The Beach


Dunes as a Storm Buffer

Pierpont Beach and San Buenaventura Beach in Ventura are fascinating and rare beaches for southern California beach – there is too much sand on the beaches. This is not a problem for most of the beaches we have in California as most of them are relatively small. On both the neighboring, Pierpont and San Buenaventura, you can see these high dunes for miles. Many homes are lining Pierpont that are protected from storms by these dune systems. However, the excess sand can be an annoyance to the residents. They have to have the sand taken off the beach every couple of months because it blows into the streets and in their homes. The dunes are the only line of defense between the ocean and these homes, but you can understand the inconvenience to the residents. The city of Ventura has to come in twice a year to remove sand from the beaches because the dunes get too high.

San Buenaventura has an equal amount of sand on its side of the beach. There is a closed-off nesting habitat for western snowy plovers located in the enormous dunes. These threatened shorebirds need the dunes to nest, and by closing them off, the State Parks Service has created an environment where the chicks can survive. A lot of sediment gets onto Pierpont and San Buenaventura from the Ventura River. The Matilija Dam that is in Ojai blocks sediment from flowing down the river. Usually, dams make it, so beaches are smaller in width, but since this beach is already extensive, it will be interesting to see what will happen to the beach when the dam is taken out. The Matilija Dam is set to be taken out in the near future. The beach is so wide already, and once it comes out, I expect that the beach will be so much longer. There are groins on both Pierpont and San Buenaventura that will be rendered useless when the dam is removed because so much sediment will come down from the Ventura River that the water line will start a lot further down.

Drone with western snowy plover habitat in the background

Pierpont Beach Dunes

Seaside Beach

Hi class,

Image result for seaside cardiff by the sea beach

I recently had the chance to visit a beach in north county San Diego called Seaside beach. This is one of the more well know beaches to visit and to surf in north county San Diego. The scope I want to discuss today is an environmental scope.  Being a long time surfer the ocean one of the biggest parts of who i am today. I have always noticed trash on the beach and always tried to do my best to clean it up. Today I am sadden at what I see. There amount of trash in the local water is about the same amount, but what saddens me the most is the amount of tar in the water. The tar levels in San Diego are not awful just yet, but if we as California continue to allow new oil rigs to be build offshore we are putting our entire coast at risk. Beautiful beaches like Seaside in San Diego attract thousands of people every year which boost our local economy and lets people have a fun and safe time on what I would call one of the prettiest beaches around. There a lot of programs being made today that help address the problem of how to do with pollute in the waters. Programs like these are starting up all over the world. I have always been happy to help clean what I could, but now I am left with the overwhelming that it just is not enough. This being a very close to home issue I have looked in these new programs that have been popping up all over the world and how they are starting to make a massively positive effect on the pollutions in the oceans. They are using the currents which create the trash gyres to build nets that also use the currents so they are using the problem of the currents as the solutions. With ideas like these and great marketing to help fund these awesome programs.

Thanks so much for reading!

Santa Cruz Island

Being on Santa Cruz Island offers a wonderful sense of tranquility, it is one of many important places where species are protected and can go about their nature with ease. When pulling up in the boats we saw Sea Lions who barely reacted to our presence, a Humpback Whale, and Dolphins following closely by our boat. We saw Brown Pelicans performing their clumsy crash into the water to grab a fish and we saw Girabaldis swimming all over. It is important to have places like this, where most of the island and its wildlife is left undisturbed. It is a place where we can literally look into history, for example we walked to a place where the indians that lived there would take their shellfish and shell them there. Looking out from the beach most was calm except for the few kayakers and occasional snorkeler. It was wonderful to see an area where wildlife was so at ease and we could actually see them acting naturally. Really on the island the only noticeable human disturbance was that the animals had adjusted to the things that we bring with us. Right away as soon as we stepped off the boat a ranger gave us a run down of what to expect. He told us to be careful because the Ravens on the island will unzip our backpacks and steal stuff and that the foxes will too. Then sure enough as soon as we walked off the dock Ravens were all over and some of them were even being mischievous and walking behind people then literally running away as soon as they were seen. Not only is this place so important to the wildlife but it was very important to the indians that lived there as well. Their food source relied heavily on the ocean and its inhabitants, they traded sea shells as currency and made many things with them. A great deal of their food came from hunting dolphins, whales, fish, urchins, abalone and even sea otters and some pinnipeds. Not only this island but all those around it were very important to the culture and wildlife around it and on it.


