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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Venice Beach

The waves curl and crash ashore before slowly bubbling back to sea, a potion of water, foam and sand. The light of the full moon grazes the sandy beach at its feet while a bright Pacific breeze wanders through the night. There’s an air of romance. Thousands of wild fish certainly got the memo as they flop and dance around on the beach, performing one of nature’s most exceptional reproduction rituals.

If you’ve never witnessed a grunion run, you’ve been missing out on a classic Southern California beach tradition! Tonight and over the next few weeks you will have the rare opportunity to spot grunion coming to spawn.

Heal the Bay’s Marine Scientist Dana Murray answers some common questions about these special fish:

What are grunion?
Grunion are a sleek, silver fish that are most well known for their unique spawning behavior. These charismatic 6” fish surf the waves to shore, flop onto land to lay and fertilize eggs in the moonlight on our local beaches. Grunion are found in California (including Baja) and nowhere else in the world!

Why do they come to shore?
Grunion come to shore to lay their eggs at high tide. Spawning on sandy beaches, their eggs remain buried in the sand where they incubate for about two weeks until the next high tide comes and they hatch and return the ocean. The premier grunion expert in the world, Dr. Karen Martin, has written a book, “Beach-Spawning Fishes: Reproduction in an Endangered Ecosystem,” where you can read all about these fascinating fish.

When is the best time to try and see them?
At nighttime high tides during the spring and summer. Grunion may run as early as March on into September but peak season is from the start of April through June. Runs typically occur for a few nights after the highest tides during full and new moons. Your best chance to spot them is to plan ahead and stay out on the beach for an hour or so on either end of high tide.

Consult this grunion run 2017 schedule for the best times to observe these “silver surfers.”

What So Cal spots are best to try and spot them?
All you need is sand and a very high tide at night during grunion season! In the greater Los Angeles area, good grunion run locations include Surfrider in Malibu, Cabrillo Beach in Santa Pedro, Santa Monica State Beach, Hermosa Beach and Venice Beach.

What can I expect to see?
Although grunion sightings are never guaranteed, with a keen eye you can increase your chances. Look for predators such as black-crowned night herons or raccoons waiting for the surfing silversides along the shore. Some grunion runs are just a few scouts flopping onto the beach, whereas other runs involve thousands of fish, covering the wet sand entirely!

What should I do to prepare?
Bring warm clothes, your patience and a friend to walk the shoreline with. Leave your dog at home, and come knowing that as with any wildlife it’s a chance and not a guarantee that you’ll see them.

Are there things I shouldn’t do?
Do not to touch or interfere with spawning – especially during closed fishing season (April and May). Also, don’t shine lights on the water or grunion as it can interfere with their spawning, as can loud talking and noisy crowds.

Are grunions doing well? Are they in danger in any way?
The grunion population is believed to have decreased, so it’s important to protect them during spawning for the future population. Leaving domestic predators like dogs at home is advised, as canines may devour the eggs or disturb the fish. Also, not disturbing the buried grunion eggs along the high tide line after a spawning event helps ensure that grunion remain around into the future.

Dr. Karen Martin from Pepperdine University regularly works with and trains beach groomers to avoid the high tide line in grunion season, so as not to disturb eggs. Beach grooming operators now follow a specific protocol during grunion season to avoid disturbing sand where grunion eggs incubate.

How can I help grunion?
Observers of grunion runs are urged to report the time and location of the run for scientific purposes for Grunion Greeters.

Try not to disturb spawning grunion, and encourage others to do the same. During open season, follow the Fish and Game Regulations (which include not using any form of gear, nets or traps – only bare hands) and encourage observation or “catch and release.”  If you observe poaching or any violations of grunion fishing regulations, such as use of gear or nets, please advise the California Department of Fish and Game or call 1-888-DFG-CALTIP.



You know climate change is a global issue, right? But do you have any idea about what its specific impacts may be on the L.A. shoreline in the coming years? Are you curious how sea level rise may affect the Los Angeles coast? Is your favorite beach or neighborhood hangout subject to dangerous flooding?

Well, you can learn more by attending a workshop organized by Heal the Bay, the Venice Neighborhood Council, USC Sea Grant, and Los Angeles City Council District 11 to learn more about this important issue at our Venice Ocean Forum this Wednesday evening.

Venice, San Pedro, and Wilmington are some of the most vulnerable local communities to flooding, according to a recent USC Sea Grant study examining sea level rise impacts for coastal communities in the City of Los Angeles. Based on 100-year sea level rise projections, some studies suggest flooding throughout much of Venice.  Sea level rise in Los Angeles may reach 5.6 feet by 2100, which may be further exacerbated by high tides and storm surge – especially when big wave events occur at or near seasonal peak high tides, or King Tides.

