This is the fifth 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.
June 8 was a good day for our ocean –people around the globe observed World Oceans Day, and we here in San Diego honored our coastline with celebrations of pollution prevention and marine conservation. What better way to pay tribute to our ocean than by keeping it clean?
UCSD, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and San Diego Coastkeeper dedicated years of hard work to make changes and spread the word about ocean pollution, particularly in our Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) off of La Jolla. On Wednesday, we celebrated the installation of pollution prevention systems at Scripps, which are designed to filter, treat and prevent polluted stormwater runoff that flows into our ASBS. Speakers talked about the great benefits these installations will have, our very own staff scientist, Jen Kovecses, helped lead tours through the installation sites, and guests got the chance to gleefully toss seed balls (filled with seeds of native plants) into the new planters, which will help filter runoff and keep the ocean clean. (Check out some of the event photos below.)
After the celebration at Scripps, Coastkeeper partied on down at Hennessey’s in La Jolla with members, friends, Barefoot Wine and Bubbly, Kona Brewing Company and The Barnwell Shift. We played games, listened to great music and won some excellent prizes, all in honor of our ASBS. When we take steps to prevent ocean pollution, we participate in a movement that supports wildlife, coastal communities and the beauty that attracts people from around the world to our shores.
While June 8 is a day dedicated to our ocean, we can speak up for clean water every day through the decisions we make and the actions we take. Keep an eye out for more opportunities to get involved with Coastkeeper and keep our water clean and vibrant, and mark your calendar for June 8, 2012 for next year’s World Oceans Day celebration – I’m sure it will be just as awesome!
Recent concerns over high levels of dissolved copper in San Diego Bay, likely due in part to leaching from boat hull paints, has led to calls for a new permitting process for in-water hull cleanings. Boat hull paints are designed to limit the accumulation of material on boat hulls, a process known as fouling, which includes growth of diverse species of marine organisms. Copper is a popular active ingredient in boat hull paints because it is toxic to a wide range of organisms that can cause fouling. Increased copper levels in water worldwide has triggered a search for effective non-toxic alternatives to traditional copper-based hull paints, as well as research to unravel the complex ways that copper exposure kills marine organisms.
Copper toxicity is not limited to organisms that find their way to boat hulls — as hull paints wear and dissolve into surrounding water, the toxic properties of copper can conceivably affect most living things present. The broad-spectrum effects of this metal lie mainly in its ability to readily oxidize many molecules. Oxidation is the process during which an atom loses electrons. The process of oxidation is most familiar in the formation of rust, when electrons move from iron in metals into oxygen in the air. Dissolved copper acts similarly to oxygen, but can attract electrons away from important biological molecules like DNA and proteins, sometimes rendering these molecules unfunctional. Excess copper also participates in chemical reactions that produce highly unstable molecules called reactive oxygen species, extremely strong oxidants that can do more direct damage to cell structures than copper alone.
The extent to which unrelated marine organisms are affected by exposure to copper varies and is in part determined by how much copper ends up on the inside of an organism’s cells. Cells of marine organisms are impacted by the chemistry of the surrounding water. Concentrations of dissolved material in the surrounding ocean, including salts, organic matter, and ions like copper will tend to equilibrate with concentrations of dissolved material inside the cell. Therefore, as water chemistry changes, so does the chemistry of the inside of the cell. Marine organisms can either tolerate these changing internal cellular conditions or actively maintain constant internal cellular conditions, sometimes in opposition to environmental conditions. In addition to oxidative damage, copper has been found to interfere with the regulation of these internal conditions, so organisms that adopt the second strategy are hit with this additional mechanism of toxicity. Copper can also be acquired from food, so an organism will encounter more copper if its food tends to accumulate the toxin within its cells. Copper toxicity therefore manifests itself in different ways, and a real understanding of its impacts would require individual assessments of all exposed organisms.
Copper toxicity also varies with water chemistry more generally, regardless of a species’ physiology or diet. High concentrations of other dissolved ions can compete with copper for entry into cells, effectively diluting this pollutant, so the same organism exposed to the same amount of copper will feel the effects of copper toxicity more acutely in freshwater than in saltwater. Water chemistry can also affect copper accumulation through differences in the presence of dissolved organic matter, such as degradation products of dead organisms, which form complexes with copper and block it from entry into living cells.
Historical accounts suggest that Phoenicians and Carthaginians may have used copper to treat ship hulls as long ago as 1000 BC. Our ancient predecessors understood that copper could be used as a biocide, and we are only now beginning to understand why. As use of copper in hull paints has become practically ubiquitous, we are now challenged with correcting the consequences of centuries of this practice.
