More Sharks in the Future! Thanks El Niño 2017

30 04 2017

We may need to change the name of this site to “Trestles Shark Crowd” in the future.

Over the last few years, the number of shark sightings has increased at Trestles and other local surf spots.  Shark experts say the increase in sightings comes with increased numbers of sharks off the Southern California coast due to improvements in the local fishery.   The good news is that after decades of efforts, the Southern California fishery has improved, reflecting a general improvement in many, though not all, portions of the local ocean environment.   The bad news is that means surfers need to become even more aware of their surroundings while taking advantage of California’s many great surf spots.  And, from time to time, we are going to see beach closures like other sharky areas of the world.

In the evening on Saturday, April 29, 2017, a woman was bitten by a shark while swimming with fins in the shallows of Church, that classic surfing area at the mouth of San Onofre Creek in the San Onofre State Beach, at the northern edge of San Diego County.  You can read more details in this Orange County Register article.   This article references remarks by Dr. Christopher Lowe, a shark researcher at California State University Long Beach.  Not only has Dr. Lowe been quick to remark in the past about the improvement of Southern California fisheries, but in this article he described to the reporter how El Niño conditions a couple years ago extended the amount of time juvenile sharks have stayed in local waters to eat and grow.

Assuming Dr. Lowe is correct (and he is considered an expert for good reason), more shark sightings are likely just around the corner.  The National Weather Service prediction center of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted on April 13, 2017, that it is very likely an El Niño is going to form in Fall 2017.  As the water warms and reverses the effects of ocean currents, it will also be more likely that hammerhead sharks will show up at Southern California beaches, heading north from their usual foraging areas in warm Mexican waters.  And juvenile great white sharks will have less reason to head south to to those warmer waters after birth.  So, they will be hanging out even longer off our coast, increasing the number of shark sightings.

We are not predicting some sort of Sharknado, but we will likely hear more reports of shark sightings near our favorite surf areas.

So, tune into Trestles Shark, er Surf, Crowd.com for more info in the future.

[By the way, we can personally attest that only a small percentage of surf spot shark sightings are reported through the media.  Most surfers would say that sharks are just part of the ocean environment.  We enter their world every time we paddle out to catch a few.  So, why both reporting a natural occurrence.  Welcome to the Crowd Ms./Mr. Shark!]

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More Rain for San Mateo Creek, and Trestles

17 02 2017

At 3:00 pm today, the City of San Clemente surf report from the pier reported sustained winds of 45 from the southeast.  That’s enough to grow waves locally.  Below is a screenshot from Surfline.com’s T-Street webcam; and it is only beginning to build.

The weather reports were predicting rain that would be the heaviest in the last 10 to 20 years (kind of a typical weather forecaster’s vague speak).  At any rate, below is a screenshot from Weather Underground showing the radar imagery for what is headed this way.

Lots of rain headed toward the headwaters of San Mateo Creek, our favorite Southern California pristine watershed that flows out to the Pacific at Uppers.  The bottom has already changed this season, with more to come.  It should set up some great waves by the time the summer south swells show up later this year.

In the meantime, maybe California is finally limping out of its long drought.

The El Nino winter last year fizzled out with no real rain, even though all the experts predicted heavy precipitation.  It may be that if you look at the last several El Nino events, the heavy rain doesn’t actually show up until the first rainy season after the sea surface temperatures return to an ENSO-neutral condition.

Regardless, it’s great to see the San Mateo flowing with life again.  Rain, rain, don’t go away.





Angry Mud

24 01 2017

In Southern California, our rivers (a euphemism) and streams don’t really flow all that often without a boost from urban runoff (from overwatering and all sorts of wasted water with all sorts of contaminants).  But, when it rains hard and long, the soil sponge lets loose and surges all the way to the ocean from miles inland.  The result is muddy surf from Baja California to Santa Cruz.  Add a good swell and strong wind, what do you have?  Angry Mud.

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Looking northwest from San Onofre Bluffs State Beach.

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the angry mud from The Point all the way to Upper Trestles.  In fact, if you zoom in, you can see a kite surfer risking his life (or at least an upset stomach) to catch some waves and some air. Today, January 23, 2017, the mud plume extends at least a mile out into the ocean.  It will take awhile for all that sediment from the local watersheds to settle down. But, at least it replenishes some of the sand lost over recent years from local beaches.

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Looking southeast from 350 feet above Doheny Beach, toward San Onofre in the distance. Notice the mud plume from San Juan Creek.

The photo above shows a view toward San Onofre from Doheny Beach, just outside of the Dana Point Harbor jetty.

Surfing in South Orange County today, or in the next few days, brings a whole new meaning to the saying “Here’s (angry) mud in your eye!”

 





San Mateo Creek Flows Again!

14 01 2017
Looking southeast at the estuary/lagoon.  Note the breach to the right.

Looking southeast at the estuary/lagoon. Note the breach to the right.

It’s been a few years, but the San Mateo Creek watershed “sponge” finally got full and started to overflow.  That is, all the soils upstream got full of water and started to seep/flow into the gullies that make up the watershed.  And, down to the creek bed and out to the ocean.

