious octopuses, bright green anemones, spiky purple sea urchins and slimy sea hares.

There are great tide pools in Little Dume Cove, which is within the Point Dume State Marine Reserve, where all marine life is protected. The reserve is part of California’s statewide network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which stretches along the state’s coast. MPAs preserve ocean habitats, as well as the diversity and abundance of marine life. They also provide recreational and educational opportunities, such as tide pooling!

Chestnut Cowrie in Little Dume CoveThe more upcoast tide pools near Paradise Cove are formed by tall rocks, making tide pooling possible even at mid-tide! In these northern pools you can see woolly sculpins, sand castle worm colonies, and turban snails. You might even get lucky and spot a beautiful chestnut cowrie, like the one pictured on the right. Remember to tread lightly on rocks to avoid stepping on marine life, be gentle when touching critters, and leave animals in their tide pool homes. Check the tides before you go and time your visit for a low tide. Please be careful and do not climb on the rocks – they are slippery and wet, so it is very easy to fall and hurt yourself.

On the northern end of Little Dume Cove, the rocks are covered with mussels and barnacles. There are some anemones hiding amongst the barnacles in shallow pools formed in the rocks so try to spot them!

Low rocks form tide pools at Little Dume CoveHeading south in Little Dume Cove, the pools are no longer formed by ridges of large rocks and are instead formed by many low rocks and small boulders. This area is very accessible and would be great for the whole family. Be sure to get there at the low tide, the rocks are easy to walk across and there is less chance of getting splashed by incoming waves. These pools have an abundance of life but please don’t take anything home! This is a State Marine Reserve so fishing/harvesting of all marine resources is prohibited. If you see anyone collecting from the tide pools during your trip to Little Dume Cove and the Point Dume State Marine Reserve, please call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at 1-888-334-CALTIP.

From June 4th-12th the CA Coastal BioBlitz will bring people together to document biodiversity in one place at one time, record observations of plants and animals using smartphones or digital cameras and upload results to the biodiversity recording platform iNaturalist.

Read more about Heal the Bay’s own BioBlitz events in Malibu and Ballona.



Heal the Bay got its start as an all-volunteer organization in 1985, birthed in the Westwood living room of founding president Dorothy Green. Since then, Heal the Bay has matured into one of Southern California’s most effective environmental organizations, fueled by science, advocacy, community engagement, and education.

To ensure that we remain focused and that our day-to-day work aligns closely with our key goals, we recently completed a new strategic plan, thanks to a grant provided by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Here’s an (admittedly) detailed look at how we are organizing ourselves and our efforts over the next five years.

The following goals define our committment to improving the health and sustainability of greater L.A.:

  • To better protect public health, we will work to ensure that people can swim and fish at every beach in L.A. County without risk of getting sick.
  • To ensure a more sustainable water future, we will work to ensure that L.A. County sources 60% of its water locally through conservation and reuse by 2025. 
  • To restore the vibrancy of our local ocean and watersheds, we will work to ensure that all greater L.A. coastal and river habitats are healthy.

To achieve these goals, we have aligned our work around three key pillars: thriving oceans, healthy watersheds, and smart water management.

Thriving Oceans

The Santa Monica Bay and L.A.’s coastal waters have changed dramatically since Heal the Bay was founded in 1985. In the 1980s it was not uncommon for people to suffer illness from swimming at the beach. And, wildlife like brown pelicans and dolphins were a rare site in the Bay. The health of our Bay has come a long way, thanks to the largest wastewater treatment plan in L.A. – Hyperion – upgrading to advanced secondary treatment and the establishment of several Marine Protected Areas off our coast (both projects that Heal the Bay helped advance). But many dangers loom, from offshore oil drilling to plastic pollution. As L.A.’s local water watchdog, Heal the Bay staff and volunteers work hard to:

  • Restore, enhance, and protect ocean and coastal habitats, so that they are filled with life. You can help Heal the Bay’s staff scientists by joining our MPA Watch community-science program. We also work closely with researchers and agencies to evaluate climate change impacts to Southern California coastal environments and help coastal communities adapt to these changes.
  • Safeguard local coastal waters from pollution, while playing a watchdog role to protect against emerging threats. Stormwater is the biggest source of pollution to the Santa Monica Bay. With runoff comes all sorts of urban slobber – bacteria, motor oil, pesticides, trash, and other pollutants. Heal the Bay staff continue to fight against plastic pollution through education and proactive policies to protect aquatic life from confusing trash as food or becoming entangled in plastic that pollutes local waters.
  • Ensure that seafood caught for consumption in Santa Monica Bay is safe to eat. DDT- and PCB-laden runoff and wastewater discharged from the Montrose Chemical Corp. and other Southland-based industries from the 1940s-80s have resulted in a large swath of contaminated sediments off the coast of Palos Verdes. Since 2002, Heal the Bay staff have been educating anglers at piers throughout Los Angeles about what fish are safe to eat and which ones they should avoid. We are also working with researchers and agencies to better understand these pollution problems and advocate for clean-up and remediation.
  • Improve public knowledge about our local coast and ocean, and empower people to help protect them. Heal the Bay educates nearly 200,000 people each year through both formal and informal education programs. Come experience the Bay at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and learn more about local wildlife. Or, join us for a monthly beach clean-up to learn about pollution and help keep trash from entering our local waterways.

