Top

Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Santa Monica

July 14, 2016 — This past spring Heal the Bay hosted our first-ever BioBlitzes at two of Los Angeles’ remaining wetlands: Malibu Lagoon and Ballona Wetlands. BioBlitzes bring people together to rapidly (over a period of a few hours) catalogue and identify plant and animal life in biodiverse areas. Wetlands are unique and critical ecosystems that are in trouble – in the last couple hundred years, Southern California has lost over 90% of its native wetlands.

Wetlands provide many services, which often go by unappreciated. They help regulate climate, store surface water, control pollution and flooding, replenish natural aquifers, protect shorelines, maintain natural communities of plants and animals, and provide opportunities for education and recreation. (For more information about Southern California’s wetlands, check out http://scwrp.org/general-wetlands-information/). Unfortunately, years of development and degradation have destroyed the flow of water, altering the habitat for wetland animals and plants. Heal the Bay supported the restoration of Malibu Lagoon from 2012 to 2013 and now we’re lobbying for the restoration of Ballona Wetlands as well to bring it back to a healthy, functional state. Our BioBlitz events helped capture and illuminate the amazing biodiversity of these areas. After crunching the numbers from these events, it seems timely to share our findings leading up to this Saturday’s beach cleanup and sneak peek at the Ballona reserve.

Malibu Lagoon species diversity pie chartMost of our observations were of the amazing plants that rely on the wetlands to thrive. Plants form this environment’s base, providing a natural filter for water as it passes through. They also provide habitat, food, and shelter for the populations of birds, insects, and reptiles that live in wetlands. We found both sites were host to dozens of bird species including great blue herons, snowy egrets, and brown pelicans. Every year, almost one billion birds migrate along the coast of California in an area known as the Pacific coast flyway. Wetlands in Southern California are a crucial pit stop for migratory birds and the diversity of species we observed is promising. In just three hours at Ballona, we saw 17 different species of birds – almost a third of the bird species found in an extensive wetlands survey conducted by The Bay Foundation that spanned months. This shows the power of BioBlitzes to capture important data for conservation.

Malibu Lagoon species diversity bar graphFrom 2012 to 2013, Heal the Bay advocated for an ecological restoration of Malibu Lagoon which involved removing invasive species, replanting native ones, and adjusting the hydrology of the wetland. Inventories done by The Bay Foundation showed only six species of native plants prior to restoration, while almost 41 were noted after the restoration! Since plants form the base of an intricate web of life in the wetlands, bringing back natives can also bring back other species – including those that are threatened. At both sites our BioBlitzers found four threatened species, but that number will certainly increase with more sampling.

We found more than 20 introduced species at each site, which means they arrived through human influence. These invaders include everything from the delicate cabbage white butterfly to the crystalline ice plant. Invasive species are one of the biggest threats to healthy wetlands because they can outcompete native species and overtake the habitat. Since the restoration at Malibu Lagoon, the pervasiveness of non-natives has decreased. While Ballona is still struggling with invasive species, we hope planned restoration efforts will allow this wetland to reach its full potential.

Thanks to all of our “blitzers” for helping us Blitz the Bay in Ballona Wetlands and Malibu Lagoon. Keep exploring, enjoying, and fighting for our wetlands!

Citizen Science Coordinator Catherine Hoffman led these successful blitzing efforts.

California native legless lizard Brown Pelican by iNaturalist user @glmory A couple junior BioBlitzers looking for fauna in the creekbed

 



July 7, 2016 — Over the last ten months, citizen scientists of all ages helped our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium survey the humble Pacific Mole Crab (commonly known as the sand crab). More than 60 volunteers collected an immense amount of data about these sand crabs on the beach just outside the Aquarium’s doors – what did they learn?

Last year the Aquarium partnered with the Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students (LiMPETS). This statewide program activates people along the entire California coast to do real science through hands-on data collection – at the Santa Monica Pier we focused entirely on sand crabs, an indicator species useful for measuring the health of the entire ecosystem. We observed how rainfall, water temperature and tides affected the size, sex and abundance of sand crabs.

