Frequently Asked Questions

Easy! Join us at Nothin’ But Sand at 10 a.m. every third Saturday of every month except December. Each month we hit a different beach, so it’s also a great way to get to know our coast. Check out our Take Part page for more information.

Yes please! We encourage everyone to leave our coast cleaner than when they found it, whether or not they participate in a Heal the Bay cleanup.

Absolutely! Large groups are welcome to attend our monthly Nothin’ But Sand cleanups. We just ask that you give us a heads-up beforehand if your party is larger than 15. Want to host a more hands-on, educational, private beach cleanup? We do those, too. Learn more and book now on our Take Part page.

Volunteers of all ages are welcome to our cleanups, no matter how young. Those under 12 must be accompanied by an adult, and volunteers under 18 must have their required safety waiver signed by a parent or guardian.

It’s not required, but it does help us get an idea of how many people to expect and how many supplies to bring. However, bringing your completed safety waiver will reduce your time in the registration line.

You can always count on a Nothin’ But Sand cleanup to be held at 10 a.m. on the third Saturday of every month except December. Learn more and RSVP on our Events page.

Prepare your party—especially the kids—for the elements: Bring sunscreen, a hat, plenty of water (in your reusable water bottle, of course), a snack, close-toed shoes, and lightweight clothing. To help us reduce costs and environmental impact, bring your own trash bucket and garden gloves. We also recommend bringing your completed safety waivers to reduce your wait in the registration line.

Unfortunately, free parking is not available at our monthly beach cleanups. If you’re driving, expect to pay anywhere from $9-15. We recommend public transit, biking, or carpooling.

Every Friday, Heal the Bay analyzes water quality data at over 450 California beaches, grading each beach on an A-to-F scale based on the relative health risks of swimming or surfing at each location. Separate grades are given for dry and wet weather because of the higher incidence of harmful bacteria occurring within three days of a storm. Check out the Beach Report Card website.

All county health departments are required to test beach water quality samples for three types of indicator bacteria at least once a week. Heal the Bay compiles the complex shoreline data, analyzes it, and assigns an easy-to-understand letter grade. Find grades and more detailed information for over 500 West Coast beaches at We also have an app for Android and iPhone!

We don’t do independent sample testing, but you can find the grades for hundreds of locations up and down the coast of California at or on our Android and iPhone app.

Grades for dry weather are calculated for days of no rain and at least 3 days after it stops raining. Grades for wet weather pertain to data from samples collected on days that experience rain, including the following three days. This is because water quality significantly drops during and immediately after a rainstorm, but often rebounds to previous levels within a few days.

Swimming in polluted water can increase your risk of gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses, infections, and skin rashes, but following some basic rules and checking our Beach Report Card can reduce your risk. Here are the Big Four: Wait at least 72 hours after it rains before you go swimming. 2) Swim at least 100 yards (the length of a football field) away from flowing stormdrain outlets. 3) Never play or wade in standing water or puddles near stormdrain outlets. 4) Get the grades before you head to the beach at or on our Android and iPhone app.

Fish caught off the coast of L.A. and Orange counties may contain DDT, PCB, and other harmful chemicals. Never eat white croaker, barred sand bass, barracuda, black croaker, or topsmelt caught off the coast of L.A. Health advisories may vary, so familiarize yourself with these recommendations before your fish.

Heal the Bay is proud to unveil a new kind of membership program: Wavemakers. To become a Wavemaker, you can donate your money…or your time. Learn more about how to make waves.

Yes. We are a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization and your donation is tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S. law. To claim a donation as a deduction on your U.S. taxes, please keep your email donation receipt as your official record. The Tax ID is 95-4031055

For all press-related inquiries, please contact our Communications Department. For quick facts and images, check out our media kit.

Absolutely! We love talking about our work. View our staff directory and send an email directly to the staff member you’d like to interview. Please try to give at least a week’s notice for interview requests. If you need some more help, send us an email.

Common question! “Heal the Bay” refers to Los Angeles’ Santa Monica Bay, which is bordered by Malibu’s Point Dume to the north and the Palos Verdes Peninsula to the south.

Our primary service area is Los Angeles County, but we’re frequently involved in regional and statewide environmental campaigns. Our main office is located in downtown Santa Monica, and we also operate the Heal the Bay Aquarium directly under the Santa Monica Pier.

Not directly, but we do occasionally partner with and endorse the work of other organizations involved in pollution reduction and species conservation. We do, however, coordinate Los Angeles County’s annual Coastal Cleanup Day, which is part of a larger international event.

Not yet…

Field trips to our Aquarium are $225 for up to 65 guests. Limited subsidies are available. Learn more on our Education page or request a field trip here.

We do offer teacher trainings and professional development–learn more on our Education page.

Yes! You can request a Speakers Bureau member to present to your group here.

In a pinch, you can always call 311 if you’re in the Los Angeles area, and here’s a comprehensive list of pollution hotlines organized by city.

