The Beach

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Rodeo Beach, Sausalito

The San Francisco area, in all of my travels there, seems to generally have a coastline that is heavily eroded. And, that was the most clear to me as I took a hike to Rodeo Beach in Sausalito, which is just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. It’s apart of the Marin Headlands, which in general is a beauty to behold. However, this beach I found especially fascinating because of its black, coarse sands. Maybe it had to do with the foggy sky that day, but it seemed to stand out and fit well with the surrounding eroded cliffs nearby. This beach is a bit odd though because it’s a narrow stretch of land that is connected like a bridge to two cliff sides with the ocean and a bayou narrowing it. It didn’t have any particular foliage, aside from the plant life that belonged to the bayou that it was adjacent to.

If you look to the left if you’re facing the ocean while on the beach you see the eroded cliffs that extend pretty far out. To the right you see what looks like a small town on the hillside, which I felt was only used as a tourist base since school buses were pulling up and parking there. If you walk up that hill you start to hike alongside the eroded cliffs while you occasionally see some old remains of WW2 shelters and lookout points positioned there due to the threat of possible foreign naval or submarine infiltration. Now abandoned, I was able to explore the outside as well as inside of those shelters. For the most part though, those areas were either completely empty or littered with trash. But, aside from that, the history behind that area is something I found to be very appealing. At the beach I didn’t see anyone really surfing or playing in the water, but because of the crashing waves on the cliffs I kind of assumed this would be a rather dangerous place for recreational play in the water. I did see a couple of people just admiring the view on the beach though. It seemed like a purposeful tourist destination after all. Maybe for the surrounding environment, the black sands, the eroded cliffs, or the bayou.But the Marin Headlands had many hiking paths, so perhaps it is a tourist destination for that primarily. Given the public structures like bathrooms being present I would assume it has economic value, so I guess just any form of tourism is desired generally. I wasn’t certain as to why other people were visiting there, but it’s definitely a beautiful place to visit.

Marshall’s Beach

I had the opportunity to take a spontaneous trip to the bay area in early November. Out of the couple of the times that I had the chance to visit the beautiful city of San Francisco, I had never been so close to the Golden Gate bridge. Also, it was surprisingly a very clear and sunny day in the city, which as many of you know, the bay always has very bipolar weather. From the many times that I have been there, it was always too foggy to get a full view of the bridge, but that day I got lucky. Anyways, as I tried to find parking around the area, we came across a tiny little beach called Marshall’s Beach. In order to access it, you either take a short hike down some stairs, or if you’re adventurous enough, climb down some rocks. As I observed from above, I noticed that the beach was rather narrow.                                                                         

There is barely enough space on the berm to walk along it and not get yourself wet. I would image with the crazy tides from the bay, that this beach disappears on high tides. It is also a very rocky beach, so this points out that the waves that hit this beach are very strong and full of energy. There was a sign before starting the trail, that I unfortunately did not take a picture of, but it stated that there is a restoration in progress that is taking effect. There are trying to preserve a coastal serpentine scrub plant community, in which there is a rare plant that provides a habitat for birds and other wildlife. They were trying to raise awareness to the fellow hikers to stay on the trail so they do not step on these plants. After we left, I wanted to do more research on this beach because I thought it was a special little gem. To my surprise, I found out that a part of this beach is a nudist beach. For being so close to one of the seven wonders of the world, this just shows what a great diverse and accepting this city is.

Rincon Parkway Campground

Rincon Parkway Campground is located right off the Pacific Coast Highway. On the way there you will notice huge multimillion dollar homes right on the beach. You know when you get to the Rincon Parkway Campground when you begin to see hundreds of camping trailers parked one after another for a couple of miles.