Kelley Gallagher is a graduate student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a Water Quality Monitoring Volunteer for San Diego Coastkeeper. This is one out of several blogs Kelley will write to help us understand the science of water pollution in our region in an easy-to-comprehend way.
References and further reading:
1. Grosell M, Blanchard J, Brix KV, Gerdes R: Physiology is pivotal for interactions between salinity and acute copper toxicity to fish and invertebrates. Aquatic Toxicology 2007, 84:162-172.
2. Main WPL, Ross C, Bielmyer GK: Copper accumulation and oxidative stress in the sea anemone, Aiptasia pallida, after waterborne copper exposure. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C Toxicology & Pharmacology 2010, 151:216-221.
3. Viant MR, Walton JH, TenBrook PL, Tjeerdema RS: Sublethal actions of copper in abalone (Haliotis rufescens) as characterized by in vivo P-31 NMR. Aquatic Toxicology 2002, 57:139-151.
4. Pinto E, Sigaud-Kutner TCS, Leitao MAS, Okamoto OK, Morse D, Colepicolo P: Heavy metal-induced oxidative stress in algae. Journal of Phycology 2003, 39:1008-1018.
5. WHOI. 1952a. History of fouling prevention. In Marine fouling and its prevention. Prepared for Bureau of Ships, Navy Department by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Woods Hole, MA. United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD
Let’s face the facts, sometimes it’s hard to get motivated for a gym sesh. But here in sunny San Diego we really don’t have an excuse to be inactive. Our county offers so many fun and relaxing outdoor activities that we can do all year long. So now that it’s officially summer, it’s time to get moving so you can squeeze into that tiny bikini! Hooray!
Sport Psychology and Wellness Counselor Erin Bartelma of BE Balanced Studio created a way for us San Diegans to get fit and healthy together while enjoying the beautiful backdrop of our outdoor environment. Three years ago Erin celebrated her birthday by inviting family and friends to join her for the “Surf & Turf,” which involved a run on Torrey Pines State Beach followed by surfing in Del Mar.
Over the past three years, Erin expanded her vision and brought on additional Surf & Turf team members Lisa Bercik, Sarah Alexander and Shari Baurle to help the event reach a wider audience and positively impact our environment. The team wanted Surf & Turf to enable people interested in healthy lifestyles to come together and promote not only personal wellness but also support efforts to create a healthier environment. San Diego Coastkeeper’s staff is comprised of scientists, lawyers and environmental experts who are also surfers, snorkelers, runners and bikers dedicated to protecting our coastal environment–making them the perfect organization to benefit from the event’s first grassroots fundraising efforts.
The Third Annual Surf & Turf is on Saturday, June 25, 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Cardiff Reef, and includes a 5K run/walk, beachside yoga with Lauren Duke of Green Flash Yoga, recreational surfing and beachside games with small prizes for the 5K run/walk. Participants are welcome to participate in one or all of the day’s activities. Registration is free but participants are encouraged to buy a Surf & Turf t-shirt for $20 (designed by artists Ash Francomb and Kris Boline of the Green Flash Gallery in Cardiff) with all proceeds going to San Diego Coastkeeper.
Come Surf & Turf & help save the environment with us!
Its that time of year again! Next week we will celebrate our favorite holiday, World Oceans Day! On June 8, the world will take a moment to recognize the ocean and all of its greatness. There are thousands of reasons to join in on the celebrations. Since I do not have time to create a list of a thousand, here’s five to get you amped on Oceans Day!
1. Raise awareness for the World’s Oceans: Whether you live in San Diego or China there are issues facing our world’s oceans that need attention. This national holiday will help raise global awareness of the challenges our oceans face and help people get the information to get involved!
2. Oceans give us life: Oceans are essential to food security, climate control and are a critical part of our biosphere.
3. Oceans are awesome: Not only are oceans essential for survival, they play a huge role in fun, especially here in San Diego! What would the world be without “sick days” (aka beach days), surfing and snorkeling?!
4. Help conserve our oceans: Not only does World Oceans Day spread the word about the needs and challenges facing our oceans, it also gets people to be proactive about conserving our coasts and oceans. There are tons of things you can do to help. Attend a beach clean up, buy sustainable seafood or become a Coastkeeper member!
5. You can party with us! It’s no secret that we love the ocean.We want you to join in on all our fun by participating in a week long party to celebrate our world’s oceans.
