Why are Moonlight Beach Cleanups Cancelled?

moonlightStarting this September, the City of Encinitas will be making improvements to Moonlight Beach through June 2013. Due to anticipated construction, the Moonlight Beach parking lot and access areas will not be available for special events. This includes our beach cleanups which were scheduled for September 15, October 20 and November 17.

We anticipate resuming our cleanups at Moonlight after June 2013 when construction is scheduled to be completed.

Coastkeeper will still host a cleanup on September 15 at Tourmaline Beach as a part of Coastal Cleanup Day. Please register ahead of time if you’ll be attending.

Hope to see you out there!

Published in Marine Debris

Power cleaning with Power Scuba

On August 4, San Diego Coastkeeper and Power Scuba joined forces for an underwater and beach cleanup. We had walkers, kayakers, snorkelers and divers participate. The following account from diver Dan Prosperi and photos from his dive buddy Lida Chaipat tell the story.

When I started hearing rumors about an underwater cleanup in Mission Bay, I got pretty excited. On every dive I do, I try to pick up whatever litter I can. And this was an opportunity to have a whole bunch of folks hunt litter with me! So when the event was finally posted on the Power Scuba website, I was all over it!

On the morning of, I showed up a bit early, as usual, but canopies were already set up, snacks were already set out, etc. Raleigh Moody from Power Scuba and Megan Baehrens from Coastkeeper had done an amazing job of organizing this event. By the time everyone arrived, there were about 50 people there! Some planned to dive, some to snorkel, and some to walk the shoreline. But we were ALL there to make the ocean and surrounding environment a little bit cleaner!

Megan talked for a couple of minutes about water quality. It’s important, she said, to have as little water as possible flow from our lawns into the ocean. Inevitably, the fertilizer we use will flow into the storm drains, and largely end up in the ocean. There, it causes blooms of algae. Some of these algae can be directly harmful. But even more important, when all of those algae eventually dies and decomposes, that process takes oxygen out of the water, potentially suffocating the other animals in the ocean. This can lead to the “dead zones” that have started appearing along the US coasts.

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Bill Powers (founder of Power Scuba) gave a pre-dive briefing, and we were off. My buddy Lida and I decided to swim a line between and under the boats that were moored in the bay. When we descended, we discovered that the water was about as murky as you’d expect in a bay that doesn’t get much tidal exchange. We could only see 1 to 5 feet in front of us. That made it a bit challenging to find litter! But we did manage to find a few pieces.

I was especially happy that we were able to remove several pieces of plastic from the ocean.

 

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Dan is excited to find his first piece of trash in Mariner’s Basin!

 

As you know, plastic doesn’t ever really break down. But it does break into smaller and smaller pieces. And the bright colors encourage sea life to eat it. Of course, once it gets in their stomachs, it doesn’t supply any nutrition. And since it doesn’t break down, it can get stuck, potentially leaving the animal to starve to death. Well, those couple of pieces that we removed won’t have a chance to do that!

 

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I don’t think that’s good for you, little guy…

 

As we swam along, looking for any trash we could find, I was impressed at how little there was! I guess San Diegans are pretty aware that the ocean they love will only stay that way if they keep trash out of it! Since there wasn’t much litter to see, I started seeing some cool critters on the bottom. There were the critters you’d expect on a sandy bottom, tube-dwelling anemones, sanddabs, and the occasional round sting ray.

 

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Nudibranch

 

In patches of eel grass, we found a kind of nudibranch we’ve never seen before. (Nudibranchs are colorful critters that look kinda like slugs.) In a few places where the grass was thicker, we found a few lobsters!

 

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Peekaboo!

 

When I saw a beer can on the bottom, I was pretty excited. Another piece of trash to remove! But I knew enough to check it for anyone living inside. Sure enough, when I looked inside, an eyeball was looking back out at me! It was a little octopus, and I could see he was very happy with his little aluminum home. (Kind of like a retiree in an Airstream…)

 

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After Lida took a few photos of us, I put the octopus and his little house safely back on the bottom.

 

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When we surfaced from our dive, the safety kayakers quickly came to check on us. Another sign of some good organizing! We took our few finds and put them on the pile. The folks that had walked the shoreline looking for trash had had more success than we had when it came to volume of trash. All in all, the group removed over 75 pounds of trash from the water and surrounding beach!

Looking back on the event, there were a few things I took away:

1) There are a bunch of people out there that care about the ocean enough to spend a morning cleaning it up.

2) At least some of our bays are in surprisingly good shape, litter-wise.

3) Even a bay with lots of boats has a pretty good amount of critters living there.