As a kid I used to camp here every summer. Along this stretch of the beach there are different kinds of parking areas. The south side is designated as day use only and the northern half is for camping trailers planning to stay for at least one night. Depending on the season the longest period you can camp for varies. If you are camping there during the spring or summer your length of stay is limited to a maximum of 7 days but if you camp here during the fall or winter season you can stay here for as long as 14 days. During the peak seasons, days are limited because of its popularity and the demand for camping spots are limited. If you go to this beach during the summer, chances are slim of finding a camping spot but if you visit the same place during the fall or winter season you will see gaps of 15 or more spaces between camping trailers. 

If you do get the chance to visit the Rincon Campground Parkway you’ll will see what all the hype is about. After setting up your camping trailer the beach can be as close as 10 to 15 yards from your door step. The only barrier between you and the beach are big boulders of sandstone placed there to protect the road and camping area from high surf. Some camping spots have a sandy path that leads downs to the beach. These camping spots are convenient, but the down side is that the neighboring campers use that path and can make you feel uncomfortable. I still visit this beach but not as often as I used to. When I was younger I used to spend a lot of time boogie boarding and body surfing but nowadays when I visit the beach I spend most of my time fishing the surf. During the summer, most of my catch consisted of barred perch and occasionally a leopard shark. 

The day-use side is a nice area too. The day use area is the area that I visit when I’m planning on BBQing and hanging out with friends. The day use side can also get full and parking may be difficult. When parking here you want to strategically park because there are no lines on the ground to guide people where to park and can result in blocking you in.

BeWet – Ventura Harbor

I had the opportunity to take part in the BeWet program that was taking place in Ventura Harbor at Surfer’s Knoll. There were about over 50 student volunteers that helped out with this field trip. We hosted three groups of about 100 students from Frank Middle School; group one went to the NPS Visitor Center, group two went to the Ventura Treatment Plant, and group three went to the beach in front of the Santa Clara River. This is where we taught the Frank Middle School students to survey the beach, analyze sediment, measure water quality, and identify shorebirds.

I was paired with one of the specific group of kids and had the opportunity to experience each center that the kids got to experience. Unfortunately, the kids that I was paired with only got to experience how to measure the water quality that day of the Santa Clara estuary. I had taken notice that day of the beach and saw that there were just a few large dunes with a large amount of vegetation on them. I had also noticed that the waves that day were very subtle and the sand was soft to the touch and not so harsh to walk on. They were first showed how to measure the water quality and then they performed it themselves and the volunteers that were paired with each group had a chance to measure the water quality for themselves as well. After we performed many trials of measuring the water quality, each result came back the same, the water quality was very poor that day and the kids were all shocked and made comments like “eww gross!”, it was actually quite funny.

For the most part, the kids seemed to really enjoy the program and its entirety; they learned a lot from each portion of the trip. They were even given pop questions at each destination of the field trip to answer and they actually knew a majority of the answers. The BeWet program was actually quite fun to volunteer for and I would definitely consider doing it again.

Point Dume Malibu

So for my final Beach visit I went to Point Dume in Malibu mainly because I didn’t want to pay for parking at Zuma beach. So first thing I noticed when I arrived was that there was very little kelp on the beach this i due to the extensive beach grooming that is done there and on Zuma.

This easy to spot since above the water line you could see tire tracks all along the beach. But also the large absence of kelp too minus the small amount that were washed up on the beach recently. I also wanted to see what animals i could find there and most of what was there were seagulls and maybe one pelican that I saw fly over while I was there. I didn’t dig into the sand at the beach because I was not dressed properly but I can assume that since the beach is groomed often the only thing I would find would be sand crabs and no other invertebrates, like beach hoppers since I also saw no beach hoppers either. In the picture below you can see some seagulls that i took a picture of but also towards the right of the photo you can see the water line of high tide which I thought was interesting since there was a steep drop off from where the water actually was.

This made me think that in a matter of decades this beach might not be here anymore due to sea level rise, although right now it seems like it will not disappear since there was a considerable amount of sand on the beach even though I have no idea if they bring in sand to the beach for nourishment. Also while not int his picture if you looked toward Zuma you could also see all the structures that would be threatened by sea level rise in the future most of which would be under water.