- World Oceans Day: Go blue with Coastkeeper and our official celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8. Come out to Hennessey’s in La Jolla and enjoy live music, a tasty meal and even learn how we conserve beautiful places like La Jolla’s ASBS. Enjoy a beer for the ocean from 6-9 p.m.
- Go Blue Day at Padres Stadium: Wear your blue and root on the Padres with cool people who protect the ocean every day. Become a member today and get Padres tickets for June 9. If you are already a member, join in for only $10. Shout loud and proud for our oceans at the 7:05 p.m. home game start against the Nationals.
- Give our ocean the best gift you can give by picking up trash and debris along the coast. Join us at Buccaneer Beach Cleanup June 11 at 9 a.m. Help clean up one of Oceanside’s most prestigious beaches and celebrate the beauty of the sea.
Everyd ay Coastkeeper celebrates our local ocean by preventing plastic pollution with beach cleanups, conserving areas of special biological significance, monitoring waterways for toxic chemicals and much much more.
Happy World Oceans Day everybody!!
This is the fourth 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.
Hands down one of the coolest things about San Diego is kayaking in La Jolla. In fact, when our staff first asked me for my bio for the website, they asked me to answer this question: “What is one thing I wish everyone knew about San Diego?” I promptly answered Adams Avenue Grill in Normal Heights, but kayaking in La Jolla came a very close second. I may be biased since I used to be a guide at Hike Bike Kayak Sports and spent nearly every day on the water teaching others to enjoy what I know now is an Area of Special Biological Significance, but it’s still downright awesome. And you should go . . . soon.
There are lots of scientists at Coastkeeper who can tell you why it’s so significant and special from an ecological point of view, and it’s all very impressive. But as the only staff member with a bona fide college degree in Outdoor Recreation, what I can tell you is how amazing this area is for all of us to get out and enjoy.
I’ve kayaked so many places from remote Baja, the Amazon, Hawaii, and beyond, and I’d be hard pressed to say I enjoyed any of them more than some of my two hour tours in La Jolla. I saw grey whales, green sea turtles, sea lions, common dolphins, bottle nose dolphins, blue sharks, angel sharks, a white shark, leopard sharks, limpets, shore crabs, garibaldi, sheapshead fish, harbor seals, skates, rays, guitar fish and the list goes on and on. And the craziest part of it all is the area I kayak is less than 3 square miles and right outside a major city.
This is all in our backyard folks. I implore you, if you haven’t already, wait for the tourists to leave, and sometime between Labor
Day and November, get down to my friends at Hike Bike Kayak for a tour. And when you do, you’ll surely find a new appreciation for the biodiversity right here in San Diego. With the fantastic guides still going strong at HBK, you will no doubt learn a lesson about how urban runoff continues to be the number one threat to our water quality in San Diego.
When you come back with your new inspiration, hit me up (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get involved in protecting our ocean by joining a Coastkeeper program like our new Pollution Patrollers. Hooray kayaking!
This is the third 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.
We know from our previous posts that once a coastal area is designated as an ASBS, discharges of any waste into that area are not allowed. That was part of the initial intent of the original 1972 ASBS policy – to protect ‘natural water quality.’ At the time, no areas had been designated. By 1974, key areas of California’s coast were recognized as ‘special’ including the two areas off of La Jolla’s shoreline officially ASBS #29 and ASBS #31.
This no-discharge prohibition was codified in 1983 when the State Water Board amended the Ocean Plan to officially prohibit all waste discharges, both point and nonpoint, into ASBS. This was a forward looking and protective decision for marine conservation. Unfortunately, at the time, little was known about the number and types of waste discharges in any ASBS. It was not until 2001 that the State Water Board discovered that indeed, waste discharges into ASBS were common.
A 2003 statewide survey found 1,654 potential violations along the coast of California, and identified 391 municipal or industrial storm drains that emptied directly into ASBS statewide. This survey found that both of our local ASBS areas were receiving discharges from several sources including the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s (SIO) waste seawater (from research facilities and the Birch Aquarium) and storm water runoff, and the City of San Diego’s discharges from pipes, drainage weeps and storm drains.
To remain in compliance with the Ocean Plan, discharges must be eliminated or specifically granted an exception. The State Board determined that it was in the best public interest to allow UCSD/SIO to continue to discharge but with 19 specific ‘limiting conditions’ to protect the ASBS. This 2004 ‘model exception’ required eliminating copper and formaldehyde from seawater discharges, removing exotic species in discharges, eliminating dry weather discharges from storm drains and extensive monitoring.
