Staying Safe and Staying Green

Welcome to part four of our five part blog series (see part one and two, three and five) on the best ways to enjoy San Diego’s very own ASBS and Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores are both protected areas — the Cove and Shores are both classified as Areas of Special Biological Significance and La Jolla Shores is also a marine reserve known as the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. These posts will show you how to enjoy these special places while not harming those that live there. 

In the last post, we went through some ideas to protect the environment while tidepooling!  Today, we will see some tips on how to protect ourselves during our explorations while still being envrionmentally friendly.

Safety Guide

Tidepooling is usually a safe activity, for all ages; however, you can get yourself hurt if you are careless. Here are some safety tips, based on my own experiences in La Jolla Shores, I would also like to share with you:

  1. Stay away from the cliffs.
    La Jolla Shores is a special place, and one of the things that make it special are the cliffs. They are dangerously beautiful – rockfall is a constant threat.
  2. Watch out for waves.
    They can hit you by surprise and can even sweep you off your feet! Always keep an eye for the sea; La Jolla usually has short waves, which lead to a false sense of safety. Don’t stay near rock edges.
  3. Wear closed and sturdy shoes. 
    Rocks, mussels and barnacles can be sharp – protect yourself. Wear comfortable clothes.
  4. Know the tides beforehand.
    You may became stranded by the rising tide.
  5. Mind the algae.
    Some algae are very slimy, therefore slippery, don’t step on the algae or you can fall.
  6. Protect yourself from the sun.
    Apply sunscreen often and generously. Wear protective pieces of clothing and don’t forget your hat.
  7. Go in the winter!
    Take advantage of San Diego’s mild winter, when you can enjoy the lowest tides. You will be able to see so much more!

Greener Habits Guide

Now that you know how to be safer in the tidepools, it is time to be greener! What you bring to the beach is a big part of this, and choosing environmentally friendly alternatives to the products you usually bring. It is noticeable that while advertising tries to sell us the most expensive and high-tech, the best solution is often cheap and/ or homemade.

Sunscreen that is good for you and the environment. 
You already know that you have to use it and probably how to use it effectively. Yet, some heavy chemistry goes in this products to defend skin from the sun, and there is evidence that this can cause harmful effects in wild organisms.  You can choose biodegradable sunscreen or avoid high toxicity components to minimize effects.  Environmental Working Group has compiled a list of toxic components. Sprays and powders spread chemical particles everywhere – creams are a better option. You can also avoid very high SPF, as it can be more toxic.

Reduce single use plastics 
Snacks like cereal bars are handy, but they can contain high levels of sugar and come individually packaged, often with non-recyclable materials. Fruit is often the best solution-healthy, tasty, and biodegradable. I prefer reusable bottles for water and/or homemade juices instead of sodas and juice boxes with those individually wrapped plastic straws that often are gone with the wind.

It’s tidepooling time!

Now that you have your backpack ready and know how to be safe in the pools, it is time to go outside explore the wildlife of the shore. Just don’t forget the tidepool rules we learned on the last post. With this information, you will be up to a great time, without causing much impact on nature. Experiencing natural habitats is great way to create an environmental conscience. It is everybody’s obligation to protect these habitats, so we all can visit and enjoy.

Written by Thais Fonseca Rech

Published in Marine Conservation

Marine Ecology 101

Welcome to part two of our three part blog series (see part onethree, four and five) on the best ways to enjoy San Diego’s very own ASBS and Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores are both protected areas — the Cove and Shores are both classified as Areas of Special Biological Significance and La Jolla Shores is also a marine reserve known as the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. These posts will show you how to enjoy these special places while not harming those that live there. 

Before we go exploring the tidepools, let’s learn a little bit more about this habitat.

tidepool-zonation-sdck

Many species live in the narrow band between the sea and the land. Some of them make rocks their home because of the support it provides for them. These creatures are subject to many hardships: they have evolved to endure desiccation, wave impact, and insane temperature changes. Because of this they often have hard bodies with shells or calcareous (a hard, cement-like substance) deposits. Tidepools are filled with competition. Space is scarce on the rocky shore and the organisms are constantly fighting for it. They try to outgrow each other and often get creative to find new spaces. They also have to protect themselves from wave impact which is why they are often strongly attached to rocks.

