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See Sea Turtles in Long Beach

Search for sea turtles

Californian:  “You mean I can see sea turtles right here in Long Beach?  Long Beach, California?  That I don’t have to travel to Mexico, Costa Rica or Hawaii?  That I can actually take a nature hike and see sea turtles without getting in a boat?”

Ecologist:  “Yes, indeed you can see endangered green sea turtles in Long Beach.  And, for free!”

     A group of endangered sea turtles has taken up residence in a portion of the San Gabriel River.  In the 1980’s, wildlife authorities would receive occasional calls reporting sea turtle sightings.  No one really gave much credence to these reports.  Then, in 1988, a caller piqued the interest of a scientist who investigated and, sure enough, found a small colony of sea turtles living in the San Gabriel River.

     Green sea turtles usually live in tropical or subtropical areas.  There are many sea turtle nesting grounds along the Mexican coast.  These turtles are an ancient species, dating as far back as 30 million years ago.  They may grow up to 5 feet long and may weigh as much as 500 pounds.  Mature green sea turtles are usually found in shallow coastal waters with sea grass beds. 

     An unlikely source seems to be the reason the green sea turtles have taken up residence in our city.  The Haynes Power Plant discharges warm water into the river.  This discharge site is where the turtles can be found.  The origin of our Long Beach sea turtle colony is not known.  They may have come from a colony of sea turtles found living near the warm water discharge of a San Diego power plant in the 1970’s.

     Two wetlands ecologist will lead a tour of the Los Cerritos Wetlands on Saturday, February 2nd at 8 a.m.  The tour will take you through salt marshes to the San Gabriel River for a glimpse of the sea turtles.  To date, these turtle treks have had a 100% success rate in spotting sea turtles.  Participants will learn about the wetlands habitat and may see some of the creatures of the wetlands, such as a sea eagles and owls. 

     The tour begins on the inland side of the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and 1st Street, just at the border of Long Beach and Seal Beach.  There is ample parking.  The hike last about two hours and is appropriate for ages 7 and up.  For more information or to RSVP for the February 2nd walk, contact Elizabeth at ejlambe@verizon.net.   Learn more about the wetlands at www.lcwlandtrust.org.  

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