After consistently collecting data for almost a year we are beginning to see some trends. What is most exciting is the sheer number of sand crabs we’ve been seeing lately. In the winter, if we found two sand crabs we knew it was a good day. Now we’re consistently finding 15-25! What’s behind this drastic change?

Plotting average abundance of sand crabs over timeThe answer has to do with the sand crab’s life cycle. Adult sand crabs have a mating season between November and February. Their eggs develop for 30 days, before hatching into planktonic larvae. These larvae float around in the ocean for a little over four months and go through six different life stages (which ensures that they become widely dispersed and colonize new areas)! They eventually settle onto shore as juveniles, or “recruits,” and about a month later become fully grown adults. This explains why we are currently finding so many sand crabs, especially many of the recruits that were laid in the early months of mating season, drifted as plankton for months, and have now made the Santa Monica beach their home. As they continue to feed and grow, they will soon start the process all over again.

So if you joined on a sand crab survey trek in the winter, be sure to come back and help us find, count, and measure all of the sand crabs we have been finding on the Santa Monica beach!

Taylor Spesak, Public Programs AssistantTaylor Spesak is the Aquarium’s public programs educator. Join him every Wednesday at 3pm for sand crab monitoring. The program is included with Aquarium admission.

 



Nov. 19, 2015 — This blog was written by Taylor Spesak, Public Programs Intern, and Catherine Hoffman, Programs Coordinator, at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.

Beneath your toes at the beach are thousands of sand crabs just trying to make it through the day. Most beachgoers walk right over them without a care, but Santa Monica Pier Aquarium citizen scientists are eager to find them!

Heal the Bay recently partnered with the statewide LiMPETS program to bring sand crab monitoring to the Santa Monica shoreline just outside the Aquarium’s doors. This program activates people along the entire California coast to do real science through hands-on data collection.

But…why do we care about sand crabs? For starters, they can tell scientists a lot about the sandy beach ecosystem. For example, if there is a low number of crabs during a collection, water quality may be poor or a high number of predators may be snacking on the sand crabs. The list could go on and on. By simply counting these overlooked creatures, scientists can make conclusions about the entire ecosystem’s overall health.

Citizen scientists from the Aquarium are focusing on sand crabs specifically in the area around the Santa Monica Pier. We’re examining several factors that may be affecting the number of crabs present, like how long it’s been since a heavy rain and whether the sample spot is under the Pier. We’ve already noticed that there seem to be more crabs during dry spells and more crabs directly under the Pier.

The findings are intriguing, and we look forward to analyzing more data. That’s where you come in!

Experienced or not, anyone can be a citizen scientist, and we’d love to do science with you. As long as the tides are low, the surf isn’t too aggressive, and there is no rain we will be out collecting data every Wednesday at 3:00pm. No training required! Meet us at the Aquarium and we’ll then head down to the beach to collect our sand crabs. This program can also be used as a service or linked learning opportunity for middle and high school students. An AP Environmental Studies class from Los Angeles Academy of Arts and Enterprise has already helped us collect great data.

So come get crabby with us on Wednesday, November 25, at 3pm and kick off your citizen science career under the Pier!

For more information, please email Catherine Hoffman at choffman@healthebay.org.

Blogger Catherine hunting for Sand Crabs                                                                            Catherine and Laz hunting for sand crabs



With a predicted El Niño “too big to fail” heading for Southern California, we proclaimed Oct. 11-17 El Niño Week to help us all understand what causes this meteorological phenomenon, offer tips to prepare, and explore the ways that expected heavy rains can be turned to our advantage. We have a number of folks and establishments to thank for their help and support in making El Niño Week a success.

Thanks to WaterLA’s Melanie Winter who led a conversation at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium about water and land use in L.A and to RainReserve for demonstrating the myriad devices available for capturing rainwater.

We’re also grateful to Bill Patzert, a scientist at the California Institute of Technology’s NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, for giving an informative and entertaining talk to a packed room at the Aquarium.  Patzert managed to have the crowd in stitches as he explained the science behind an El Niño.