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Thanks to everyone who participated. I hope to see you at the next one!

–Dan Prosperi

Published in Marine Debris

Describe your local beach

mapAs a part of the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, we are partnering with California Coastkeeper Alliance to bring a beach health phone app to California. You can get real-time beach status information straight to your phone.

We need you, the users of the beaches, to help. By 4 p.m., Friday, March 16, we need a one- to three-sentence description to characterize each of these beaches listed below.

Anything goes.
It could be a description of the surf break, type of animals you see while kayaking, good fishing spot, that perfect bench to watch sunsets–anything you think is important. This is your chance to define your favorite spots (due to space limits, we can’t credit descriptions). Check the Swim Guide (a Canadian application) for an idea of what the app will look like and the type of descriptions needed.
Have fun, and please send your descriptions to travis@sdcoastkeeper.org.
You can describe one or many of the following beaches. And you can double check the locat ion along our coastline by finding it on this interactive map.

 

Imperial Beach Pier
Glorietta Bay
Bayside Park at J St
Spanish Landing
Shelter Island
Kellogg St. (Lawrence)
P.B. Point
Ravina St.
Coast Blvd gazebo
South Casa Beach
15th St
San Dieguito
Seascape Beach
Cottonwood Creek
Batiquitos Lagoon
Warm Water Jetty
Tamarack Ave
Buena Vista Lagoon
San Diego River / Dog Beach
Tourmaline Surf Park
La Jolla Cove
Ave De La Playa
Los Penasquitos Lagoon
Tecolote Shores
Leisure Lagoon
Visitor’s Center
De Anza Cove
Campland
Wildlife Refuge fence
Crown Point
Fanuel Park
Bahia Point
Bonita Cove, eastern shore
Ski Beach
Vacation Isle, North Cove
Loma Alta Creek
San Luis Rey River
San Elijo Lagoon / Cardiff Reef
Border Fence, north side
Monument Rd
Tijuana Rivermouth
3/4 mi. N of TJ River
End of Seacoast Dr
Carnation Ave
Silver Strand N End (ocean side)
Avd. Del Sol
Ponto Drive
Poinsettia Lane
Encina Creek
Bermuda Avenue
Navy Fence
Tidelands Park
Silver Strand (bayside)
Grand Ave.
Children’s Pool
Scripps Pier, south side
Pipes

Swami’s
Beacons Beach
Wisconsin St
Camp del Mar
Church’s, San Onofre Creek
Trestles, San Mateo Creek
Palomar Airport
Crystal Pier, north side
Bonair St., Windansea
Black’s Beach
Sail Bay at Catamaran
Bonita Cove, north end
Ventura Cove
Balboa Ct.
Cassidy Street
Oceanside Pier
Ladera Street, Sunset Cliffs
Newport Ave
Belmont Park
Fletcher Cove
Georges
Comfort Station North of Leisure Lagoon
San Onofre State beach. Near Nuclear Plant
8th street Del Mar
Camp Surf Jetty

Need an Excuse to Hit the Beach?… Law Students Do!

keepmetrashfree

For us law school kids, free times to go play at the beach are few and far between. BUT, we will not pass up any “worthy” excuse to get to a beach. This was evidenced in the dozens of law students who showed up last Saturday (in the middle of midterms) to pick up trash at South Sunset Cliffs.

The event was organized by four California Western School of Law student organizations who realized that law students, who are not motivated by much indoors, might be motivated by an event far away from the library. SUCCESS! The cleanup was a chance to spend productive time outdoors—and not feel guilty about neglected homework—PLUS an opportunity to note the considerable amount of trash on the beach and reflect on what law students can do about this problem. Walking around together, we brainstormed ways to prevent trash on the beach, make sure more trash is picked up, and how we can use our legal knowledge and careers to further these goals. We not only left the beach in a better condition than when we arrived, but we gained ideas and motivation to make changes!

What to take from this? A beach cleanup is more than just picking up trash. It is the opportunity to become part of the solution to a serious problem.

Thankfully, Coastkeeper and Surfrider have many opportunities to hit the beach. Check out the events calendar to plan ahead. And if you can’t make it, organizing your own beach cleanup with Coastkeeper is easy, too.

Published in Marine Debris

Not Your Average Cleanup

rowing_among_litter_chinaIf you ever gaze out into the ocean after a rain event, you probably notice the cool crisp air, the clarity over the water, the sound of birds chirping in the nearby trees. But do you ever notice the trash? It is no secret that just a little bit of rain can lead to a great amount of trash from our street gutters into the ocean.  It’s definitely a sad sight. But have no fear, I have a fantastic way to keep this pollution problem from sitting in the ocean while having the most awesome time on the water!