Point Mugu Tradition

One beach that is important for me and my fiancé is the beach at Point Mugu. This beach is important to us because it is where no matter how busy we are during the week we will at least one afternoon a week go there to watch the sunset. We would make this a priority and always made sure to bring our day for the trip and the memories.  We like to go to this particular beach because it is has some distance between the closest city. That feeling of being out of the city no matter how small the distance makes the experience even more better.  We make sure this is our time to escape from the stress of day to day life and really enjoy being with each other without any distractions. Another plus for the whole experience is being able to experience the natural beauty of a sunset together. We have been doing this tradition for about a year now, ever since we moved to Thousand oaks. I hope to continue this tradition for many years to come, if we can’t do it at this beach we will definitely find another beach down the southern California coastline.

This tradition is important to us because we both lead busy lives working and going to school, and sometime having opposite schedules with each other. This causes us to have little time we get to spend with each other.  This time at the beach enables us to strengthen our relationship and to keep our love for each strong. For both of us the beach is some place we go to relax and destress from the week.  Point Mugu serves as a place that serves as a new family tradition and a place to clear the mind and enjoy the company of the people who mean the most to you. For me the beach was home to many special moments in my life, this is going to be another time where no matter were I end up I will never forget the times that me and my fiancé spent at Point Mugu watching the sun set and enjoying each others company.

A day on Santa Cruz Island

Positioned along Southern California’s coast, the historic Santa Cruz Island is one of the eight-island archipelagos. The islands, which reside within Santa Barbara County (four), Ventura County (two), and Los Angeles County (two), are home to many native, non-native, and endemic species. Located within Santa Barbara County, Santa Cruz Island  offers great views, miles of trails, clear turquoise-blue waters, and wildlife. Santa Cruz Island consists of 77 miles of coastline, which entails steep cliffs, sandy and rocky beaches, sea coves, and numerous sea caves including one of the world’s largest sea cave known as the Painted Cave.

On October 13th, my conservation biology class took a trip to Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz Island. Covering just over 96 square miles, we hiked approximately 3 miles to Pelican Bay, and observed the beautiful views. We spotted many endemic Island Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma insularis) and multiple endemic Island Foxes (Urocyon littoralis santacruzae). We also spotted island chaparral shrubs, which included the endemic Santa Cruz Island manzanita (Arctostaphylos insularis) and chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum var. fasciculatum), amongst many others.

The beautiful waters surrounding the rocky beach at Prisoners Harbor is quite beautiful. After we hiked to Pelican Bay, we rested and cooled off in the ocean. The beach was filled with rocks, ranging between the sizes as small as pebbles to even as big as rocks that were several feet wide. We sat, watched, and listened to the calm waves slowly approach the shore.

Whenever I visit the Channel Islands, I always appreciate to see a lack of trash. We often see so much trash stuck on the side of a road or making its way down a river on the mainland, that it is almost shocking when you don’t see any at all on the islands. It reiterates the importance of reducing our trash on the mainland, while also protecting as much environment as possible to encourage a healthier and safer habitat.

Without any cell phone reception, we were able to relax and focus on what was in front of us. Sometimes we need to avoid our phones and our social media accounts for a couple of days to focus on ourselves and get a sense of appreciation for nature. One day I plan to snorkel at either Santa Rosa Island and/or Santa Cruz Island, so that I can see what lives in the beautiful turquoise-blue water.


Views of the pier at Prisoners Harbor.

View of the beach from the pier at Prisoners Harbor.

The beautiful waters of Santa Cruz Island and some little fish!

Some of my Conservation Biology classmates taking a swim.

View of the coastline on the hillside of Santa Cruz Island.

Santa Cruz Island Manzanita Tree (Arctostaphylos insularis)

Santa Cruz Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis santacruzae)

Please Click the “Waves” link below to watch a video.



Hollywood Beach

At the end of Harbor and Channel Islands Blvd. in Oxnard, CA you will find yourself alongside one of my favorite beaches  in all of Southern California. Of all the beaches located in Oxnard, Hollywood Beach has access to numerous shops, recreation activities, and plenty of places to grab a bite to eat. I’ve been going to Hollywood Beach for the past three decades and I plan on going for many more. Though Hollywood Beach is lined with million dollar homes, it has and will always be a public beach. There is plenty of public parking and numerous access points all along Ocean Dr.