And finally, a huge thank you to the five local establishments that got into the spirit of the week by creating El Niño inspired cocktails and pledging a portion of the proceeds to Heal the Bay from each clever concoction sold throughout El Niño Week. Thanks to these restaurants: The Lobster, Cassia, Hotel Casa del Mar’s Terrazza Lounge, Locanda del Lago, and Rusty’s Surf Ranch.

We love Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos at Heal the Bay, and at our Aquarium we celebrate with a weekend-long Fishy Fest. The annual event is made all the more festive thanks to the City of Santa Monica’s Resource Recovery and Recycling division’s contribution of gently used and brand new costumes. A parade of ghosts and goblins along the Pier is a favorite feature of the weekend, and the trick or treating made all the sweeter by our participating neighbors: Rusty’s Surf Ranch, The Albright, Blazing Saddles, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Pacific Park.



We couldn’t do our work without the committed volunteers that are the backbone of Heal the Bay. This is especially true in the month of September, when we coordinate Coastal Cleanup Day for LA County.

On September 19th, 9,475 volunteers removed 21,310 pounds of trash from over 60 miles of territory (including three underwater sites). A huge thank you to everyone who cleaned our beaches, parks and waterways on a sweltering Saturday, and to the LA County Board of Supervisors and the Coastal Cleanup Day site captains.

We are so grateful to our sponsors:

Mattel, REI, City of Santa Monica, LA Department of PublicWorks, the California Coastal Commission, Anheuser-Busch InBev, simplehuman, Union Bank, and Kaiser Permanente.

The Wednesday before Coastal Cleanup Day, Heal the Bay gives more than 700 students from underserved schools a day at the beach, where they learn about ocean conservation through a series of games by the shore and visit the marine life at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium It’s all-hands on deck for this action packed day, and by the time the kids are back on their buses, staff and volunteers have worked up an impressive appetite. Thanks to Grey Block Pizza, we weren’t hungry for long. The donation of a variety of delicious pies was greatly appreciated.

And it was so neighborly – and generous – of Rusty’s Surf Ranch on the Pier to name our Aquarium as their beneficiary during Santa Monica’s Buy Local/Get Local week. Rusty’s donated a portion of the week’s sales to the Aquarium.

Heal the Bay will receive proceeds from General Admission of Venice’s sales at this weekend’s Abbot Kinney Festival as well.

And lastly, thanks to the Environmental Learning Center at Hyperion for hosting our Speaker’s Bureau training this August.  Congrats to the 19 new volunteers who graduated from the training.

 

.



June 24, 2015 — We love celebrating Nick Gabaldón Day each May, recognizing the first documented surfer of African-American and Mexican descent, and showcasing the heritage of the historical African-American beach site in Santa Monica, formerly referred to as the “Inkwell.” Gabaldón’s legacy and his passion for the ocean has inspired many surfers of color and continues to inspire us. We are so thankful for the support of the following groups and individuals who make this day possible:

And mostly, three cheers to all the brave youth from Alliance Neuwirth Leadership Academy and Concerned Black Men International who took the plunge and surfed their hearts out!

Coastal Cleanup Day – scheduled for Sept. 19th this year – will be here before we know it; thank you, REI for already contributing to help us make the biggest volunteer day on the planet a success.

Nick Gabaldon Day



Each time we go to a supermarket or restaurant we are faced with choices about what kind of seafood to buy. Health concerns and a growing desire to eat locally and sustainably have made these decisions harder than ever. But now…you have Nick Fash on your side! Starting this month, Nick, our Aquarium’s education specialist and Key to the Sea manager, will help you make informed choices at the seafood counter and your favorite local restaurant with his monthly seafood blog. As an added bonus, you’ll score one of his delectable recipes at the end of each blog.

Salmon? What exactly does this mean when you read it on a menu? The truth is that it could be farmed, or wild, or any one of six different fishes from two different groups from opposite ends of the earth. Not so simple anymore, is it?