In 2005 the La Jolla Shores Watershed Management Group (WMG) was formed to address the ASBS issues raised in the exception process. The WMG is a collaboration among UCSD/SIO, the City of San Diego, and San Diego Coastkeeper. Together, the WMG crafted an ambitious science-based management plan that spells out actions to protect and enhance water quality in our local ASBS. In 2008, we finalized the La Jolla Shores Coastal Watershed Management Plan.
Thankfully, this plan is not sitting on a shelf just gathering dust. Already, many of the actions identified in that report have been implemented. For example, UCSD/SIO has finished installing an ‘ecology embankment’ at La Jolla Shores just north of Scripps Pier. This project has transformed the beach embankment into a stormwater workhorse – by implementing media filters, special ‘amended’ soils and native plants, the area will infiltrate and remove pollutants from dry weather flows and some of the first winter rains, all the while providing habitat for wildlife and adding even more beauty to our coastline. The actions laid out in the Management Plan have increased our understanding of our marine environment around La Jolla and have pushed us towards achieving improved water quality for the coast off La Jolla Shores. In upcoming blogs, we will talk in more detail about many of these actions, what we know so far about their impacts, and spell out how local residents can implement some of these actions at home. Stay tuned!
This is the second 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.
I’m the new kid on the block when it comes to San Diego Coastkeeper’s marine conservation program, and I’m on a mission to soak up (no pun intended) all the details I can about our local preservation efforts in San Diego. One major nugget of wisdom I’ve learned in my hunt for knowledge is that ASBS are an integral part of San Diego’s (and California’s) marine conservation efforts. Let me impart on you some of my newly aquired insights, dear reader.
Both the La Jolla and the San Diego-Scripps ASBS are in the Los Penasquitos watershed. This highly urban water system stretches as far inland as State Route 67, and all water in that zone eventually flows to the coastline where both ASBS are located. Trash, pollution, chemicals and general muck that accumulate inland will sooner or later wash into the ocean through these coastal areas. Streams, gullies, pipes and holes in seawalls discharge inland water into the ocean, carrying with it all the bacteria, copper and metals, oil and grease, pesticides and nutrients accumulated eastward.
In the La Jolla ASBS, most of these pollutants come from the flow of natural water bodies, stormwater runoff and sewers. Of the 196 discharges, seventeen different municipal storm drain outlets have been identified in the ASBS, and some pipes on the bluffs and gullies empty into the tide pools, which are teeming with fragile marine life.
In the San Diego-Scripps ASBS there are 92 discharges, and a lot of the pollutants come from landscaping and pipe drainage from (gasp!) private residences. Residential sources of pollution are a result of failing to pick up after pets, letting a car leak fluid onto a driveway, allowing chemicals to enter a storm drain through hosing or dumping and more.
Ever think about where lawn fertilizer, pet waste, leaking automobile fluids and pesticides end up? If it goes into a storm drain, that means it flows directly into the ocean, untreated. Sometimes this means flowing straight into an ASBS. Storm drains dump all the dog poop, motor oil and chemicals that build up on our streets and sidewalks offshore, which is why we strongly recommend staying out of the water for 3 days (72 hours) after it rains. Surfing, swimming, or snorkeling in pollution = reckless, hazardous and certainly not the best underwater view.
The City of San Diego, UCSD, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and San Diego Coastkeeper have joined forces to reach our goal of zero discharge in both ASBS. We are committed to educating the public, implementing changes and securing a clean future for not just La Jolla, but all of San Diego’s coastline. You can help protect our ASBS by making simple water-friendly choices from installing rain barrels to participating in guerilla seedballing. Stay tuned to this blog series – we will explore some of the most cutting edge techniques to help champion the clean oceans movement. Some topics to look forward to include:
Low Impact Development: Learn about methods for construction and landscaping that minimize the impact on nature and help protect water quality.
World Oceans Day: Celebrate a healthy ocean with Coastkeeper in our ASBS.
Beach Cleanups: Wonder what type of trash flows into the ASBS? This blog post will highlight data trends gathered from beach cleanups in La Jolla.
Water-Conscious Gardening: Have a beautiful yard and protect sea critters at the same time! We’ll share with you different gardening techniques that will help keep our ASBS pollution-free.
Seedballing: Intrigued? I know I am.
This is the first 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.
I was a lucky kid. I grew up spending summers with my family in Fourth of July Cove off Santa Catalina Island, and on weekends my friends and I would soak up sun at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach. Now I live within minutes of La Jolla Shores, where on hot days I can dig my toes in the sand and get lost in a book.
