"The San Diego Unified Port District will protect the Tidelands Trust resources by providing economic vitality and community benefit through a balanced approach to maritime industry, tourism, water and land recreation, environmental stewardship and public safety." - Mission statement of the Port of San Diego

As advocates, individuals and organizations, we have many opportunities to influence policy. We are the voice of the people, the children, the wildlife and the water. That is why San Diego Coastkeeper seeks opportunities to interact with elected officials and policy makers. It is why we utilize public forums to express concerns and give kudos. And it is why we want every person to know that they have a voice. You can attend any public meeting and be heard. You can write a letter or request a meeting with your elected officials. You can do that today.

This week, I was reminded of this wonderful aspect of our democracy. At its regular board meeting on October 14, the Board of Port Commissioners considered transferring funds to the Port's Environmental Fund and Marine Terminal Impact Fund. The Environmental Fund advances projects to improve the condition of the bay and surrounding tidelands. The Terminal Fund advances projects that offset the impact of maritime terminal operations on communities near the tidelands. Taken together, these two initiatives manage projects that care for our community and ensure Port operations have a positive influence on the surrounding environment.

While deciding the funding for these activities is a seemingly benign task--perhaps even an altruistic one--two factors belie that simplicity. First, in past years, the Port has borrowed money from the Environmental Fund to shore up operational costs. Second, the Port's own mission declares environmental stewardship and public safety as essential parts of its purpose. The decision on October 14 turns out to be one that speaks directly to the Board of Port Commissioner's dedication to the promise made in the Port's mission statement.

Since the Port tidelands and surrounding communities encompass five cities and many acres of protected land and water, environmental and community advocates paid close attention to this decision. Thanks to effective leadership and a timely heads up from Environmental Health Coalition's Kayla Race, I attended the meeting to deliver comments to the commissioners alongside EHC and staff from the office of David Alvarez, San Diego City Council Environment Committee Chair.

Below are the comments I delivered on behalf of San Diego Coastkeeper. Read to the end to find out what happened. 

***

Good afternoon Chairman Nelson, Commissioners,

My name is Megan Baehrens, Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper and member of the Port's Environmental Advisory Committee, where we were briefed on and discussed this issue in August.

First of all, let me applaud you and commend the staff on achieving a budget surplus while also fulfilling your mission. That is no small feat.

And on top of that, I commend the clarity of purpose that leads you to this decision about re-funding the Environmental Fund. While having borrowed from the fund in order to sustain important operational needs—without which the mission cannot be met--is understandable, returning those funds is equally essential to achieve the environmental stewardship that forms an important part of that mission.
I urge you to fund the Environment Fund fully at $2.0 million. And I want to call out the fact that this is not a conversation solely about dollars and cents. Each dollar represents an environmental benefit. And a benefit that has been foregone for the time that those funds were used elsewhere. Now that we have the opportunity, thanks to prudent operations, our Port deserves a fully funded environmental stewardship effort.

In regards to the Marine Terminal Impact Fund, I understand that each option you consider includes the same funding and applaud the care-taking of communities affected by marine terminal operations. The MTIF has been plagued by administrative challenges that lead it so far to mete out very few funds, if any. I hope, indeed urge you to ensure, they are addressed shortly. Otherwise adding funds to that pot is like throwing good money after bad. The Environmental Fund serves as an example of ways in which the Port has effectively issued grants and I believe you can take that as an example.

Thank you for your stewardship of our Port communities and environment and for the opportunity to speak today.

***

The Commissioners unanimously approved adding $500,000 to the Marine Terminal Impact Fund and $2 million to the Environmental Fund.

One moment stands out from the discussion at the meeting. Chairman Bob Nelson and Commissioner Rafael Castellanos noted that the only public comment on the item came from people speaking in favor of returning $2 million to the Environmental Fund. In any public decision, it is our right and responsibility to voice our position, our preference and our reasons for both. In this case, we are validated in that effort.

I want everyone to experience the power of civic engagement. So Coastkeeper will soon be hosting events to help you understand the ins and outs of making your voice heard. Keep an eye on the newsletter and we'll see you then.

Friday, 15 August 2014 22:09

Staying Safe and Staying Green

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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.

 

Friday, 15 August 2014 21:26

Marine Ecology 101

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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-sdck1. Seagulls 2. Tide-pool Sculpin 3. Acorn Barnacle 4. Rock Louse 5. Periwinkles 6. Turban Snail 7. Stripped Shore Crab 8. Limpets 9. Goose-neck Barnacle 10. Mussels 11. Aggregating Sea-anemone 12. Hermit Crab 13. Barnacles 14. Sea-star 15. Brittle sea-star 16. Spiny lobster 17. Seaweed 18. Surf sea-grass

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.

la-jolla-ecology-sdck

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.

la-jolla-trash-sdck

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.