The lower parts of the rocky shore are occupied by algae and other organisms that are willing to stay underwater most of the time. The higher parts are full of limpets (#8 on illustration) and barnacles (#3 on illustration) that are able to survive long periods with out water, also known as desiccation. The level of exposure to the waves and other environmental factors results in zonation of the tidepools.

Stronger organisms live in parts of the tidepools exposed to stronger waves (High Tide Zone) while fragile ones hide in protected areas (Low Tide Zone).

The zonation is very important to keep the balance of this amazing coastal ecosystem. The food web (who eats who) in the tide pools is quite complex — it consists of many levels and many different predators. As a consequence, each species has adapted to a different strategy to obtain food, creating rich and beautiful biodiversity.

tide-pool-tramplingFragile Beauty

All this ocean beauty could be menaced by our activities.

Walking (trampling)
The constant stepping on top of rocks removes their algal cover and destroys the tide pool community.

Collecting
Collecting animals or even empty shells can leave the hermit crabs homeless.

Urban runoff
After it rains, the sediments and pollutants from the streets can be deadly to the tidepool creatures.

Trash
Our trash can enter the tidepools and cause damage. We need to take action to protect the tidepool communities.

The tidepools house many living creatures — when we explore them we are only guests. In the next posts, we will see what it takes to be good guests. We will talk  about “house rules”, and the ways to take care of ourselves while in this beautiful wild place.

Written by Thais Fonseca Rech

Published in Marine Conservation

The Dos and Don’ts of Snorkeling

Welcome to part five of our five part blog series (see part onetwo, three and four) on the best ways to enjoy San Diego’s very own ASBS and Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores are both protected areas — the Cove and Shores are both classified as Areas of Special Biological Significance and La Jolla Shores is also a marine reserve known as the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. These posts will show you how to enjoy these special places while not harming those that live there. 

Hey, everybody! Here I am for the last of the posts in this series (insert your own dramatic music here) about the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. This time to talk about snorkeling etiquette. Although this is a low impact activity, snorkelers – who flock to La Jolla Shores – can cause significant damage. In order to prevent this, we can follow snorkeling etiquette similar to the tidepooling. Be sure to take care of your safety by making sure you know the basics of snorkeling and are well prepared before you enter the water.

1. Check that your equipment is well adjusted before entering the water.

2. Check the water and weather conditions.

3. Always go with a friend – it is safer and so much more fun.

4. Use sun screen. Sunburns hurt.

5. Please don’t disturb sediment/sand. This can cause harm to defenseless sea creatures by burying them.

6. Be careful while swimming. The waves can throw you like a rag doll, pushing you against rocks and other people. Algae can block your visibility and impede your swimming. More info here.

7. It is very important to retain your energy and stay close to the shore, especially if you are not a strong swimmer.
snorkeling-sdck
8. Pay attention to your surroundings, as you may encounter other swimmers, boats, and even sea mammals.

9. Don’t forget to take your trash away. Be mindful of your gear and don’t forget it on the beach.

10. Wash all your equipment and let it dry for some time, before you visit other bodies of water. By doing so, you minimize the chances of carrying an invasive species with you.

You are key in preventing impact in a rich and beautiful environment like the tidepools. We can’t risk losing such an iconic, ecological, and economically important habitat – all the effort taken to protect the tidepools and other marine habitats will pay off in the end.

See you at the cove!

Written by Thais Fonseca Rech

Published in Marine Conservation

Protecting Our ASBS Better: What Do You Expect From A Coastal Champion?

Watershed Management PlanASBS Blog 1

The City of San Diego, University of CA, San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD/SIO), and San Diego Coastkeeper make up the La Jolla Shores Coastal Watershed Management Group. Their priority is to manage urban runoff and protect the health of the two adjacent ASBS’s in La Jolla (see picture right). 

In 2008 the group authored the Watershed Management Plan that was developed from a series of stakeholder and project partner meetings. Experts from the fields of urban runoff management, ocean and environmental science, data management, and public participation were consulted to develop a holistic program to address the complex issues and California Ocean Plan standards associated with an ASBS.