There are reasons why these places are some of the most popular destinations for tourists and locals alike. The views are beautiful, the water is crisp and marine life is diverse. In fact, all three of these areas are part of California’s network of Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS). The primary purpose of ASBS is to protect and uphold the quality of water in areas which are ecologically unique and vulnerable to damage by pollution. The State of California gave these ASBS special status in the 1970s (yes, they’re that old) as a means of conservation, to help endangered and threatened species recover, to create study areas for scientists, and to set aside places for our enjoyment. We can admire the beauty and see first-hand the amazing sea life by going snorkeling, diving, kayaking and, my personal favorite, tidepooling.
There are currently 34 ASBS along the California coast. Each one is unique, containing sensitive biological species and communities in their complex but fragile ecosystems. San Diego is home to two of these areas, including 88 acres of protected ocean at San Diego-Scripps and 450 acres at La Jolla.
While pollutants are banned in ASBS, the restrictions are largely ignored by major polluters. The animals and plants that depend on high-quality water are still threatened by sewage discharge, urban runoff and litter. These hazards add to the deterioration of ecosystems like kelp forests and tide pools, they poison wildlife and they make waters unsafe for us to play in. Polluters have been unwilling to provide the resources to clean up ASBS and have pushed for legislation that would weaken the laws protecting the fragile ocean areas. This is why organizations like San Diego Coastkeeper make efforts to change habits and spread the word about ASBS and the precious resources and wildlife they protect.
Pay a visit to La Jolla and see for yourself some of the features of our ASBS. This hotspot is protected due to its outstanding amount of marine diversity and its availability for public use and research. The kelp forest is home to bat rays, garibaldi, moray eels and shovelnose guitarfish (check out Birch Aquarium’s live Kelp Cam for a glimpse). Leopard sharks gather here to breed during the summer and gray whales pass through during their seasonal migrations. In the tidepools I can find sea cucumbers, sea anemones, hermit crabs, seastars, and, if I’m lucky, two-spot octopi. If, like me, you find yourself inspired by the sights, get involved, become a member and help fight the good fight for clean marine ecosystems!
Over the last four years, I have, on occasion, felt like a small little Who down in Whoville shouting from the top of my desktop to the world around me that I believe California needs marine protected areas. When enough other Whos joined in with the shouting, our message was heard loud and clear. And now, thanks to the landmark decision by the California Fish and Game Commission on Dec. 15, 2010, the south coast of Cali has a bright, shiny new network of MPAs.
And now you may be pondering: what happens next? Well curious cookie, I will tell you what I know. Right now, while you are at the laundromat reading this blog on your iphone, the newly adopted MPA regulations are going through their last spin on the administrative proof-reading cycle. Soon they will get passed over to the appropriate desk in the Office of Administrative Law for approval before they actually go into effect, which is expected sometime in 2011.
Translation: We know where the new MPAs are going to be (check out the map here), but the new rules aren’t officially in place yet, so for now fishing is still allowed in all the spots that will be legally protected later this year.
And how will you and I know where the boundaries are? To start, the MPAs begin and end at easily-recognized landmarks (for example, the new south La Jolla MPA goes from Palomar Street down to Missouri Street). Boundary coordinates will be incorporated into boating GPS systems and on navigation maps. I’m certain we will see some lovely, permanent signage pop up in the near future around the actual MPAs, and you can always find the information on the internet – like Coastkeeper’s website and the Department of Fish and Game’s site.
There is also a whole component of monitoring and enforcing these gems. It will be the Department of Fish and Game’s responsibility to enforce the new regulations on the water, though the MPAs were strategically placed near city, state and national parks and beaches so land-based staff (like lifeguards) can help with monitoring and community education. But we’re also counting on the fishing community to continue its longstanding heritage of respecting fishing regulations, which will ease the responsibility of enforcement.
An entity called the Marine Protected Area Monitoring Enterprise is leading a consultative process to develop an efficient, cost-effective South Coast MPA Monitoring Plan. They are working with a variety or groups on the best ways to assess the performance of the MPAs – checking the state of the marine ecosystems over time, to see how wildlife improves or changes.
Of course, collaborative stewardship is the most essential ingredient to successful monitoring and enforcement. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, NOAA, Bureau of Land Management and National Parks Service have already stepped up to help with research, education, outreach and compliance. Many of the aquaria have exhibits or displays on MPAs for public education. And the Orange County Marine Protected Areas Committee is a good example of government and community groups working together on ocean protection – fear not, we are already working on establishing similar groups here in San Diego.
Yes, there is still a lot to come. And yes, we should still be celebrating what we have accomplished together! You are the reason there will be marine wildlife for a long, long time.