Sunday, September 7, 2008

Los Cerritos Channel

As you may know, green sea turtles were recently sighted swimming up the San Gabriel River. They were seen in the area of the Cerritos Channel, an arm of the San Gabriel River estuary. So of course I had to check it out! Sadly, no turtles were seen during my brief visit, but I thought I'd write it up on this blog, because this unlikely area was full of quite a few surprises.

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There is a small park along Cerritos Channel called Channel View Park.
Channel View Park and energy plant

The park is a highly manicured strip of lawn with a bike/pedestrian path, separated from the channel by an ugly chainlink fence. Opportunities to commune with nature here are limited, although if the scenery is appealing in that post-apocolyptic way that comes so easily in southern California:


The huge stacks of a powerplant dominate the landscape. The plant takes in water from the river to cool the engines, and returns heated effluent to the San Gabriel river. Both the intake and effluent have deleterious impacts on the marine environment, and these impacts are closely monitored by a number of agencies. The most severe impacts are the death of marine organisms on intake screens, and the alteration of the thermal regime of the river.

As I mentioned, the park itself doesn't offer much access to nature, though you can see quite a bit from the bridges over the channel on Loynes Drive and Studebaker.

Birdlife was somewhat abundant here, with several of the usual suspects:

Cormorants in formation
Cormorants, either perched on the trash booms or here, flying in V-formation.

Cerritos Eeg
Great egret.

Not shown: belted kingfisher and great blue heron. The vacant lots around the channel show evidence of wild dogs--either strays, or perhaps coyotes!

The contrast between the graceful birds and the imposing industral backgrop can be quite jarring:
Egret and Industry

The bridge on Studebaker offers a glimps into muddier habitat than is typical of other parts of the channel, which are full of rocky riprap:
Octopus habitat

You can see long and elegant smelt swimming at the surface, or even jumping out.

The most exciting sighting of the day were two large-ish octopuses (or octopi--both are correct!) fighting in the shallow water! Sadly, I got no photos to show. But I will be sure to try again sometime soon!

1 comment:

Webmaster @ caopenspace said...


"The vacant lots around the channel show evidence of wild dogs--either strays, or perhaps coyotes!"

The evidence you see is in fact coyotes...a number of them live in the open fields in this area. Many other mammmals also make these fields their homes...raccoon, squirrels, rabbits. Nice blog, good pictures! Thanks!