 At the Venice Ocean Forum experts will discuss the risks associated with climate change in Venice, and ways that communities can work together to help adapt to impacts. We’ll also talk about how other communities in the greater L.A. area are preparing to meet the specific local challenges posed by global warming. The forum is open to the public. The meeting begins 6:30pm at Westminster Elementary and food will be provided. So please RSVP today.



Just in time for the last hurrah of summer, beachgoers on the West Coast can head to the shore this Labor Day secure that they’ll be swimming and playing in healthy water.  According to the 2013 End of Summer Beach Report Card®, beach water quality in California, Oregon and Washington was excellent for the fourth consecutive summer.

We collected water quality data at more than 640 monitoring locations along the West Coast between Memorial Day and Aug. 21, 2013. Then we assigned an A-to-F grade based on bacterial pollution levels. Nearly 96% of California beaches earned an A or B grade. Washington earned A or B grades at 91% of its beaches, and Oregon earned all A grades for the fourth consecutive year. 

To find out which beaches didn’t make the grade and how your county stacks up, consult our 2013 End of Summer Beach Report Card®:

Beachgoers can find out which beaches are safe, check recent water quality history and look up details on beach closures using our Beach Report Card. On the go? Download a free Beach Report Card mobile app for iPhone or Android.



The Beach Report Card Summer Shades Contest

APP UPDATE: We are currently experiencing some issues with the Beach Report Card App due to opperating system changes. In the meantime, please go directly to beachreportcard.org for all your healthy beach reporting needs!

Is the water quality at your favorite California beach shady? Find out in the Beach Report Card (BRC) Summer Shades Contest! Watch the water quality at your favorite beach and you could win an exclusive pair of Heal the Bay shades.

 

We’re giving away ten pairs of our limited edition “I Heal the Bay” sunglasses over the next ten days. Every day, starting Tuesday August 6th, we will pick a winner and announce them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To win a pair of shades, be the first to answer the daily trivia question found on our Facebook page.

To enter, download the Beach Report Card mobile app and leave your answer as a comment in the feedback tab including the hashtag #SummerShades.

Here’s How To Leave Feedback on the Beach Report Card App:

How-To Leave Feedback on the Beach Report Card App

 

Amy Smart sporting Heal the Bay sunglasses at Bring Back the Beach



In honor of the first Swimmable California Day, a few of us at Heal the Bay felt inspired to share our favorite beaches for swimming, surfing and kayaking because today we celebrate California’s healthy waters and the legislation we’ve enacted to protect them. Now go get in the ocean!

Bay Street, Tower 20

Bay Street is my go-to surf spot. It’s close to the Heal the Bay office, so I can get a quick morning surf session in before heading to work. Several Heal the Bay staffers call this break home, making it a great place to meet up and surf with friends. The waves aren’t the best in the bay, but I always have a blast when I’m out there in the water. It’s a good place to learn how to surf by riding the white wash, and the waves can get pretty gnarly and powerful so it teaches you how to navigate strong surf. It’s where I learned how to surf, and I’ll never forget the first time I made the drop on what was a HUGE wave for me – average for anyone else – and got totally stoked. Another thing I love about Bay Street is the historical significance it holds as the home break of Nick Gabaldon, a barrier breaker in the history of surfing. When I’m out in the water I imagine Nick putting his longboard in the water and starting his 12 mile journey north, paddling to ride the epic waves at Surfrider in Malibu (see below). You can find me out there practicing most mornings, working on my own journey, hoping someday to be good enough to surf alongside Sarah and other surfing greats at Surfrider! 🙂

 —  Ana Luisa Ahern, Interactive Campaigns Manager

Catalina Island

Slicing through the emerald green saltwater with my kayak paddle, I enjoy the expansive view of Catalina’s craggy island coastline. If I look closely, I might spot a grazing bison on the hills or a soaring bald eagle searching for fish. I beach my kayak along the narrow isthmus beach and head up towards the small SCUBA shop to check if my tanks are filled from this morning’s dives. I treasure my summer weeks at Catalina Island, diving right off our sailboat to be submerged within an underwater world filled with garibaldis, bat rays, and giant kelpfish. No sounds of cars, crowds, or sirens – just the ocean breathing, people laughing, and boats cutting through the water. Catalina Island’s isthmus is my favorite swimmable beach, and my little ocean paradise.