Hollywood Beach Stretches from the Channel Islands Harbor Jetty north to Channel Islands Blvd.

Though beach grooming is still part of the maintenance program at Hollywood Beach, there is still considerable effort to maintain the natural dunes that pop up along the landscape. And while numerous dune formations are present, the majority of the beach flat and sandy. Along the jetty you can find examples of coastal armoring that we learned about in lecture. To its credit, Hollywood Beach remains one of the most well kept shorelines in Oxnard, and you can even legally walk your dog on it as long as you make sure to pick up your dog’s waste. Doggy waste bags are provided by the city free of charge.

Dogs can be walked on the beach during the allotted time.

When you feel the need to catch something to eat & drink, there are plenty of options to choose from. From traditional seafood joints, to sushi, to steak and eggs with some pancakes. Hollywood Beach has access to both the Pacific Corinthian and Channel Islands Yacht Clubs, a gym, a maritime museum and last but not least, CSUCI’s very own Channel Islands Boating Center(CIBC). Per their website, “The CIBC provides educational and recreational opportunities for youth and adults of Ventura County, CSU Channel Islands community and others from around the State. While the main focus of the Center is to teach boating skills and support boaters, the CIBC also provides other educational resources on the local marine environment.”

Visit for museum information.

Channel Islands Boating Center
3880 Bluefin Circle
Oxnard, CA 93035

Surfer’s Point

The third beach I visited this semester was Surfer’s Point at ‘C’ Street, in Ventura. This is a beach I frequent due to the monthly Surfrider Foundation volunteer cleanup events and the annual Coastal Cleanup Day. This beach is the location we have discussed in class that is undergoing managed retreat. There is evidence that mitigation strategies on this beach are necessary, due to narrowing shorelines. While we were there, areas of the shoreline were completely within the swash zone, and we had to retreat back from the coast to pick up trash in a dry space.

These monthly events are organized by the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses its efforts on beaches, waves, and coasts. It utilizes programs like fighting against single use plastics, blue water task force, ocean friendly gardens and restaurants, and SmartFin, which is a technology installed on fins of surfboards to analyze water quality in areas surfers visit. They use donations to fund projects to further their voice in the environmental policy area, and send out members, volunteers, and employees to help campaign to push forward. Issues like beach access, clean water, and marine pollution are Surfrider Foundation’s focus points, and organizing chapters across the United States helps the chapters stay aligned and successful. They create many hands-on and accessible opportunities for the public to participate and be engaged in environmental issues and learn how to affect policy by actions they can take individually or as a community. Surfrider Foundation was my introduction to contributing in environmentalism and had a heavy influence on my personal decision to study environmental science and pursue it professionally.

Non-profit organizations are spearheading the public into becoming more excited about environmentalism and their beaches. Events like beach cleanups, blue water task forces, and invasive species removal puts more events and experiences into the world to learn from. These events individually are impactful; the October 2018 clean up event I participated in derived 234 pounds of trash eradicated from our coast, and 3,000 cigarette butts. This information is carefully calculated by volunteers and event coordinators and shared out. This creates a sense of pride in the work done on the beaches and continues to inspire large turnouts month after month. I encourage everyone to reach out to a local non-profit that has similar values to themselves and get involved.

Ormond Beach

I recently attended a beach clean up at Ormond Beach. The first time I visited Ormond Beach was last year for an ornithology class. Ventura County is one of the best places to “bird” as it is home to many species of birds. It is also a nice rest spot for migrating birds. One reason Ormond Beach is a fantastic spot to bird at is the variety of habitats leading to the shore. There are miles of open farm fields nearby and wetlands as you approach the sandy beach. The diverse habitats house a variety of birds. One of the prettiest birds I have seen on my way to the shore is the Red-winged Blackbird. Last semester, my main mission at Ormond Beach was to spot a snowy plover. A long fence protected the snowy plover nesting grounds and several posts were decorated with handmade student-designed posters urging beach visitors to be cautious of snowy plover eggs and nests. Snowy Plover nests and eggs are extremely vulnerable to damage because they are located on the ground and blend in with the environment. One method snowy plovers use to construct nests involves the following: first, the male makes a depression in the ground using his body, then the male and female pick up debris with their bills and either toss them backward over their shoulder “or along side in one fluid motion” and continue dropping debris in scrape during incubation periods (Page et al., 2009).  Snowy plovers line their nests with a variety of materials/debris including: “2- to 10-mm-long pebbles, shell fragments, fish bones, mud chips, vegetation fragments, or invertebrate skeletons” (Page et al., 2009). The amount of glass pieces collected by beach clean up volunteers at Ormond Beach this semester was astounding. One volunteer exclaimed that we could make a sea glass table from all the glass debris found.

