The Beach


Month: September 2017 (page 1 of 4)

Hollywood Beach, California

I currently and an employee at the Channel Islands Boating Center.  I mainly work in the harbor but I like to utilize the beach across the street as much as possible. Every Wednesday we have a small group of homeschooled kids come to the Boating Center. Their favorite thing to do is beach cleanups. So we walk across the street to Hollywood beach, across from Silver Strand with a bucket, some gloves, and a GPS. We use the GPS to track all the trash we collect on the sand by marking each coordinate.

On this particular Wednesday, there was a tractor grooming the beach. They groom this beach because the of sand builds up too close to the houses all along the coastline. Each home is about 100 yards from the waterline.  I noticed the tractors only groom about 50 yards of the beach, and avoid the dunes. The dunes are fenced off as a part of a restoration project to help increase snowy plover population.

Despite the low number of people that come to this beach, the amount of trash is unbelievable. As a group, we filled a whole bucket in forty minutes. It felt really good to clean the beach, and we agreed we will do this every Wednesday for the rest of the semester.  Another observation I had was how clean the water appeared despite all the trash in the debris. I am really excited to see what we find through our GPS tracking and maybe we can figure out why this beach collects so much trash.


Coastal Clean-up Day

I took part in the California Coastal Clean-up Day at Channel Islands National Park beach last weekend.

This was my first visit to this particular beach. When I arrived, I knew immediately that I was in the right place because of all of the wonderful volunteers already gathering and commencing on cleaning up. After checking in, I joined a small group for a briefing on how the clean-up would be conducted. I was a little surprised to find that data collection on the types of trash collected was to be conducted by the volunteers. This was a very accessible way for all of these volunteers to be able to contribute some “citizen science” while also beautifying this stretch of coast. Incidentally, I would be quite interested in seeing the statistical comparisons of trash amount and type variances amidst the years that such data was collected here.  Once our briefing concluded, we were off to the sand to do our duties.

I noticed immediately upon entering the beach that it was quite confined and controlled by man-made structures. Jetties and breakwaters partition this beach in several areas.

These structures are engineered to reduce wave action coming into the harbor and onto the beach. From what I observed, they seem to be successful in that end. This works well for the boaters and sunbathers, but it comes with undesirable side-effects. These stony blockades also have a significant impact on the flow of sediment down the shore. Typically, here in California, sediment flows from the northern beaches down towards the southern. This allows for them to be recharged with sand from above as they release some of theirs below. This system retains some balance and regularity in beach size and shape over geologically short periods of time, but it can be seen in the above satellite image how these barriers disturb this process. This relatively wide beach that sits in front of the visitors center is blocked from most wave action that would otherwise remove sediment and is also blocked in the south from releasing sediment. Having this “protection” keeps this beach in a fairly statically wide state. The stretch of beach just south of that jetty, on the other hand, looks relatively narrow. This likely due to it’s northern sources of sand replenishment being hindered from doing so.

Though the forces of current are critical in shaping our beaches, they are not the only contributing factor. The wind moves a great deal of sediment as well. This is very evident in the sand dunes that lie behind berm. These dunes, filled with vegetation, store a lot of sand on site that can be later harnessed to recharge beaches. Using the wind as a transportation sources gives these dunes the advantage of traversing areas altered by breakwaters. It would be interesting to view historical imagery in order see how this area of shoreline has changed since building these structures. Comparisons between utilization and types of restoration efforts on these beaches would also shed light on positive effects we may be having on these precious resources.

Overall, the day offered an interesting juxtaposition of negative human effects on sediment flow and inspired positive action by locals to protect and restore the beach.  It gives hope that there is a change in regime taking place between those users of nature and those living with Her. I’m proud to have been part of it.