Thursday, 07 August 2014 20:52

The Dos and Don'ts of Snorkeling

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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!

Thursday, 07 August 2014 17:44

Tidepool Dos and Don'ts

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Welcome to part three of our five part blog series (see part onetwo, 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. 

Tidepooling is a great way to explore the outdoors and learn about nature. The gorgeous sea anemones, abundant mussels and luscious algae are great teachers of ecological relations in the sea (and can turn into beautiful pictures for Facebook). However, tidepooling can have a negative impact on the organisms that live there. Even though tidepool organisms are incredibly strong, they are still sensitive to human activity -- you can kill several organisms in a single trip!

Tips To Reduce Your Impact

This isn't the ultimate guide on tidepooling. You still need to use your good sense to navigate the pools. Here are some tips to help conserve the tidepools:

DO: 

too-close-wildlife-sdckThese people are too close to the sea lions.

  1. Know before you go.
    Learning about marine life is a great way to prevent risks and increase enjoyment. Different places have different organisms and types of rock. These will change the way you need to behave. You can learn more at San Diego Coastkeeper's website or California Marine Protected Areas website. 
  2. Take only pictures
    Don’t take any shells, pebbles and organisms with you.  La Jolla is a Marine Reserve which means all of these are protected by law. It’s a temptation, I know; they are so pretty.
  3. Watch animals from a distance
    Bring your binoculars and camera; you will be able to see more without getting close! Because they are protected by law, you shouldn’t approach marine mammals. They can get aggressive if they feel cornered or threatened - have you seen how big they can be? You don’t want one angry at you.
  4. Leave your pets at home
    They may be attacked or chased by wildlife.
  5. And finally, take your trash with you.
    Bring a bag and keep this place beautiful for everyone!

 DON’T:tidepool-sdck

  1. Don’t touch animals
    Sea animals are divas: look, but don’t touch. Touching can cause damage and/or stress to the organism. You can also get hurt. If you feel that you really want to touch the organisms, Birch Aquarium has a pool where you can touch them.
  2. Don’t overturn rocks
    The rocks protect fragile and shy creatures; by overturning them, you are exposing animals to the elements. 
  3. Don’t feed or try to attract animals
    The animals can become reliant on humans. Human food can make animals sick too.
  4. Don’t destroy or damage the landscapes
    Be mindful of the next tidepoolers.
  5. Don’t step on organisms
    Watch your step; avoid stepping on delicate marine life or dislodging animals. Trampling is one of the biggest damages of tidepooling; it can potentially change the pool community.

I hope that these tips help you to enjoy your time at the tidepools. I hope it also helps to diminish the impact in the sea life. Given how many people visit La Jolla Shores each year, keeping good tide pool etiquette is the only way to make sure that future generations will enjoy the same beautiful tide pools we enjoy today. Still have questions? Check out these other tidepooling guides: California State Parks BrochureMarine Wildlife Viewing Guidelines, and Whale Watching Guidelines.

 

Welcome to part one of our five part blog series (see part twothree, 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. 

Hello, my coast-loving friends! This is the first of a series of posts about the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve and how to enjoy the best of the tidepools, while protecting our coast. A tidepool is a rocky habitat on the coast, squeezed between the waves and dry land. It is a somewhat extreme place to live on, but it's great to explore. The activity of exploring the tidepool is called tidepooling.

La Jolla Shores is one of the busiest beaches in San Diego with its waters used by tourists and locals alike. It features bounded rocky formations, both in the North and in the South, where tide pools form during low tide. These are great places to watch the sea-life; to observe the lives of tiny animals and see the connections between different species and the elements. la-jolla-shores-sdck

During winter, low tides are much lower, creating the best conditions for tidepooling. However, during summer, the tides are higher and the water is warmer, creating perfect conditions for snorkeling. The best place for snorkeling is the rocky formations at the south of La Jolla Shores because the waves are smaller. Groups of snorkelers often flock to this area, looking for sea-life and unique rock formations.

Less known is the fact that La Jolla Shores is part of the of Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve (SMR) and subject to several rules and protection measures. Unlike in the Scripps tide pools, there isn't a sign telling the beach-goers about the status of the area. 

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, a State Marine Reserve is a demarcated area to protect part of the marine environment, where “is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living geological, or cultural marine resource, except under a permit or specific authorization from the managing agency for research, restoration, or monitoring purposes”. It is the most restrictive of marine protected areas - you shouldn’t take anything but pictures.