As we discussed in class, the western snowy plover is threatened and several are anthropogenic effects. One of the ways we can mitigate threats is to clean debris from our beaches. Additionally, there are many signs on various beaches in Ventura County prohibiting or restrictions of domestic dogs on the beach (many require dogs must be on leashes) which also helps reduce the interference/accidental destruction of nests or eggs. Last, there are signs spreading awareness of the threatened snowy plover as seen in the picture provided in this post. Ormond Beach is special to me because it is one of the first places I went birding on my own, outside of class. I truly appreciate that our community has shown dedication in keeping this snowy plover habitat clean and protected.

Page, G. W., L. E. Stenzel, J. S. Warriner, J. C. Warriner, & P. W. Paton (2009). Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.


Point Dume State Beach

This week, I visited Point Dume Beach in Malibu. To access this beach, there is a parking area at the top of the hill with a few spaces. From the top of this hill there is a wonderful view of Point Dume beach and Pirate’s Cove. If these spaces are filled, which they usually are, there is a larger parking lot down the hill but you have to pay to park there. During the week it is cheaper to park there than on the weekends. In the past when I have visited Point Dume, I have seen a lot of TV shows being filmed there on the sand. I have also seen people rock climbing up the large mountain. During the summer, this beach gets very busy and it is almost impossible to find a spot to park that is free or even one where you pay. Luckily, I visited this week so it was not nearly as busy. For this trip, I viewed the beach through a business oriented point of view because of how many times I have seen movies and tv shows being filmed at this beach. When businesses use a public beach to film movies they can make a large profit off the money they make from releasing these movies. There is also a seafood restaurant near Point Dume and Westward Beach that you can walk to from the sand. This business gets very busy and attracts people to the beach. The expansion of restaurants and other businesses near the beach will further populate the beaches because people will want to come eat at the restaurants as well. Parking lots that charge for parking also make large profits. PCH can get so busy that no matter how high prices get people will still pay. My friend owns a small business family owned furniture store on PCH that the city keeps trying to get them to get rid of because they want to build another parking lot for the beach to make more and more money. I think there are a lot of businesses that benefit the beach however some of them may change the feel of the beaches. I took the attached photo of my friend overlooking Pirate’s Cove. 🙂


Emma Wood State Beach

John Sofer

Professor Steele

The Beach

Blog Post #3

For my third beach trip, I visited Emma Wood State Beach in Ventura off the 101 on the way to Santa Barbara. Emma Wood State beach is seemingly very popular for locals with great opportunities for surf, sand, relaxation, and even various events like marathons! When the tides are low, you can even go searching through tide pools that may arise. The lens’ I will be using for this blog post write-up are beach ecology and armoring with structural intent.

As far as beach ecology goes, I wanted to mention some of the life I found wandering the beach while I was there. First of all, I was witness to some smaller birds(in one of the pictures) with long bills/beaks (assumedly Curlews?) that were using their long bills to search for food in the sand close to the shore. Running alongside these birds in larger groups were smaller birds (might’ve been sandpipers or a species related to the Curlews, but I’m not positive) that were doing the same thing as the Curlews and foraging for food along the shoreline.

In regards to armoring with structural intent, I’m referring to all of the houses along that sand-line being reinforced with either a wall of concrete, rock, or metal beams(in the other pictures below). The armoring is conducted to keep these houses, and structures in general, safe from anything that might potentially harm them or dwindle the base that they’re built upon. While armoring may be effective for that purpose, it also jeopardizes the beach ecology. While I was still able to see different types of birds, crabs, seaweed, etc., I wonder what the beach would look like without any houses and coastal armoring. In some spots, there was maybe fifteen to twenty feet in between the water and houses; I hope the views are worth any potential future complications to those home owners!

To conclude, my beach trip was assisted well by the things I’ve been learning in class that help be more conscious and thoughtful of what’s around me. While I’m in a beach environment, I think more critically about my surroundings than I have in the past with the knowledge I’ve obtained.


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