Tag Archives: Laguna

Great White Shark Activity


great white shark, art, great white shark painting, Whitney L. Anderson

Whitney L Anderson with Great White Shark Painting

From the near fatal Great White Shark Attack at San Onofre weeks ago and the OC Sheriffs Helicopter warning a paddle boarder of being in the middle of a pack of 15 sharks to personally seeing sharks thrash around the water 10 feet or less from the sand and the OC Register report of a shark at Thousand Steps Beach, the danger has become very real to this South Orange County Body Boarder and ocean enthusiast. A friend in Laguna Beach had suggested that there was a sighting at Aliso Beach several weeks back and I immediately drove up to Aliso to speak with a lifeguard supervisor who was unaware of any sighting.  That day curiosity got the best of me and I headed to Capo Beach where there has been many daily sightings over the last several weeks.  Sure enough, I got to see them in the surf zone at a spot I have paddled out at in years past.  I was moved by the fear of a friend of mine who has been in the San Clemente to Laguna community as a former professional body boarder for the bulk of his life.  I would like to acknowledge Joe Grodzen and I wanted to relay the sentiment of what he said on Facebook.  He spoke of his deep ties to the ocean and those of his wife Keila whom is also a former professional body boarder.  Raising a young boy and giving him the gift of beach and surfing culture, it is not lost on Joe how concerning the rash of shark sightings from San Onofre to Long Beach, California is.  Joe for the most part is a very unflappable, competitive and in the moment kind of personality.  What he said was very raw and very real.  Reading his thoughts, I was affected by the fear he had related to the presence of these sharks in what perhaps is a new normal along our coastline with regular visits.  He echoed the sentiment that he may have to give a second thought to being in the water to keep he and his family safe.  Joe has been at this far longer than I have, and to hear a man that has spent nearly every day of his life since he has been old enough to walk in local ocean waters express a genuine concern for his safety, it definitely caught my attention.

Still trying to process the swarm of so many sharks in the area, I did return a second time to Capo Beach noticing the shark warning signs, and eventually seeing one splash around 10 feet or less from shore.  It is probably not a good idea to be in the water at all at Capo.  Rumor has it that boats and perhaps kayakers are chumming the waters to attract the sharks.  Some of these boats are alleged to be whale boats capitalizing on the presence of these toothy new inhabitants of Capo Waters.  Any reasonable human being should not approve of throwing blood and guts into the water near shore for commercial gain, capturing footage or taking photographs.  This is a really bad idea that may contribute to a fatality and should be stopped immediately.  My hope is the lifeguards and authorities can identify those perpetrators and force them to stop.  As far as I can see that is harassment of a federally protected shark but what do I know.  If this is being done please stop this very reckless behavior.

Since I spend more time at Salt Creek and the coves of Laguna Beach, I felt like I was relatively safe in the zones I like to play in.  Given the explosion of shark numbers close to shore in San Clemente and Capo Beach, the idea that there are no great whites near shore at Salt Creek and Laguna Beaches rests on quicksand.  It simply doesn’t hold.  A Laylan Connelly, Orange County Register Article, shattered my idealized safe zones with a shark spotting at South Laguna’s Thousand Steps Beach and the mention of a shark advisory at Salt Creek.  Say it isn’t so!  I don’t know what I am going to do personally and I am feeling like I may put myself on a self-imposed time out, and as Joe Grodzen so eloquently said, what are we going to do? Ocean enthusiasts have built their lives around washing away all that ails them in the ocean and doing something athletically that keeps them happy.  I don’t know the answer to this question, and I suppose time will tell.  Having paddled way out at Salt Creek and sitting in the kelp paddies, I admit that I have thought about the unseen below that perhaps I don’t want to know is there. The ocean and local waters are home to the Great White Shark, but I cannot say that in over the 30 years I have spent time in these waters, that this is normal in any way shape or form.   How I feel about this situation will in no way dictate the behavior of sharks and where they choose to set up shop.  While I pray that their presence will come to pass and they head out to deeper waters, their continued presence could put a damper on what little ocean time I have as it is.  Having had a fin pop up on me in Baja while body boarding alone at a northern stretch of La Fonda, I really don’t want to find myself in that situation again.  Fortunately, a well-timed set arrival got me out of there before I could stare into the intentions of presumably a Great White Shark…and I prefer that to be the last time I find myself in the water with one.

I would like to take a moment to thank my friend and artist Whitney L. Anderson, a brilliant painter and collage artist residing in Seattle, Washington.

