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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Santa Monica

Santa Monica, California located in Los Angeles County is a popular eco-friendly coastal destination for families, couples, tourists and Southern California beachgoers.

As Strawless Summer comes to a close, Heal the Bay is committing to a strawless forever. We’d also like to thank all of our partners and pledges for making this campaign possible.

In America, food and drinks are routinely served with a side of plastic. One coffee comes with a cup, sleeve, lid, stirrer, straw, sugar packet and cream. A breakfast burrito includes a wrap, container, salsa, utensils and bag. But just because it’s always on the menu, doesn’t mean we have to order it.

If you’ve been to one of our beach cleanups in greater Los Angeles, you don’t need crazy stats to shock you – like 500 million plastic straws being used in the U.S. every day1. You’ve seen our pollution challenges first-hand. In fact, around 40% of the trash found in the environment is beverage-related2, and single-use plastic straws are one of our most commonly found items at cleanups.

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“No straw, thank you”.

This simple statement, echoed by eco-conscious patrons in restaurants, bars, coffee shops and to-go eateries, is the murmur of a movement aimed at combating the single-use plastic convenience craze.

Earlier this year, Heal the Bay joined the straw-free movement and launched the Strawless Summer campaign to raise awareness and reduce plastic straw distribution in Los Angeles County.

Here are a few highlights:

“Straws Upon Request”

We’ve come to expect plastic straws available at dispensers, tossed on our tables and placed in our drinks without asking for them first. What would happen if we turned the tables? This is what we aimed to address in our “Straws Upon Request” Study.

During Strawless Summer, we partnered with three local Santa Monica establishments (Pono Burger, The Misfit, Ingo’s Tasty Diner) to pilot a 4-week program aimed at reducing plastic straw distribution. Patrons wouldn’t be given straws by waitstaff unless they asked for them, in the same way customers must ask for glasses of water during the drought.

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Did people totally freak out? No. Was it easy to implement? Yes. Did it earn the businesses major goodwill with green locals? Yep, it most certainly did.

If patrons asked for straws (one restaurant said this happened about half the time), the waitstaff explained their absence from the experience was part of a local effort to be more green. Then, the restaurant offered paper or plastic straws.

“We chose to participate in a Strawless Summer because it is great for the environment and the Bay. We are a locals restaurant and have a huge locals following a lot of whom spend a good amount of time in the Bay [and] ocean,” said one restaurant manager who participated in the study.

See more local establishments who pledged to go straws upon request during Strawless Summer.

MonSTRAWsity Hits Home

Here’s a frightening truth: the average American family uses 1,752 straws in a year3. To visualize this fact, we collected plastic straws at our coastline cleanups and pieced together the MonSTRAWsity, whose suit is made out of… 1,752 straws. The MonSTRAWsity spent the summer wreaking havoc on the Santa Monica Pier near the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, in the South Bay and all over Los Angeles. By the end of Summer, the MonSTRAWsity was even surfing the airwaves.

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The Sipping Point

It’s estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by weight. Another study shows microscopic plastic fibers are being detected in 83% of drinking water worldwide and a whopping 94% of U.S. tap water4. Microplastics are even showing up in table salt, according to new research.

Heal the Bay’s Nothin’ But Sand, Adopt-a-Beach and Suits on the Sand cleanup volunteers together have collected close to 13,000 plastic straws and stirrers5 from L.A. County beaches in 2017 alone.

Local inaction is our own worst enemy; however, on the flip side, local action is our best opportunity. Heal the Bay will continue to work with businesses, environmental partners and local municipalities to curb the proliferation of plastic pollution, including advancing alternatives to plastic straws and only providing straws upon request.

L.A. doesn’t have to suck. Let’s rethink the drink and stop the alarming plastic pollution trends from continuing.

Learn more about the benefits of skipping the straw and make the pledge to go straw-fee at LASucks.org

Looking for something fun to share? Download this amazing poster below created by illustrator Daniela Garreton – please make sure to give her credit for this masterpiece. (Download PDF).

Our Strawless Summer 2017 campaign would not be possible without this tribe of water warriors: Thank you to Mick and the team at ZehnerGroup, Susan Lang (creator of the MonSTRAWsity and Heal the Bay volunteer extraordinaire), Andrea Maguire and the STRAWS documentary team, SoHo House Malibu, All At Once, Jack Johnson and the Ohana Foundation, Lonely Whale Foundation, 5 Gyres Institute, Klean Kanteen, Simone Boyce and KTLA 5, and all the awesome local businesses who pledged to go Strawless or “Straws Upon Request”, we salute you!

