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Old Salt Lake | Virtual Museum

Report by Galen Hunter

Plastic Beach

[ Page updated - February 1, 2019 ]

Sometimes the plastic on Torrance Beach is not so obvious. Sometimes it is. When large plastic sheets are present on the bluff, it is obvious:

[Figure 1 - December 9, 2018 - after a rain storm]

[Figure 2 - January 27, 2019 - after another rain storm]

What is not so obvious must be all the worn down, very small beads of plastic integrated in the beach sand. The larger pieces of plastic on the beach - in the sand, seaweed and rocks, are obvious to plain sight, especially after rain and wind storms drive some of the trash in the ocean from here and around the world to this beach.

[Figure 3]

[Figure 4]

[Figure 5]

[Figure 6 - those white objects are pieces of styrofoam]

Nearly every day, usually early in the morning, Los Angeles County workers rake the beach using specialized vehicles:

[Figure 7 - looking south. At the top of the bluff (center right) is the Malaga Cove pre-historic archaeological site (CA-LAN-138).]

[Figure 8 - looking north. The second lifeguard station in the far distance is next to the location of the historic Flotsam Castle.]

End Notes

[a] Figure 2 is looking at the site where the legendary Hermit (Louis Dart) of Flotsam Castle lived (1920-30). The castle was located at the base of that bluff point north of the plastic sheeting near the fence on the beach. You will notice in the photo there is a second large plastic sheet further up the ravine on the right. The top sheet is covering about where the famous fresh water spring was. The historic spring was famous because Louis Dart and the visitors from around the world to his castle used the water. See this writer's 3-part report The Historic Springs (and the Castle) on the High Bluffs at the beach north of the ravine or hollow at Malaga Cove.

The plastic sheeting near the top was installed by the property owner maybe a year ago. Presumably the property owner's idea to put it there was to protect the expensive structure built on the edge of the bluff - by preventing erosion of the bluff below the structure. Interestingly, a large second plastic sheeting was installed, presumably by the same property owner, recently after a rain storm. Why? What appears to have happened is, after the first big rain storm of the season, the top sheeting directed the pouring rain water into the ravine (on the neighbor's property?) and the ravine was eroded more than it would have had the top sheeting not been there - sand from the ravine going to the base of the bluff - covering up the bottom part the fence separating the private property from the public beach. So, apparently the curious solution to the sand moved from the ravine to the beach was to install the second plastic sheet over the sand moved. One can only wonder what the educated/eccentric Louis Dart would think about the current status of this bluff and the beach where he once lived for 10 years. Moreover, the question remains - what is the status of the historic spring?

[b] At any time beach maintenance operations could be disrupted temporarily or permanently at Torrance Beach for any number of reasons. Add what is apparently a practically infinite amount of plastic in the Pacific Ocean will be washed up onto the shore of the beach in the future to the fact that people have been able to walk barefoot on the beach for thousands of years. So, the question is - how long will it take for people to not be able to walk barefoot on the beach if beach maintenance operations were indeed disrupted?