Website:  http://www.whitneylanderson.com

Instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/whitneylanderson_art


Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Events, Aliso Beach News, Aliso Beach Park, Aliso Beach Safety, Aliso Creek, Aliso Creek Beach, Dana Point, Laguna, Laguna Beach, Laguna News, Salt Creek, South Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach News Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Sunset Peace


sunset peace, sunset, Aliso Beach, Laguna, California

Sunset at Aliso Beach in Laguna, California.

Aliso Beach graciously offers sunset peace to all those that come looking for it. Life is noisy! Politics, traffic, relationship drama, social media, work, kids, school, health, illness, deadlines, bills and too many more to list are things that demand our attention, distract us, occupy our time, consume us, and frustrate us.  Feeling stressed and overwhelmed these things are not foreign to anyone in my opinion.  Because of the pressure life puts on us, it is wise to find places that bring calm, settle us down, quite the noise and refresh us.

I have always said that the experience of Aliso Beach does that for me and I often hear people from Laguna Beach say that the coastal environment there centers them.  The Fall Season says good bye to summer beach crowding, traffic congestion, full parking lots and an extra hour or two of daylight at the end of the day.  Heading to Aliso to take in a sunset is the perfect way to escape the pressures in life that suck the energy out of us.  You should try it.

Cool ocean breezes, palm tree fronds swaying in the wind, the parking lot view extending to Catalina and San Clemente Island, and the glow of the setting sun over the Pacific signaling the end of another day are magnificent.  You will enjoy the lack of crowds and are free to decompress and enjoy a moment of solitude.  This moment is so important in the craziness that has become our lives.  Dare I say we absolutely need those moments? It is a resounding yes that people need to slow themselves down long enough to appreciate the natural beauty of our world and to quite the noise long enough to exhale.  I would call this soothing the soul and you don’t need permission to go do this.  Finding peace requires a conscientious decision to reverse the impact of the stresses of daily life with the rejuvenation of the sunset experience at Aliso Beach.  Sunset peace is very real, and although there are many exquisite and beautiful beaches in the Laguna Beach area, Aliso Beach is accessible when getting to the beach before the sun escapes below the horizon of the Pacific Ocean.


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Aliso Beach Art


Aliso Beach has always been a favorite place of Scotty Carter. This beach has inspired in him the desire to capture and share it with his Aliso Beach Art.  It is hard not to love the ease of access to the beach, parking, soft sand, swaying palm trees, light breezes and blue-green water.  There are many wonderful and amazing places in our world, but few are more captivating and mesmerizing than Aliso Beach.

Aliso Beach Art, Art, Aliso Beach, Laguna

Aliso Beach Art Display

Photography from Scotty Carter comes with the influence of nearly 30 years in the art.  From a print standpoint, there are lots of way to display Aliso Beach Art nicely.  What is appropriate for your home or office depends upon the design and colors of the space.  While some jobs call for modern bling others require a more dated and retro look.  Canvases, metals, acrylics and bamboo prints with a variety of framing options ranging from the ornate and colorful to the simple and understated.  There is something for everyone and for every hanging opportunity.  As long as thought is given to the space, image chosen, image sizes, colors and framing types it is a certainty that the end result will be a signature art piece in your home or office.

One of the things we have learned over the years is that when you go big, the impact is magnified to a presentation that is undeniable.  A recent print job featured a house full of larger format pieces including the pictured above 8 foot Organized Chaos featuring a Santa Ana Wind, wildfire event influenced sunset over a twisting Aliso Beach wave trying to overcome an impressive backwash.

Having ridden, videoed, photographed and hung out at Aliso Beach for 30 years, it is no surprise to me that Aliso Beach Art is so central to what Scotty does.  This is one of my favorite pieces from Scotty Carter, and his detailed eye produces work with a look that is off the beat and path of the typical photographer.  This shot is from 2003 from a film file, a far cry from the digital revolution based photography that produces a new model camera every year in the mold of new cars and IPhones.  I am not sure that camera makers are in this for anything other than bilking people out of their hard earned cash but that is the racket today.  Whether he is using a 100k camera or an outdated Canon Camera, Scotty is very particular about what he shoots and how it looks before releasing it online or for sale. Because he is discerning, his Aliso Beach Art has always truly portrayed this Laguna coastal spot in the best way possible.  My belief is that this is as it should be.

Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Park, Aliso Creek, Aliso Creek Beach, Laguna, Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach Also tagged , , , |

Motorcycle Parking Selfie


The sound of a motorcycle parking selfie is pure ridiculousness. Or is it?  A couple of weeks ago we received an inquiry through the website from a rider that was coming down to attend a work event at Aliso Beach.  It sounds more like play to me but good for him.  His question was related to parking his bike at Aliso and his concern that either his parking pass would be stolen or blown away by the wind.  I have been working my way through the County of Orange to get their policy for motorcycles parked in the Aliso Beach lots and it has been a lengthy and unfinished process. They must be busy because getting a hold of the right contacts hasn’t been easy.  I think I have the right contact now but can’t seem to catch her at the right time or get a return call.

When I saw a parking enforcement officer at Aliso Beach this morning, I decided to ask him where a motorcycle rider be expected to display his ticket.  I told the gentleman, who probably thought I yelled across the lot in his direction to pick on him for giving tickets, that someone told me he was concerned parking his motorcycle at Aliso Beach because he had no place to put the paid parking ticket.  He also felt like if he placed his ticket it could be stolen.  The parking enforcer did not agree with the sentiment that the ticket could be stolen, or at least he had never heard of that happening, and indicated that parking enforcement officers were trained to circle a bike looking for the ticket on the front, sides and back.  If a bike didn’t have a shield he recommended the license plate as a good place to secure the ticket.

The Laguna Police Department parking enforcement representative said something that really surprised me and it is along the lines of what I told the dude who reached out to me with the question.  He recommended that motorcycle riders take a picture of the pass for their records.  I would love to know if such a picture ever helped the recipient of a ticket ever get out of the fine. Forgive my cynicism but part of me finds that not believable, but I digress.  I am piling on this recommendation and saying I absolutely think motorcycle riders should take pictures of their tickets for their protection.

Ticket givers love to give tickets.  It is their job.  It seems like most people agree that it is nearly impossible to wiggle out of paying them and perhaps not worth the bureaucracy of fighting tickets. I am going to suggest taking the picture of the ticket thing to an extreme.  Here is what I am saying riders should do.

Picture 1:  Picture of the ticket slip

Picture 2: Picture of the ticket slip affixed to the license plate of the motorcycle with license plate clearly visible

Picture 3: A Motorcycle Parking Selfie with you sitting next to rear of the bike with ticket affixed to the rear license plate

Look, I know it is silly.  I just don’t want anyone to get tickets.  While I believe that ticket money goes to keeping Aliso Beach a nice place I am trying to keep more of your money in your pockets.  So motorcycle riders, the rest is up to you.  My work here is done!

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OC Lifeguard Rescues


OC Lifeguard Rescues, Lifeguard Rescues Seagull. Seagull Rescue., Aliso Beach

Rescued Seagull

There are plenty of rescues at Aliso and neighboring Laguna Beaches every year.  OC Lifeguards do an amazing job of keeping everyone safe in some challenging ocean conditions that have the potential to take a life at a moment’s notice.  We were reminded of the power of the ocean and how indiscriminate it can be with waves and tides battering the shore and endangering beach visitors like Nevada teen Anthony Parnell. He tragically lost his life this winter in a rocky area beyond the cave at 10th street beach.  I have talked to a particular lifeguard about that situation and he was visibly upset and spoke with a sincere frustration and disappointment not being able to save the young man. Make no mistake about it though, there was nothing anyone could do when a large wave knocked Anthony into the water and sucked him beneath a labyrinth of reef lining the shore.  OC Lifeguard Rescues are a great service to the community and the men and women who make up this force are dedicated to making sure we are safe. Unfortunately, sometimes the ocean has other ideas and a life is lost.  This was certainly the case with Parnell.

Though higher waves are predicted Friday through the beginning of next week, I doubt there were many OC Lifeguard Rescues today but there was, however,  a particular rescue that caught my attention.  I noticed the lifeguard Jared scooping up a seagull on the beach with a towel.  He then carried the bird up the beach and walked into the parking lot when I lost sight of him.  I asked a couple of guys trailing Lifeguard Jared what had happened and it was believed that the seagull suffered a broken leg from a skim board.  Ouch!  A seagull leg is no match for the hard glassed boards that carry skimmers toward incoming waves with blazing speeds.  The bird, despite its bad luck and injury, may have caught a break because the expectation for a seagull and a skim board colliding may be far worse than the supposed broken leg.