Special shout outs to these local businesses for their participation in Strawless Summer:

Pono Burger, The Misfit, Ingo’s Tasty Diner, Bareburger Organic, Laurel Tavern, Hermosa Beach Fish Shop, Beckers Bakery & Deli, Brother’s BurritosTallulas and Watermans Safehouse

Sources:
1. “The Be Straw Free Campaign”. National Park Service Commercial Services. (Last update 11/26/2013) https://www.nps.gov/commercialservices/greenline_straw_free.htm
2. Plastics BAN List. Publication. 5 Gyres, Clean Production Action, Surfrider Foundation, USTREAM. 2016. http://d3583ivmhhw2le.cloudfront.net/images/uploads/publications/PlasticsBANList2016.pdf
3. “The Be Straw Free Campaign”. National Park Service Commercial Services. (Last update 11/26/2013) https://www.nps.gov/commercialservices/greenline_straw_free.htm
4. “New Research Shows Plastic Fibers in Drinking Water”. Plastic Pollution Coalition. (published 9/6/2017) http://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/pft/2017/9/6/microfibers-the-plastic-inside-us
5. Heal the Bay’s Marine Debris Database. (data pulled from 1/1/2017-9/21/2017) http://sites.healthebay.org/MarineDebris/MDDB/



Join us for the 5th annual Nick Gabaldon Day on Saturday, June 3 to celebrate a local who broke racial barriers with style and grace.

Who was Nick Gabaldon?

A Santa Monica native, Nick Gabaldon was Southern California’s first documented surfer of African-American and Latino heritage. An accomplished board rider, he smashed stereotypes surfing the Bay during the 1940s and 50s. Because he didn’t own a car, Gabaldon would frequently paddle 12 miles from Santa Monica to the fabled break at Malibu. The grueling trip showed true commitment. Tragically, Gabaldon would lose his life during a huge swell at Surfrider in 1951, crashing into the pilings as he tried to pull off a dangerous maneuver called “shooting the pier.”

Why does Heal the Bay honor him?

Gabaldon reminds us of a time when Southland beaches suffered from de facto segregation. With a smile on his face and a board on his back, he overcame overt and tacit racism and became a role model for communities of color. Taking his rightful place in a lineup with such legends as Ricky Grigg and Matt Kivlin, Gabaldon helped integrate what largely was an all-white sport. Today, Gabaldon is an enduring symbol that our beaches are recreational havens for all Angelenos – regardless of race or socio-economic background.

What was “The Ink Well”?

A stretch of beachfront near Bay Street and Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica became a safe haven for racial minority beach-lovers during the Jim Crow era. Also known as “Negro Beach” and other derogatory names, this roped-off area became a sanctuary of sorts for Gabaldon. He learned to surf at the gentle beach break about a half mile south of the Santa Monica Pier. (You can read more about the legacy of this spot in historian Alison Rose Jefferson’s excellent essay.)

Who will be celebrating his legacy?

To honor his pioneering spirit, Heal the Bay organizes Nick Gabldon Day each June around the anniversary of his untimely death. Working with our community partners the Black Surfers Collective the Surf Bus Foundation and the Santa Monica Conservancy, we host nearly 150 African-American and Latino youth from Paicoma to Compton for a day of ocean exploration and cultural reflection at Bay Street. Many of these underserved youth have never seen the beach before.

What activities are planned this year on Nick Gabaldon Day?

At 9 a.m., local surfers will hop on boards for a tribute paddle out.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., trained volunteers will be conducting free surf lessons for visiting youth, followed by a brief history tour of “The Ink Well.”

From 12:30-6 p.m., our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium will be providing free admission to all visitors, thanks to our sponsors L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and the Bay Foundation.

UPDATE: Joel is unable to make it! Feel better, Joel! Singer Joel Harper will be doing children’s story time at 2 p.m., followed by screenings of various documentaries about the life and death of Gabaldon.

How can I get involved?

All local surfers are invited to join the Collective at Bay Street Beach for the memorial paddle-out, and volunteers are needed to assist with lessons.

If you don’t surf, we’d still love to see you at the beach to watch the paddle out, meet other ocean lovers, visit the Aquarium for free, and wave the flag for community, inclusiveness and diversity.

Find more details about Nick Gabaldon Day June 3, 2017.