No, I am not about to suggest flopping into the water after a rainy day, only to emerge with arms full of trash and an ear ache or sore throat. What I WILL suggest is hopping on a kayak and having your very own beach cleanup on the water (the folks in Tampa Bay know how to get it done)!  There’s nothing fancy about it. Bring a net, bucket or a reusable bag and fill it up!  Not only will you get a chance to get out on the water, but you’ll be doing our coastline and ecosystem a huge favor.  You don’t need to be a pro kayaker either. If you are still learning the ropes of paddling out on the open seas, there are plenty of calm launch sites around Mission Bay or in Batiquitos Lagoon that could desperately use some cleanup efforts after a good amount of rain.

In the end, a glorious day in San Diego, whether or not it has been raining, can be had on the water. That is, by boat, kayak, paddle board, canoe or jet ski, our oceanic playground is magical and could always use a helping hand.

Are you interested in organizing an on the water beach cleanup? Check out our beach cleanup program and contact volunteer@sdcoastkeeper.org to learn more about how San Diego Coastkeeper can help organize a one of a kind cleanup for you and your friends.

Get More Green From Your Workout

Are you striving to a better health and sustainable lifestyle? If so, let me introduce you to some ways you can green up your workout. Whether you like to work out in the gym or outside, there are natural ways to make your road to health rewarding in many more ways.

  • Choose to reuse. Easy and convenient way to fulfill your thirst is to have reusable water bottle. Avoiding single-use plastics will lessen the plastic waste from your end and encourage others to do the same. Stainless steel or reusable BPA-free water bottles are your best options. Today, you can buy BPA-free water bottles almost anywhere.
  • Buy organic clothes. Choosing right clothing for your workout is essential for your skin to breathe and your overall comfort. The best option is to wear 100% cotton jerseys or natural fleece, which will draw away moisture and heat away from your skin.
  • Recycling and your shoes. Buying shoes made from recycled materials is a way to go. Plus, if you have old shoes, know that you have options to recycle them. There are recycling programs available and charities that would put them to use by giving it to homeless.
  • Fuel up on the green. Skip those sugary or aspartame-filled energy drinks and granola bars – they will slow you down more than energize you. It’s better to snack on organic fruits, vegetables and nuts, or organic energy bars made with real ingredients.
  • Get a biodegradable yoga mat. If you like to workout outside or at the yoga studio, you might like to invest in a rubber or cotton mat that is made from renewable resources. Aside of being biodegradable, this mat will keep you away from the harmful chemicals found in most yoga mats. Invest in a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) mat, which is PVC-free, anti-slip and durable.
  • Find more rewards in exercising. Make your routine more rewarding – exercise for an eco-friendly cause. You can attend one of Coastkeeper’s beach cleanups, or volunteer to clean a local park, or plant trees. Also, national parks offer great volunteer opportunities like building or maintaining walking and biking trails. There are also cool opportunities like serving on bike pr horseback patrols.

While caring for yourself, try choosing greener options to care for the environment. Small changes matter. While we can’t ban everything that is polluting our environment, we can act sustainably to do our part. In the end, we will be rewarded in more than one way!

Do you know any other ways that can make your workout greener?

Plastic Pollution Reaches Fish Thousand of Miles Away in the Ocean

In 2009, researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography traveled across to North Pacific Subtropical Gyre to reseach effects of plastic pollution on sealife. During the long periods of sampling and testing, Scripps found that nearly 9 percent of fish caught during the research expedition had pieces of plastic in their stomachs. The number may seem low, but the researchers think it’s an underestimated as many fish may pass the plastic item or even die from it. They estimated that the fish in North Pacific alone ingest 12,000-24,000 tons of plastic pollution a year. However, in 2008, a group of researchers from Costa Mesa and Long Beach conducted tests in the North Pacific Central Gyre to find out that nearly 35 percent of fish ingested plastic, averaging 2.1 plastic pieces per fish. These two studies from different regions of the North Pacific Gyre reveal one fact: plastic pollution is harming marine life on a global scale.

Eighty percent of this plastic pollution comes from land-based sources, from us. The North Pacific Gyre (even though thousand miles away from us) has waste that keeps coming from our shores every day. Plastic can’t and won’t disappear. It hides “somewhere” in the middle of the ocean slowly breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces. Marine life, which mistake it for food, suffers unknowingly, and thus begins the process of plastics making it into our food chain.