Lifeguard Jared had two local skim boarders take the bird in to a shelter where I am sure it got the best possible care.  Everyone involved could have left the bird on the beach to suffer and perhaps die, but they didn’t. Honestly, I don’t know if the bird made it or if the injury was catastrophic. What I do know is several people including Jared added to OC Lifeguard Rescues in saving the seagull that found itself on the wrong end of a skim board.  It takes compassion to do what he and the local boys did driving it to a shelter.  It is a shining example of respect for the coastline and animals we share our ocean playground with.  We need much, much more of this and I truly appreciate the example this set for children, families, skim boarders and beach visitors as a couple of people cared enough to get a seagull extra attention and care after it was injured.   Thank you Jared and many thanks to the local skim boarders for getting the injured bird to the right people.  Your compassion is inspiring.


Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach News, Aliso Beach Stories, South Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach News Also tagged , , |

Just Another Day At Aliso Beach

March 1 2015 Aliso Beach Disorganized Front.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach End of Winter Tug of War Between High and Low Pressure.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach Feet In the Sand.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach Last One Standing.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach Popped Popcorn Cloudy.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach Storm Clouds Thinking Pink.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach Storm Signals.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach Strange Skies.jpgMarch 1st Surfrider Foundation South OC Chapter Beach Cleanup Representative Nyra.jpg

At 44 years old, there is no such thing as just another day in many ways because death and health issues among friends, family and public figures really kind of puts life in perspective.  We have a short window here to do all of the good that we can and to say that any day is just another day is just not appreciative of the blessings we all have in living, loving, experiencing, learning and growing.  It has taken a lot of years of ups and downs, heartaches, triumphs, failures and happy moments to crystallize this in my often times stubborn mind.  Aliso Beach has been and continues to be a place that I can hear myself think, take in a deep breath of cool, clean ocean air, and get rid of the stresses, frustration, anger, disappointment and mental as well as emotional fatigue. I am grateful for that, and while I know that saying any day at Aliso Beach is just another day is absurd, I have learned to count on this beach to soothe my soul to  an extent that it is a part of my routine.  The routine happens sometimes daily but is available any time I feel like my cup gets too full and  have to wipe away some of the tension and quiet the noise.  I think everyone needs a place to mentally and emotionally retreat in our world.  Computers, cell phones, cars honking, construction, and the every day hustles and bustles found in life often compete with our need to exhale, decompress and relax.  Our developed world and environment clearly have an affect on us and we are wise to recognize this and balance it with things and experiences that restore the inner peace that we require.  Calling a day at Aliso Beach just another day is ridiculous because it is not. It rivals Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day
Off  telling Ferris he didn’t see anything good the day they decided to fake being sick and then proceed to terrorize the city with adventure and fun under the guise of being sick from school.  I say it is just another day at Aliso Beach because the experience is routinely special and is expected daily.  The even more amazing thing is that I can’t really tell you why it is special finding that my affection for this Laguna Beach location is more feeling than it is a description with words.  While the experience is special every day at Aliso Beach, delivering the experiencing of special is 365 days out of the year and just another year at Aliso Beach.

At the beginning of the day, I met Nyra who was manning the post for Surfrider Foundation South Orange County Chapter for a Beach Cleanup.  He has been doing this for 3 weeks and has not had anyone show up.  I put an article out on the website yesterday with an offer of free art for the first person that shows up next Saturday to help Nyra with his Clean Up efforts after reading the article.  I hope it helps.  I will join him if that is what it takes.

I was watching a guy flying a large kite down at the south end of the beach.  The kite was dancing in the wind and at times taking intense, looping dives towards the sand and narrowly missing its demise as the puppet master pulled  on the strings to navigate the kite wisting just above the sand and back soaring into the air.  On one dive the kite violently ate the sand and when that happened, I noticed the release of tension on the line between him and kite actually knocked him over sending him cartwheeling down the sand embankment.  I walked down the beach hoping he would put the kite back up into the air so I could take a picture to be included in my Aliso Beach adventures.  When I approached him I did ask him if the power of the the kite actually knocked him over and he quickly said that wasn’t the case.  My assumption is that falling over like that and having me ask about it may have been a little embarrassing so I left it alone.  I was interested in the power that created that situation and hadn’t given any thought to his loss in the battle to control his toy.  It turns out what he was flying was a land kite and he admitted that all 9 feet of this sail and kite were extremely powerful.  He was there with family from Vancouver in the country of Canada and  seemed to have an appreciation for Aliso Beach.  He was friendly and interesting and it was another cool conversation with a stranger at Aliso Beach worth mentioning.

