Heal the Bay Blog

Category: More Ways to Give

In honor of dads and grads and in celebration of the male seahorse’s unique role in childbirth, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium’s seahorses are available for aquadoption.

Fostering a seahorse through the Aquarium’s Aquadoption program is a special way to connect with an animal; leave the actual daily care to Aquarium staff while you can feel proud of your important contribution to this unique creature’s well being.

Growing up to 12 inches in height, the Pacific seahorse, Hippocampus ingens, is among the largest of the world’s seahorses and the only one to be found along the California coast. In the seahorse family, the males do all the heavy lifting, carrying an amazing number of eggs in their brood pouch, deposited there by the female. The male can give birth to hundreds of babies – known as fry – at one time.

A yearlong aquadoption of a seahorse comes with a personalized packet with an adoption certificate, photo, fact sheet and a full year’s membership to Heal the Bay – which includes free family admission to the Aquarium for the year.

Our work at Heal the Bay wouldn’t be possible without our spectacular volunteers, which is why we threw a fantastic intergalactic-themed party to recognize our most dedicated volunteers: Super Healers.

It was a night filled with awe and wonder, as we flew to the moon and played among the stars, all in honor of our down-to-earth volunteers and partners.

Shout-out to Bodega Wine Bar for hosting the party in February; the food was tasty, the staff welcoming, and the atmosphere was perfect for a game of “Defeat the Death Star” cornhole.

We’d also like to take a moment to acknowledge our volunteer party donors and participants, for the breathtaking photo booth, the liquid nitrogen ice cream, the awesome raffle prizes, and more. Much thanks to Allison SUP Race Fins, ChicoBag, ECOBAGS, GoPro, Ice Cream Lab, Lemonade, Life Without Plastic, Manhattan Stitching, REI, Rip Curl, Rockreation, Sidecar Doughnuts, Snapfiesta, StubHub Center, U Konserve, and Washed Ashore Adornments.

And of course, where would we be without our stellar 2016 Super Healers? These are our most dedicated volunteers, who continually go above and beyond the call of duty. Their commitment is commendable, their dedication and passion for protecting water quality and the environment undeniable.

We’re proud to honor the following outstanding individuals with the prestigious Super Healer Award:

David Coles (Speakers Bureau)

While David was getting his masters in Marine Biology, he came to realize that while he is passionate about nature, he’s not really a scientist (endless data analysis, tedious academic journals, etc. – bo-ring!). However, he learned he loved public speaking. Through Speakers Bureau, he continues to use his Marine Biology training in a format that fits his personality and interests. In fact, he has been a guest speaker at over 30 beach talks and lectures since first joining the program in March 2015! He uses his speaking talents to communicate his love of nature to a diverse audience- to inspire people to care about the ocean. Opening up with video footage of dives he did for his thesis research, he gets the room excited while breaking the ice. David is one of our most consistent volunteers to go into the classroom and educate students and adults alike. He reaches out on the regular to volunteer, and can always be counted on when we ask him for help. David is an exemplary reason that the Speakers Bureau program is so successful, reaching out to 40,000 Angelenos annually. Thank you David, for your passion and commitment, for inspiring ocean stewards for years to come.


Zeph Nowland (Beach Programs)

(Almost) Immediately after flying into LAX from South Korea in 2014, Zeph volunteered for his first Nothin’ But Sand cleanup at Dockweiler Beach, and nothing has been the same since. Although Alys Arenas was yet to be hired as HtB’s nefarious Beach Programs Manager, Zeph still knew in his heart of hearts that he wanted… nay, NEEDED!… to get more involved. One volunteer training later, he emerged as a newly-minted Beach Captain — capital letters and all (but, sadly, no cape or captain’s hat) — ready to help turn the tide (pun!) on pollution. Donning his super HtB t-shirt (because, again, no cape), Zeph tirelessly sets his alarm every 3rd Saturday of the month (except for December, of course!) and helps erect tents, build tables, and direct humans. Yes, he WILL take care of that needle you found. Of course he’s fine picking up that condom you simply cannot touch. But, no, that dead seagull must not be disturbed, nature taking its sweet time to reclaim it once more. Although Zeph mostly enjoys working the supply tent because of the power it brings him, he’s acquired other super powers over the years, assisting where needed, including packing/unpacking the truck at HtB headquarters, giving safety talks, harassing other HtB staff, and holding the coveted raffle jar! His favorite saying? It’s this: “Most of the trash at the beach is coming from somewhere else, so picking up litter in your own neighborhood is like doing a mini beach cleanup every day.” Copyright. Trademark.