– Dana Roeber Murray, Marine and Coastal Scientist

Malibu

Some people seem a little shocked when they ask my favorite place to surf, and hear my response, “Malibu.” Malibu, Surfrider, 1st Point are all names for the long peeling right break just north of the Malibu Pier (pictured right). And, despite its water quality problems, it is my favorite wave, which I feel a little shame admitting as a scientist at Heal the Bay. During dry weather, Surfrider can score A’s on our Beach Report Card®, but during rainy weather or when Malibu Lagoon breaches, it’s not surprising to see it score F’s. Even with the crowds, I can’t get enough of the glassy long ride, whether it’s knee surf or overhead.

It’s too bad the questionable water quality haunts the minds of most surfers at Malibu, which is why California Swimmable Day is important – it reminds us that all beaches should be safe for swimming, and that clean-up efforts at dirty beaches need to be implemented to meet this goal. Sometimes it’s hard to stay out of the surf after a rain, especially with a nice storm swell, but the risk versus reward has to be weighed.

Some of my favorite spots near Malibu include: the veggie Farm Sandwich at John’s Garden, the refreshing smoothies at The Vitamin Barn, nighttime grunion runs on the beach during the spring and summer, catching a quiet sunrise over the Bay, spotting surfing dolphins (a rare but rewarding moment).

 –– Sarah Sikich

Science and Policy Director, Coastal Resources

Santa Monica Pier

I love summer time in SoCal for so many reasons.  One of my favorite reasons is the longer days.  More sun means more of a chance to swim before or after work.  One of my favorite spots to swim is to the south of the Santa Monica Pier, right near Tower 18 (the second tower south of the Pier).  It’s close enough for all the Pier amenities, and the long beach allows the waves to just roll in.  On a Thursday night, I can watch the opening act for the Twilight Concert Series as I body surf or boogie board.  With a backdrop of the sun setting behind the Santa Monica Mountains, those summer moments are hard to beat.     

— Tara Treiber, Education Director

Torrey Pines State Beach

Torrey Pines State Beach is my favorite beach to visit when I am in San Diego.  Torrey Pines offers everything you need to have a great beach day-good waves year round, beautiful natural environment, plentiful parking, and Mexican food within walking distance!  I love to surf and Torrey Pines always has waves.  I have been surfing here since I was a kid and whenever I am in San Diego, I try to surf Torrey Pines at least once because it reminds me of my childhood and I always seem to feel better off when I leave.

 —  Peter Shellenbarger, Science and Policy Analyst, Water Quality

 

On Saturday, July 27, 2013 LA Waterkeeper will host two events to celebrate! Bring your family for a fun day in the water!

Enter the California Coastalkeeper Alliance photo contest by uploading your favorite ocean action photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #SwimmableCA. CCKA will announce a grand prize winner on August 1, as well as top swimmable pet and youngster entries, and wettest photo. 



As a special thank you to our dedicated members, Heal the Bay is kicking off the summer with a couple of invite-only events, open exclusively to our current donors.

June 28-29: Join us on either Friday, June 28, at 8 a.m. in Northern Malibu, or Saturday, June 29, at 11 a.m. in Palos Verdes, for an active tidepool tour of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) with Heal the Bay scientists Dana Roeber Murray and Sarah Sikich. Highlights include whale watching, an interpretive nature hike, and a tide pool walk at low tide. RSVP here.

July 13: Like beer? Love Heal the Bay? Golden Road Brewery produced a Heal the Bay IPA, available in select local stores and bars. Now they’re opening their doors to Heal the Bay members on July 13 at 2 p.m. Join us for a tour of the brewery, learn more about the beer-making process, and you’ll even get a free beer! Of course, you have to be 21. And a current member.

RSVP to Hallie Jones for location details and to get on the list!

Sign Up

Not sure if you’re a Heal the Bay member? Contact Hallie and she can assist you.

Think that this all looks incredibly fun? Join Heal the Bay as a member to attend these and other special events exclusively for HtB donors.





Free Bird! You might be grateful to hear your favorite band cover this song…or not.

At Heal the Bay, we can say without irony that we are grateful to Freebirds in Agoura Hills for teaming with us to restore the Malibu Creek Watershed in January. Not only did a group of Freebirders join us, but they surprised us and brought burritos! It was an awesome day, pulling weeds, planting mulefat, eating burritos. Thank you, Freebirds!

A big thanks to the Gesso Foundation for their longtime support of our Key to the Sea program.  Due in large part to their generosity, we’ve successfully provided thousands of Los Angeles County-based students and their teachers (K-5th grade) with high-impact environmental education and memorable field trip experiences. For many of these students, participation in the program marked their first chance to explore the beach environment and witness marine life up close! 