El Matador Beach

One of my favorite beaches is El Matador beach here in California. It is such a unique and beautiful  beach that I think everyone should take the time visit one day. The beach is in Malibu and can be accessed off the pacific coast highway. It is pretty hidden so you really have to pay attention when trying to find it. There is a small parking lot that is almost always full which can be frustrating but it is worth it since it keeps the amount of people on the beach limited. The beach itself is located off a cliff. There is a long stairway which is nice going down but painful coming back up. This place is very popular for photography, almost every time I have gone I have seen people modeling, taking engagement photos or just instagram worthy pictures. I would never recommend going during golden hour unless you show up hours in advance to get a parking spot. What makes this beach so beautiful and special are the rock formations and caves. They look especially magical during the sunset because of how the sunlight shines through the caves and openings of the rock formations. My favorite part is being able to go into the caves but recently it has become more difficult to enjoy with the amount of people trying to take photos in them. Although it can get crowded by the caves you can still wander off and lay in the sand to relax. One of the downsides is this is not a beach you can really enjoy swimming in because there are many large rocks spread throughout the water. The plus side is there is not that much seaweed so you wont get tangled in that when you are in the water. Something that has always surprised me is how clean the beach stays. It is surprising since there are people coming in and out of the beach almost all day everyday. There aren’t any trash cans on the beach either so it seems like everyone is trying their best to keep it clean and aesthetically pleasing.

Isla Vista Beach- Goleta

For the last two years I lived in Isla Vista on Del Playa. Everyone might know it as the “party street” but it’s actually so much more than that. Although this beach might not be the prettiest, do to the overwhelming amount of flies that gather around the seaweed that collects at the beach, the sunsets I have seen here will forever warm my heart.

I’m not even entirely sure what this  beach is called, but it’s the beach I have the most experience with. The sand is really soft but there are a ton of rocks if you actually want to go into the water, and the rocks are covered in vegetation making them extremely slippery. There’s very little beach during high tide, at some points there is no beach at all and the cliff side takes a brutal pounding from the water. Because of this there’s a ton of erosion that’s taken place over the years. Last winter a couple houses on Del Playa had to be evacuated because the wind and waves were taking down entire chunks of cliff. You can actually see metal beams that have been placed to keep the apartment patio from falling peaking through the cliff at my apartment. Erosion is one of the biggest issues for the apartments on Del Playa because it’s constantly happening and there isn’t exactly anything anyone can do besides stop building apartments directly on the cliff. Rumor has it, eventually they are going to have to stop leasing apartments on Del Playa because of how quickly the cliff side is deteriorating.  During the winter the tide is usually higher and then vice versa for summer time, luckily enough people usually go to the beach all year long.

Since the beaches in Isla Vista are so easily accessible there are usually a ton of college students lounging around on the sand at all hours of the day. Most of the time people come out to watch the sunset because the waters too freezing to actually swim in, or there will be some brave surfers catching baby waves.


One of the very surprising aspects about this beach is how serious Isla Vistan’s take keeping it clean. I’ve noticed that if people bring beer, or even lunch everyone always picks up after themselves. I’ve never once gone to the beach and found a glass or a bottle and very rarely have I found bottle caps or other miscellaneous pieces of trash.

I’m extremely grateful for the two years I spent living on this beautiful cliff, listening to the waves crash into the cliff, and only being a 2 minute walk from relaxing on the sand.

Ormond Beach

It was a beautiful day in Ormond Beach. The forgotten gem in Ventura County. When you pull up, Walter greets you with you smiles. After you cross the gate you must walk what seems like a never ending quarter of a mile to reach the beach. To the left you walk along a fence that divides public coastal access and a military base.To the right you are guided by an orange mesh fence that is there to prevent the public from entering. On the other side of the mesh fence is a protected coastal area. I have personally helped to put up these fences.
Most of the beach dunes and wetlands are blocked off from public access, and for good reason. They are trying to preserve one of the last few breeding grounds of the Western Snowy Plovers. The Snowy Plovers are threatened little shore birds that are perfectly camouflage with their sandy habitat. They blend in to their surroundings as if they were just another spec of sand. Unless you are actively seeking them out, most go unnoticed. For Walter, and other members of the conservation team, that is exactly what they do not want. They are trying their best to keep the critters alive. We can help by acknowledging them and their habitat. If we are not careful we could stomp all over their nests and potential offspring. Although they are not allowed, dogs appear on the beach more often than not. Dogs are a big threat to the plovers survival because they chase them away.
Ormond Beach is not the cleanest of beaches. On a good day, you might see ten people on Ormond Beach. Where as any other beach in Southern California is completely crowded. But on a good day, you might have no trash and an entire beach to your self. For example my most recent visit there, I shared the beach with a lonely fisherman, and an avid surfer. Upon entering the water my body went numb from the freezing water. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but as soon as you do, it feels great. The beaches that i am accustomed to were ones where you would be freezing your entire time in the water. All in all, it was a very successful beach day.