La Jolla Shores has an ASBS Protection Implementation Program that represents the initial stage of ASBS protection. It supports four essential and interactive components of the Watershed Management Plan, including:

  1. Urban Runoff Management – addresses needs to reduce watershed pollutant impacts and the prohibition of waste discharges into an ASBS
  2. Ocean Ecosystem Assessment – addresses the need to identify health of the resources, impact of runoff, and effectiveness of management measures
  3. Information Systems – addresses the need to develop resource management tool serving variety of end users
  4. Public Participation – addresses the need to engage public in protection and management of resource

By incorporating all four components, the two La Jolla Shores ASBS will be protected by reducing urban runoff pollutants from discharges and establishes important assessment and monitoring tools. The focus is to reduce or eliminate the primary sources of water quality threats. This plan will provide multiple benefits by protecting not only the ASBS; it also includes high use public beaches and two Marine Protected Areas nearby.

Incorporating Information Management into ASBS Management

Integrated information management systems are a critical tool to efficiently assess and manage regulatory programs. Information management systems can display data in the interrelated language that biological-physical-chemical processes present in the watershed and marine environment. These data can then be assessed and available to a wide range of users that span both regulatory and non-regulatory based data collection efforts.

Our goal was to design a modular problem driven application that builds upon different standards and protocols.
We strived to emulate existing ocean observing systems web portals for ease of navigation and familiarity. Utilizing open standard formats and protocols enables access to varying structures and distributed data sources. Since some of the data shown on the website is derived from other sources, the goal has been to access services or data directly instead of hosting copies. This format allows for varying data types enabling a customized portal.

The online tool that is entering its’ beta testing mode now, was designed to establish the infrastructure needs and generate a conceptual design that is required for long term assessment of ASBS performance and related management decisions. The system will expand upon the current information management framework developed by UCSD/SIO for the La Jolla Shores Coastal Watershed Management Plan. Local and regional information sharing initiatives are promoted, and support low impact development (LID), water conservation, and public engagement through outreach and data visualization. The end-product will be to develop a usable information system for a range of users.

Online Features

ASBS Blogpic 2

The greatest attribute of this site is it allows for various data layers to be viewed together spatially via a central map. While providing metadata, specific data values and time series.

 

  • Large map with slide-able side panels
  • Adjustable map-time
  • Time series of selected data
  • Specific layers have options which can be changed once selected
  • Collapsible legends
  • Metadata for each layer and links to special studies and documents
  • Map bookmarks to help you zoom to areas of interest

Data Layers

The data layers that are included in online tool are grouped by near-real time observations, static point observations, and spatial observations/models.ASBS Blog pic3

  • San Diego ASBS Meteorological Sensors – Meteorological stations along the coast provide wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, solar radiation, rainfall, and water temperature data.
  • San Diego ASBS Outfall Monitoring Stations – Seawater and storm water outfalls at Scripps Institution of Oceanography that are monitored in accordance with the California Ocean Plan.
  • San Diego ASBS Bacteria Monitoring Stations – Bacteria monitoring in the surf zone is performed weekly in the San Diego-Scripps Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS). Data shown are the last reported results sent to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
  • Harmful Algae & Red Tide Regional Monitoring Program – Water samples and net tows are collected once per week to monitor for HAB (Harmful Algal Blooms) species, and naturally occurring algal toxins, as well as water temperature, salinity, and nutrients. Occurs at 8 piers along the California coastline.
  • State of California ASBS System Boundaries – boundaries of the 34 designated coastal regions in the California Ocean Plan as Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) in an effort to preserve these unique and sensitive marine ecosystems for future generations.
  • Historic Probability Exposure Maps (2008-2009) – estimated spatial extent of the surface plume for a historical dataset from 2008-2009, to determine the probabilities of exposure of each ASBS to coastal discharges for annual circulation patterns.
  • High Frequency Radar Surface Currents – Data collected from high-frequency (HF) radar can be used to infer the speed and direction of ocean surface currents (to 1 meters depth).
  • Regional Ocean Model System (ROMS) Model Output – a model produced and distributed by Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering (JIFRESSE) at UCLA and the west coast office of Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc.
  • Sea Surface Temperature – analysis map layer displays the NOAA/ NWS/National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s (NCEP) daily, high-resolution, global sea surface temperature analysis.
  • Winds – The North American Mesoscale Model (NAM), refers to a numerical weather prediction model run by National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) for short-term weather forecasting.
  • Wave Height – Wave Watch III (WW3) is a third generation wave model developed at NOAA/NWS/NCEP (National Centers for Environmental Prediction).