See photos from past #NickGabaldonDay events

Congrats! The proud winner of the Nick Gabaldon day commemorative mini board from today's raffle

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Follow my day on #snapchat Ashleysjohnson6 #surfer #beach #santamonica #blacksurfercollective #nickgabaldonday

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Life lessons. #nickgabaldon

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More than 700 walked the planks at our annual awards gala … and lived to tell the tale, reports Communications Director Matthew King.

“And remember: Mermaids smoke seaweed!”

With that offbeat reminder, actress and honoree Sharon Lawrence brought Heal the Bay’s 26th annual “Bring Back the Beach” gala last night to a funny, fitting close.

Single-use plastic items were incorporated throughout the gala decor (Photo by Nicola Buck)

Over 700 guests joined us on the wonderfully funky deck of the historic Santa Monica Pier for a night of celebration and renewed commitment to the ongoing fight for clean oceans and inland watersheds.

Entertainers and artists featured plastic pollution that ends up in our ocean (Photo by Nicola Buck)

While a carnival atmosphere prevailed (stilt walkers, jugglers, popcorn, spinning Ferris wheel), the true spirit of the evening was one of resolve. Dr. Shelley Luce, our new president and CEO, earned rousing applause for vowing to thwart the new federal administration’s plan to downsize the EPA and weaken the Clean Water Act.

Shelley Luce (Photo by David Young-Wolff)

Sharon Lawrence, a longtime board member and public ambassador for our work, received the Dorothy Green Award, named after Heal the Bay’s late, founding president. Gracious as ever, Lawrence recognized by name the long lineage of female water warriors – including mermaids! – involved in our work. Her mother and father, who had driven across the country to see Lawrence receive the award, beamed with pride. A very sweet scene.

Sharon Lawrence and Ed Begley Jr. (Photo by David Young-Wolff)

Local broadcast station KTLA 5 earned the night’s “Walk the Talk” award for its decades-long connection to Heal the Bay. Led by surfer and media honcho Don Corsini, KTLA has made space on its airwaves to promote our events and highlight ocean-related environmental issues. Anchor Courtney Friel accepted the award on the station’s behalf.

Courtney Friel and Stephanie Medina (Photo by David Young-Wolff)

In between speeches and presentations, a lively mix of surfers, politicos, water policy wonks, engineers, business owners and everyday ocean lovers mingled and schmoozed as the sun set over a calm sea. Event planners earned well-deserved praise for an innovative menu (roasted beet salad and Aussie handpies) and ocean-themed cocktails (blue margaritas and Golden Road’s kelp forest canned Heal the Bay IPA!).

Good times for a good cause at @healthebay Bring Back the Beach gala last night #lacarguy #healthebay

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Mike Sullivan, LAcarGUY owner and longtime boardmember, won the best-dressed award in a vibrant Wonka-like suit-jacket and matching Technicolor shorts. But even he was upstaged by a bevy of guest models sashaying down the catwalk in astonishing and truly beautiful dresses fashioned out of plastic trash commonly found on our shorelines. Kudos to designer Marina DeBris for raising awareness in such a creative way! View our Facebook Live video of the “Beach Couture: Haute Mess” fashion show.

TEST Hayden Begley is wearing "Siren." She is sounding the siren with a top made of broken car reflectors from accidents and gloves fisherman leave behind.  (Photo by David Young-Wolff) This guest model is wearing "A Captive Audience," a dress made from netting found floating in the Pacific Garbage Patch by Captain Charles Moore. Beach toys are held captive and have nowhere to go. (Photo by Nicola Buck) This guest model is wearing "Bag Lady." We hope Los Angeles' ban on plastic bags puts an end to this overwhelming pollution issue. (Photo by David Young-Wolff) This guest model is wearing "Washed Up Saleman." Men's briefs, board shorts, hats and clothing tags are a frequent find on any beach. Not to mention the single-use plastic bottles on the inside of the jacket. (Photo by David Young-Wolff)  This guest model has been "Rescued" by chewed up tennis balls and unused doggie bags that have drifted away.  (Photo by David Young-Wolff) This guest model has a flair of her own in "Cuidado!" She is a cautionary tale for all the construction materials that never "go away." (Photo by David Young-Wolff) This guest model is wearing “white trash” made from the most commonly found single-use objects: plastic straws, plastic utensils, bottle caps and cigarette lighters. (Photo by David Young-Wolff) This guest model is wearing "Crustacea." These plastic bags were pulled out of an underwater pipe by divers during beach clean up at Dockweiller Beach. (Photo by David Young-Wolff) This guest model is wearing "Old Glory," constructed from the American flag and fireworks found on our beaches and streets. (Photo by David Young-Wolff)
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This guest model is wearing "Washed Up Saleman." Men's briefs, board shorts, hats and clothing tags are a frequent find on any beach. Not to mention the single-use plastic bottles on the inside of the jacket. (Photo by David Young-Wolff)

The gala is designed as a gathering of the tribe, but it also serves as a critical fundraiser for us. Attendees dug deep this year, breaking our all-time records for our live and silent auctions.