Educational and recreational uses are encouraged, as long as they don’t damage the environment, so enjoy! There is so much you can do in La Jolla Shores: swimming, kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, tide pooling, or just chilling on the beach.

In the next posts, we will talk about two great ways to enjoy the reserve; tidepooling and snorkeling, and learn the best ways to reduce our impact and enjoy ourselves safely during these activities.

 

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BONUS! One more special in our four-part (now five-part) "I Love My ASBS" blog series highlighting why we love San Diego's Areas of Biological Significance.

A long time ago I went snorkeling for the first time, it was in the Caribbean's clean tropical water, where without effort, I saw so many soft and hard colorful corals like coral fans and other beautiful species that provide a home for hundreds of fishes and invertebrates.

Snorkel with....Sharks

Coral caribbeanLet's say that the first time I was invited to snorkel in La Jolla my expectations were really high. But then they mentioned the magic word SHARKS next to snorkel ... and I was sold.

Finally the day arrived, the sun shined brightly, which helped since my tropical bones were still adapting to the cold waters, and I was impressed to see the beach so clean and neat. Did I mention that La Jolla Shores is part of the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park, establish in 1970 to protect 6,000 acres of shore to underwater habitats. The park is divided into two marine protected areas: the San Diego-Scripps State Marine Conservation Area, which runs from Scripps Pier north to Black's Beach, and the Matlahuayl (mot-LA-who-ALL) State Marine Reserve, which runs from Scripps Pier south to La Jolla Cove. A state marine reserve is a type of marine protected area where the removal of all living marine resources is prohibited and activities like tidepooling, kayaking, snorkeling and diving are promoted. The day was perfect for some snorkel fun, I got suited up with mask on. They said no flippers needed, so I guessed we didn't have to go so far to see these "sharks," but to my surprise, you didn't need a wetsuit or a mask--just luck to be in the right place at the right time in this Area of Special Biological Significance, located in the southern portion of La Jolla shores (I don't want to tell the secret...okay, it is in front of the Marine Room). The right time is the summer time and voilà sharks start showing up with their beautiful spots. Yes, these were the leopard sharks (not the tiger sharks in case you got worried like one of my friends).

leopard-shark-andrew-nosal

The amazing experience of meeting the locals

It was almost surreal, the sharks were four to five feet long (they can grow up to six feet) and even their cousins, the shovelnose guitarfish, came to say hello. Even when I was seeing it with my own eyes, I wanted to know why they were here, since it seems like they are hanging out in the same spot around the same time every year. A few months later I got the most recent scientific explanation from a scientist from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Dr. Andy Nosal. He is also a postdoctoral researcher at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. He explained that the leopard sharks that congregate in La Jolla shores are mostly pregnant females, which take advantage of the warmer waters during the day (from spring, summer, and fall months) and the local food source (fish and invertebrates in the sandy shores and the California Market squid that they hunt during the nights in La Jolla Submarine Canyon). Again, Mother Nature does it better--I guess if you are pregnant, warm water and yummy food is a good reason to be here, beside no predators so triple score!

What you can do

The only possible inconvenient to these sharks' pregnancy retreat could be us, so if you want to snorkel with the leopard sharks remember not too close is the best policy. Be respectful, they are not going to hurt you. Really, their teeth are really small and are adapted to crushing their food, which doesn't include you. If you get too close, it is possible that they just swim away. I guess like any pregnant living organism they just want to have their bellies full and relax! Come visit your Areas of Special Biological Significance like these Underwater Parks in La Jolla Shores, embrace nature with a morning snorkel with the sharks and be part of the solution if you see any illegal discharge of sewage and/or waste, inform the authorities. Obviously remember that this is your place to have fun and enjoy nature so please keep it clean!

For more information on:

Snorkel with the sharks tours:

Areas of Biological Significance
Coral Reef photo from Marine Science Today
Snorkel with the leopards sharks photo from Andy Nosal

Monday, 22 July 2013 18:09

Surf the ASBS

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Part four of four in our "I Love My ASBS" blog series highlighting why we love San Diego's Areas of Biological Significance.

surf-divaI've heard more than once that the best surfer is the one having the most fun. That's a nice thought, but it's not strictly true. If you're dropping in, mouthing off or otherwise being rude or unsafe in the water, it doesn't really matter how much fun you have.

I think of San Diego's Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) similarly.

The view is gorgeous and the sand is white, but that doesn't automatically make the ocean at La Jolla Shores, Scripps Pier or the Cove the best in San Diego. What do make them special are the habitats and creatures underwater.