For more information regarding this online tool or the technical back-end specifics contact info@sccoos.org

Published in Marine Conservation

Diver Alert: Keep an Eye Out for Baited Lobster Traps This Weekend

thumb_lobster-trap

Yesterday, a student attorney and I had the opportunity to go out on the water with a game warden from the Department of Fish and Game. The day’s goal was to investigate effective methods to patrol our local marine protected areas, or MPAs. For those unfamiliar with the designation, MPAs restrict fishing and harvesting of marine life to allow the ecosystem to rejuvenate. The new MPA designations in Southern California came into effect January 1, 2012, and the legislative goals for the MPAs include protection, conservation, and rehabilitation of our marine resources. Great public policy, and great for the ocean.

Enforcing the MPAs will be critical for their long-term success. Coastkeeper intends to work with the Department of Fish and Game and local law enforcement and prosecution agencies to ensure success. For example, marine debris and lobster poaching have been identified as a couple important issues, and we look forward to being involved in crafting creative, effective solutions to these challenges. Collaboration with other environmental and governmental agencies will also likely drive our work going forward. And ultimately, we hope to build relationships with anglers, who are the most persistent eyes and ears on the water. It is an exciting time, ripe with opportunities to set a game plan for the future.

Our friend with the Department of Fish and Game reminded us, however, that poaching problems are not just limited to the MPAs. No different from years in the past, a few “bad apple” lobster fishermen will probably set baited lobster traps before the season begins. This issue goes beyond MPAs, and early traps might be found anywhere lobster fishing happens. This is not only unfair to good, honest fishermen, but also illegal. So, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone, and especially divers, who see lobster traps set with bait to let the Department of Fish and Game know — they have asked for your help! Early baiting can only happen until Tuesday (commercial lobster season opens Wednesday, October 3 ), so keep an eye out on your weekend dive. Enjoy the ocean this weekend, and do your part to take care of it!

Follow this link to see a photo of real lobsters in a trap: www.oceanlight.com/spotlight.php?img=10138

To report a baited trap: 1-888-CalTIP

For information about lobster season: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/calendar.asp

For DFG’s mobile site with maps and contact info: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mobile/

Published in Marine Conservation

Coastkeeper attends National Geographic’s Marine Recreation Workshop

Last week, I attended National Geographic’s Marine Recreation Workshop at Scripps Seaside Forum. The workshop brought together some of Southern California’s top business owners, professionals and employees in the marine recreation community. People traveled from as far as Santa Barbara to listen to presentations on current ocean issues. Presenters included experts from Birch Aquarium, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, I Love A Clean San Diego, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, the Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research and our very own Alicia Glassco of San Diego Coastkeeper. At the end of the event, National Geographic announced a grant program for any business or organization having to do with  the ocean, intended for projects relating to some of the topics discussed at the event (for more information on the grant program, contact me). Here are highlights from the presentation.