Sarah Sikich, Meredith McCarthy and Matthew King (Photo by Nicola Buck)

Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer won a stand-up paddleboard and then realized he had no way to get it home. (He didn’t take our suggestion to paddle by sea back to his Ocean Park home.)

Funds raised from the evening directly support a number of our education and advocacy programs, from sponsored field trips to our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium to cleanups and water quality monitoring at local beaches and streams.

Amy Smart, Carter Oosterhouse, Sharon Lawrence, Sasha Alexander (Photo by David Young-Wolff)

Among the other guests bidding and bubbling: actress, board member and new mom Amy Smart, getting a rare, free night-out with husband Carter Oosterhouse; Smart’s BFF and Heal the Bay ambassador Ali Larter; Oscar-nominated actress and new-to-us Marianne Jean-Baptiste; “Roxy Girl” and Heal the Bay activist Bruna Schmitz with husband and pro surfer Dane Zaun; KROQ brass dancing away to SoulCirque (Heal the Bay is longtime beneficiary of the station’s annual “Weenie Roast” benefit concerts); legislative environmental leaders Assemblymember Richard Bloom and former Senator Fran Pavley; skateboard legend Natas Kaupis; and kid celeb Heal the Bay ambassadors Chloe Noelle and Jax Malcolm, along with actors Carolyn Hennesy, Sasha Alexander, Gregory Harrison and Ed Begley Jr.

(Photo by Alvin Lam)


View photos from the 2017 Gala at Santa Monica Pier and the Blue Carpet.

Also, thanks to our sponsors The Energy Coalition, The John and Nancy Edwards Family Foundation, LAcarGUY, KROQ, and KTLA 5 as well as our brilliant volunteer photographers Nicola Buck and David Young-Wolff for making it a very memorable evening.


#BringBackTheBeach Instagram & Twitter

Just a couple of chicks trying to #healthebay @smarthouse26 #bringbackthebeach xx

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We're healing the bay tonight ✌🏼🌎🌞 @healthebay #healthebay #bringbackthebeach #gala #sm #smpier #wavemaker

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#healthebay #healthebaygala2017 #savetheoceans #votesyesonsb705

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Beautiful day supporting @healthebay #BringBackTheBeach fundraiser gala. ☀️

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Heal The Bay…rock on! #healthebay #conservation

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On the Santa Monica Pier #healthebay #bringbackthebeach

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Our 2017 #BringBackTheBeach Annual Awards Gala is groovin' and shakin' at #SantaMonicaPier! (@lacarguy)

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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.



Annual Awards Gala 2017

Advocates form the backbone of our work at Heal the Bay. Where would we be without passionate people and organizations rising up, speaking out and taking action?

At this year’s Bring Beach the Beach: Annual Awards Gala on Thursday, May 18 at the iconic Santa Monica Pier, we are excited to honor two of our most authentic and vocal supporters: KTLA 5 and Sharon Lawrence.

Our Gala honorees continue to generously open up their trusted platforms to evangelize Heal the Bay’s mission, going above and beyond the call of duty to protect our local ocean, rivers, and watersheds. These incredible advocates don’t wait for change to take place they’ve taken the lead to spark change right here in L.A. County.

Please join us in recognizing this year’s Gala honorees:

KTLA 5 is Heal the Bay's 2017 Annual Awards Gala Honoree

KTLA 5

As the trusted news source for millions of Southern Californians since 1947, KTLA 5 has also been a generous media supporter of Heal the Bay.

The dynamic team at KTLA 5 continues to elevate and celebrate our efforts to protect the environment. Their deep involvement spans across the media organization from Don Corsini, KTLA’s President and General Manager, to the news team and staff. They can always be counted on to help us spread the word about the complex environmental issues we face here in L.A.

From special broadcasts about our ocean and watersheds to year-round coverage of Heal the Bay’s milestones to covering events on KTLA’s award-winning newscasts, the KTLA 5 team has created a more informed and aware public, fostering deep connections between our community and the environment.

