Beach Plants, Kelp Forests & Beach Wrack

Beaches in the Santa Monica Bay were once dune habitat abundant with native plants. Wonder what our beaches should look like? You can find examples of beach vegetation in Ventura County near Oxnard, Port Hueneme, and the Channel Islands Harbor, particularly at Hollywood Beach. There you will see sweeping dunes with native plants – representing a habitat that once ranged from San Diego to Northern California.

Protecting the dunes by planting native vegetation restores these busted ecosystems and brings back creatures affiliated with the plants and flowers. The endangered El Segundo blue butterfly returned to Los Angeles as a result of Dr. Travis Longcore’s restoration projects.


Kelp Forests

Kelp Forest Catalina Island, CA

Catalina Island, photo by Ocean Conservancy

In the Santa Monica Bay, kelp forests are home to a multitude of marine mammal and fish species.  Typically growing up to 40 feet high, kelp forests are akin to the Amazon jungle — many different species live in these ocean forests, from the base to the tops.

When sea urchin populations are left unchecked by the absence of predators, namely the sea otter, they threaten the health of kelp forests. Sea urchins sever kelp at the roots when they eat, in effect clear-cutting kelp forests when there is an overabundance of urchins. The remaining urchin barren cannot support the life that previously existed in the kelp forest. The Bay Foundation endeavors to restore and protect kelp forests by planting new and harvesting urchins. Many partners are working together to heal this underwater ecosystem. The long term solution is to restore a population of sea otters, the sea urchin’s natural predator.


Advocate for Beach Wrack

The kelp and sea grass that wash ashore and accumulate along the high tide line is known as beach wrack. It is the source of food and shelter for many animals. Do not remove shells, rocks, kelp or other creatures from the beach – they are all a part of a complex interdependent ecosystem.

Beach resources matter.