Wildlife of Los Angeles County Beaches
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Wildlife of Los Angeles County Beaches

If you are planning on visiting the beaches of Los Angeles County next summer, it is important to know about some of the wildlife that you may encounter.

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Wildlife of Los Angeles County Beaches
Image found at OceanHero.com

From Cabrillo Beach near San Pedro to Zuma Beach in Malibu; beach goers can find a wide variety of animals and other marine organisms frolicking amongst them in the surf. Like all wild animals, the ones you encounter at the beach must also be shown respect. Although not all of the marine organisms you may encounter are listed in this article, some of the most common ones are.

The most commonly seen marine mammals in the waters off of Los Angeles are the bottlenose dolphin and California sea lion. Both of these animals are known to play in the surf zone; riding waves, chasing fish, etc. Although it is possible that dolphins and sea lions may enter the surf zone while you or someone else is also in the waves, they will most often times keep themselves at a distance to humans.

With that in mind, accidents do happen and I can say I have personally seen a dolphin ride a wave too close to a surfer. When sea lions do enter the surf zone they are almost always fishing and thus not in the mood to associate. These animals will attack if approached.

Since the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 was passed, it has become illegal to harass any wildlife that may be in the area feeding or stranded. It is advised that if you or someone come into contact with a stranded sea lion, to contact a local wildlife authority and maintain a distance of Fifty yards. Stranded sea lions may be sick and hungry and may be easily panicked.

Another common organism among Los Angeles beaches is the jellyfish. Fortunately, the jellyfish is much easier to get out of the way of than the other animals. This is because it is a very slow swimmer. The jellyfish swims so slowly that it is really just floating in the water, drifting with the current.

As the jellyfish floats along it traps fish and little organisms in its stinging tentacles that dangle beneath it. When a swimmer runs into one of these in the water, it causes a red, itchy sting. Beachgoers can seek the assistance of local lifeguards or if they are in reasonable distance to their homes they can use a solution of 50% vinegar and 50% water and apply it to the affected area. One type of jellyfish that can be found in the Santa Monica Bay is the Moon Jelly, which does not sting at all.

So the big question is: are there any sharks in the Santa Monica Bay?

The answer is yes!

There are many different species of sharks in the area including: the horn shark, cookie cutter shark, swell shark, banjo shark, and some random blues from the open ocean. Fortunately, there is little to be afraid of because these sharks are not the man eaters you are thinking of.

On top of not growing bigger than three feet, the horn shark and swell shark have mouths that are angled downwards for better eating of food on the ocean floor. There have been occasional sightings of larger white sharks in the area by surfers, but no more than one or two a year and never any attacks on people. The shallow waters where people play is not the proper environment for large sharks.

The marine environment has a great variety of organisms that can be both beautiful and harmful. As long as we show these creatures respect, they will show us ours. We are only visitors in their world and we must leave it the way we found it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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