It was an interesting experience and i was lucky enough to get a nice photo like the one above. I just realized now but I also should have taken a photo of the rock face that people were climbing too which was cool since I had never been there before.

For a class field trip a few weeks ago for the the Theory and Practice of Ecological Restoration I visited Ormond Beach. We first started out by meeting on the road near the steel mill, and once we were all grouped up we headed in. Joining us was Dr. Anderson who explained to us the story of Ormond beach which I didn’t know much about until I visited.  The first thing he pointed out to us was the large waste pile which is shown in the picture below.

After Dr. Anderson told us how it will take millions of dollars to clean it up and also how a long time ago before the EPA came in there were nuclear wastes that were also in the waste pile and around the site that were later removed. We then proceeded to walk towards the gate of the beach which was my least favorite part. As we were walking there Dr. Hartman was telling us to look for examples of things we talked about in class one thing was biological soil crusts(BSC) which we were able to spot almost immediately since they are an important part of wetlands.  Along the way Dr. Anderson also told us how the old railroad track might be of some use to the restoration site for instance they can be used to easily get equipment in and out of the site and when they have served their purpose they can be ripped out. Then as we approached the gate

we stopped to talk about invasive species of plants that were present at the site the most prominent being the ice plant. We were shown examples of it along the trail where it was growing and talked about ways that we learned in class how to remove it but also told about how it is spreading so much in areas around California and how it got there.  We then walked up to the fence and talked about the dunes themselves and how there is a symbolic fence and an actual fence to keep people out I was able to get a nice picture of the beach from the fence though.

Overall this was a fun experience except for all the walking that was done because I got sick the next day and was sick for the next several days.

San Buenaventura

As a native Northern Californian, I am not used to warm beaches with soft sand AND access to shorefront restaurants (Santa Cruz is the exception, not the rule.). I ended up on this beach by accident when I was driving around just exploring the area. I arrived about two hours before sunset. There were at least two family photo sessions taking place under the pier, and one maternity shoot. Throughout the evening I saw groups of people setting up their sunset picnics on the dunes (one group of girls came prepared with Whole Foods sushi – smart move.).

I was particularly stoked by the shorebird activity. Snowy plovers were moving around in huge groups, chasing the waves, looking for food in the sand. They remind me a lot of Killdeer; both are ground nesters, and both species play the broken wing trick as a defense mechanism to protect their young. I began to wonder if the two species were just a good example of convergent evolution or if they were closely related. I decided to do some research when I got home and found that Killdeer and Snowy Plovers are in fact close relatives! This surprised me, because Killdeer frequently inhabit grasslands, in fact I would see them almost daily in my hometown in the Central Valley. As someone who really loves to learn about birds, I was excited to see the relationship between one of my favorite hometown birds and one of my favorite shorebirds.

 

 

Our Coastal and Marine Management class went camping last week at the Rancho Marino Reserve in Cambria.  This place was amazing.  We camped right on a bluff that overlooked the ocean and every night we could hear the waves crashing onto the inter-tidal zone.  The stars were very easy to see because of the lower light pollution which made it even more beautiful at night because we could see the moon’s reflection on the water.

One of the days we went out onto the inter-tidal and measured limpets for a research project and the average size was 3.4 cubic centimeters. A limpet is a marine mollusk with a shallow conical shell and a broad muscular foot, found clinging tightly to rocks.  Dr. Anderson and his colleague showed us what they looked like so we could measure them and we had 15 minuted to measure as many as we could before the sun disappeared.  I found 13 limpets ranging from 2-4 cubic centimeters. We were using callipers to measure them, and it was my first time using one so it was a great learning experience.  My friend Camilla found a couple abalone shells and one of them was red, which we had come to find out was because of a red algae diet.  There were tons and tons of black snails, sea anemones, and tiny crabs making it very hard to walk from rock to rock.  A few of us were slipping off the rocks because it was pretty wet and we were carrying a clip board and calliper which really made it tricky to balance and not step on sea critters.