Jeri Miller (Wednesday Warriors)

When you think of Jeri Miller, you automatically think of a Wednesday Warrior. Whether she’s inputting those tedious safety waivers or helping bundle cleanup supplies, Jeri’s outgoing spirit always brightens the Large Conference Room on Wednesdays. Her academic background, vocational interest and true passion center around the environment, particularly the marine environment. When she joined the Office Support team in 2015, she was on a break from work and wanted to contribute to an organization she felt was making a difference.  It was here at Heal the Bay, that she felt inspired by the variety of volunteer opportunities, the people and the vibe of the office. To her, the office is such a chill place to be at, yet there is still that buzz generated by a group of people committed to doing what they believe in.  When she’s not helping at HtB, you can catch her volunteering for Reef Check Foundation – she’s since been hired by them on a part-time basis! Her other hobbies include working out, working out, and working out — swimming, walking the beach, going to the gym, riding her beach cruiser everywhere and yoga. When its’ not Wednesdays, she also manages to find time to hang out with friends at any one of the many local Redondo Beach bars and restaurants!


Erin LaBrie (Street Fleet)

Erin was inspired to volunteer with Heal the Bay years ago by her mom, Lollie, who teaches at CSULA and has someone from the organization come speak to her class every quarter. Erin knew she wasn’t quite ready to volunteer in a formal classroom setting, so she decided to join the Community Advocates (Street Fleet) crew in 2014. When she’s out tabling, Erin enjoys the ability to reach out to people and teach them about the small, simple changes that can be made to help protect and preserve our ecosystem. Being part of the Street Fleet crew has allowed her meet other amazing and wonderful volunteers and staff that share their passion and knowledge of the environment with her. When she’s not volunteering with HtB, Erin spends some time with several animal rescue organizations and shelters with adoption events, humane Education programs, fostering, and mentoring new pet parents. She spent part of last year volunteering as a summer camp director working with kids 8-17 as well as mentoring young adults as counselors. Her other year-round volunteering activities include working with people in jails that are trying to get/stay sober. What’s her favorite thing of all when she’s not at work or any community service events? Snuggling and spoiling her 4 dogs.


Mary Billings (Street Fleet)

Mary is one of Street Fleet’s go-to volunteers. Having retired a couple of years ago, Mary knew she wanted to find something where she could make a difference, meet new people and learn new things. As a long-time Hermosa Beach resident, she feels very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place and decided helping Heal the Bay would be a good use of her time. She began her journey as an HtB volunteer by helping phone bank for the campaign to stop oil drilling in Hermosa. Soon after joining the Street Fleet Crew in 2015, Mary realized that she enjoyed talking to all the different people who visit the HtB table at the fairs and events. The other volunteers she tables with are great too. Since becoming a volunteer, Mary has learned so much about LA water. More importantly, she loves that the Heal the Bay staff are always so welcoming. When she’s not volunteering with HtB, Mary also volunteers for an education organization called “Families in Schools.” Their mission is to work with schools to involve parents and communities in their children’s education to ensure lifelong success. She also recently started tutoring ESL through the South Bay Literacy Council.


Ben Kay (Community Leader)

As a high school and college teacher for Santa Monica High School and Santa Monica College, Mr. Kay has acted as a longstanding advocate for and steward of the Santa Monica Bay. His involvement with Heal the Bay spans upwards of 10 years, in which time he’s steered his students towards the aquarium, beach cleanups, community eco-events, and youth summits, all while spearheading and mentoring Team Marine and partnering for programs such as Day Without Bag Day, No on O phone banking, STEAM Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, and RETHINK eco-artwork campaign. He’s taken student advocacy to the streets by participating in six SaMoHi plastic bag ban marches, and to the government by bringing students to testify for sustainable solutions at city halls all over LA County and to lobby in Sacramento on Ocean Day. For his unwavering commitment to inspire environmental stewards for over a decade, we are honored to present him with the Super Healer Award for an outstanding Community Leader. Thank you for your service Mr. Kay!