There are two basic types of salmon: Atlantic and Pacific. The Atlantic salmon is in the genus Salmo and originally came from the Atlantic Ocean (I say originally as they are now farmed all over the world) and Pacific salmon is in the genus Oncorhynchus, which come from the Pacific Ocean.

Salmon are born in fresh water, travel to the ocean in their adult life and return to fresh water to lay eggs. They are a keystone species, meaning they play an important role in the nutrient-starved ecosystems where they spawn. When the Pacific salmon die, the nutrients in their body that they obtained from their lives out in the ocean are released into the Arctic, beginning the explosion of life that occurs during the spring and summer months. Without these nutrients the Arctic ecosystem would be unable to function properly.

Salmon are extremely sensitive to environmental changes in the ocean as well as on land. Their populations are suffering from logging, mining, pollution and changing ocean conditions. And salmon farming is the most recent major threat. Not only are salmon farms destroying the ecosystem with all of the waste they produce, they are spreading diseases and parasites to the wild salmon as they migrate out to the ocean. So we are not only destroying one of nature’s finest food sources, replacing them with highly inferior farmed salmon, we are also risking the ruin of an entire ecosystem.

Southern California does not have open pen aquaculture (salmon farms located just offshore along the coast), but we do have other problems that impact salmon populations: Pollution, coastal development and habitat destruction adversely affect our own local fisheries. By helping to establish Marine Protected Areas throughout California, Heal the Bay is working to counteract the effects of environmental degradation on our fisheries by creating no-take zones for fish stocks to recover and thrive.

Knowing where your seafood comes from is important! Fortunately, several local seafood suppliers are committed to sourcing the sea’s bounty in a responsible and sustainable way.  Check out the selections offered at Santa Monica Seafood, Wild Local Seafood, and Community Seafood for your next seafood purchase. 


Wild Alaskan Salmon (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 3lb Wild Alaskan Salmon filet, with skin on

Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon honey

How to

  1. Preheat broiler. Line rack of broiler with foil and lightly brush with oil.
  2. Pat filet dry and check for bones by running finger along the filet. If you find any bones you can pull them out with a pair of clean pliers.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Broil 4-5 inches from heat for 7 minutes, cover with foil and continue to cook in the broiler for another 7-10 minutes.
  5. While the salmon is broiling, whisk together all sauce ingredients.
  6. Season with pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Chef Nick




May 12, 2015

Dear friends,

You may have heard that the weather report is not good for the latter part of the week. We love sitting on the beach, just not during a chilly storm!

So we made the decision today to reschedule our Annual Gala, which had been set to take place Thursday night on the sand at the Jonathan Club. The party will now move to Thursday, June 4, at the same Santa Monica location.

With forecasters predicting unstable weather, wind, rain and possible lightning, it just didn’t make sense to move forward with the event this week.

The safety and comfort of our guests is foremost on our minds –- not to mention the well-being of vendors and rigging crews who may be put in harm’s way. So we appreciate your flexibility as we regroup to make sure we deliver all the fun and excitement you have come to expect from Heal the Bay’s annual beach party.

We are grateful that the Jonathan Club has allowed us to reschedule the festivities. The sunset views, fruity cocktails, and surprise entertainment will be the same, but the weather will be warmer and more enjoyable. We hope this change still allows you and your guests to celebrate 30 years with us.

If you need to alter your guest lists, or have any other questions or concerns, please call Heal the Bay at (310) 451-1500 or email us at bbb@healthebay.org.

We are here to help!

Otherwise, you’ll be receiving auction details and parking information as usual on June 1. We look forward to hosting you and your guests on June 4. 

See you in the sand…and sunshine!

 

Sincerely,

Alix Hobbs
President



Savvy Seafood 

Each time we go to a supermarket or restaurant we are confronted with a choice about what food items to buy.  Health concerns and a growing desire to eat local and sustainable foods have made this decision harder than ever.  Each month, Nick Fash, education specialist and Key to the Sea manager at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, will help you make informed choices at the seafood counter as well as at your favorite local restaurant. And try one of his delectable recipes included at the end of this blog.

