The Beach


Author: Contreras

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.


Silver Strand Beach


Last weekend I visited Silver Strand Beach and was ecstatic to see the new mural on the side of The Corner Store. While I have never been the inside of The Corner Store, I have always appreciated the aesthetic of the establishment. As one of the last storefronts seen before entering the Silver Strand Parking lot, I think my feelings of excitement of visiting the beach have gradually been associated with the building. The font style and color of “The Corner Store” is what makes the store iconic. The architecture reminds me of other buildings in Downtown Oxnard, such as the Asahi Market or similar to the restaurant Otani’s (both have a deep history). There are several murals throughout Oxnard that capture the essence of the city and I appreciate that artists saw the opportunity to add beach culture to the imaginary of Oxnard.

According to an article written in the Ventura County Star, it was a volunteer and community-based project (Doyle, 2018). The mural depicts several aspects of beach culture in Ventura County. Artists captured the ocean activities that one would expect to see on a typical day at the beach in Ventura County (surfing, paddling, sailing). During my visit, I saw several surfers and some boats sailing. One unique characteristic of Silver Strand Beach is that you can see the harbor and Hollywood Beach as you stroll along the sidewalk near the entrance of the beach. In class, we discussed longshore drift which is how sand (sediment) is transported on the beach. We also learned that harbor entrance jetties can interrupt littoral drift because it is a structure that interrupts the water current and transport of sediment as it travels south along the California border.

Another aspect of the mural I appreciated was the inclusion of the Channel Islands and homage to Chumash History in the form of one of their early boats, the tomol. The depiction of the islands is important historically and in our everyday culture, as it has even shaped our everyday conversations here in Ventura County. “How’s the weather?” is generally a conversation starter or small talk here, or commenting, “It’s so clear out you can see the islands” is also heard in our everyday dialogue as well. Overall, the contributing artists painted a mural that represents several aspects that represents accurately depicts the beach culture of Ventura County.


Doyle, A. (2018). ‘Perfect canvas’ for artist – Volunteers paint mural on Silver Strand store’s wall. Ventura County Star (CA), p. A4. Available from NewsBank:

Harbor Cove Beach

Coastal Cleanup Day 2018 at Harbor Cove Beach was a wonderful experience shared among the community. I saw several volunteers on my walk to The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center at Channel Islands National Park. When I arrived, I was greeted by an overwhelmingly positive energy. There were many volunteers, of all ages, visiting several booths in front of the museum. The royal blue Amgen tent was visible from down the road as well as the REI booth. The Coastal Clean Up Day booths had waivers to participate in the event, gloves, trash bags, water, snacks, t-shirts, stickers, and most importantly a neat stack of Volunteer Ocean Trash Data Forms.

One area of environmental concern is the alarming amount of microplastics in our water. I was delighted to see two of my CSUCI professors working together at the Microplastics Booth. I have been learning more about the plight of ocean pollution and how it affects food webs and beach ecosystems in each of their classes (The Beach and Senior Capstone in Biology). Additionally, we will be discussing marine debris in more detail in both classes in a few weeks. I shared with my professors that I appreciate that the curriculum in both courses reflect similar topics and I enjoy hearing their perspectives on ocean topics.

I have participated in quite a few beach cleanups and always look forward to strolling along coastline, walking on the soft warm sand, or searching for interesting trash in high-traffic areas. This Coastal Clean Up Day, I decided to focus on collecting what the Volunteer Ocean Trash Data calls “tiny trash” which is trash that is less than 2.5 centimeters. There is a handy scale on the form and the picture below displays one of the largest pieces of foam I found.

Because I focused on “tiny trash”, I ended up spending a majority of my time in a small area. Most of the trash I found was caught in dune vegetation. In The Beach (class), my professor shared the scientific names and pictures of native and invasive species of dune vegetation. She has offered to show me her dune vegetation identification guide so I can identify the plants in the pictures I have included in this blog post. The last two pictures in this post show the inconspicuous foam and plastic pieces caught in the dune vegetation. Can you spot the confetti star in the last photo? My classmates were in awe of the large amount of trash I found in such a small area. In future beach cleanups, I will dedicate time to picking up “tiny trash” because it really adds up!


Overall, Coastal Clean Up Day 2018 at Harbor Cove Beach was a wonderful event with amazing volunteers of all ages. The importance of educating the community about ocean pollution, especially microplastics, is vital in improving our ocean’s health. It was pretty awesome to see two of my professors dedicating their Saturday to educating the community; it was also great to see classmates from both of their classes as well. This experience has inspired me to focus on cleaning “tiny trash” in future beach cleanups and work on my dune vegetation identification skills.

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