Healthy Watersheds

Watersheds are areas of land that drain to common waterbodies – such as the Santa Monica Bay or the L.A. River. We all live in a specific watershed (there are 8 of them in L.A. County), and we all share responsibility for protecting the living water body it drains to. Waterways throughout greater L.A. are threatened by armoring, pollution, development in riparian habitat, flood control maintenance, and invasive species, among a host of other impacts. Heal the Bay is conducting research to better understand negative impacts to our watersheds and educating and mobilizing citizens to protect them. To achieve our goals, we need to:

  • Understand the current health of watersheds in L.A. County. In order to protect local watersheds, we have to know what is threatening the habitat, water quality, and aquatic life. Heal the Bay partners with researchers, NGOs, and volunteers to study these threats, including programs like our citizen science supported Stream Team. Once threats are identified, Heal the Bay works to advance policies, projects, and education to improve watershed health.
  • Connect communities to their rivers, streams, and wetlands. Hundreds of miles of rivers and streams throughout greater L.A. are paved with concrete channels. Although they may help with flood control, the viaducts serve as a barrier to the public. Many Angelenos don’t even know these channels are actually rivers. The few natural streams and rivers that exist here are havens for birds and plants. Through our urban education and outreach programs, Heal the Bay helps connect communities to local streams and waterways, so they can learn about the threats, see the benefits of watershed health, and help advocate for enhancement of their natural and built environment.
  • Advocate for enhancement and protection of riparian corridors and wetlands. Heal the Bay staff advocate before local and state agencies in an effort to pass policies and shape programs to enhance rivers and wetlands. Our work helped lead to the restoration of Malibu Lagoon in 2013, and there are new opportunities for the largest wetland restoration in the L.A. region with Ballona Wetlands.
  • Enhance public understanding about watershed health, and empower people to help protect it. Heal the Bay education and outreach staff work through a variety of programs to inform people about watershed health. Come check out the watershed exhibit at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, which features the tidewater goby, a federally endangered fish that inhabits local estuaries.

Smart Water Management

The record drought, coupled with climate change and other stressors, has called into question the practicality of importing nearly 90% of L.A.’s water supply. Continued reliance on imported water is an uncertain and dangerous proposition. We need to be smarter about using the water that we already have, which will benefit both local water supply and water quality. Here’s what we vow to do to advance more sustainable local water:

  • Ensure that beaches and waterways are safe for swimming. Millions of people visit California beaches each year, and no one should get sick from a day at the beach. That’s why Heal the Bay has been grading beaches on our Beach Report Card for over 20 years on an A-F scale to inform beachgoers about what beaches are clean for swimming and which ones to avoid. We also work with local and state government to find ways to clean up dirty beaches in the region. And we’re piloting a program with Stanford University to start forecasting water quality at historically troubled beaches.
  • Protect water quality throughout the region. Stormwater, or urban runoff, is the largest source of pollution to the Santa Monica Bay. By fighting for strong pollution limits and water quality regulations, Heal the Bay helps make sure local governments, industrial and commercial entities are accountable for their stormwater. Cleaning up local waterways benefits both people and aquatic life.
  • Improve the rate of water recycling. Each day wastewater treatment plants uselessly send hundreds of millions of gallons of highly treated wastewater into local rivers and the Pacific Ocean. Only a small percentage is recycled for industrial uses or irrigation. If more wastewater was treated to a higher standard, it could be recycled and substantially reduce the region’s reliance on imported water and simultaneously bolster regional water supplies. We continue to advocate for more projects and funding support to increase water recycling throughout the region.
  • Advance greater stormwater capture and reuse. Each day roughly 10 million gallons of urban runoff flows through L.A County stormdrains, picking up pollutants and eventually reaching the ocean without the benefit of any treatment. On a rainy day, that volume can escalate to 10 billion gallons. Our science and policy team is working to ensure stormwater management planning and implementation includes multi-benefit solutions that improve greenspace, beautify communities, and capture water onsite for reuse or recharging groundwater. This includes working with state and local governments to find creative ways to fund stormwater programs.
  • Advocate for alternatives to desalination. It’s a common suggestion to turn to the ocean as a water source in water scarce times. Many people don’t realize that desalination is an energy-intensive, inefficient technology that threatens marine life. Heal the Bay is working to advance conservation and expansion of local water sources, such as stormwater cleansing and reuse, and wastewater recycling to avoid turning to desalination.
  • Create greater public understanding about water quality and supply, and empower people to advocate for a cleaner and more reliable water future. Where does our water come from? Especially in a large region like greater L.A.? If you’re feeling sheepish that you don’t know the answer, most Angelenos don’t either. Heal the Bay educators will be working with partners through our new “Dropping Knowledge” community-outreach project to educate Angelenos in Korean, Spanish, and English about how to maximize local water. We can’t expect people to be part of the solution to our water woes if they don’t understand the problem.

As you can see, we’ve got our work cut out for us. If you’d like to make a contribution toward a cleaner ocean and healthier L.A., please click below.

Support Heal the Bay's work