  • Water Quality – Issues and Causes: Inland actions are directly related to our ocean through watersheds. These watersheds carry pollution such as yard clippings, pet waste, fertilizers and pesticides, chemicals, trash and motor oil. Prevention of our ocean happens inland. Click here to learn about ways you can help minimize pollution and join us in testing the water in our watersheds.
  • Marine Debris: Impacts, Removal and Prevention: Alicia talked about the debris found in our oceans, with an emphasis on harmful plastic waste. These plastics are often mistaken for food by animals, leaving them to suffocate, starve and die. The Pacific Gyre, sometimes incorrectly referred to as the “Garbage Patch,” is a soup-like current system in the Pacific Ocean consisting of tiny bits of photodegraded plastic. We can prevent plastic and other debris from entering our ocean by refusing to use plastic foam products or take-out containers, encouraging businesses to use alternative materials or asking for foil or bringing tupperware for to-go foods.
  • The Science Behind Marine Protected Areas: Marine protected areas (MPAs) succeed all over the world, like in Cabo Pulmo, Mexico. There, fish are bigger, they are having more offspring, ecosystems are thriving and fishermen are reaping the benefits due to the “spillover effect.” All-in-all, MPAs are easy ways to keep the ocean healthy, especially when the community is on board to ensure their success.
  • Biology, ecology and movement patters of pelagic sharks of the Southern California Bight: What is a pelagic shark? It refers to a shark that lives in open water, rather than near to shore. What is the Southern California Bight? This is the large circular current system stretching from Baja to the Channel Islands and Santa Barbara. Blue sharks, white sharks, mako sharks and thresher sharks are common in this area, because the bight serves as a rookery or nursery for all these species.
  • Marine Mammals: This presentation focused mainly on two kinds of pinnipeds or marine mammals with short, flat and wide flippers – seals and sea lions. Seals are small, football shaped, propel themselves on dry land by doing what looks like “the worm” and they have no external ear flaps. Sea lions are larger, propel themselves on land by using their back flippers as a sort of third foot and have external ear flaps. These animals are often on our beaches; this does not mean they are stranded. A standed seal or sea lion looks dehydrated, has dry eyes, has excessive wrinkles and you can see their hip bones. When you see a distressed animal, call a rescue team or alert a lifeguard to do so.
  • The Ecology and Conservation of Giant Kelp Forest Communities: Did you know that the kelp forest in La Jolla grows the size of one adult blue whale per day?! Kelp grows so fast that it replenishes itself once every six months. Kelp forests serve as vital ecosystems for a variety of marine life, but it is negatively impacted by overfishing. This is because top predators, like lobsters and sheephead, are overfished, leaving no predator of sea urchins behind. Sea urchins eat kelp and can kill off entire forests, causing what are called “urchin barrens.” This is why one of the benefits of MPAs is healthy kelp forests, leading to healthy ecosystems.
  • Communicating Ocean Conservation: making our messages meaningful: In delivering these important messages to clients, visitors or community members, know your audience. Knowing their values will help you design a message that is meaningful to them. Using simple models and analogies helps people understand issues in real, understandable terms (for example, “La Jolla kelp grows the size of a blue whale per day”).
Published in Marine Conservation

Locals Only – Native Plant Gardening to Protect our Surf Breaks

This is the ninth 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.

The vibe was great.  Almost everyone was a beginner since all the hardcore folks went to Scripps Pier, Blacks or WindanSea. It was just me and my fellow kooks.  Except for all the wildlife, that is.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was surfing in my own Area of Special Biological Significance with all kinds of birds, fish, bat rays, sea lions, leopard sharks, seals and more.  Who could ask for a better spot to learn?  If I ate it over and over again, no worries, I just paddled out and hung out with the dolphins.It seems like the first thing that everyone wants to do when they get to San Diego is learn to surf, and I was one of them.  I talked to a few friends about where I should go surfing for the first time, and the most common advice I got was to stay away from “local spots”-places where a group of people consider themselves to have some sort of ownership of a particular break.  Despite my objections to that limiting access to our shared resources, I wasn’t looking to make enemies right off the bat in San Diego. I headed the advice and ultimately came to find my own beginner spot at La Jolla Shores, and it was perfect.

Now that I live in the same watershed, and having fallen in love with La Jolla Shores back in those days, I feel a true responsibility to protect that part of the ocean and the watershed around it.  And to start, I’m building a native plant garden (or a “locals only garden” as I like to call it). Native plants are truly rad.  Not only do they provide habitat for wildlife locally, in some cases, they actually reduce urban runoff pollution before it makes its way to our ocean.

If it wasn’t for my small condo holding me back, I’d be all about building a garden that included bioswales and retention basins.  The potential for these features to reduce urban runoff is huge. Imagine if everyone in our watersheds built a home that replicated what San Dieguito River Park Foundation has done.

If you still think a native plant garden has to be ugly, I merely refer you the extensive list my friends at Las Piliatas Nursery keep.  Tons of beautiful plants to choose from and they almost all use low amounts or water. How green and beautiful would our be if everyone had my all-time favorite plant, the California Sycamore, growing in their front yard?

For now, I’m starting small, but that’s how big changes start. And hey, if you’re not ready to tear out your entire yard just yet, find an empty space and give this a try.

Published in Marine Conservation

It Takes a Village to Protect a Watershed

This is the eighth 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.