Alexandra "Sasha" Ivanona (SMPA Aquarist)

Sasha was a high school student when she first started as an aquarist intern, and now she is in the middle of her first year at UCLA. I knew she was very intelligent, and participated in 3,000 different extracurricular activities in high school, and that number has only increased, now that she in college. But what is surprising to me is her positive outlook on life. Even though she has gone through some hardships, she always looks on the bright side, like how she had curly hair for a while, how fun the children’s ward of the hospital is, and how she got to go to Antarctica and jump in the ocean afterwards. She is usually very cheerful (after a morning cup of coffee or tea), even when she has a terrible migraine, and may seem carefree, but she is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. She is not afraid to take charge and be the boss (in her own quiet way), and I know she will do great things in the future. So, I want to thank you on behalf of Jose and I, for all that you do for us, my fellow lover of the oxford comma, Sasha. – Akino Higa, SMPA Aquarist


Grace Luis (SMPA Public Programs)

Grace Luis is like the Swiss Army knife of volunteers. She began her volunteer service almost 2 ½ years ago at the Aquarium, and since then has donated over 1,500 hours of time (even with her busy school schedule) in practically every program we offer at the Aquarium. Whether she is helping to train and guide new volunteers, introducing marine science to preschoolers, entertaining delighted birthday kids and their friends with animal presentations and fun stories, or helping to design fun new activities/displays for the Aquarium, Grace has always brought her friendly smile and incredibly funny sense of humor to any situation. We have all joked about locking Grace in the Aquarium after she graduates so she could stay with us forever—she not only donates so much of her time/service; she also shares her dedication, passion and kindness with everyone she meets. Grace exemplifies what we look for in a Super Healer, and we are so honored to work with her each week.


Juan Lopez (SMPA Education)

Juan loves cars.  He builds them, races them and fixes them when they break.  His other passion is the ocean and he matches his same love of cars with the watery world he surfs on, wades in and helps students understand.  This past year we have watched Juan grow from a volunteer, who devoted four days a week to help us teach students about the ocean, to an intern, then summer camp intern and finally as a Key to the Sea Naturalist.  He took the direction we gave him to heart, fine-tuned his deliveries and developed his own teaching style, making him an important part of our education team.  We have the great fortune of working with many wonderful education interns and volunteers, but Juan pushed himself to grow and learn, and always did it with his trademark smile and laugh.  He always steps up when needed and helps the other volunteers grow themselves. Juan has developed so much as an educator, he has found himself teaching at the Roundhouse Marine Studies lab and Aquarium three days a week, yet still comes in to work with us on his free days… a true commitment to educating others about a place that brings him so much joy, the ocean!


Michael Barnes (MPA Watch)

“I simply wanted to do some good and looked for a cause that I cared about. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors & nature so environmentalism was a natural fit for me. In searching for a volunteer opportunity, I looked for an organization that shared my passion, had a track record of community engagement, and who used the majority of their funds for actual programs rather than administrative and fundraising expenses. I found all of this in Heal the Bay. Being outdoors while contributing my small part to positively impacting our beautiful coastlines. I never get tired of the sun (remember I’m from the Pacific Northwest) so when I’m conducting an MPA survey its more than just a survey, its a walk on a nice sunny day 🙂 I also volunteer for Tree People and Habitat for Humanity when I have the time. In terms of hobbies, I enjoy surfing, hiking, and running.”


Brittney Mercado (Advocacy)

Brittney Mercado, a senior at Da Vinci Communications High School, has been passionate about the environment throughout her life. She knows that it is her future at risk and the only way to make a difference is to let her voice be heard. She did just that by coming to our advocacy training session, and then used her voice to spread information about the Yes on Prop 67 campaign. She organized her friends to call people across Los Angeles at our phone banking events and to walk door-to-door in their Hawthorne neighborhood to canvass for the cause. She wrote a fantastic article in her school’s newspaper to inspire her classmates to use their voices as well. She is certainly a great voice for the environment and will set an example for her generation and generations to come.


Ronald Fagan (Development - Donor)

10 years ago Ronald walked into the aquarium and struck up conversation with Nick Fash (Heal the Bay’s Education Manager) about the fact he had just seen a pelican on the pier tangled in fishing line.  This discussion on the impacts that fishing line can have upon our oceans and marine life led to the months long process of designing, constructing and seeking approval from the city and the pier to install 3 monofilament recycling bins on our pier.  He is a contractor who lives nowhere near the coast, and only ventures out to the pier a few times a year but his passion for this project drove him on through multiple design changes and safety checks with the fire department as well as working with the maintenance crew to get them properly mounted with signage.  Over the past 10 years, not only has he made the effort to make sure they are functional, but he continues to send donations for “fishing line recycling”.  Based on the amount of line pulled out over the years, it is clear he has helped save countless animals that would otherwise find themselves entangled in fishing line.