As there are always are, droves of people arrived at Aliso to take in the sunset as yesterday night’s storm approached.  I thought we might have a truly remarkable sunset but the clouds out west swallowed Catalina and starved the scene of the degree of  sunlight peaking through the clouds necessary to fire up an extraordinary sunset.  The kids were using a 6 foot sand bank along Aliso Creek from the previous day’s flushing of the lagoon into the ocean by surf photographers jumping to the bottom and sliding down.  They had so much fun, I almost got up and joined them.  I did allow the sand at the edge of the bank to collapse beneath me with my descent ending half way down the hill in a comfortable seated position braced by the sand cliff behind me. The sand was surprisingly warm and soft perhaps shielding my legs from the wind because as I always do, I wore shorts despite the cool and windy day.  I took in the changing moods of the juxtaposition of the sun and clouds hoping for just enough penetration of the clouds by the sun to release the beautiful yellow, pink and orange colors that light up Southern California skies in the winter as storms approach.  I took pictures and waited for opportunities to catch those one or two people that misjudge the incoming waves and flow of the creek.  Someone is always good for a laugh and an entertaining short video.  Sure enough a little guy misjudged the water between Aliso Creek and the ocean running himself into a deep spot and becoming soaked.  It was cold enough for a parent to be concerned about a sopping wet child on a cold day here in Southern California and so a wise parent wrapped up playtime quickly upon seeing the after affects of the young man’s unlucky moment.  When I realized that the cloud cover was not going to release the full potential for the sunset I was looking forward to, I climbed back up the berm and noticed tw0 kids in Dodger Uniforms throwing a ball back and forth with gloves on the beach.  I asked them in passing if Coach Don Mattingly knew they weren’t in Arizona for Spring Training and how could the Dodgers fill out their pitching staff without them.  Their mom laughed and they looked at me cross-eyed.  I thought it was funny!

The lack of sunlight peaking through took its toll on the beach temperature and the cool and blustery winds began to push me off the beach.  I headed for the car and headed south only to find myself up on the hill for one last shot at capturing something stupendously good!  To my delight, the sky picked up some pink accenting that was worth getting lost in from the hill on PCH leaving Aliso Beach. I snapped a couple of photos before the fading light starved the evening sky of its remaining color.  While this Aliso Beach day was invigorating and calming, calling it just another day at Aliso Beach defies the negative connotation the saying has.  I don’t think Aliso Beach will ever be just another beach, just another place and just another day.  It is truly special.

Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Events, Aliso Beach Stories, Aliso Creek, Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach Also tagged , , , , |

Aliso Beach Visit By Leigh Hubner


Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Sunset, Sunset , Laguna, Laguna Beach

Aliso Beach Sunset

It seemed like a normal day at Aliso Beach.  Special it was but this South Laguna gem is always that way for me.  In between phone calls, I noticed a group with what I deem significant equipment, readying a drone.  As I completed my calls I walked across the parking lot to see what was going on.  There were a couple of guys in the posse and significant others there to take in the experience.  A tall man in a hat and sunglasses maneuvered the drone off the ground and spent some time negotiating the coastal winds and seagulls at the beach this day.  He would test the distance and maneuverability of the device and expertly guide the drone back to a safe landing area.  He would then take the drone and set it on a heavy duty camera equipment case and then go to the back of a cargo van before returning and sending the drone to the air once again.  I was a little intimidated.  This seemed a little more serious than a hobbyist flying an inexpensive drone.  I am not sure if there is such a thing as an inexpensive one from prices I have seen and heard, but this thing was larger and clearly customized as opposed to entry level drones which start at $500.00. The feeling I got by watching them was that they were there very purposefully.  This wasn’t screwing a round or passing the time.  It looked like business to me.  If it weren’t for another gregarious old surfer who came up and struck a conversation up with him, I might of passed on interacting them at all and I am glad I didn’t.  The tall man seemed to be intent on getting whatever he set out to do finished. He just had that eye of the tiger look and everything they did seem to have a technical aspect to it.  I confirmed that with one of the dudes in his crew that this indeed was a customized model drone and that they were testing to see the quality and beauty of the footage they could get.  I am partial to Aliso Beach, so before they edit the footage I would be confident in saying you guys did just fine.