Beach Clean Up – Sandra Jeffery

This year was my first time attending the coastal clean up on September 16th. It took place along the beach of the Channel Islands headquarters. It was such a rewarding but shocking experience. It felt fantastic to go and clean up the beach in my home town. As a volunteer of the Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute, or CIMWI, I know how much spending a few hours picking up trash along the shore can benefit pinnipeds and all of the other organisms that appear along the shore. This can prevent microplastics from forming and prevent organisms from either eating or getting caught up in the trash, such as a sea lion being entangled in a fishing line, or a bird around plastic. What was very shocking was the amount of trash that was found after a couple of hours of beach cleaning.

I have been to this beach numerous times. What it found very interesting about it was that the beach area by the Channel Islands headquarters, does not have the sand cliffs such as the portion of the beach to the left of the headquarters when facing the shores. It consisted of many dunes, which is where I found most of my trash. On a portion of the beach, the dunes were not terribly far from that beach and this is where I saw many surfers and people kayaking. However, over by the beach parking lot, the beach area to the left of that is very quiet and has a long sand cliff. Also, if you walk down far enough, you will see a  great deal of water where I have seen many birds migrate.

It is very interesting how the same beach can be so different. Farther down towards the end of the harbor, there are many surfers, and families enjoying time with one another. In the middle, you will see more beach goers relaxing in the sand. Then, on the other end, there is no one around, it is quiet, and you could possibly have some fun sliding down or running up a long sand cliff.


Surfer’s Point – Ventura, Ca

Many people’s choice of recreation at Surfers Point vary. When parking in the “paid parking” lot off Shoreline Drive, the first thing that you might notice are the vintage Volkswagen Vanagons or other custom vans personalized to their owners liking. Passing by the vans you can see that some vans are furnished with couches that fold into a bed. Some of the vans are backed into the parking spot so the rear hatch opens and faces the beach.  As you make your way to the beach you’ll have to dodge runners on their daily jogs, cyclists on their customized beach cruisers, and the occasional surrey making their way on the promenade. The most active section of the promenade is between the Ventura Pier and the estuary. In this segment of the beach you will find locals selling their works of art, others playing music, and visitors enjoying the view.



The beach can be accessed from many parts of the promenade. On the north end of the beach you will notice that the angle of the beach is steeper and that it is composed of cobble stone. If you sit on the edge of the walkway you can hear the stones tumble as the waves crash along the shore. On this part of the beach a grey seagull was spotted snacking on a fish. The camouflage of the fish and the gull kept other birds from spotting it and stealing its lunch.

Surfers, kite surfers, and paddle boarders could be found on what is known as Surfer’s Point. Just outside of the breaker zone, personal watercrafts could be seen racing off into the distance. On occasion, a PWC would get close to shore and launch off a wave. Near the estuary, people set up day tents to hangout and stay out of the sun.


The south end of the beach, closest to the pier, is composed of a finer grain of sand. On this part of the beach people laid out on the sand and some laid against the berm along the shoreline. The scene at Surfer’s Point in Ventura is a hub of countless activities that encapsulates the California vibe.

-John Luna

Beach Clean-Up Ventura Harbor

On September 16, a beach clean-up was held at the Ventura harbor. The beach is a sandy one with dunes, jetties, and the harbor nearby. On the day of the beach clean-up there were hundreds of people coming together to clean up. I am arrived around 9:30 am and people were already lined up ready to clean while some were already by the shore cleaning up. I have been to that beach on multiple occasions to eat at the harbor then to relax on the beach. In this blog, I want to note some of the beach tourism I saw and the geology.

