Monday, February 13, 2012

"New" Old Marineland

Marineland of the Pacific once sat majestically on top of Portuguese Bend in Palos Verdes, CA overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Some of the structure and layout was designed by a renowned architect of the era, William Pereira. The oceanarium first opened its doors to the public in August 1954, one year earlier than Disneyland, making it one of California's first theme park. The facility housed two huge sea tanks with water drawn from the ocean directly up 125 feet through 2,500 feet of piping from the beach to the filtration system. It was an amazing feat! The facility was complete with a restaurant and bar, coffee shop, and a hotel for visitors and guests. The oceanarium was not solely for the purpose of recreation, it was one of the frontier researchers in oceanarium techniques.

The park closed in 1987 after it was purchased by Sea World. It was believed that Sea World main objective for the purchase was to acquire the two killer whales, Corky and Orky. After the purchase was completed the whales were quickly moved to Sea World and the property was sold to a developing company in Arizona. After numerous changes, Terranea Resort was finally built where Marineland of the Pacific once stood. A plush resort complete with a 9-hole par 3 golf course and spa still set against the breathtaking view enjoyed ages ago. The “Catalina Room” once part of the restaurant in the original Marineland now serves as a banquet hall for the resort. On a clear day, you can still see the same view of Catalina Island visitors of Old Marineland saw. Research today still continues by the Marineland of the Pacific Research Department. Much of the Marineland of the Pacific was curated by the Marineland of the Pacific Historical Society. Some of the artifacts can be found at Point Vicente Interpretive Center. Looking at the old pictures of the site you can see how much things have changed. One of the surviving killer whales continues to perform at Sea World under the name of Shamu.

A section of the Terranea parking lot is opened to the public for free. From the parking lot, you can easily gain beach access by following the mix of roads, cart paths, nature trails, and short flights of stairs to Cobble Beach. This was originally just an abandon dirt lot with a dusty trail to the beach. They built a public picnic area that can probably be reserved for parties. A small building connected to their pool (sorry no access to their pool, it’s for resort guests only) provides for a clean public restroom. A tall shower head is available close to the restrooms as well as a drinking fountain. It’s almost like resort beach diving… almost.

Entry #1 at Cobble beach is the closest to the trail. The entry point is covered with loose rocks and boulders. Carefully watch your step as you walk to the waterline. After you flop in with the highest wave, kick out for a little bit until you are about the same line with the rocks that juts out from the wall of the cliff. From there you can drop and start your dive! I was immediately greeted by one of my favorite views… a kelp forest. There are not a lot of fin fishes in this section however; you will find numerous invertebrates along the way tucked in various sections of the kelp forest. As you continue to swim out you will notice that the kelp forest quickly coming to an end and opens up to a sandy bottom filled with craters and feathers sticking out.

Coming back in… we took a different path and this was probably my favorite section of the dive. This area was filled with numerous rock formations where more fish and invertebrates were hiding out. Next time when I come back here, I am going to definitely poke around the nooks and crannies to see what I can discover. The rock formation itself is very interesting; it looks like it was gutted by the currents that washed through this area for centuries. I eventually got separated from the group and ended up coming in close to the wall which means I am faced with rougher surges and currents. What to do? Ride it! I started zooming through with the currents (as you can see in the last video). The water did get very shallow and I do believe I may have actually broke water at one point when I was trying to climb over a ledge. I did run into a school of fish in this area.

As a reminder, this area was recently declared as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 2012. There have been a number of changes to the MPA zoning. Much of this was done was for conservation. The kelp forest was once much bigger however, the urchin problems have destroyed a significant part of the forest. Various organizations have served to help restore the kelp line. Along with kelp forests comes more marine life! The pictures and videos was my first attempt at editing and bringing out the color from my GoPro. I am currently using only the basic GoPro CineForm for my video editing. Let me know your thoughts!
Leave me a comment.

Written by: Wayne Lu, Feb 13, 2012


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