drone, aerial photography, Leigh Hubner, Aliso Beach

Custom Drone Aliso Beach

As I always do when I talk to someone interesting at Aliso Beach, I tell them I will feature them on this website and that I am happy to feature any special projects they may have.  I heard him say his name was Leigh (although in my mind I spelled Lee making it harder to find him online) in an Australian Accent.  The vintage surfer dude next to me who dropped stories of surfing with Gerry Lopez and having a house on the hill looking out over Pupukea (I have no reason to doubt him ) recognized the name and there was talk of work featuring very well known Australian surfers.  I was a huge fan of the names of current star and historic surfers that I heard and while I found myself interested in that conversation, I felt like I was intruding.  I quietly ducked out of the conversation and let old surfer dude take over the conversation.  He clearly had bigger names to drop than I did but I did not want to get in Leigh’s way anyways!  He seemed intent on doing his testing and that was something I completely understand.  I did manage to pry his website name Loose Cannon out of him before I departed the conversation with a promise to feature him.  It’s an honor truthfully. I knew by looking at the equipment he was no joke but I had no idea how well this guy is regarded in his industry.  I know I have heard Loose Cannon on several occasions and perhaps that is from his ties to a country that adores surfing and his work in the surfing industry.

Leigh Hubner, Aerial Photographer, Drone, Aliso Beach, Cinematographer

Award Winning cinematographer Leigh Hubner with drone at Aliso Beach.

The Leigh I have mentioned above is Leigh Hubner.  He is a professional camera man, lighting specialist and cinematographer currently based in Los Angeles, California by way of Australia.  I will let you read more about him on his website and yes I think you should or I wouldn’t have put this story here.  He has done some really interesting things.  Highlights from his website are the story of a young Australian boy who with the aid of specialized hearing aids is dancing in the clouds and the following of a child in a refugee camp in Ethiopia that the Australian breakfast show “Sunrise” has sponsored for many years.  In that camp Leigh was described as doing whatever was necessary to get the shots including putting himself in perilous situations with incredible dedication.  Anyways, his website tells volumes and the video section is great. The video shorts on the site give you a really good idea of how talented he is and how well received he is in media.  It sounds like to me Los Angeles acquired a huge talent and at least for now, Australia misses him dearly.  Given his work though, there seems to be a fair amount of demand and travel.  As far as I am concerned he is a guy from a country and culture that loves the ocean and ocean sports which has always made Australian people fascinating to me.  Yesterday he was just an interesting stranger at Aliso Beach doing something I thought was  fun.  Today he is a really accomplished camera man and cinematographer that is exploring the possibilities with aerial footage from drones and per his website a guy that enjoys baseball and has adopted the Los Angeles Dodgers!  That is awesome.  Check out his website!

You can see some short clips of his drone flights later today on Facebook Fan Page Aliso Beach

Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach News, Aliso Beach Stories, Aliso Creek, Aliso River, Laguna Also tagged , , |

OC Lifeguards Hands Full


We are on the tail end of high surf and red flag conditions generated by tropical storms in close proximity to Southern California and storms in the Southern Hemisphere  OC Lifeguards hands full is an understatement. Even beaches that don’t typically get some of the summer wave activity had dangerously heavy waves.  OC Lifeguards, who handle the Laguna Beach and Dana Point areas, had their hands full over the last 3-5 days with a drowning and body recovery effort still going on off Salt Creek Beach.  The swimmer was said to have disappeared under a wave and never made it back to the surface.  I talked to a young lifeguard this morning and lifeguards believe he hit his head and was knocked unconscious or broke his neck and never made it back to the surface.  Our condolences go out to the family of the deceased.  For closure, the team at AlisoBeach is hoping they locate the body and soon.

Aliso Beach, Shore Break, High Surf, Dangerous Waves

Heavy Shore Break Aliso Beach

Today’s waves were still pretty heavy in the 3-6 foot range, and with a little wind, rip currents and a higher tide the waves were detonating on the sand bar.  The conditions were fun but challenging.  I am sure that OC Lifeguards are thrilled that many kids are back in school and that will also be helpful as a massive south swell arrives Wednesday and continues through Friday.  Wave heights have been predicted to be anywhere from 8 foot to 20 foot plus.  My hope is that most people stay out of the water.  You can get swept out quickly and then put your own life as well as the well being  of the lifeguards whose job it is to keep you safe.  Sometimes you can’t help it and nature catches you off guard and you need lifeguard’s help.  In this case, for most swimmers and wave riders, the waves will simply be unsafe with conditions so powerful that it is recommended you stay away unless you have tremendous experience.