The next day we got to go for a hike in the morning and see some washed up whale bones.  The whale was fenced off so foxes and other animals couldn’t run off with the pieces.   Joe, the man who lives on the reserve, asked us if we knew of anyone interested in putting together the bones to hang up for display in the big green barn.  I think this would be a task for a paleontologist or someone super stoked about marine mammal anatomy.  The bones are just sitting there so if you know someone interested it might not be a bad gig. and I think it’d be super awesome to go back there and see the whale bones hanging up in the barn instead of eroding away on the cliff.

The sunrises were unreal, and I am not gonna lie..  I am pretty jealous Joe gets to wake up to such a beautiful view every morning.  Now if i can land a job like that and maintain a reserve on a beach bluff I think I could die happy.

 

Hueneme Beach Park

On November 22, I visited the Hueneme Beach Park. It’s a sandy beach with some dunes, a park, a small restaurant, and more. There were a couple of people out enjoying the beach on a hot day in November. This beach is my favorite places to go to. I have been to the Hueneme Beach Park on multiple occasions. There are plenty of recreational activities that can be done here.

 

On the beach there are a couple of barbecue stations, a pier where some fishing can be done, two near by parks, and the restaurant Surfside Seafood. Upon further inspection there was quite a bit of trash near the barbecue stations. There was charcoal, some styrofoam and some plastics sticking out in the sand. I picked up some of the trash around the stations but there was a more charcoal than anything there. My favorite thing about this beach though must be the parks. The park on the beach has a memorial to Alaska Airlines Flight 261 which a large sundial with dolphins at the base and the names of those who lost their life. Near by is a small swing set which was occupied for a but while I was there by a family. People around were just relaxing and fishing that day. At the end of the pier, there was a group of people fishing.

 

 

The beach is surrounded by the military base, apartments, and a power plant. Near the base there is a wall of rock plies lined up with a trail next to it. The beach had different sections to it such as the surf zone, then the berm which then rose to the dunes. There are some small dunes growing, mostly near the parking lot. The vegetation and wildlife on the beach was low, not including the palm trees and grass at the park.

Pismo Beach

For the third and final beach blog, I have decided to talk about Pismo Beach. It’s only about a two hour drive north from Ventura. I am pretty familiar with this beach. My grandparents live pretty close and would take me whenever I would visit them when I was younger. My grandpa is a big fan of surfing and was able to do so into his 60s, until he had back surgery, and this was one of his favorite beaches to surf at. Apparently he wasn’t the only one who thought it was a great surf spot.

Besides the obvious surfboards on the pier, the first thing I noticed were all the surfers in the water. There was at least 15 people catching some great waves. It was a lot of fun watching them and seeing how they all would beat each other to get the next wave. There was even some paddle boarding, which was cool to see. You totally got the vibe that it was a recreational beach. Besides the surfing, there were people playing volleyball, which I noticed all the different beach volleyball attire that we had talked about in class, and there were a lot of families just hanging out.

I also noticed the houses that were around the beach. You could see some of the erosion in the picture on the left, and how it looks like the house may end up falling and being destroyed in the next few years. Then if you look at the picture on the right, it looks like there is also some erosion, however, it seems that they have built up some sand to try to protect from any more damage happening.

One of the last cool things that happened during this trip was that we ended up finding so many sand dollars. I couldn’t believe how many we were finding. There were piles of seaweed everywhere on the beach and if you looked around in it, you could find tons of sand dollars. It was so cool. If you haven’t been to Pismo Beach, I definitely recommend it; it’s totally worth the drive. Overall, this trip to Pismo was definitely a fun one. This class has really helped me to learn about more of the important aspects of a beach and how we affect the beach. 

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