Southern Californians and the beach go hand in hand. Southern Californian’s summers are spent either at the beach or dreaming about being at the beach. When there, they may engage themselves in a wide variety of activities such as taking romantic strolls at sunset, exploring hidden coves, wearing a favorite summer outfit, observing aquatic life, or simply meditating to the sound of the waves. Although Southern Californians often find themselves involved in beach activities, do they really know what the beach is? Do they take the time to really see what it is composed of and all the intricate details surrounding it? With busy lives, Southern Californians may skip over the details, but they do not have to. A simple closer examination of the letters composing beach provide an in-depth look into it.
Atop a rocky cliff, beautiful and breathtaking views are formed from radiant reds, pinks, purples and oranges at sunset. After the sun disappears the water may glisten aqua green, or shimmer a bright brilliant blue as it stretches toward the horizon. Many couples plan picnics at sunset to admire the vibrant colors of the sky, spending time not only admiring each other but also the sights around them. Just by viewing the ocean’s intense color spanned out for miles can take the breath right out of someone. The strength lying so patiently below the shimmering surface of the water also contributes to the beach’s magnificence. The versatility of beauty is a contributing factor to why many people go there even when the weather is not ideal for swimming. Beauty may be one of the most popular attractions for beach goers and it ranges from its wide expanse to the tiniest anemone.
Within the large spread of ocean and sand there lies a delicate balance of life known as an ecosystem. About 70% of the Earth is covered by ocean (Garrdiner), and for good reason too. Without the ocean’s ability to keep the climate of Earth moderate, life would not be possible. The ocean not only keeps the planet temperate, but it is also responsible for the life of marine animals. A wide variety of life takes place in the ocean from microscopic algae to an 89 foot, 100 ton Blue Whale (Nowak). Whatever their size, marine animals roam freely through the waters depending on the ocean for all of their necessities.
The ocean also supports smaller habitats such as kelp forests, which provide homes for a variety of species including shark, crab, urchins, sea stars, sea lions, jelly fish, dolphins, and fish. Without the protection of the kelp many of the species would not be able to get food, reproduce, or even survive in the ocean. The ocean’s tides also support an abundance of life. When they go out, starfish, tiny crabs and little fish explore the tide pools, searching for food. Sea anemones open up and invite unsuspecting creatures into their paralyzing tentacles. When the tides come in mussels open and allow tiny particles to filter through, trapping the most nutritious for dinner.
Resting atop the ocean surface, seagulls float about looking for fish swimming beneath them. When their bellies are full they migrate to the sand to rest and socialize. Here on the sand insects enjoy a life of burrowing and hopping in decaying seaweed. Whenever sea gulls come to rest, the sand fleas jump about at their approach. Without dry sand, the constant undulations of tides, the safety of the kelp, or its vastness, the ocean would not be able to foster life in the many varieties it does.
The ocean harbors not only marine life but human attitude as well. Surfer dudes and dudettes, beach volleyball players, deep-sea fishermen, snorkelers, and sunbathers all utilize the beach for their interests. The necessities of these folk range from bathing suits to wet suits, sun block to tanning lotion, and volleyballs to goggles; without these, their beach experience would not be complete. When a person has one of these objects outside of the beach, it is assumed the person is headed to or coming from the beach. A true beach fanatic often craves the beach after a period of absence. As their time apart grows, key features of blond streaks and tanned skin begin to fade; they begin to crave the warm sun and cool water. If time apart continues to grow, a person might do something drastic like surf in the rain. Most of the time, however, a beach person’s demeanor is calm, relaxed, and easy going. It comes as no surprise then that people with these beach type attitudes are a real pleasure to be around because of their go-with-the flow takes on life. Beach goers are often people who love and care for the beach, trying to do their part to keep it in good shape for future generations.
Even with attempts to keep the ocean in pristine condition, it has undergone tremendous change throughout the past century. Man has had an extreme impact on the physical well being of the ocean, causing much destruction. One way that man contributes negatively to the ocean is by dumping sewage. Before mankind roamed the Earth, there was no such thing as toxic waste. Today, over several million tons of dredged material is dumped into the ocean each year. Dredged material is toxic and includes cadmium, mercury, chromium, heavy oils, phosphorus, nitrogen, and pesticides (Moyle). These chemicals poison fish and cause unnatural living environments; chemicals also make some seafood toxic to humans (Moyle).
Even though humans have made a large impact on the ocean, there are organizations that continue to attempt to change the condition of the ocean; this time for the better. Heal the Ocean has realized the ocean can no longer be a place where we dump our toxic garbage. They are committed to finding the problem, researching a solution and recommending practical solutions (Heal the Ocean). The ocean does need change, but it is the kind of change that does not involve mutations from toxic waste.
The stressors of life can often be put to rest by the harmonizing sounds found at the beach. The constant rhythm of waves meeting sand, subtle cries of sea gulls, and the laughter of children playing in the water all join together to make a sweet melody. The melody dissipates tension built up from a long work day and allows the soul time to return to a state of tranquility. Not only does the beach harmonize all the sounds found there, it also harmonizes the rest of its components. The beauty and ecology of the ocean depend on our attitudes and changes we are willing to make. Thinking of the beach and all its different aspects harmonizes them together making them meet each other like waves on the beach.
The beach would not be the same visually if it were missing any of its characteristic, nor would life be able to flow from it as easily as it does. In the same way that beauty, ecosystems, attitudes, and changes harmonize the key attributes of the beach; B, E, A, and C would not be complete without the H. Next time your in Southern California and at the beach, take a minute to enjoy it all.
Gardiner, Lisa. Water. January 11, 2005. Window to the Universe.
Nowak, R. Animal Records. Baltimore, Maryland, USA: The Johns Hopkins University Press 1991.
Waste in the Ocean. Ocean Dumping Grounds. 15 April 2007.
Our Course of Action. 2006. What We Do. 15 April 2007.