Beatriz Lorenzo (Spanish Outreach)

“I love the ocean and I had such a happy times with my elder son in the aquarium, it made sense to give back in both fronts. The sense of community and the fact that you can make a difference. I thrive by continuously learning new things and I like to surf. I love the ocean in all of its ways, I enjoy sailing, swimming, playing in the sand… going to the beach to stroll or just to look for little creatures (or big!) with my family. I enjoyed the sea salty air and the ever changing shades of blue.”


Patagonia (Business Award)

Patagonia believes in building the best product, causing no unneccesary harm and using business to inspire solutions to the environmental crisis. The brand donates 1% of all sales to grassroots environmental causes, and the 4th Street location in Santa Monica has been proud to partner with Heal the Bay all these years.


Erin Selleck (Board Member)

Erin Selleck was first introduced to Heal the Bay through her husband and longtime friend of the organization, Kurt Holland. Kurt is an environmental education consultant and former marine science teacher at Santa Monica Alternative School House. Both avid sailors with a life-long love of the ocean, they took a three year sabbatical and fulfilled a lifelong dream to cruise the oceans in their 41 foot sailboat. Kurt’s passion for the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium was contagious and ultimately led Erin to join the Heal the Bay Board of Directors in 2009.
Since joining the Board, Erin has served on various committees including a seat on the Executive Committee, and serving as Chair of both the Finance and Audit committees. She currently is a member of the Finance Committee, and the Aquarium Advisory Committee, along with Kurt. Through her deep connections and experience in the finance world, Erin has helped guide the organization through some challenging fiscal periods, proven to be an effective fundraiser and has helped us form meaningful, fruitful relationships with potential foundations and donors alike.
Since her recent retirement from a successful 30 year career as a top banking executive, Erin has pursued a portfolio career centered on her other passions, including mentoring and empowering young women. Her deep passion for the ocean and Heal the Bay’s cause, combined with her tireless devotion to motivate and uplift young women have proven to be a positive driving force for the betterment of her community.


Doug Wiita (Jean Howell Award)

When Doug first joined HtB he was working in an office, and was looking for volunteer work that was outdoors. MPA watch perfectly fit the bill. Wanting to spread the word, he later joined Speakers Bureau and started doing outreach. He’s favorite thing is talking about the ocean to kids. Doug retired a year ago, and when not spreading the word for HtB, he spends most of his time doing volunteer work for the American Red Cross.


Leslie Tamminen (Bob Hertz Award)

Leslie Mintz Tamminen is a consultant for Seventh Generation Advisors, a nonprofit environmental organization in Santa Monica CA. She is the Director of the Ocean Program, and in this capacity she facilitates the Clean Seas Coalition nationwide, a growing group of environmentalists, scientists, students, and community leaders pushing states to strengthen laws reducing plastic pollution at its source. Leslie spearheaded Clean Seas Coalition efforts to create and pass California’s SB270 law to ban single-use plastic bags. Formerly, Leslie was a special advisor to Lt. Governor John Garamendi, and the Legislative Director and staff attorney for the California environmental nonprofit organization Heal the Bay, where she was responsible for development and implementation of statewide water quality regulation and legislation, including the first federal pollution limit for trash in an urban river (Los Angeles). Leslie also worked to pass and implement California’s Education and the Environment Initiative, a state requirement for environmental education principles and curricula development in all core disciplines in public schools for K-12. Leslie is currently appointed to California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s Environmental Literacy Steering Committee, tasked with implementing the 2015 Blueprint for California Environmental Literacy. Leslie is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Southern California Law Center, and lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband Terry Tamminen.


Check out a few of the many memories from our volunteer party below. Thanks again to our volunteers, and hope to see you there next year. P.S. Our photo booth gallery is available here, with password HEALTHEBAY.

group-pic zeph-alys ufo-lantern lollis bottles-on-the-wall room-shot award-presented ryan-onesie

The L.A. Kings and Heal the Bay are lacing up their flip-flops for a multi-site beach cleanup on Jan. 25. Here, communications director Matthew King muses about sports stars on the sand.

OK, I’ll admit it. I’ve become a little jaded after participating in dozens of beach cleanups.

