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Inner Cabrillo Beach Survey:
You Never Know What You Might Find!


As real estate agents say, "Location, location, location." And CMA has it all – an ideal location featuring an ocean view and access to two beaches: Inner Cabrillo Beach and Outer Cabrillo Beach. This setting provides many important educational opportunities and the chance to experience marine life firsthand.

A breakwater constructed to protect San Pedro harbor and the Port of Los Angeles creates very different ocean dynamics for each beach. Outer Cabrillo Beach sits outside the breakwater with a direct connection to the open ocean, while Inner Cabrillo Beach is located inside the breakwater within the harbor, hence the two names.

The breakwater protects Inner Cabrillo Beach from ocean waves, creating a very peaceful setting. But how does this low key dynamic impact marine life? In 2006, the Aquarium partnered with the Port of Los Angeles to collect data on the animals living close to shore along Inner Cabrillo Beach.

What was intended to be a short-term study to gauge the status of Inner Cabrillo Beach marine life, turned into a long-term project for CMA staff. "As we started collecting data, we realized the long-term need to monitor the abundance and diversity of the invertebrates and fishes living just offshore in the eelgrass beds of Inner Cabrillo Beach," explained Dr. Julianne Passarelli, CMA's Exhibits and Collections Curator.

The survey takes place three times a year. Staff members collect animals using a beach seine, a special type of weighted net that extends from the ocean floor to the surface, which ensures all animals are gathered into the net. Next, staff and volunteers carefully sort the fishes and invertebrates by species into buckets; then the animals are counted, measured and weighed. Last, but not least, the animals are returned to the ocean.

Each survey provides a fascinating look at local marine life with as many as 50 different species of invertebrates and more than 50 species of fishes collected less than 30 feet from the beach. They'e found large adult California spiny lobsters, huge thornback rays, tiny kelpfish, several types of flatfish and intriguing parasites. The survey also teaches participants how to collect data and several local biology professors have brought students to participate.

Check out our photos of recent surveys on Facebook.

If you are interested in volunteering for the next Inner Cabrillo Beach Survey, please call 310-548-7562. No experience is necessary – you'll get wet, sandy and fishy – but, you'll have fun and learn a lot!

Post Date: Monday, November 14, 2011

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