San Diego may be nationally famous for the success of our sports teams, but we also have an often overlooked geological feature called “beaches.” (#jokable)
Our beaches draw tourists and transplants from all over the world, and as a result our coastal ecosystems take a heavy hitting day in and day out. Next time you take a dip minimize the stresses human activities (such as littering, polluting and crowding of wildlife) put on our waters by giving back with some of the simple tips below.
- Commit to picking up three pieces of trash whenever you visit the beach. Fortunately — and unfortunately — it will probably take you less than a minute. Consider it a sun and sand tax, and make it a habit to leave the beach cleaner than you found it.
- Attend a beach cleanup. You can hang out with new friends afterwards and bask in the sun and the knowledge that the beach is cleaner than when you arrived.
- Use an alternative to copper-based hull paint. The copper leaches into the water and harms wildlife. Luckily, the Port of San Diego has suggestions, resources and possible grant opportunities.
- Wear natural sunscreen. Your sunblock may be poisoning the water. Here are a few good brands that will protect both you and our marine friends.
- Follow the rules of marine protected areas. San Diego has 11 beautiful MPAs (like underwater state parks) that are protected for a reason. Learn more about them so you can enjoy responsibly.
- Throw away your butts. If you smoke, don’t litter your butts. They are not biodegradeable like many think, and because of our storm drain systems, they tend to end up in the ocean no matter where you litter them. Once in the water, they leach powerful toxins that kill wildlife. We picked up 75,069 cigarette butts in 2014. Take a look at our most recent beach cleanup data.
- Check our beach advisories before going into the water. Especially if it has rained recently, urban runoff might turn a short swim into a rough sickness.
- Don’t take any shells, pebbles or organisms with you. An empty shell could be someone’s home one day. A rock or two might not seem like a big deal, but thousands of people visit the beach daily. If a few of those people take a few rocks, every single day, it has a major impact on the environment. Be an advocate, not a taker. You’ll feel better.
- Don’t feed animals. Seagulls and squirrels look cute when they beg, but your food might kill them, which is not so cute. Even if you feed them vet approved squirrel food, feeding wildlife artificially inflates the species’ local population, disrupting the ecosystem’s food chain and making them dependent on humans.
- Don’t jump off cliffs. A no brainer that could literally save your brain. Shadows, murky water and constantly changing tides make it impossible to accurately judge a cliff jump. Your friends and family will miss you. Don’t be stupid. There are better ways to catch an adrenaline rush.