(c) greenstudentu.com

What does this mean for San Diego? Even though Coastkeeper, volunteers and partnering organizations conducted numerous beach cleanups over the years, we still need to make a substantial effort to stop pollution for good. It’s important to mention that beach cleanups are not just calls for volunteers to help the community, they are calls on a broader scale – to end pollution, preserve marine life, take responsibility and educate ourselves to be proactive, not just reactive. We need to learn to be responsible Earth residents and to stop ignorantly polluting our beaches, bays and rivers. Coastkeeper helps in this proactive cause by collecting data at each cleanup and translating that into a serious need for policy change when it comes to plastic pollution.

The reality is that we can’t travel to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to get all the garbage out, but we can stop the source. Remember, the era of plastic only began in late 1900s and what’s collecting in our ocean consists 90 percent of plastic.

Another way to stop pollution is to speak up to your elected officials. And convince business owners to do the same. When the #3 item counted at our cleanups is plastic foam pieces, and after the cleanup you get some food to-go in a Styrofoam container, it’s worth it to speak up to the restaurant and tell them what you see on the beach. With small acts of education, and getting business owners to care about the same issues, we will make the gradual change we want to see in the world.Can you think of anything you do every day that might be a threat to our oceans? For example, I used to buy a big plastic case of water bottle every week. But when I joined Coastkeeper and learned the real facts about plastic and its pollution, I decided to change my tactic. Being a big (clean) water drinker, I wanted to have a bottle with me all the time. So I bought a reusable water bottle and started to fill it up from big gallons I fill at the local water store. Not only did it became cheaper in the long-run, it was (and still is) also very convenient.

Surely, we all have something we can think of every day that may be a threat to the ocean. It might be something small and insignificant, but it all adds up in a good way. Start small and over the time the deeds will accumulate. Plus, don’t forget to remind your friends and family how important it is to avoid polluting, showing that you have their best interest at heart.

Let’s start making impact every day!

Morning After Marshamallow Mess

The Clean Beach Coalition prepared for last weekend’s Fourth of July madness by putting up 200 extra trash and recycling bins to manage the weekend’s waste as well as tried to get the word out to the community to encourage replacing plastic ware with reusables. Each member organization from the Clean Beach Coalition hosted a cleanup site afterwards as well to assess the trash situation and rid our beaches of the waste!

This “Morning After Mess” beach cleanup happened at 7 am yesterday morning, the fifth of July, to gather up all the discarded waste left over from four gorgeous summer days of care-free celebration. Coastkeeper hosted at Ocean Beach where the annual Fourth of July marshmallow fight had gone down bigger than ever before. This tradition has folks gather on the beach, parks, and streets of Ocean Beach and nail each other with delicious sweets. Apparently this year’s Mallow War was less than mellow as people were selling marshmallow guns and slingshots! We can’t wait for the Youtube videos.

It’s hard not to laugh at people pelting each other with fluffy sugar balls; especially since it originated innocently as a harmless battle between fun-loving neighbors. After our chuckle-fits, we are left to assess the environmental risks from beaches and streets thick with sugary melted goo. The 25 year old tradition lives on in OB with no real reason for the madness, simply for the fun of it! It seems like many people really love this annual fight, and would be sad to see it go. Unfortunately, as the folks who clean up the beach the next day, we see the marshmallows tempting wildlife and oozing into the fragile ocean.

We got out to the beach at 7 am, so the mallows had little time to melt in the rising sun before we got there, but there were literally MILLIONS of marshmallows. Our flipflops were caked with sticky mush and our trash bags sagged with melting sugary goop. One volunteer counted 526 marshmallows just in one hour. A Surfrider volunteer measured a 5 foot by 5 foot square of sand and collected 100 marshmallows on the surface layer, and another 100 in the sand below! The precise environmental impact is unknown, but we can be sure that marshmallows are unhealthy for wildlife and sea life to be ingesting, especially after all the bacteria that is surely growing on these mallows!

Of the 88 volunteers who participated this morning, 6 admitted to being a part of the marshmallow fight the night before. One participant said it was the most fun he’s had in YEARS! Another volunteer said she brought her son to the marshmallow event the night before, but vowed to bring him to the cleanup to “show him the other side” of the fight.

We so appreciate those people who participated in Marshmallow show-down also taking responsibility for their contribution and coming back early in the morning to scrape together the sticky madness that resulted from the fight. The world needs more folks like you!

Published in Marine Debris

Be Eco-responsible this Summer

(c) weareaustin.com

Now that sunny weather is paying us a visit every day, we find ourselves at the beach pretty often. But let’s not forget to care about our waters as much as we like to play in them. Start enjoying your summer responsibly!

