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, 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!]

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.

San Onofre’s Trestles — The Countdown to Closure?

12 06 2014

There may not be a crowd at Trestles after 2021.

Many times we forget that Trestles, even Uppers, is part of the larger San Onofre State Beach, which is mistakenly believed by many to be in Orange County (actually it is in San Diego County).

The 2,900-plus-acre State Beach was created in 1971 through a 50-year lease from Camp Pendleton to the State of California. Verbal history says that President Nixon, who spent his holidays at the Cotton mansion at Cotton’s Point (referred to as the Western White House), actually lobbied the Department of the Navy to allow the arrangement. More can be found at this link.

Prior to 1971, surfers traveled beyond the barbed wire at Cotton’s (now called “Barbed Wires”) at their own risk. There are the stories of Marines firing in the air to convince trespassing surfers to come to the beach to turn themselves in. Others will tell you of the times they lost their boards (pre-leash days) only to have them picked up by the MP’s as they washed up on shore. When you went in to claim your board, you were automatically arrested, driven to the Provost’s office at Church, and fined. If you were under 18, your parents got a call. It depended on the officer as to whether you would be taking your board home with you.

In 1970, as an experiment, the Marines allowed the State to open the long bluffs portion of the beach (commonly referred to as “Trails”) to the public, but just for a few weeks in the summer. Fortunately, everyone behaved and the arrangement was made permanent. Interesting side story, during that short temporary opening, fishermen on the beach pulled a lot of great fish from the shallow reef, because the area had not been fished in decades. The following year, the lease was approved and the gates were opened to the public.

Today, we mostly don’t think Trestles could ever be closed to surfers again. But, the lease is up in 2021. It should be interesting to watch the Navy’s maneuvers over the next few years. Will the Crowd thin?

Bye Bye Trestles — Right on Track for Removal

13 09 2011

September 1, the end of the nesting season, has come and gone.  So, the forces have moved in to get ‘er done.

A Different "Lineup" for Trestles

According to one of the onsite construction officials, the contractor that is rebuilding the trestles is right on schedule.  They hope to have all the work done and be off the site by the end of 2011.  They did a lot of the foundation work earlier this year, before nesting season.

In order to complete their work on time, they are actually going to completely shut down the railroad, the only direct rail link between Los Angeles and San Diego, for at least three full weekends.  That in itself should be interesting.  Sorry Johnny, you won’t be able to tell time by the train whistles going through San Clemente during those times.

Sharing the Footpath--Contractors and Surfers

I was assured by the official that it is written into the contract that access to the beach has to be maintained at all times.  That means surfers rated higher than the railroad–that’s a first.  I have to admit, I haven’t heard of any problems to the contrary.

So, when they get done, the trestles will be solid concrete.  Get your nostalgic photos while you can.

The piers are being poured over the next few weeks, getting the column caps ready for the shutdowns.  When they shut down the rail, the wooden sections will be removed, concrete beams will be laid across and underneath the tracks.  Once formed, these saddle shaped supports are called bents in bridge parlance.  The new rails will be laid over multiple bents.

Column rebar cages coated with purple epoxy to protect the steel from the salty environment

I already asked how to get a piece of the old creosote-soaked wooden members from the original trestles.  The official said they have to handle the wood as hazardous material and have to account for every ounce removed.  So, officially, there is no way to get your own piece of the trestles.   Hmmmmmmm.

So, enjoy your last days crossing under the famous structure that gave our favorite break its name as we cross the bridge to the future.

I guess the good news out of this change is that, with the higher traffic capacity that will be allowed with the improved trestles, there will be more tourists to wave at as the trains fly by.  Just make sure you use your whole hand when you wave to them.  🙂

Shark Sightings in Southern California

8 11 2010

Source: Shark Research Committee

Just in case you haven’t lost enough sleep, having nightmares about being dragged under by a great white.

Check out this list of reports maintained by the Shark Research Committee.  Fascinating website.  It’s also a little spooky to read all the recent, ongoing accounts of sharks just kind of hanging out in the surf zone.

The photo on the right was taken on August 24, 2010.  Go to the report link above to get the details.  The shark evidently had a plan.

Maybe we ought to change the color of our wetsuits.  Seems like there is more risk of being confused with our penniped friends than we thought.

The Trail to Trestles

6 12 2009

Join us as we take a quick ride down the bike path from the parking lot to the world famous Trestles surfing beach.

Of course if the toll road had been built, this trail probably wouldn’t exist anymore.

Enjoy the ride.  Watch out for pedestrians!

Did You Know Sgt. Charlie Cartwright?

15 11 2009

0009Marine-Corps-FlagAs a school assignment to do a Veteran’s Day blog, I was Googling “Marine surfers” and happened across the Camp Pendleton Surf Club.  As I read the latest post entered on the today (November 14), my heart ached.

The reality sunk in.   The violence of a war 180 degrees from San Clemente came into our living room through the mention of Sgt. Charlie Cartwright, a surf brother. 

See, the posting said that Sgt. Cartwright died on November 7 while supporting Marines in combat in Afghanistan.   This was his fourth, and last, tour of duty in the Middle East.

I never met Sgt. Cartwright, but I wish I had.  According to Ted Handler, as posted by Steve on, Sgt. Cartwright was “one of the truly good guys out there and unlike us — he could no shit surf.”  Being stationed at Camp Pendleton, Sgt. Cartwright surfed the local beaches.  That brought it home that Sgt. Cartwright may well have been a member of our own Trestles Surf Crowd.  Fittingly, there was a paddleout at Church on Veteran’s Day for Sgt. Cartwright.  And, he sounds like a great guy–wish I had met him.

Here’s a link to Sgt. Cartwright’s bio —

What amazes me is that Sgt. Cartwright signed up for the Marines on September 10, 2001, the day before the Twin Towers attack.    It sounds like he always wanted to be a United States Marine.  His sense of duty on our behalf started from when he was just a boy.  No matter how one feels about our involvement in other countries’ battles, you can’t help but admire our brothers and sisters who raise their hands to stand in the gap between our safety and the enemy.

Reading about Sgt. Cartwright reminded me once again how we take our privileged lives for granted while heroes like him face the reality of not knowing if they will be returning home.

Sgt. Cartwright, we salute you and thank you!  Semper Fi   . . .   and Hang Ten!