As a Heal the Bay staffer, I know exactly what we are going to find (a disheartening mix of chip bags, plastic bottles, and bits of Styrofoam). And I know exactly what participants’ reactions will be (“OMFG, look at all these disgusting cigarette butts!”).

I have another admission to make – like most Angelenos, I’m a bit star struck. You’d think after years of working as an editor at The Hollywood Reporter early in my career, I’d be more blasé about celebrity. But I still get a charge out of seeing stars out in the wild – especially at one of our events. I still proudly carry my green reusable bag signed by #4 Luke Walton, former forward and current coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, at our downtown rally in support of L.A.’s plastic bag ban.

Cleanups and celebs are an interesting mix. The stars usually come on their own time and out of their own volition, without makeup artists or publicists in tow. So out of respect, I’m not going to name names. But we’ve had several Oscar- and Emmy-winning performers roll up their sleeves with us and humbly mingle with the general public. I’m proud to say I haven’t seen an ounce of ego or attitude.

As a hopeless sports junkie, I’ve had the most fun working with L.A.’s professional sports teams. I’ve picked up trash with former Lakers center Andrew Bynum, probably the only time I’ve participated in a cleanup with someone taller than I am. (I’m 6’6” – Kobe Bryant size, as I like to say.)

Ex-Laker center Andrew Bynum helps pick up trash off of the beach.

Former All-Star Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and I scoured for bottle caps beside the Santa Monica Pier. (I think he was dating Rihanna at the time, and I can tell you he is one handsome dude.)

Former Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp weighs his trash totals.

But my favorite cleanup of all time was with the L.A. Kings in 2008, the year I started working at Heal the Bay.

I even allowed my young teenage son to skip school that day and help out, just to show him that working at a nonprofit has a little bit of cool to it. Hockey is my favorite sport, but that isn’t what made the day so memorable.

When a sports team hosts an event with us, two or three athletes will typically attend. But at the Kings cleanup in Redondo Beach, every player on the roster, except one, participated. This was 10 a.m. in the morning following a tough game the night before at Staples Center! I don’t know if the Kings have a culture of strict discipline or genuine community connection, but seeing two dozen players happily canvassing the sand on a foggy morning really impressed me.

Since then the Kings have gone on to win two Stanley Cup® championships. (I was in the house when defensemen Alex Martinez tucked in a reflex rebound at Staples Center to secure their second Cup against the New York Rangers!)

They’ve also grown into a great partner with Heal the Bay and have been honored at our annual Bring Back the Beach gala for their community outreach programs. Check out the video below to learn more.

Defensemen Matt Greene lent his voice to one of our most important battles – last year’s successful coalition effort to reject a ballot measure that would have allowed oil drilling beneath the Hermosa Beach seafloor. And all the other Kings live along the South Bay shoreline, so it’s no surprise they care about our local beaches.

In advance of this year’s NHL All-Star Game at Staples Center, we are hosting a volunteer cleanup at three locations on Wednesday afternoon, January 25. You can register and get more details here. (You might have to play hooky from work, but we can have one of our two staff Ph.D.s write you a doctor’s note!)

August 26, 2015 — This year, Heal the Bay celebrates three decades of protecting Los Angeles’ greatest natural resource. Yeah, it’s a big deal. To help us get the word out, we collaborated with two creative ad agencies to create a summer campaign to honor our mission and rally our supporters. Here’s some details about the digital campaign, which you’ll see running over the next two months.

Why now?

30 years ago, Santa Monica Bay was riddled with pollution and dead zones. Since then, thanks to HtB’s tireless advocacy and passionate community engagement, it has been brought back to life. But there’s plenty of work still left to be done – be it battling offshore drilling, stemming the tide of plastic trash on our shores or fighting for a more sustainable source of local water. As a member-supported organization, we need the support of everyday folks to get the work done.

Hinging off our 30th anniversary, we’re asking people to protect what they love by donating $25 and becoming a member of Heal the Bay.

What is it?

A thought-provoking, edgy, artful array of short videos, cinemagraphs, GIFs and graphics that we hope will rekindle people’s connection to the sea and to each other.

Beginning in late-August and continuing through September, we’ll release a new “Critters” spot every Wednesday, in which sea animals crack wise about man’s impact on their home. Earlier this summer, you might remember our “Soul of the Ocean” videos, which married spoken-word poetry and highly saturated, hypnotic, slow-motion images of the Bay.