Over the past several weeks, our ASBS blog series discussed projects put into the ground by the University of California, San Diego at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to help improve and protect water quality in the two ASBS near La Jolla. The UCSD/SIO projects are large low impact development projects engineered by professionals to clean urban runoff before it enters the ocean.  In looking at them, I have been awed by their size, complexity and their reliance on ecology to do the dirty work. But at the end of the day, I can’t put one in my backyard. Or can I?

rain-barrel-SIO-Kovecses1

If you are at the SIO ecology embankments and you amble north of Scripps pier, you will see something that is seemingly mundane but is secretly quite remarkable – a rain barrel attached to a small garden box, not much bigger than five feet by three.  The rain barrel/garden is part of a wider pilot project of the City of San Diego studying how this design can capture, slow down and disperse cleaner runoff than when it entered.  The rain barrel captures water that runs off the roof and then discharges excess water into the attached garden box. Like the ecology embankments, this garden holds special soil that grabs on to pollutants and releases cleaner water.  It takes time for the water from the rain barrel to pass through the complex soil matrix, which means that excess water leaves the garden after the storm has passed. By slowing down how much runoff enters the urban environment, this garden box reduces another problem caused by storm water – erosion. Rain barrels and rain gardens are simple and growing in popularity.  Rain barrels and gardens come in all shapes and sizes, with many resources available online to help you put them in the ground in your yard.  So it turns out those even small spaces like your yard, sidewalks, or medians in your local business district can also host a mini version of what UCSD/SIO installed at La Jolla Shores.  That means we don’t have to rely only on big projects like what UCSD/SIO did; everyone in La Jolla can play a part in keeping the coast off La Jolla clean and healthy.

Published in Marine Conservation

Saving the ocean one raindrop at a time

This is the seventh of a 10-part blog series examining the nature of our local water supply and how to increase the reliability of our supplies now and into the future.

The watershed that drains to the La Jolla ASBS includes beautiful stately homes, dramatic gardens and the quaint streets of the Village. It seems hard to imagine that such an attractive area can be a source of pollution.

And yet it is.

The watershed of the La Jolla ASBS, like any urban watershed, suffers from an abundance of hard surfaces (streets, roof tops, parking lots), aerial deposition of pollutants, over-irrigation of lawns and uncollected pet waste.  This means that beneath all the beauty of La Jolla, the same basic water quality problems occur: urban runoff pollution. And it showed in water quality data in runoff from the area and at the coast – monitoring found that concentrations of pollutants like copper, fecal indicator bacteria, dioxins/furans, total PAHs, and turbidity were high enough to be of concern.

To meet the challenge of eliminating discharges to the ASBS, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, the City of San Diego Storm Water and San Diego Coastkeeper came up with a plan to protect the ocean and its special treasures. Recently [http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper/blog/marine-conservation/item/134-celebrating-low-impact-development-on-world-oceans-day.html], Coastkeeper and UCSD staff had the pleasure of introducing the jewel in the crown of that plan – two ‘ecology embankments’.  On either side of the Robert Payne Center there are two large, newly installed landscaped areas. But don’t be deceived, these are no ordinary gardens.  Beneath the dirt and plants lie a special mixture of soil, plants, and beneficial micro-organisms.  Urban runoff drains from the surrounding residential and university properties into these areas and gets treated by this special garden.  As runoff flows down towards the ocean, it will first get filtered and then pass through the special soil mixture that contains important minerals (dolomite, gypsum and perlite) that remove pollutants. Dolomite and gypsum absorb pollutants like metals and phosphorus. Perlite, a volcanic mineral, keeps air and moisture in the soil. This in turn helps beneficial micro-organisms thrive and be ready to filter phosphorus, metals and petroleum pollutants flowing through the soil mixture. The complex soil mixture slows down the runoff, reduces slope erosion and allows for the soil matrix to do its job – absorbing and transforming pollution that may harm organisms dependent on the ASBS.  Water comes out on the beach side cleaner.  But wait there is more – the ecology embankment cleverly relies on native and climate-appropriate plants to help do its work.  The plants help keep the soil alive and healthy below ground and above ground they provide habitat for other local creatures.  The perfect combination of form and function.
Like planets that orbit around a sun, the ecology embankments are surrounded by other smaller but still innovative projects that also help to protect water quality in the ASBS.  There are bioswales that collect runoff from parking lots; permeable pavement areas that infiltrate runoff from residential areas near SIO, and a rain barrel connected to a rain garden that collects and filters runoff from SIO buildings.  These rely on the same principles: slowing the flow, letting it soak in and be treated, relying on plants and soils to do the work.  All with the same goal – of keeping a special place beautiful.

To meet the challenge of eliminating discharges to the ASBS, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, the City of San Diego Storm Water and San Diego Coastkeeper came up with a plan to protect the ocean and its special treasures. Recently, Coastkeeper and UCSD staff had the pleasure of introducing the jewel in the crown of that plan – four ‘ecology embankments.’ If you are wandering near the Shores, you will notice that there are two large, newly installed landscaped areas.