________________________________________________________________________

Salmon? What exactly does this mean when you read it on a menu?  The truth is that it could be farmed, or wild, or any one of six different fishes from two different groups from opposite ends of the earth.  Not so simple anymore, is it?

There are two basic types of salmon: Atlantic and Pacific.  The Atlantic salmon is in the genus Salmo and originally came from the Atlantic Ocean (I say originally as they are now farmed all over the world) and Pacific salmon is in the genus Oncorhynchus, which come from the Pacific Ocean.

Salmon are born in fresh water, travel to the ocean in their adult life and return to the fresh water to lay eggs. They are a keystone species, meaning they play an important role in the nutrient-starved ecosystems where they spawn.  When the Pacific salmon die, the nutrients in their body that they obtained from their lives out in the ocean are released into the Arctic, beginning the explosion of life that occurs during the spring and summer months.  Without these nutrients the Arctic ecosystem would be unable to function properly.

Salmon are extremely sensitive to environmental changes in the ocean as well as on land.  Their populations are suffering from logging, mining, pollution and changing ocean conditions. And salmon farming is the most recent threat having a major impact. Not only are these salmon farms destroying the ecosystem with all of the waste they produce, they are spreading diseases and parasites to the wild salmon as they migrate out to the ocean.  So we are not only destroying one of nature’s finest food sources, replacing them with highly inferior farmed salmon, we are also at the risk of dismantling an entire ecosystem.

While here in Southern California we do not have open pen aquaculture – salmon farms set up off shore along the coast – we do have other problems that impact salmon populations, like pollution, coastal development and habitat destruction, which can impact our own fisheries.  Heal the Bay has spent the last 30 years cleaning up our waters, protecting our oceans by helping to establish Marine Protection Areas, and working to make our fisheries healthier. 

Looking to learn more about the plight of wild Pacific salmon?  Come to the screening of The Breach on May 20th at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, eat tasty treats, and hear chefs, biologists and the filmmaker discuss what we can all do to help.

Heal the Bay members will get 20 percent off the ticket price by using the code BREACH20. Tickets are available here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-breach-screening-reception-santa-monica-tickets-16436392693 _______________________________________________________________________

Wild Alaskan Salmon  

(serves 4)

                          o  3lb Wild Alaskan Salmon fillet, with skin on

 

                    Sauce

                                      o  1 cup plain Greek yogurt

                          o  2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

                          o  1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

                          o  1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

                          o  ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest

                         o  1 teaspoon fresh orange juice

                          o  ¾ teaspoon salt

                        o  ¼ teaspoon honey

 

Preheat broiler.  Line rack of broiler with foil and lightly brush with oil.

Pat filet dry and check for bones by running finger along the filet.  If you find any bones you can pull them out with a pair of clean pliers.  Season with salt and pepper.  Broil 4-5 inches from heat for 7 minutes, cover with foil and continue to cook in the broiler for another 7-10 minutes.

 

While the salmon is broiling whisk together all sauce ingredients.  Season with pepper to taste

 

 

Enjoy – Nick

 



Last month’s Earth Day beach cleanup in Santa Monica was a huge success, with 1,400 volunteers picking up 320 pounds of trash. Getting all the cleanup supplies to the beach was made so much easier with the help of our new friends at Buddytruk, a  smartphone app. Thanks to Tim Kolenut for reaching out, and offering up his trucks to transport 200 buckets and other cleanup supplies to the Earth Day cleanup.

Who doesn’t like free ice cream? Ben & Jerry’s pulled up next to our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium on a recent Friday afternoon, scooping out cups of ice cream and encouraging all to sign a petition on climate change and the need for clean energy. Their solar-paneled truck wrapped with Ben & Jerry’s signature cows and a similarly adorned Tesla provided a win-win-win situation: education on climate change, attention for our amazing aquarium and delicious free ice cream.

And last but not least, thanks to Abigaile Restaurant in Hermosa Beach for hosting our Heal the Bay/Surfrider No on O thank you event. Greg Simons and his staff were most generous in accommodating our April 21 victory party.

Heal the Bay staff are preeeetty psyched about the free scoops!