The last time it really flowed significantly was in December 2010; and flow it did, for almost six months.  It will be interesting to see how long it continues to flow with the off and on storms predicted over the next week or more.

The Trestles and the watershed.

The Trestles and the watershed.

Could the Southern California drought finally have broken?  Too early to tell, but it’s off to a good start.

Word is the creek broke out of the estuary/lagoon through the sand berm and out onto the reef at Uppers this morning.  You can see by the mud plumes in the ocean that it has been flowing for several hours at the time of these photos about 4:00 p;m today.

As happens with natural water courses, each time it breaks out, the flow “braids” to a new path.  We all got used to the “lagoon” that was dug out by the 2010 storms.  This time, the flow shoots straight out, dumping a lot of sand, and probably some cobbles, on top of the reef just north of what we call “Garcia-land,”  which is the north shoulder of the point. Wonder what new shape the bottom will take now.  Maybe a lagoon on each side of the point?  Maybe a  “north bay” and a “south bay?”

From over Garcia-land.  Notice the muddy surfline water.

From over Garcia-land. Notice the muddy surfline water.

Enjoy the photos.  A video may show up over the next few days.

Liquid gold.

Liquid gold.

Filling the reef with sand.

Filling the reef with sand.





Great White Sharks at Trestles — Again

6 08 2015

Today’s surf session was mostly forgettable, except . . .

About 9:00 am, we were all looking outside for that infrequent set wave when several of us got a good, fairly closeup view of this:

Yep, an  8′ great white shark breaching about 25 yards outside the lineup.  The author was lucky enough to be the person closest to the event.  It appeared to be jumping for one of those large warm water fish that have been hanging out on the Southern California coast for the last year or so.

This photo was clipped from a travel site.  Nobody got a photo of our shark.  But, we got pretty much the same view as this photo, except the shark was completely out of the water,  with its spine perfectly vertical.  It was definitely a shark, not a dolphin.

According to some articles, sharks breach, completely jumping out of the water, to surprise their prey with a speedy ascent from the bottom.  We were all just glad we weren’t the prey in this case.

Our first reaction was “Was that what I think it was?” followed by “Yeah, let’s get out of here quick!”  As it turned out, one of the bigger sets of the morning was just rolling through.  So, several of us seemed to reach the beach simultaneously.  We all looked at each other quizzically and decided it was definitely not time to go in.  After all, we are always surrounded by sharks of some variety.  We just got to see this one up close and personal.

This one may, or may not, have been the same 8′ shark that got hooked and released at San Clemente Pier a few weekends ago.  And, the media have been filled with So Cal sharks stories over the last year.  Trestles was even closed a couple months ago when the lifeguards thought the shark(s) were potentially aggressive.  Still, nothing more than a nose bump for a couple surfers.  The experts say these juveniles are more afraid of us than we are of them.  Some of us are just wondering what we will think when they are no longer juveniles and take us for sea lions.

Sweet dreams tonight.  Supposedly more swell on the way tomorrow.  You might want to wear less black wetsuit and stop imitating seals.





Trestles Surf Forecast — June Gloom

12 06 2015

It’s here.  June Gloom — the annual mid-June surf shutdown.

The next week of surf.  Source:  www.surfline.com

The next week of surf. Source: http://www.surfline.com

As soon as school lets out and we get ready for summer, the surf goes flat; sometimes for several weeks.  Don’t be surprised if the water temp dips for a few days too.

Then, just as we drag out the longboards, dig up our 4/3 wetsuits, and bundle up in double sweatshirts to fend off the “coastal clouds,” the surf starts to boom again.  Hopefully, by mid-July, the south swells will start thundering in.

The question is “can we fight off the depression until the waves arrive?”

It’s a good time to catch up on that work project, prune the garden, and buy that new board, preparing for the (almost) inevitable chain of summer swells that will keep us happy until late November.  Hopefully!





Red-Legged Frogs at San Onofre State Beach?

26 06 2014

What’s hoppin’ at Uppers?

Not this poor little guy.

iPhone5-sized frog (with flash)

iPhone5-sized frog (with flash)

iPhone5-sized frog (without flash)

iPhone5-sized frog (without flash)

On Wednesday, June 25th, I found him in the sand at water’s edge at the mouth of San Mateo Creek, the lagoon that flows into our favorite surf spot, Upper Trestles, at San Onofre State Beach. He had already expired very recently, maybe from the salt water, but the nearby sea gulls had not spotted him yet.

Have you ever heard of the Caliornia Red-Legged Frog (Rana draytonii), a “threatened” species under the Federal Endangered Species Act?   There are protected “critical habitats” throughout many areas of California for this species, from the coast to the mountains, though I didn’t see any areas mapped for Orange County.

Now I am not a herpetologist, but this does appear to be a frog.  And, it does appear to have reddish legs.  So, I passed it along to the San Clemente State Park staff to determine what to do with it.

If it is a red-legged frog, it would not be the first species on the Federal ESA list to be found in the San Mateo Creek watershed.  It is one of the last mostly-untouched wilderness areas along the Southern California coast.  Thank God for the Marines and their Camp Pendleton Base that protects the lower watershed and divinely-created critters like this.

Let’s all do our part to preserve the nature around us that makes Trestles such an idyllic refuge for all of us.