The beach had recreational water sports such as kayaking, boating, fishing, and taking some boats out on the waves. Near the national park center, there was a spot for kayaking that was getting ready to open around 10:00 am. Also, nearby was a group of surfers getting ready to catch some waves early in the morning. They were placing themselves were the waves were the strongest and that was near one of the multiple surrounding jetties. After coming the beach for several pieces of trash such a cigarettes, Styrofoam and small plastics I went to get some ice cream. The harbor has many small shops and restaurants which are based on the beach culture. Some of the shops had handmade sculptures based on sea shells and rocks that washed up ashore. The restaurants were mostly based on seafood for example Andria’s which was advertising their fresh catches which is important to some of people when they come to harbors.

The beach is had some of the natural components of the beach were the dunes, mollusks near the jetties, birds, and some vegetation both offshore and in the water. The man made components of the beach include the jetties, sand spit, and the harbor. The beach had different sections to it such as the surf zone, then the berm which then rose to the dunes. The dunes and the parking lot met. I didn’t see many animals on the dunes other than some birds flying. There was a small line of seaweed and other vegetation that was dried up. This could indicate the high tide which was about 20 feet away from where the water was that morning.

Beach Cleanup Surfer’s Point Ventura Harbor

I had a wonderful experience on September 16, 2017 at the Ventura Harbor Surfer’s Point. It was my first beach cleanup that day. I always been mindful about picking up after myself when I visit beaches, hiking trails, or campgrounds. It was nice to see the community get together for beach cleanup day. There were students, organization groups, and families with their young children picking up trash piece by piece. Its good to see today’s generation inspire tomorrow’s generation. I realized that Ventura County is lucky to have dedicated community members looking after their beaches. These are the values we need to preserve for the future in order to stay in equilibrium with nature.

I never would have thought that beaches have so much trash. I was surprised to find all the trash my girlfriend and I found within the three hours of our cleanup. What was even more shocking to find was the little pieces of plastic trash buried in the sand. The pieces were shiny colorful plastics and could have easily been mistaken with sea shells or colorful rocks.  We also found fishing reel and trash that looked like it came from outside the beach’s boundaries. Most of the trash we found was buried or hidden deep inside the jetty. Inside the crevice, we found a pile of debris with a mixture of decomposable material and trash: fishing reel and supplies, plastics, foam, bottle caps, a bag of sunflower seeds . We had to move around the pieces of wood to get to the trash. As the second hour of cleaning passed by, we started to see patterns on the spots where we would locate the trash. 

While we were cleaning up the beach, people were at the beach enjoying themselves spending the day with their families or significant other. It made me wonder if they picked up after themselves after. It always nice to see the beach filled up with people. People make out the best when it comes to visiting a beach. It can very fun. I’m glad we were able to pass on that message and help out our local beach. I really learned a lot of important responsibilities we have as a community.

Silver Strand

I took the time from a busy Monday to show my little cousins around Silver Strand beach.   These tiny humans sure do have a load of energy in them, which made my trip to the beach more enjoyable as well as tiring. Kids have such a different perspective of life and it’s always nice to witness how much joy nature brings to them, especially the beach. From chasing the waves, finding sand crabs, and looking at the murals, it’s safe to say it was a good Monday.


Since it was the beginning of the week, and around 5 p.m. the beach was pretty lonely, aside from a couple of folks walking their dogs. The neap tide, along side the bending of the waves, made the ocean sound very quiet and serene. One strange thing that I noticed was that there wasn’t any cusps at the end of the beach, which leads me to believe it is due to the diffraction of the wave from the jetty(correct me if I’m wrong).


As I was walking towards the jetty and the entrance of the Port Hueneme harbor, the kids pointed out some buried rusted metal on the ground. I have lived in Oxnard all of my life and I had never known, until today, that there was a shipwreck. La Jenelle crashed onto the shores of this beach in the 70’s. I had some kind stranger talk to me about this incident, and she informed me that this ship was the foundation of the harbor. Instead of removing the remains of the ship, they mounted the rocks and constructed the jetty. This idea was pretty clever because it must have given them a head start on the construction of the harbor.   I was so amazed while also a bit disappointed that I had never known about this incident. It is amazing how you never really know your city until you get out and explore as well as communicate with people around you. Each beach visit is always different, and there is always new discoveries waiting to be found. “You learn something new everyday,” was the perfect way to describe todays spontaneous adventure.

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