With riptides and pounding shore waves today, a few friends and I were asked repeatedly if we had fins on by a young lifeguard. I watched a gal get sucked out on a body board and into a riptide.  I could tell she was gassed.  Fortunately, there was a lull in the sets.  I started paddling that way because I felt like she was ripe for doing an end over end in a wave she was not prepared for.  She laid her head down on her board and stopped paddling with her back turned to the incoming waves.  That is a really bad strategy, and where she was sitting put a bulls eye on her back for a wipe out and beat down of epic proportions.  The ocean is indiscriminate.  She can get you at any time.  As I got to her I told her, “Hey, you look tapped out are you okay?”  She agreed that she was gassed and I told her I would pull her in.  I told her not to panic and to be ready to turn to avoid an incoming wave if need be.

As I got her closer to shore, the on duty lifeguard was just coming to the water’s edge as a friend of mine was trying to point out that she was in trouble.  He seemed more fixated on myself and a couple of friends that were riding in the danger zone and rips.  Her accent was European and she clearly seemed out of place.  Not only did she not have fins but also she had some sort of aqua socks or shoes on.  In heavy surf, you have to have fins on plain and simple.  The lifeguards use fins and they are used to help them save lives.  I just don’t understand people and how naively they put themselves at risk in the ocean.  For one unlucky man and family this weekend, that underestimation of the power of the ocean ended in tragedy.

OC Lifeguards hands full but people can do them a big favor by staying out of the water when the surf is elevated.  Salt Creek and the Laguna area beaches all break with heavy shore break conditions and they will take a life or injure even the experienced.  This can happen at any time even when the surf is smaller.  Always swim or ride in front of lifeguard towers and check in with lifeguards about conditions before throwing yourself or allowing your kids out there into deadly conditions.  It could be a matter of life and death.

Aliso Beach is expecting massive waves 8-10 foot plus with larger sets Wednesday to Thursday.  If this is a family day with kids hoping to enjoy the water, it is not a good idea to come down to Aliso Beach this week.  Should you decide to come down anyways, it is recommended keeping children or any inexperienced swimmers in your party from the water.  It is just too dangerous with the increased risks of being pulled out from shore and sucked into heavy waves with bad intentions for unsuspecting beach goers.

Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach News, Aliso Beach Surf, Dana Point, Laguna News, Salt Creek, South Laguna Beach Also tagged , , , , |

Sea Star Waste Disease in Laguna Beach?


Sea Star, Star Fish, Laguna Beach Sea Star, Laguna Beach Star Fish, Waste Disease, Sea Star Waste Disease, Star Fish Waste Disease

Laguna Beach Sea Star With Possible Waste Disease Lesion.  Just right of the center, there is discoloration or a white area that looks similar to documented waste disease lesions in star fish.  Is it waste disease, I cannot say.

Is Sea Star Waste Disease In Laguna Beach?  According to experts, it is.  There have been reports that not only is there evidence of the disease along the Pacific Coastline from British Columbia to Mexico, but also independently on the East Coast.  Some were quick to throw out a causal link between Fukushima Radiation and these events, and while I appreciate the conspiracy theory mind and mistrust of reports, star fish waste disease is not a new occurrence in Southern California.  Previous events of star fish waste disease came after warm water events along the Southern California Coastline in El Nino Years.  2013 had an odd occurrence of warm water in May of this year that may have been a catalyst in this new event of the disease.  In the surf community, we would call the ability to wear trunks in local waters in May a warm water event.

Recently I asked a friend of mine to go down and take pictures of the star fish in the tide pools for me.  I am sure that the business of being a teenager got in the way of the promise to do that.  Our recent flat spell gave me an opportunity to go down to the tide pools and see if I could find evidence of this waste disease.  Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach has a large inter-tidal reef and tide pool area that alternates between a state of being underwater at higher tides and exposed and drying during lower tides.  It has a large bed of mussels which is a favorite food source of our star fish friend here in Southern California.  As with all animals it seems, when the prey is in large supply, predators thrive.  I have always marveled at how many star fish were visible at low tide at Crescent Bay.  They literally pile on top of each other to get at those shelled, musseley morsels that line the tide pool areas.

The reports about the sea star waste disease are pretty vivid and disheartening.  There is talk of populations being wiped out.  Descriptions include sea stars turning into goo and two halves of a star fish separating with each half going in different directions.  What?  I was thinking that based on these reports I would see some dramatic evidence of the disease as Laguna Beach is a part of the large stretch of coastline said to be affected by this disease.  I was eager to check this out because exploring the tide pools in Laguna Beach and appreciating marine life like the star fish dates back to my childhood.  I would be genuinely upset if I found sea stars suffering under this debilitating disease and would be equally disappointed that these types of events are in many ways tied to our disrespect of the environment.

