California Coast Conservation / by Brenda (Hartshorn) Licitra


On Saturday, I took part in the California Coastal Cleanup.  My ministry found a disgusting amount of trash in our water ways.

The top 5 things we found were:

  • Cigarette butts
  • Snack packaging
  • Beverage bottles (water, juice, and beer)
  • Fast food containers
  • Indistinguishable pieces of paper

Perhaps the most offensive were the cans of spray paint. Not only were people being lazy about cleaning up after themselves, but they were actively disrespecting the environment.  I understand that teens need to test boundaries to define their independence, or looking for acceptance from the wrong people, and I even get that sometimes they forced into situations where gangs become a false sense of security.  I really do, I get it.  But that being said, I still find it just sad that they have something that could be really beautiful yet they choose to destroy it.  The water is something that has the power to give people peace just by listening to the sounds that it brings: the ripple of water, the birds calling, the rustling of the wind through the tullies..  Or it can be that of the stagnating trash transport.

With the help of about a dozen people at our site, we were able to get the place cleaned up again with just a half days work.  This was a state-wide event with 54,124 volunteers.  Of the 75% information cards have been tallied from the volunteers, these are the results so far:

576,571 pounds of trash
109,494 pounds of recyclable materials
686,065 pounds or 343 tons total

Update on results can be found on the California Coastal Commission site.


On Sunday, I decided that it would be fitting to take a day to relax and enjoy the coast.  I took my IR and UV cameras out to Santa Cruz to observe what our tide pools had to offer.  I've done UV film photography before, but this would be the first time I did a proper test run with my recently UV converted DSLR.  I think the most surprising thing I saw was that the images from my UV camera showed color from the yellow and red ranges peaking though.  At first I thought that there was IR showing through in the exposures until I took photos of the same subjects with my IR camera.  The obvious difference with the IR and UV can been seen in the mussels.  In IR,  the shells of the mussels look black while in UV, they glow yellow.  I'm not sure how to interpret this information, but the two light spectrums definitely have a different reaction to the environment.  I do know when looking at skin cancer, it will show up as red with UV.

I also found what I thought was a trilobite, which upon discovering I couldn't help but think, "this is the beginning of a very bad SyFy movie..." (not to be confused with actual Sci-Fi movies, which are great.)  Photographer casually out with their camera, takes close up of thing that is suppose to be extinct, with confusion decided to inspect further and gets face eaten off: cut to title screen: Trilo Bite! (yep- it would be that bad.)

This little guy hanging out with the mussels is actually a type of Chiton called a Mopalia Muscosa which is native to the Pacific Coast from BC, Canada to Baja, Mexico.  Although he may look beetle-like and trilobitesk, it is actually more closely related to a garden snail as it is a type of mollusk.

It's Big Bird!  I'm really enjoying the play in perspective where the heron on a much closer rock looks as large as the surfers in the background.