KTLA channel 5 is a CW television station located in Los Angeles, California. Follow KTLA 5 at ktla.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Sharon Lawrence is Heal the Bay's 2017 Annual Awards Gala Honoree

Sharon Lawrence

For more than six years, Sharon Lawrence has served on Heal the Bay’s board, championing the vision of clean and thriving oceans both locally and nationally.

Whether it’s on the red carpet, a podcast, on social media or at a Heal the Bay Board meeting, Sharon speaks about our mission from her heart. She’s catalyzed peers, colleagues and fans in the entertainment community to become environmental stewards. Her thoughtful messages about caring for the environment and living a green lifestyle instill a real urgency to take action.

We thank Sharon for her strong advocacy and support of Heal the Bay for nearly a decade.

Sharon Lawrence is an Emmy Award nominated actress and an illustrious, longtime member of the entertainment community. You may know her from leading roles in NYPD Blue, One Tree Hill, Rizzoli & Isles, and Shameless. Follow Sharon Lawrence at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Don’t miss out! Reserve your seat for our annual awards Gala at the Santa Monica Pier. This exclusive seaside experience happens just once-a-year and goes a long way towards our mission of making Greater L.A.’s coastal waters and watersheds safe, healthy and clean.

 



Imagine what the rush of a wave looks like from underneath. The powerful pressure culminating, viciously spinning around you, and vanishing before the very eye.

Chris DeLorenzo, LA and NY based photographer, captures the essence of a breaking wave in his current exhibit “Breath of Disruption” at Gallery 169 in Santa Monica. His collection of moving, abstract photographs were taken just off the coast of Southern California.

“Many artists approach Gallery 169 to show their work, and many photographers have brought beach and water scenes,” says Frank Langen, Owner of Gallery 169. “It is difficult to find something new … a fresh perspective. When I met with Chris I was immediately intrigued by his statement coming from a sincere, unique connection to the ocean. From this sacred relationship he fosters with the ocean, its currents and waves, his eye provides a sensational, humbling, and original vision.”


“Genesis” by Chris DeLorenzo

Ocean photography serves many purposes, from scientific documentation to education to cultural symbolism. Photos and videos deepen our understanding of the complexities of marine life, and also help us reflect on our connection with water.

“I have spent my entire life in, on, and under our beloved Pacific. Living and working along the edge of the continent has been my good fortune,” says Brian Murphy, an architect and surfer who helped discover Chris DeLorenzo. “There is something unique in this young man’s connection to the ‘wet side.’ His work manages to capture something that few artists convey in their work. Special, magical, uplifting … are but a few words that come to mind.”

We recently sat down with Chris for an interview and chatted about how he got started with ocean photography, his favorite ocean in the world, and his go-to green traveling tips.

How did you get started with ocean photography?

Chris DeLorenzo: It’s kind of funny because I’m not a surfer or diver, but the ocean always had a huge place in my life. I didn’t even grow up near the ocean. It’s so crazy though, because I swear­ my first memory is from the beach in Florida. I must have been three years old … for some reason the ocean has always stayed with me.

I went to college for a semester and then dropped out and started working. Photography is not easily taught, and I’m not the best person to be told what to shoot in an academic setting. School is great, but it just wasn’t my path at the time. I did take some awesome classes, like entrepreneurship at Santa Monica College.

I spent a year and a half in Cali before I started landing professional work. Los Angeles is a photographer’s dream location; it has the city, sea, snow, and desert all so close by. I was able to build my professional portfolio in California in under two years. It’s a great place to launch a career.

As I was getting started, a few mentors helped me gain a strong base. I interned with Steven Lippman, renowned commercial photographer and former competitive surfer, for a year and put to use all this knowledge about how to work with clients and promote myself.

At first I thought I wanted to be a surf photographer. I do surf, but wouldn’t necessarily call myself a surfer — it’s the community I love. When I was swimming in L.A. one time about two years ago, I saw this incredibly clear water. I was maybe 50-100 feet out, very close to the shoreline. From then on I started to look for clear water. It was trial and error. And I really started to think about this: why is the water clearer on some days and in some locations than others?


“Venus” by Chris DeLorenzo

I began to discover that water’s clarity has to do with quite a few factors, including pollution and ocean sediment. Location matters too, like whether there are cliffs nearby. Most of the time the farther out you go, the clearer the water is. But after a certain point the waves stop breaking, so you have to stay relatively close.

From then on, whenever we go surf I always ask whether the water was clear. People will laugh. Whatever … these narrow windows of clear water … I am drawn to them.