Yes! An estimated 60-80% of all marine debris is plastic, with the vast majority coming from land-based sources. Shockingly, it’s estimated that plastic pollution in the ocean could outweigh fish by 2050. Plastic does not biodegrade in the ocean; instead, it breaks down into smaller pieces called nurdles, which pose a significant threat to marine life and the entire food web.

Urban runoff flowing through our stormdrain system and into the ocean. During and after any rainfall, flowing water accumulates trash and pollutants, enters stormdrains and then empties out into the ocean–unfiltered and untreated. Not only do these pollutants impact public health and harm marine life, it’s a tremendous waste of a precious resource: A 1” rainfall can create one billion gallons of stormwater, or 120 Rose Bowls’ worth. Heal the Bay is working on solutions to capture and recycle this resource rather than let it continue to be wasted.

We don’t. See the question below for who to call if you encounter an injured, distressed, entangled, or dead marine animal in the Los Angeles area.

If you find an injured or distressed animal, try to determine its species and condition, but make sure to stay at least 50 feet away. Do not touch it, pick it up, pour water on it, call to it, or feed it: These actions will only stress the animal and could put you in danger. Contact one of the organizations below for help:

  • To report ANY dead, injured, or stranded animal in the Los Angeles area, call: California Wildlife Center: 1-310-458-WILD
  • To report a dead, injured, or stranded marine mammal in the Los Angeles area, call: NOAA: 1-866-767-6114 OR California Wildlife Center: 1-310-458-WILD
  • To report an entangled marine mammal anywhere on the West Coast, call: 1-877-SOS-WHALE or hail the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Ch. 16
  • To report discarded fishing gear anywhere on the West Coast, call: NOAA: 1-855-542-3935

The Heal the Bay Aquarium is located under the carousel at the Santa Monica Pier. Its address is 1600 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

The Aquarium is open daily Monday to Sunday 12:30-5 p.m.

For individuals and small groups:
-Kids 12 and under: FREE
-Adults and kids 13+: $7/person
-California local discount (for state residents with ID): $5

For groups of 10+:
-$5 per guests of any age
-California local discount (for state residents with ID): $3

There are parking lots on the north and south sides of the Pier, and you can expect to pay between $6-15 depending on the season. For more information, click here.

With 11 permanent exhibits and engaging staff and volunteers to answer all your marine science questions, we recommend visiting for at least an hour.

Locals only! Our Aquarium is home to more than 100 species of marine animals and plants found in the Santa Monica Bay.

At least three weeks, but we recommend three months advance booking. Call now: 310.393.6149 x102, or submit a request here.

In 2003, Heal the Bay began running and operating the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, which was previously operated by UCLA and known as the Ocean Discovery Center. In 2019, the name was changed to Heal the Bay Aquarium.

Whether it’s a one-day beach cleanup or an intensive MPA Watch training, there’s a volunteer opportunity for everyone at Heal the Bay. Cruise over to our Take Part page and see what speaks to you. We also encourage all prospective volunteers to attend an open house at our main office, held every second Monday of the month at 7 p.m.

It’s often the small things that make all the difference. Here are seven basic ways you can “go blue” in your community:

  • Buy less stuff. Cutting your consumption reduces emissions and waste.
  • Go reusable. Avoid “convenience trash” like to-go cups, straws, and shopping bags, which rarely get recycled or composted.
  • Pick 3. Every time you visit the beach or your neighborhood park, pick up at least three pieces of trash.
  • Take transit. Use public transportation at least one day a week. You’ll save money, reduce stress, and see new things.
  • Know the flow. Learning about L.A.’s water woes will inspire you to conserve more of this endangered resource.
  • Go meatless. Eat vegetarian at least one day a week to conserve water, reduce emissions, and be heart-smart.
  • Practice safer seafood. Download the Sustainable Seafood app to help you make more ocean-friendly seafood choices.

Yes. If you participate in an entire two-hour Nothin’ But Sand beach cleanup, you can get your hours verified at the end of the cleanup.

Heal the Bay is Southern California’s water watchdog. Our staff scientists, policy analysts, community organizers, and educators are experts in their fields, working on reducing water pollution, protecting fragile coastal and watershed habitats, and improving water infrastructure throughout greater Los Angeles.

Heal the Bay was founded in 1985 by Dorothy Green and a group of Los Angeles residents who were fed up with pollution in the Santa Monica Bay. Together they successfully brought an end to Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant’s dumping of semi-treated wastewater into the Bay, and their grassroots legacy lives on in our work.

Heal the Bay’s current work is organized around three pillars: Thriving Oceans, Healthy Watersheds, and Smarter Water. Within each pillar, we identify one to three core campaigns to focus on each year.

Desalination is not a cure-all. Treating saltwater is energy intensive, expensive, and harmful to marine life. You can find all of the reasons we’re wary of desalination here.