With Scripps poised at the northern end of one of our ASBS, constantly studying and learning from it, and La Jolla Cove at the southern tip with breathtaking diving and snorkeling in reef and kelp forest, it can't be beat. If you show up with a surfboard, though, La Jolla Shores or the Pier are almost always where the fun is. You'll see the La Jolla Shores Surfing Association in the parking lot ("Surfers dedicated to the guardianship of our ocean and community," how rad is that?), Surf Diva set up in the sand (hello economic benefit to clean water!), the San Diego Surf Ladies (there's always someone to surf with!) hauling long and short boards into the break and sometimes me. I'm probably on an 8'11" TDK, my wetsuit has a few holes in it.

For the most part, I'm happy on a day that I catch a few waves and see that guy who is always riding the nose. And on my best day, I get a visit from one of the critters in the ASBS.

Just like the jerk or the kook, obliviousness does not excuse bad behavior. Luckily the ASBS comes with a state-funded project to protect it. The City of San Diego and UCSD/Scripps Institution of Oceanography have numerous research and infrastructure projects to keep runoff out of our water. Have you seen the new parking lot at Kellogg Park? That's pervious pavement – a low impact development technique that lets water filter down through the ground instead of sheeting off into the ocean. You'll notice diversion projects in the streets to prevent pollution-laced rain and urban drool - like overwatering and carwashing - from running down to our ASBS.

surfers-at-la-jolla-shoresCoastkeeper partners with them to spread the word. We host education events, celebrate World Oceans Day, Coastal Champion Awards and World Water Monitoring Day in the ASBS and write stories like this. (Start with #1 in the four-part series if you missed the diving, swimming or kayaking articles!)

So, let's be the best surfers. Respect the people in the ocean. Respect the ocean itself.

I love my ASBS.

 

Photos from Surf Diva.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 16:16

More Trouble for San Diego Fairy Shrimp

Written by

San-Deigo-Fairy-Shrimp

A little bit of redesign could save four, maybe even nine, vernal pools that house the endangered San Diego fairy shrimp. Vernal pools are unique seasonal wetlands found in southwestern coastal California and northwestern Baja California, Mexico. Vernal pools used to cover over 200 acres of San Diego, but 95-98% of that habitat has been destroyed. Although San Diego fairy shrimp are not easy to see, they play an imporant role in our environment. They eat smaller vernal pool organisms and are eaten by birds and toads. We will lose a key player in the food chain if San Diego fairy shrimp are not protected.

San Diego Coastkeeper has closely followed two projects that will greatly impact the San Diego fairy shrimp and its sensitive habitat: Brown Field Metropolitan Airpark in Otay Mesa and Castlerock near the San Diego/Santee border. 

Castlerock-MapLast Thursday was a particularly rough day for San Diego fairy shrimp because the San Diego Planning Commission approved the Castlerock project. The project plans to develop almost 204 acres of land belonging to the City of San Diego into over 400 single-family homes, but before construction begins the land may be annexed to the City of Santee. The project also plans to destroy four vernal pools that house San Diego fairy shrimp. Adding those vernal pools to the five that will be destroyed by Brown Field Metropolitan Airpark makes a total loss of nine vernal pools with San Diego fairy shrimp. 

One of Coastkeeper's concerns about the Castlerock project is that the developer plans to destroy four vernal pools with San Diego fairy shrimp and preserve vernal pools without them. The developer plans to rebuild vernal pools to house San Diego fairy shrimp near the preserved pools. But if that habitat were suitable for San Diego fairy shrimp wouldn't they already be living there? At the Planning Commission hearing, Commissioner Quiroz echoed our concern about relocating the San Diego fairy shrimp; she even mentioned that the relocation process seemed "backward." 

Coastkeeper asked the Planning Commission to consider sending the project back for redesign to remove four houses from the project's design. Eliminating those four houses would reduce the project by less than 1% and would completely avoid the vernal pools with San Diego fairy shrimp. But the Commission approved the project four votes to two with Commissioners Quiroz and Wagner voting against the project and Commissioner Peerson recusing herself.

After providing comment at the Planning Commission meeting, Coastkeeper's next step is to ask the San Diego City Council to require the developers, of both Brown Field Metropolitan Airpark and Castlerock, to redesign the projects to avoid the vernal pools. The City Council hearing for Brown Field Metropolitan Airpark is at 2 p.m. on September 9. The City Council hearing date for Castlerock has not been set yet, but Coastkeeper will post the details when they become available.

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