I See Stars!!
By Bev-Sue Powers
In the fall of 2013 until the third week in January, 2014, I marveled at and photographed the starfish colonies living on the south jetty at the mouth of the Ballona Creek. During the second week of January, 2014, I witnessed three women scraping at least 1-1/2 dozen starfish off the jetty, laying them upside-down along the top of the jetty, then trying to load them into buckets. I asked the lifeguard if that was legal, which is wasn’t, so he put a stop to it, while I relocated them tummy-side down to the places where they had been removed. I wondered why in the world would they want so many starfish and to what end.
While in a craft store later that same week, I rounded a corner and ran smack into a display of dried starfish for sale – the same species as on the jetty – starting at $3 each! Doing quick math, I had the epiphany that a few dozen starfish could get a lower income family through the next month’s rent or food. I wondered where the supplier’s source was and how many ecosystems were destroyed by supplying carcasses of seaside creatures for our craft projects.
This is one of the many starfish clusters on the jetties at the mouth of Ballona Creek in 2014,
a couple weeks before their disappearance.
By now, I started looking for starfish during my morning walks. Alas, during the last two week of Jan, 2014, I noticed all the star fish had vanished! Alarmed, I researched what might have happened (other than the plunderers I had witnessed a couple weeks earlier). Turns out starfish populations all along the West Coast were wiped out due to a massive virus. Sadly, I hadn’t seen any since.
Fast forward to yesterday’s sunny, warm, still, Southern California winter afternoon, which beckoned me to close my electronic devices for the day and take a walk out to the end of the jetty. I enjoyed watching the seabirds and a couple of sea lions diving for fish. It was the lowest tide I had seen in a long time with several sand bars and the lowest rocks exposed, which is a rarity. As I was gazing at the gentle waves lapping at the bottom of the jetty, I was stunned to see . . . a big, healthy looking, bright orange STARFISH!! I spotted another – it was purple – of equal size not far from the first. Then I saw another on the north jetty, orange, big, and healthy looking.
I See Stars!! Here are two of the three starfish I spotted 12-14-2016 on the south jetty at the mouth of Ballona Creek.
Thrilled, I’ll keep checking and hope to see increasingly more stars soon. Go Nature! Great comeback!
Keywords: Ballona, Ballona Photography, Ballona Wetlands, Bev-Sue Powers, Urban Wildlife, West Coast starfish, starfish
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