For the “Breath of Disruption” series, I photographed some 50,000 images of waves in Southern California over the course of 40 days. 9/10 days the water isn’t clear enough to shoot in.

What does “Breath of Disruption” mean?

Chris: It’s me in the space with the ocean on the edge of violent storm clouds. It’s a quick breath, the ocean lets you see it, and then it’s gone.

It’s my favorite thing in the world, being under the water and looking at waves going over my head. No one sees what I see. I feel like other people need to witness this amazing world … the air, water, sand, and the ocean floor … it’s a serene space that we think we know; a sacred paradise juxtaposed with sudden, fierce forces.


“Aquatic Cumulus” by Chris DeLorenzo

Everyone says, “Let’s go to the ocean and relax on the beach.” But this series is not that tranquil, peaceful vibe. It’s moody, intense, and electric. Beneath the surface, the waves look like arteries and veins with severe momentum. There are deep tints as the water swells, big vast concepts of time, space, light, and energy.

It’s surreal and humbling to use the reality of waves to create thoughtful, self-interpretive abstractions.

Photography is so relatable because it’s actually real life and energy; by its very nature it’s not abstract. But there is a fine balance when you’re creating impactful work in an oversaturated market. I want to do something different in my personal work, and connect with a deeper purpose.

It’s very easy to take a photograph that means nothing. It’s very powerful when you get it right, especially as the internet, computers, and cell phones make it possible for tens of thousands of people to see your work.

Do you have any professional advice about how to safely take photographs in the ocean?

Chris: Don’t get hit by the waves. And … you only have one shot. [Chuckles]

Physicality is key. You have to be pretty agile, and quickly get your body in the right position to take the shot at the right angle; it’s a very physical approach to photography. The tricky part is staying under. I can only hold my breath for about a minute, but when swimming intensely underwater, I last even less time.

My ocean photography gear includes a wet suit, fins, mask, and an underwater case for the camera. The camera is strapped to me, but it floats as well. Saltwater destroys equipment, so you have to clean and soak it all after every swim.

Where is your favorite ocean in world?

Chris: Indian Ocean, Maldives – it’s the ocean as it should be. Perfect water, 85 degrees. You can find your own spot. Door to door from L.A. to Maldives is 30 hours … it’s totally worth it.

What are your go-to tips for staying green while traveling?

Chris: I carry a big 64 ounce reusable water bottle around, which I think is made for beer, but works just fine for water.

I’m obviously against pollution in water. If I am out by the ocean and I see trash I’ll throw it away right there on the spot. We really have to be aware of our actions.

I think people just have to understand that everything comes full circle. What you do has an impact. There’s the whole “I’m just one person” thing, but if everyone doesn’t think like that, we are going in the right direction. For instance, in New York, they used to plow the streets and dump the snow in the water, but they stopped it, which is great. But there are so many other actions happening that have to stop to make our oceans cleaner. Fortunately, people are more aware than ever before.


“Layers of Life” by Chris DeLorenzo


Come to our Featured Earth Month Event:
“Breath of Disruption” Exhibit by Chris DeLorenzo at Gallery 169
Gallery 169, the “hub + cultural generator” of Santa Monica Canyon, is hosting an exhibit “Breath of Disruption” by LA/NY based photographer Chris DeLorenzo. The collection features beautiful, abstract photos taken under waves along the Southern California coast. Gallery entry is free. Best of all, 10% of proceeds from artwork sales in April support Heal the Bay.
When: April 8, 5-8pm (Artist meet and greet with Chris DeLorenzo from 5-5:30pm)
Where: 169 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402
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Chris DeLorenzo is a 22-year old photographer based in Los Angeles and New York. When he’s not capturing waves underwater he works with top agencies and brands on advertising and editorial content. See his “Breath of Disruption” collection prints and follow him on Instagram.

 

Gallery 169 is the “hub+cultural generator” of Santa Monica Canyon exhibiting established and emerging artists drawing from a rich reservoir of residents. Gallery 169 is located at 169 W Channel Road in Santa Monica, CA 90402. View current exhibits at their site and see more art at Instagram.



summer camp in los angeles

Spring Break camp starts soon! Enroll today.

When school is out, camp is in. Whether it’s during spring break or summer vacation, our aquarium camp at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium offers the perfect balance of fun and learning for your child in an environment that fosters interaction with 100 species of marine life.

