Honor the Ocean Celebration at Zuma Beach
By Linda Chilton, Education Programs Manager, University of Southern California Sea Grant Program
Published October 29, 2018
The Honor the Ocean Celebration on October 20, 2018 brought together individuals, families and community groups to celebrate our shared connections to the ocean and marine protected areas (MPAs) in Los Angeles. The day started early as member organizations of the Los Angeles MPA Collaborative, who hosted the event, set up tents, put out displays, and welcomed all visitors to Zuma Beach and the two local MPAs: Point Dume State Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation Area.
With a shared sense of stewardship and community, this event fostered learning and commitment to protect what we love.
Who better to bring to the beach then students and teachers who are learning to be stewards of the watershed and MPAs? Under the guidance of LA Waterkeeper, students arrived on busses from Echo Park and Huntington Park. They quickly learned about the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s role in establishing and enforcing MPAs, examined maps of local MPAs, and asked many questions. Students explored a hands-on model of a watershed with the Resource Conservation District of Santa Monica Mountains, learned about the watersheds in Malibu, and how MPAs are important in helping increase the numbers of fish and invertebrates in the ocean, contributing to a healthy ecosystem.
Wishtoyo Foundation Chumash culture was woven in throughout the day of celebration and these cultural connections brought both local residents and visitors together. Wishtoyo Elders and staff gathered everyone with an opening blessing and an introduction to the Tomol (a hand-built Chumash canoe) and traditional uses of coastal resources. Elder Mena and Marie shared their wisdom and stories accompanied by songs from Mati and Kote.
In addition, LA Waterkeeper, Heal the Bay, the Bay Foundation and the city of Malibu all shared conservation messages and provided tools to learn how choices in our communities effect the health of our oceans and coasts, including MPAs. USC Sea Grant led participants on a guided beach walk and conducted citizen science surveys. Coastal Conservation Association of California shared their expertise on local fishing lures and the role of anglers in ocean conservation efforts. LA County lifeguards put everyone to action learning how to do CPR.