But don’t be deceived, these are no ordinary gardens.

Beneath the dirt and plants lie a special mixture of soil, plants and beneficial micro-organisms.  Urban runoff drains from the surrounding residential and university properties into these areas and gets treated by this special garden.  As runoff flows towards the ocean, it will first get filtered and then pass through the special soil mixture that contains important minerals (dolomite, gypsum and perlite) that remove pollutants. Dolomite and gypsum absorb pollutants like metals and phosphorus. Perlite, a volcanic mineral, keeps air and moisture in the soil. This in turn helps beneficial micro-organisms thrive and be ready to filter phosphorus, metals and petroleum pollutants flowing through the soil mixture. The complex soil mixture slows down the runoff, reduces slope erosion and allows for the soil matrix to do its job – absorbing and transforming pollution that may harm organisms dependent on the ASBS.

Water comes out on the beach side cleaner.  But wait there is more – the ecology embankment cleverly relies on native and climate-appropriate plants to help do its work.  The plants help keep the soil alive and healthy below ground and above ground they provide habitat for other local creatures.  The perfect combination of form and function.

Like planets that orbit around a sun, the ecology embankments are surrounded by other smaller but still innovative projects that also help to protect water quality in the ASBS.  There are bioswales that collect runoff from parking lots; permeable pavement areas that infiltrate runoff from residential areas near Scripps, and a rain barrel connected to a rain garden that collects and filters runoff from Scripps’ buildings.  These rely on the same principles: slowing the flow, letting it soak in and be treated, relying on plants and soils to do the work.  All with the same goal – of keeping a special place beautiful.

Published in Marine Conservation

MPA Update: Keeping an eye under water

It’s summer–what better time to get your feet wet in the name of science?  We’re talking about marine protected area monitoring, which will help us understand the state of our sea, and track the effects of the underwater parks going into effect off the south coast in October. Thanks to $4 million in grants from the Ocean Protection Council, a number of southern California groups will soon begin a “baseline study” that will give us a snapshot of current ocean health and uses, and a yardstick for future changes.
San Diego Coastkeeper is getting involved, too. We need help with local efforts and data collection to help monitor San Diego’s MPAs. Are you out on the water (or underneath it) and want to help track what’s going on inside our protected areas? Contact me to get involved.
The word is out on the wonders of California’s underwater parks—they are good for sea life, of course, but that also makes them great places to snorkel, kayak, bird watch, and tidepool. That’s why we’re so excited about this new interactive map showing the location of all marine protected areas in U.S. waters. Check it out – it’s a great way to learn the rules and get to know your local ocean sanctuary.
Finally, if you want to show your love for Big Blue, consider a new Whale Tail license plate.  Proceeds help fund the Adopt-a-beach program, Coastal Cleanup Day, and other worthy causes. Speaking of which, Coastal Cleanup Day is just around the corner – check out this website for a cleanup site near you.

It’s summer–what better time to get your feet wet in the name of science?

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Photo credit Michael King

We’re talking about marine protected area monitoring, which will help us understand the state of our sea and track the effects of the underwater parks going into effect off the south coast in October. Thanks to $4 million in grants from the Ocean Protection Council, a number of Southern California groups will soon begin a “baseline study” that will give us a snapshot of current ocean health and uses, and a yardstick for future changes.

San Diego Coastkeeper is getting involved, too. We need help with local efforts and data collection to help monitor San Diego’s MPAs. Are you out on the water (or underneath it) and want to help track what’s going on inside our protected areas? Contact me to get involved.

The word is out on the wonders of California’s underwater parks—they are good for sea life, of course, but that also makes them great places to snorkel, kayak, bird watch and tidepool. That’s why we’re so excited about this new interactive map showing the location of all marine protected areas in U.S. waters. Check it out – it’s a great way to learn the rules and get to know your local ocean sanctuary.

Finally, if you want to show your love for Big Blue, consider a new Whale Tail license plate.  Proceeds help fund the Adopt-a-beach program, Coastal Cleanup Day, and other worthy causes.

Speaking of which, Coastal Cleanup Day is just around the corner – check out this website for a cleanup site near you.

 

 

Published in Marine Conservation