The Gesso Foundation was created in accordance with the wishes expressed in the will of acclaimed artist Frank Moore, who died in 2002. The Foundation’s purpose is twofold: to preserve, protect, and expand awareness of Frank Moore’s art; and to support non-profit organizations devoted to the arts, social justice, environmental or AIDS-related causes.Morphing Swallow by artist-philanthropist Frank Moore

Much like Mary Poppins herself, moms rely on Mommy Poppins LA, consulting the site for non-boring, low-cost activities to do with kids. Meanwhile Heal the Bay and our Aquarium couldn’t spread the word about our kid-friendly, fun AND educational happenings without their help. As parents and as youth educators, we thank the staff at Mommy Poppins LA for being such a helpful resource.

Do you devote your free time to volunteer with Heal the Bay? Then it’s time for us to thank YOU. Please join us on February 19 at Bodega Wine Bar as we celebrate you and all that you do to help protect our Bay…and beyond.

Join us to help revive Malibu Creek by removing weeds and planting natives on February 10. 



Climate change is happening now. Here in Los Angeles- not just in the Arctic. In our backyards, our ocean, our mountains, our beaches. Of course it’s important to keep reducing carbon emissions, but at this point climate change is occurring – we don’t have a choice, we need adapt to the change. Investing time and resources into identifying and advocating for environmentally-sound adaptation solutions is imperative- climate change could be one of the biggest challenges we face.

Some of the ongoing and expected climate change impacts here in coastal Los Angeles include increased storm intensity, ocean temperature increases, changing currents, sea level rise, species range shifts, coastal erosion, and ocean acidification. To make matters worse, when a combination of impacts collide—such as high tides, sea level rise, storm surges, and inland flooding—projected inundation could severely impact our freshwater supplies, wastewater treatment plants, power plants, and other infrastructure… not to mention public health and the environment.

According to NOAA, in 2012 the U.S. experienced our warmest year on record, which might sound nice and toasty at first, but really means that we had more extremely hot days and heat waves than in years past. This type of climate change not only has immediate impacts to public health, but can also affect nature’s timing—prey, predators, and pollination may not match up as they have in past years—which can have profound effects on our local and migrating species, upsetting the natural balance native species have established for centuries.

At Heal the Bay, we’re committed to advocating for environmentally sound climate change adaptation methods through participating in local stakeholder groups such as Adapt-LA, analyzing and commenting on proposed plans and policies, and educating the public about the coastal threats associated with climate change and how everyday people can be involved in sound solutions that protect our critical natural resources.

Some areas we’ve been involved with for a while will help with climate change adaptation – like encouraging water reuse and conservation, or supporting and advocating for low-impact development. Also, by supporting the restoration and protection of specific ecosystems- such as wetlands and eelgrass beds- we are also not just adapting to climate change, but trying to offset it. Wetlands and eelgrass beds can act as a carbon sink, natural places that absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than they release.

One of Heal the Bay’s larger efforts over the past five years, and one of the key slices of my personal work at Heal the Bay is the establishment and implementation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which help to maintain and create healthy ecosystems. How are MPAs and climate change related? Healthy ecosystems can better withstand the pressures of climate change much more effectively than a stressed ecosystem, and MPAs house more resilient habitats and species. By focusing on reducing overall stressors to the environment, such as pollution and overfishing, we can buy time for species to adapt to stressors that we cannot control- namely, climate change. A more resilient ecosystem can rebound and adapt after an extreme event. Also, by supporting a network of MPAs, rather than just single areas, we are planning ahead for species shifts to northern waters as ocean temperatures rise- our California MPA network provides a continuity of protected habitats.

I was encouraged to hear our President bring up climate change in his inauguration speech this month, and am ready to face the challenge and help implement solutions for our community, our environment, and for future generations- I hope you are on board too!

–Dana Roeber Murray, Marine & Coastal Scientist

 

You can get on board by joining the Forward on Climate rally in L.A. on February 17.

Or consider supporting Heal the Bay’s coastal resiliency efforts.



Do you care about clean water in your community? Love putting on a show? Want to make change (not just the money kind)?

Join our elite Speakers Bureau team to help raise educational awareness across Los Angeles in schools, workplaces and social groups.

For more than 25 years, Heal the Bay has relied upon people just like you to help spread the word about ocean pollution.

Last year we were able to reach 55,000 people! Obviously, we can’t do this on our own: We need you!  

Our winter training sessions begin on Tuesday, March 5, 1-4:30 p.m. at the Los Angeles River Center. Sessions run through the month on Tuesdays in March  (the 12th and the 19th), with a talk on Saturday, March 16, 9:30 a.m.-noon at Venice Pier. Attendance at all sessions is mandatory.

Register for Winter Speakers Bureau Training.