Registration is now open for Spring Break and Summer camp sessions for youth from kindergarten through fifth grade, with sessions available April 10-14, and in June, July, and August 2017. Our space is limited and camp sessions can fill up quickly, so please enroll sooner than later to ensure your child gets a spot that works in your schedule.

Wondering what your child can expect at camp? Here are some of the fun activities young marine biologists can look forward to at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium camp:

1. Interact with live animals.

Whether you’re having a staring contest with a wolf eel or getting a hug from a sea urchin, you’re sure to fall in love with the animals that call Santa Monica Bay home.

2. Explore the beach like a scientist.


Become a beach detective by looking for clues of life and living animals. The Santa Monica Beach is home to lots of cool critters and we regularly find sea birds, sand crabs, worms, striped shore crabs, and more.

3. Play awesome games.

It wouldn’t be camp without time to just run around and play in the sand, sea, and sunshine.

4. Let your creativity shine with arts & crafts.

Crayons, check. Glue, check. Scissors, check. Streamers, check. Put it all together and you get…an eviscerating sea star! Our ocean crafts are super fun and add the “A” for “Art” into STEAM education.

5. Excite your curiosity with hands-on science.

The minute our campers walk through our doors, they become scientists with us. From looking at plankton under the microscope, to running a test on water density, to dissecting a squid, our camps encourage scientific questioning and experimentation in a safe and educational environment.

6. Have fun with your friends – both new and old.

Whether you come to camp with your buddies, or meet new ones here, camp is always better when you have someone to share the experience.

7. Help protect your favorite animals by becoming an ocean steward.

Just like our Heal the Bay mission, our camp focuses on ways we can protect the ocean and its inhabitants. As we clean trash off of the beach and brainstorm ways to go green, our campers earn the right to call themselves Planet Protectors.


And here’s what some parents are saying about our camps:

“Amazing counselors, well-organized, enthusiastic children and overall excellent!”

“My daughter loved dissecting squid and all the beach activities. This is the second year she has gone to Santa Monica Aquarium Camp and it is her favorite camp of the summer. She loved her counselors and how exciting they all made marine science and ecology to her – she wants to be a marine biologist!”

“First day my son said, ‘I learned a new word, Bioluminescence’ to multiple people!”

So what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in!

Registration for Aquarium Camp is now open for both the Spring Break and Summer sessions. Please visit healthebay.org/camps for more information and enroll today.



Is all this rain a good or a bad thing for greater Los Angeles? It all depends on your point of view, explains Communications Director Matthew King.

As a surfer, I hate the rain. As a Californian, I love it.

The recent series of downpours has kept me out of the ocean for weeks. I’ve gotten violently ill from surfing in water polluted with runoff and have learned my lesson. Maybe the deluge up north has been a boon for our parched state. But we are not out of the desert yet…

Below, we’ve answered our top 10 most frequently asked questions about what the #LArain really means:

1. Does all this rain mean the drought is over?

The recent rain might temporarily relieve drought effects, but it is not a cure-all. Yes, reservoirs up north may be filling again, but SoCal reservoirs are still dry. It will take years for our depleted groundwater aquifers to catch up. A good analogy is relating the drought to your credit card: a series of big storms is like paying off the minimum balance. You have temporary relief, but you still have a lot of water debt to pay off from the water you took out before. We require much more water to reach healthy and secure levels.

Locally, our regional infrastructure is not set up to store rainwater or capture runoff, and reuse it. The system is currently designed to move rain water to the ocean as fast as possible. Only 12% of Southern California drinking water comes from locally captured rainwater seeping into our groundwater.

 

2. What is “stormwater capture” and why is Heal the Bay so excited about it?

The L.A. region now imports more than 80% of our water from Northern California and the Colorado River watershed, using enormous amounts of energy and capital to do so. In an era of permanent drought, we simply must do a better job of using the water we already have by investing in innovative infrastructure projects that capture and reuse stormwater. We need to capture and infiltrate water on-site, replenishing aquifers instead of funneling runoff uselessly to our seas via the stormdrain system.

Current mood ☂️🌧

A photo posted by Sol Angeles (@solangeles) on

 

3. What needs to be done to improve stormwater capture in Los Angeles?

Runoff — if held, filtered and cleansed naturally in groundwater basins — can provide a safe source of water for human use. That means building so-called multi-benefit projects like green streets, water-smart parks and low-impact commercial development. Philadelphia and Portland have made enormous strides in treating stormwater as a resource rather than a nuisance, and so can we. The city of Los Angeles, for example, has created an ambitious master plan for stormwater capture. But all this innovative replumbing requires capital. Heal the Bay has joined a broad array of environmental and business groups asking regional lawmakers to craft a public-funding measure, perhaps in the form of a reasonable parcel tax. It’s a needed investment, one that will replace outmoded ways of thinking and pay dividends for years to come.