  • Start with sunscreen. By avoiding chemical-infused sunscreens on the market, you will do yourself and the ocean a favor. Green you ‘screen and get an eco-friendly brand that will protect your skin and won’t have harsh chemicals making their way into your body and our waters. I would recommend purchasing JASON or Aubrey organic brands for maximum protection and eco-friendliness.
  • Organize your stuff. Before heading out, get your beach gear like towels and toys organized so you won’t lose them. San Diego Coastkeeper volunteers find toy shovels and flip-flops when conducting our cleanups. Today it might be beach stuff, but once you lose it, it’s pollution.
  • Reuse and recycle. If you like to pay a visit to a beach with some beverages or food, don’t forget to bring it in reusable containers. Forget about that Styrofoam cooler and get reusable one that will last you for years to come. In the long-run, it’s a money-saver. Plus, it will stay “eco-cool” for life. Don’t forget to make sure you recycle your plastic bottles and cans, if you have them.
  • Have a trash bag on hand. To avoid multiple runs to the nearest trash can on the beach, bring a brown bag for your convenience.  Remember, you might unintentionally lose small items like used napkins, so be on the lookout.
  • Check beach status. You need to know if your San Diego beach is safe to be at. Coastkeeper makes it easy for you with our interactive beach status map. Updated two times a day, this tool will keep you updated on water conditions at your favorite destination.

Living in beautiful San Diego, it is vital for us to prevent pollution in our primary all-year destination. It takes responsibility and consistency, but with cumulative effort we can protect our waters from unnecessary pollutants today and in the future.

Play responsibly!

Forget June Gloom: It’s Balloon Gloom at La Jolla Shores Cleanups

This is the sixth of a 10-part blog series examining the nature of ASBS, the threats they face and the actions we can take to protect these biological hotspots for future San Diegans.

Last Saturday, San Diego Coastkeeper joined forces with our friends at Surf Diva and 25 volunteers to cleanup La Jolla Shores. Surf_Diva_Coastkeeper_La_Jolla_shores_cleanupStaging on the street and not the beach helped volunteers focus on the gutters, parking lots, sidewalks, and bus stops heavy with foot traffic and litter. The volunteers collected 30 pounds of trash, counting top items such as cigarette butts, food wrappers, and plastic foam pieces.

Over the past four years, San Diego Coastkeeper has facilitated over 20 cleanups around La Jolla Shores to help reduce marine debris entering the water. Considering the importance of pollution prevention in Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS), our cleanup work is valuable in highlighting common pollutants (litter) and engaging community members in helping keep La Jolla clean. We do this by asking volunteers to work in teams and complete data cards while they collect trash – and our cleanup data tells an interesting story. Here are some highlights:

balloons_marine_debris1. Balloon Gloom: Volunteers collected more than 800 balloons and strings from the La Jolla shores area since 2007. This value is many times higher than most other area beaches. Some of those washed up tangled with drifting kelp at the high tide line, and some were leftover or released from birthday parties and events at Kellogg Park.

2. Volunteerism has steadily dropped at La Jolla Shores cleanups over the past 4 years. Our 2007 cleanup boasted 283 volunteers, and last year’s event hosted only 59 people dedicated to cleaning up the area. Many volunteers worry about parking and transport, while others think the area is so clean that it doesn’t need the help (it does!).

3. La Jolla Shores is one of the “cleanest” beaches in San Diego County, based on the pounds of trash collected per volunteer. The average amount since 2007 is below a value of 1 pound per volunteer, which places it high amongst the ranks of other clean beaches such as Torrey Pines and Del Mar.

beach-cleanup-data-la_jolla_shores_07-10

4. Single-use & plastic products dominate La Jolla Shores’ top ten. Coastkeeper and friends have been fighting hard to stop pollution from single-use plastics by helping the public switch to sustainable alternatives, such as reusable water bottles, bags, and Tupperware®. And even though smoking is banned on the beach, we still count a lot of cigarette butts right next to the beach – between 1200 and 2000 per cleanup each year.

After the cleanup, I met some friends for a beautiful SCUBA dive inside the marine reserve at La Jolla Cove. I tried not to get upset by the two abandoned lobster traps I saw (one with a big sheep crab traped inside), and instead focused on the beauty and peacefulness under the kelp forest. We saw two giant sea bass, a 4ft shovel nose guitarfish, and a stunning new-to-me nudibranch called Hopkins Rose, and it was a day well spent in our ASBS.

Hopkins_Rose_La_Jolla_Shores

Published in Marine Debris