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Malibu Lagoon 2012-13 Project

Artist’s perspective of channels from SW corner (RestoreMalibuLagoon . com)

Meeting area west end (J. Kenney 3/15/13)

Meeting area west end (J. Kenney 3/15/13)

This page is primarily devoted to scenery at the lagoon, focusing on the 2012 Malibu Lagoon reconfiguration project and highlighting the process of change.   SMBAS supports the project, but rather than using this page to proselytize, it is intended to be a record of what goes on.   We’ll also present summaries of our monthly bird censuses and other interesting  tidbits and links.   We start off by putting all the photos into a slideshow.   We’re keeping the show at under 150 slides, eliminating old & repetitive slides as new ones are added.
Construction fences are down, pathways are open, plants are growing.  The official ribbon-cutting opening ceremony was on Friday, May 3:  read about it here.
1.  Page Jump to Bird Census Summaries May 2012 – June 2014

2.  Page Jump to Lagoon project films, interviews & links to documents
3.  Page Jump to Winter Ramp – Summer Clock

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Slides are in reverse date order.
Hover cursor over slideshow for Left Arrow, Right Arrow, Pause and Go.
EcoMalibu website has a video page of over 20 films pertaining to the lagoon and the reconfiguration project. They are all different; you may find the underwater films listed below especially interesting.

1. Aug. 7, 2013 Length 1:48 minutes “Life Below the Surface”
2. Aug. 12, 2013 Length 9:20 minutes “Malibu Lagoon Aquarium”
3. Sep. 9, 2013 Length 4:55 minutes “Malibu Lagoon Aquarium III”
4. Sep. 30, 2013 Length 1:47 minutes “Shrimpfest”
5. Oct. 2, 2013 Length 2:42 minutes “Malibu Lagoon Aquarium IV”
6. Oct. 22, 2013 Length 8:31 minutes “Fish, Fish, Fish”
7. Nov. 4, 2013 Length 0:57 minutes “The Big Fish”
8. Apr. 30, 2014 Length 3:36 minutes “Lagoon Crustaceans”
9. Jun. 18, 2014 Length 3:49 minutes “Aquarium & Aviary”
10. Jun. 25, 2014 Length 2:21 minutes “Got Fish? Malibu Lagoon Does”
11. Jun. 25, 2014 Length 2:08 minutes “Shrimpfest II”
12. Jul. 7, 2014 Length 1:56 minutes “Mullet Adult School”
13. May-June, 2014 Slide Show “Dance of the Striped Mullet”

Artist’s Rendering of west channels (RestoreMalibuLagoon . com)


A googolplex of gulls after the breach (J. Kenney 12/10/12)

A week after the breach, an estimated 2000-5000 gulls occupy the lagoon and islands (J. Kenney 12/10/12)

The large flock of gulls which appeared on the islands and mud flats of the breached lagoon was widely reported within the Los Angeles birding community.

Malibu Lagoon aerial view on 12/19/13 (LightHawk, courtesy of SMBRC)

Malibu Lagoon aerial view on 12/19/13 (LightHawk, via SMBRC)


112012_Aerial Picture 11_ML_Real Malibu

Aerial photo of lagoon 11/20/12 (courtesy of Real Malibu 411)


Aerial View of Malibu Lagoon 6/27/12 (L. Protopapadakis / LightHawk)

The above photo came from a PDF file on  the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission website


We rarely took photos of crud in the channel water.   Who wants to look at crud?   But we saw it all the time, especially in the south channel where  it really piled up due to lack of water circulation.   On Coastal Cleanup Day, 3rd Saturday of Sept., you could spend a whole morning trying to gather up the thousands of pieces of plastic, cigarette butts and other crud that collected at the west end of the south channel.   This 5/19/12 Matt Horns photo was taken at the salinity gauge pole mid-way down the south channel, when Jane and I took a ‘water oxygen’ tour with him.   A dead Brown Pelican is underwater out towards the gauge but you can’t see it in the photo due to murky water and surface reflections.   Anyone need Flip-flops?

Midway south channel – typical detritus situation in back channels (M.Horns 5/19/12)


6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2012 5:51 pm

    Sorry, I’m still really unhappy that there is no provision for a walking loop!!!! Can someone in the official channels please please please suggest a bridge over the water gap? (And the same in Malibu Creek state park?) I’m all for environmental bio health, but there’s no reason it can’t be compatible with making parks family-friendly…


    • Chukar permalink
      August 29, 2012 10:43 am

      I’ll send your message on to Suzanne Goode at State Parks. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the bridge to happen. The presence of the previous, rather narrow, 3 bridges severely restricted the circulation of the channels, one of the main problems which they’re trying to eliminate. Whatever bridge they might build would have to be 3-4 times as long as were any of those bridges, as the narrowest gap will be about 120-150 feet. This would not be inexpensive and was not budgeted for, so additional funding would have to be found. It took over 5 years to find the funding for the current reconfiguration.

      An elevated boardwalk, such as you find in the relatively calm waters of inland marshlands, would (IMHO) be the most likely & suitable design. However, Malibu Creek has extremely high and forceful winter storm flows, bringing trees, rocks, sand, gravel and a heckova lot of water down through the lagoon. I’d fear for the stability and permanence of any bridge close to the lagoon edge, where the bridge would likely be located (see the “boot” portion in the aerial view drawing on our Project Page).

      The 1982-83 reconfiguration included a nice post, cement & cable fence along the NW lagoon edge, which was completely washed out, along with at least 10 feet (depth from lagoon edge) of embankment, in the first big El Nino storms that came along.

      Much of the year you can walk completely around the lagoon, returning via the PCH bridge. Our monthly bird walks do this when we can. Not as nice, certainly, due to the continual din of PCH traffic, but still an option. Chuck Almdale


  2. July 3, 2012 1:48 am

    Excellent. We all appreciate your wisdom and knowledge.


  3. June 15, 2012 7:26 pm

    Thank you Chuck. Excellent job.

    Looking at the survey data, it seems that while species diversity is fairly constant over the five-year time range, population numbers have significantly declined. It would be good to look at a longer time period if the data are available.

    I will resume my field trips in July during work days. We will observe restoration activities and I will explain what they are doing and why.



    • Chukar permalink
      June 16, 2012 5:07 pm

      I disagree about population numbers. 2007 was a high year; since then it’s been down, up, down, up and down. 6 years is all I can fit into the width permitted by this blog program.


      • Chukar permalink
        July 2, 2012 5:54 pm

        I took another look at the table and figured out that a 10-year comparison would fit after all.


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