Concerned about changes in marine life in Marina del Rey in recent years, the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a $73,000 biological and water quality survey of the man-made harbor.
The study, the latest of several surveys of the marina by scientists from the University of Southern California, may help explain whether the change in the marina's ecosystem was caused by coastal pollution or by El Nino, an ocean-warming trend that disrupted marine life and weather patterns worldwide in 1983 and 1984.
More Bottom Dwellers
Eric Bourdon, assistant director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, said that after El Nino diminished, USC researchers found that far fewer fish were living in the marina's waters, different kinds of fish had appeared and the population of bottom-dwelling creatures had flourished.
"Everything seemed disrupted but we don't know why," Bourdon said. "We are concerned with what we hear about the bay being polluted, and we're worried because that impacts the marina."
Bourdon said the research will be directed by Dorothy Soule of USC, who will survey the health and abundance of several types of marine life. USC has surveyed the health of the marina's fish and bottom life several times since 1976, Bourdon said.
"El Nino has diminished, so we're saying let's go back and look again, now that the water temperature is down, and see what we find," he said.
Despite his concern over the changes found in the last study, Bourdon said the marina's waters flush into the sea, preventing it from becoming highly polluted. However, he said, areas deep inside the marina, such as the waters near Marina City Drive, have much less flushing action. In that area a flood channel empties pollution-filled runoff into the water, causing problems, he said.
Bourdon said he is concerned about keeping the marina's waters as clean as possible because fishing is popular along its shores.
"We have a public fishing pier in Burton Chace Park and a dock at Fisherman's Village, so we're concerned," he said. "We want to continue to have as healthy a fish population as possible."