Creatures in the Malibu Lagoon


Sand Castle Worms, Malibu Lagoon

My intention was to leave Malibu by this point, but two things are keeping me here. The first is that I was given an idea for a series of posts by a family friend and reader. I love that this is happening and what I always wanted from this blog. It will be the second of three reader motivated directions for the blog. The first date ideas post was published on June 29th and a series I will be posting in two weeks exclusively on This Ugly Beautiful City’s Facebook page about my favorite places to eat in Los Angeles. This post below about Malibu will ultimately be referred back to when I start my series about what to do during a lengthy layover at LAX. (The idea from the family friend)

The second is that Malibu Lagoon holds a special place in my heart since it was the place that incited my interest that I seem to go on and on about. If you are a habitual reader of this blog, you know the exploring tide pools is one of my favorite pastimes as a west coaster. As I am feeling my stress levels go up and not seeing the tide going down during a time I can visit, (3:am, or other pitch black dark times) I am feeling a sense of longing. So in Malibu I stay for one more post.

My first introduction to tide pooling was Malibu Lagoon and Bird Sanctuary located on the Pacific Coast Highway and and across from the Malibu Country Mart, and open air shopping and eating destination. This area is the closest opportunity for Angelenos to explore tide pools, the popular tourist beaches of Santa Monica and Venice not having the right conditions.

Malibu’s tide pools can be accessed a couple different ways, from the Malibu Pier and walking the strip of beach north. If you chose this route you are missing the chance to wander through the Bird Sanctuary which is closer to the Malibu Country Mart.


Egret and Heron, Malibu Lagoon

In the sanctuary section, trees, California native grasses, and the saltwater march of the lagoon are home to the Ibis-like Wandering Tattler, white billed Coots, terns, a couple different species of gulls, herons among too many to list. For more information about birding, check out the Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society and the bird sanctuary click here.

Each of Los Angeles County’s tide pool areas seems to offer different terrain to explore. Leo Carrillo has large caves and outcroppings, rocks that exist like islands exposed when the tide decreases, Lechuza Beach is pure sand with rugged black boulders where the sea life clings to when it is low tide to hide gulls, Malibu Lagoon is a little easier to negociate, with smaller pumpkin sized rocks that offer steps further out into what was one wait deep water.

When these furry, plant covered rocks are exposed the offer more of a traversable path way out into the Pacific. Stop occasionally, crouch down and be still and watch the little plays being acted out, antagonistic hermit crabs and the journeys of rose colored snails. But be careful as well because the animals camouflage into their surroundings to avoid being eaten. Anemone are everywhere clustered in circular mounds, that kind of look like donuts with gravel for sprinkles. When water hits them they open like flowers to catch their prey.  The tentacles are poisonous to small creatures, but not to you.  It is hard to capture the colors of these animals. Crystalline greens, silvery creams, pinks, purples and colors I don’t think that there are names for yet.


Green Sea Anemone, Malibu Lagoon


Sea Hare looking up at me. Malibu Lagoon

This area seems to be a haven for Sea Hares, which graze on algae and the also plentiful Green Sea Anenomes that graze on Sea Hares. For all of the flora & fauna in this area, or if flora & fauna are interests of yours this is the best web site ever: inaturalist

[Getting here: The LA Metro 534]

Website: Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Cost: Free

Ages: I think this one is a little easier for the kiddos, but still can be a little slippery.

Parking: This is a state beach and is part of the system where you can get discounts described in this post. Many people park along the PCH which is a free option.

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