A Quiet Beach Along the PCH

There is a beach along the PCH heading towards Malibu that I frequently visit, but do not know the name of. One of my favorite things about it is that it is hidden, with very few people here whenever I come – it is an unofficial “private” beach. Most of the California coast is free to the public, but that does not mean there is always easy access to it. This beach offers no parking, the access point is only a narrow staircase within a private neighborhood, and has a single, subtle sign that says, “Beach Access → ”.
It can be easy to miss, even if you know what to look for.

A narrow staircase leads to a beach

This beach is not groomed and stays relatively clean, because majority of its visitors are residents that consider this area their backyard. The tide pools stretch along the beach for at least a mile, and I have found very interesting creatures in these microhabitats.

Tidal pools are small but rich with life!

I was introduced to this beach years ago when my biology teacher offered an extra credit field trip to assess the biodiversity of the area. She had been coming here for decades and noticed a steep decline in the amount and type of coastal marine fauna. She enlisted the help of her students every year to take biodiversity surveys, and I have been helping her collect data even after graduating.

A Great Egret searches for lunch.

I believe beaches offer an excellent outdoor classroom experience and inspire students to gain an awareness and appreciation for the natural world. I noticed that this field experience really brought out the curiosity in my peers, and it personally fueled my passion for the environment.

I visited this beach again this month, and I noticed that there was a smaller variety of marine life in the tide pools compared to last year. I found many anemones, sea snails, and small crabs, but almost no sea stars, nudibranchs, or even small fish. This could be attributed to changes in the tide, the time of day, or the season of this visit, but it was very disheartening to return to an area I remembered was once rich with life, and witness such a drastic change.

How can we incorporate the beach into non-environmental classes?

I think it is so important, now more than ever, for students to be stepping out of the traditional classroom setting and into the natural world. It is only with knowledge and attentiveness that we can make a change, and it starts from meaningful educational experiences. I remember a few times in a past philosophy class, my professor had us sit outside in the grass under a tree for discussions, just because it was a nice day. This had no negative consequence (except for anyone who came late to an empty classroom) and actually gave us more energy and a relaxed atmosphere to speak our minds. Incorporating natural environments like the beach into most fields of study should be a common practice, as interdisciplinary learning is proven to have intrinsic value.

My personal hope is that having people from different fields study environments like the beach will help protect and conserve these places. Environmental science is very broad and has aspects that include everything from chemistry to political science to writing to computer science. Overall, getting students to just visit a beach and connect to some aspect of nature is a great place to start.

8 thoughts on “A Quiet Beach Along the PCH

  1. fabiola.gomezflores669 says:

    This post is so informative about this particular beach. Thank you for sharing your amazing pictures with us, I have never visit this beach before but I would love to go. It is crazy how we can see the changes that are happening because of the changes in the environment. It’s sad how many people are not gonna experience what you experienced with this beach and see the life that it once had. Hopefully with the future policies and changes we are able to bring some life back to this beautiful place.

    • Tanya says:

      Thanks Fabiola! I am also blown away by the fact that we are able to witness drastic environmental changes during our lifetime, if we just take a moment to really open our eyes and look. It’s definitely sad to think that even if I bring people to this beach, they will not know how rich with life it once was, and then I get more depressed thinking of all the other places whose potential I’ll never get to experience. But yes, I think these places have a chance to bounce back with the right policy changes, so there’s that to support!

  2. sara.patterson748 says:

    I really enjoyed your post, Tanya! Your writing and photos transported me to a beach I haven’t been to. I like how you honestly pointed out that you weren’t sure of the exact reason why you found less biodiversity in your last visit to this beach but offered a few possible explanations and your feelings about it. Did you feel disheartened about finding less life on this beach because you think it might be due to man-made issues instead of the natural causes you listed? Or did you just miss seeing all the different creatures?
    I also agree that non-conventional learning settings can be very beneficial to students. For example, I’m glad we had a coastal cleanup assignment for our beach course, because it’s something I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise and it was a great learning experience.
    By the way, I’m a psychology major! So, your hope of including people from all different kinds of fields of study in beach/environmental education is coming true. By taking this course, I’m so much more mindful of the environmental coastal concerns.

    • Tanya says:

      Thank you so much Sara! You definitely understood what I was going for when talking about the biodiversity loss, and to answer your question it’s a mix of both. I miss seeing the tide pools being full of creatures, but I am also extremely put off and disappointed by the fact that the reason is most probably due to human activity and other man-made causes. I feel a guilt that I can’t explain and I know that it’s not any single person’s fault, but it does mean that it is harder to tackle the problem.
      But it makes me so happy to hear that you are appreciating and being more mindful of the environment! It’s small changes in people’s mindsets that lead to big waves of change. Yay, bring the environment into psychology and vice versa!

  3. breanna.garcia993 says:

    Such a great point of view Tanya!!! I agree with you 100%. I have had times where my teachers would like to take advantage of the day and study or have class discussion outside as well. People, and students like us, should definitely be more aware of the declining marine life on our beaches. I happen to actually know the same beach entrance the pictures are from, but have not gone in a few years. Loved hearing you input on this topic. It was a great read 🙂

    • Tanya says:

      Thank you Breanna! Ah, I’m glad to hear you’ve had outdoor class times as well, aren’t they so refreshing? And wow I have never met anyone else who has been here! I definitely recommend going again, especially if you haven’t been in a while. It’s so cool to see how things change, and even if the changes may be negative, it is still a great learning experience that can help us view the world from different perspectives.

  4. tessa.thomas261 says:

    This is so incredible! I cannot wait to check this beach out thank you for the in depth look at all this beach has to offer. I love tide pools and looking at all the critters that live in them so that will be what I look forward to the most. I agree that knowledge of beach access needs to be more advertised to the public. Thank you for such an eye opening post.

    • Tanya says:

      Aw thanks Tessa! Let me know if you need any help finding it, it’s worth the effort! You’re going to love the tide pools there, there is such a great variety of beach and marine flora for the critters to hide in. It’s bittersweet that this beach isn’t very well known – I know if a lot of people start coming here, it will change. But at the same time I want everyone to know how lovely it is and to work together to keep it this way! Hopefully there will be a balance of the two and everyone can enjoy it while keeping it preserved.

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