A video posted by Manolow (@manolow) on

 

4. The rain increases supply, but what about reducing demand?

Most conversations about water in our state revolve around supply. We often fail to talk about demand, and how we can reduce the strain put on our unreliable delivery system by simply being smarter about the water we already have. Los Angeles residents have done a remarkable job of reducing their average daily per-gallon usage over the past decade, but we can still do better. The average DWP residential customer used about 68 gallons per day in November, compared to about 42 GPD in Santa Cruz. A good place to start is rethinking our love affair with gardens and lawns in arid Southern California. Nearly 50% of water used residentially in greater L.A. goes to watering lawns and other landscaping.

 

5. I thought rain was a good thing. Why is Heal the Bay worried about it?

Yes, we desperately need rain. But rain creates urban runoff — the No. 1 source of pollution at our beaches and ocean.

 

6. How does rain create pollution?

Rimmed by foothills and mountains, Los Angeles County is like a giant concrete bowl tilted toward the sea. When it rains, water rushes along paved streets, picking up trash, fertilizer, metals, pet waste and automotive fluids before heading to the ocean via the region’s extensive stormdrain system.

 

7. How do stormdrains trash the beach?

With memories of historical deluges on their mind, engineers designed L.A. County’s 2,800-mile stormdrain system in the ‘30s and ‘40s to prioritize flood prevention.  Moving stormwater out to sea quickly was their number one goal. But it also has the unintended function of moving trash and bacteria-laden runoff directly into the Santa Monica and San Pedro Bays, completely unchecked and untreated. An average one-inch storm will create about 10 billion gallons of runoff in L.A. County stormdrains. That’s 120 Rose Bowls’ worth of dirty water!

A photo posted by Josh Choo (@joshchoo4444) on

 

8. What does all this runoff have to do with the ocean and marine animals that call it home?

Hundreds of thousands of animals each year die from ingesting trash or getting entangled in human-made debris. Seawater laden with chemicals and metals makes it harder for local marine life to thrive and reproduce.

 

9. What about the human health impacts?

Beachgoers who come in contact with polluted water after storms face a much higher risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and skin rashes. A UCLA epidemiology study found that people are twice as likely to get sick from swimming in front of a flowing stormdrain than from swimming in open water.

 

10. How can ocean lovers stay safe during the storms?

  • Wait at least 72 hours before entering the water after a storm
  • Stay away from storm drains, piers and enclosed beaches with poor circulation
  • Go to Heal the Bay’s BeachReportCard.org to get the latest water quality grades and updates
  • If you find a gutter that’s blocked, call the City’s Storm Drain Hotline at (800) 974-9794 so that L.A. Sanitation can remove the debris

 


You can support Heal the Bay’s efforts to make L.A. smarter about water. Here’s how:

  • Come to a volunteer cleanup to learn more about stormwater pollution and what can be done to prevent it. Invite family and friends to help spread the word
  • Share information on your social networks and support our green infrastructure campaigns
  • Become a member. Your donation will underwrite volunteer cleanups, citizen data-collection efforts and advocacy efforts by our science and policy team to develop more sustainable water policies throughout Southern California.


Dec. 15, 2016 — Calling all inventors, tinkerers, makers, “mad” scientists, DIY’ers, or just anyone with a good sense of humor. It’s time to get ready for Los Angeles’ 4th annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at the Santa Monica Pier!

Rube Goldberg Machine is a crazy contraption that accomplishes a simple task in the most complicated – and funniest – way possible! Based on the “invention” cartoons of the famous Pulitzer Prize-winning American cartoonist, Rube Goldberg, actual machines are at the heart of the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. They use everyday items (mostly junk), to tell a story and, most important of all – they make you LAUGH.

The competition is open to middle school, high school, and college level teams. This year, teams will be faced with the challenge of “applying a Band-Aid” at the end of their multistep chain reaction. This is a great way to showcase your talent to elite industry judges. Last year’s judges were from SpaceX, Google, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.

The competition is part of the larger S.T.E.A.M. Machines Festival on the Santa Monica Pier scheduled for Sunday March 5th. It will be a full day of gadgets, innovation, creativity, and fun. For additional information, including registration details and financial aid opportunities, please contact Tara Crow or call 310-564-6126.



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