What I know from reading about this disease is that it has been linked to bacteria in California that seem to attack the star fish after a warm water event.  As I have learned, it begins with lesions that begin a degradation process that takes as little time as two days to cause serious deformity, wasting away and death. Some have been willing to let the mind wander and are loosely throwing out there that Fukushima Radiation is to blame.  The evidence seems to suggest otherwise but you never know.  A recent event on the East Coast with sea star waste disease was said to have been caused by a virus and not bacteria.  Attempts to link events together with two different causes should give us pause and encourage us to isolate events and discover the real truth independently of each other.  By the way, why is it that in the information age it is so hard to find the truth?  There is always an agenda and information dissemination seems to follow dollars and hidden agendas.

So, here is what I can tell you based on what I saw.  First of all, I wasn’t able to get to lower lying portions of the tide pool that spend more time under water. The low tide was at over 2 feet so the best observation area was under water when I took pictures.  In reading about sea star waste disease, I have learned that the best place to look is the most suitable habitat.  Those areas that dry out between tide swings are less ideal for star fish because of the risk of drying out. One of the assertions made in an article I read about the disease was that star fish could get similar lesions ( to one’s seen in waste disease) from drying out due to exposure.  With that said, I feel like the best outdoor science lab in the tide pool to observe for the presence of the disease was not available today.  While I didn’t see anything so alarming with the star fish observed that I would confirm the disease’s presence at Crescent Bay, I did see a few things that I would like to go back and take a closer look at.  I will just need a lower tide.

Lesions and deformities are what would be visible among the population of star fish as evidence of the disease.  I figured there would be a greater occurrence of the deformities than goo because the star fish is not living at this point and certainly not able to hang on to the rocks with incoming waves.  For the most part, I didn’t see anything that was obvious or screamed of the presence of waste disease.  I will say that the way the star fish dig into the mussel beds, it is really hard to tell if there are deformities on the arms of the stars because some of their limbs are not visible as they disappear into the beds.  I did see a few that I wanted to take a closer look at.  The tide level wouldn’t allow me to safely get down to them without falling in the water with my phone in hand.  I did review one picture I took and found that it had a mark that could be a lesion that is said to be the start of the waste away process.


First and foremost I love the ocean and am aware that we humans have put undue pressure on this valuable resource.  From Fukushima Radiation to urban runoff, we have not been kind to our oceans.  As an advocate for preserving the ocean and a place I love in Laguna Beach, I have given a lot of thought to why we need to protect our oceans.  The numbers on this can’t be any more telling.  Salt water makes up 98.5% of the 70% of the earth’s surface that is water.  I don’t think that when you completely toxify 70% of the earth’s surface, which just so happens to deliver fresh water and food sources to people globally, that the future looks good.  Secondly, I love Laguna Beach. My childhood memories go way back in Laguna Beach with family vacations and what we saw in the tide pools there was always a highlight of the trip.  It is a fascinating coastal environment rich in marine life, picturesque landscapes, soft-sanded coves, exotic waters, majestic sea cliffs, and inter-tidal reefs that make it special.  Unlike much of the Southern California Coastline with long, flat sandy beaches interrupted by piers and jetties, the Laguna Beach Coastline is alive.  It is truly a special, special part of our coastline and we should do everything we can to preserve it.

I know that people out there are thinking about our environment.  They hear and read stories about coral reef bleaching and collapses, urban runoff, de-oxygenated coastal zones, mysterious fish and marine mammal die-offs and are worried.   While it isn’t a good idea to link these issues without science to things like Fukushima Radiation, it is healthy for every day people to be engaged in the plight of the marine environment.  We need people to get involved and to become educated on what we are doing to the oceans that we need to fix.  Awareness is not a bad thing, and while Laguna Beach is a place I like to shine the light on in terms of the need for us to protect, it is important to note that are mistreatment of the ocean and resulting pollution issues are found in varying degrees in every coastal environment that people live in.  Those areas are no less important and must be protected to.

Sea Star waste disease is a problem among many.  It has the attention of many because people are worried about Fukushima Radiation, people generally love star fish, and because people are beginning to see human survival tied to protecting our planet, a planet that is made up of close to 70% salt water!

Posted in Aliso Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Star Fish, Star Fish Waste Disease Also tagged , , , , , |