You’ll also see something new on Instagram and Twitter: Cinemagraphs. We’re in love with them, and you’ll see why.

What can I do?

In addition to becoming a 30th Anniversary Member (for just $25!), you can impress and inspire your friends by sharing the videos and cinemagraphs below on social media. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Click an image below to open it up in a new tab. Then, right-click to save it as a .GIF on your computer.







We’re deeply indebted to the talented team at McGann | Zhang for putting together this incredible–and growing–suite of artwork. And a separate hat-tip to creative agency Lowe Campbell Ewald’s L.A. office, which last year provided us with an amazing amount of audience research, analysis and strategic thinking.




The holidays.

All those decorations, the wrapping paper, the packages, the extra groceries…wouldn’t it be great to have a couple of extra arms to help out with it all? Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium has a unique gift idea that will provide you with some extra arms—eight arms, to be exact.

Every December, our Aquarium offers one of its most popular marine creatures up for Aquadoption at a special holiday price. This year’s animal is…xylophone roll please…the octopus! Throughout the month of December, the octopus is available for $50–a bargain price that includes a year’s membership to Heal the Bay along with free admission to the Aquarium for a family of four. 

Octopuses are believed to be one of the smartest invertebrates on Earth, demonstrating the ability to learn new skills by watching one another. With their talent of changing color and texture, the octopus is a fascinating animal to observe.

The Aquadoption program provides all the benefits of adopting an animal while leaving the daily care to the Aquarium staff. If you choose to become an octopus mom or dad this holiday, you’ll receive a personalized packet with an adoption certificate, photo, fact sheet and two guest passes to the Aquarium. 

So save your arms and give everyone on your list a gift that will keep on giving all year long. You’ll make a lonely cephalopod’s day!

Your Aquadoption will underwrite the daily care and feeding of an Aquarium animal of your choice, and will also help support Heal the Bay’s ongoing mission to keep our oceans safe, healthy and clean. Thank you!

3 Ways to Aquadopt:

  1. Online
  2. By phone: Call 310-393-6149, x102
  3. In person: Visit us under the Pier Tue-Fri, 2-5pm or Sat-Sun, 12:30-5pm.

Santa Monica Pier Aquarium holiday aquadoption special

Are you drawn to good design? Love the beach? Well, we’ve got a great opportunity for you to proudly show you care. Heal the Bay has commissioned two of L.A.’s most celebrated graphic artists to power a new fashion-forward campaign announced just in time for Earth Day, this April 22.

Hoping to inspire a new generation of local ocean lovers, Tim Biskup and Florencio Zavala created limited-edition T-shirts that celebrate the diversity of greater L.A. and the wonders of its shorelines. Heal the Bay, which has a long history of collaborating with local artists like Catherine Opie and Ed Massey, asked Zavala and Biskup to conceive and donate original artwork that inspires people to take action to protect our local beaches.

Limited Edition T-Shirts Designed by local artists Tim Biskup and Florencio Zavala

Biskup, a Santa Monica native who employs vibrant color and playful forms in the pop-design genre, created a whimsical showcase of the many animals that lurk beneath the Bay and call it home. Zavala, a creative director who worked side by side with artist Shepard Fairey for nearly a decade, crafted an image that speaks to his long-standing interest in street culture and evokes Southern California’s rich Pan-American history.

“I practically lived in the water when I was a kid growing up in Malibu,” said Biskup. “Anyone who wants to make it a cleaner, nicer, safer place is alright in my book!” Added Zavala: “When Heal the Bay approached me recently about creating a limited-edition tee graphic, I couldn’t help but smile. As a South Florida native and now Angeleno, the sea and sand are defining elements of my identity. The ocean and everything beneath its surface is precious.”

The limited run of t-shirts is now available at ZJ Boarding House, the surf apparel and equipment retailer on Santa Monica’s Main Street, and at Channel Islands Scuba, while supplies last.

As the nation takes stock on this Giving Tuesday, think about what the Bay means to you and your family. We can’t take our region’s greatest resource for granted. If you’re not already a supporter, please make this the day to donate to Heal the Bay, the longest-serving watchdog for Southern California’s beaches and ocean.

For a $35 donation, you can become a member of Heal the Bay and take pride in protecting what you love. The ocean belongs to all of us, and it’s up to all of us to care for it. It’s a great day to join us!

 It may be Giving Tuesday, but consider what our local beaches and ocean give to us every day of the year:

  • Sustenance  The ocean provides 70% of the world’s oxygen. Santa Monica Bay, home to thousands of marine species, is part of  an amazing local ecosystem.
  • Prosperity  Nearly 400,000 jobs in Los Angeles County are ocean-related, responsible for $10 billion annually in wages and $20 billion in goods and services. 
  • Connection  We are all linked to the sea via L.A.’s network of watersheds.  A day on the beach binds us together, regardless of our background.
Donate to Heal the Bay on Giving Tuesday #GivingTuesday

Yes, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday began as marketing gimmicks. But the reality is that December is a critical month for us. Nearly 70% of private donations to Heal the Bay are made in the final two months of the year. 

Private donors fund our annual operating budget. With recent cutbacks in government funding, contributions from individual donors like you are critical for maintaining proven and effective programs that keep our shorelines clean, healthy and safe.

As the year-end holidays approach, our local waters face a number of threats – from oil drilling off Hermosa Beach to a proposed string of desalination plants along the California coastline. Your gift today will help us hit the ground running next year and stand up for the bay we all love.

Fatigued by gift cards and e-commerce sites, but exhilarated by the wonders of the ocean? Here are some ways you can simultaneously show some appreciation to our beautiful Bay AND to your loved ones this year by benefiting our work at Heal the Bay:

Your contribution will benefit our work to keep Southern California’s waters safe, healthy and clean. Thank you!

Heal the Bay staff were a little startled to discover a young woman dressed up as an Australian marsupial at a recent cleanup in Compton Creek

Chanel Hason donned the costume to help garner votes via social media in a “Best Job in the World” competition, sponsored by Tourism Australia. She had hoped to earn a gig as a wildlife caretaker. Despite her creative efforts, she didn’t end up winning. But the stunt introduced the ocean enthusiast to a lot of new places, such as Compton Creek. “I’d never been in that riverbed before. It was so urban and I was happy to see that there were so many people,” recalls Chanel, a  Pasadena resident.

A longtime Heal the Bay supporter, Chanel has also joined us underwater for the SCUBA portion of Coastal Cleanup Day and persuaded her aunt, furniture designer Brenda Houston, to donate a portion of her sales to support Heal the Bay.

On December 20, Chanel’s representing the United States as she vies for the title of “Miss Scuba International,” which she says is focused on marine conservation rather than a “typical beauty contest.” The winner will spend a year “educating, inspiring…all of us to do our best to safeguard our oceans.” And if Chanel emerges the victor, she’s promised to donate a portion of her proceeds to Heal the Bay. Good luck, Chanel!

Find out more about Chanel’s Miss Scuba campaign at

Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay’s Director of Coastal Resources, heads to France to share the good news about our state’s blossoming Marine Protected Areas.

If you’ve been lucky enough to go for a dive, surf, or kayak at the Channel Islands, it’s hard not to be captivated by the cathedral kelp forests, large fish cruising the reef, and the occasional harbor seal’s shy game of peek-a-boo.

Sea Lion checking out diver in Santa Barbara Island's Marine Protected Area MPAThese Islands, along with special places throughout the entire California coast, enjoy state protections that allow the marine wildlife inside to thrive. Like underwater parks, the marine protected areas (MPAs for short) here act as safe havens for the garibaldi, black seabass, and giant kelp forests that call Southern California’s coastline home. And, the good news is that globally, MPAs are on the rise. There are more than 6,000 MPAs worldwide, yet less than 2% of our oceans is protected.

Next week, ocean scientists, policymakers, leaders, and conservation professionals will be convening in France to share ideas about how to foster MPA effectiveness around the world at the 2013 International Marine Protected Areas Congress.  And Heal the Bay’s story will be among those in the fold. As one of the prime  players in the establishment of MPAs in the Golden State, we will be part of  a California delegation heading to Marseilles to spread the good news.

We will be sharing stories about California’s MPAs and showcasing the Marine Life Protection Act as a model for other nations that want to build effective community engagement and science-based planning in their MPA development. We’ll also bring back MPA stories from around the world that may enhance MPA stewardship on our coast.

Next time you visit a California MPA to enjoy the majestic kelp forest, just think that at the same time someone else might be enjoying the corals along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, whale sharks in Mozambique, or diving iguanas in the Galapagos.

Please look for our daily blog posts, photos and videos from the conference:

Bon Voyage!