Community Coastal Column | August 2023

Sable Odry, NEC Coastal Programs Coordinator

Marine Debris Art 

Cal Poly Humboldt’s Art and Film Department is looking for used crab rope, spent fishing line, or any other ocean detritus to use and recycle as the main material components for an upcoming art exhibition in September with artist Emily Jung Miller. To learn more visit

Trash Craft Night

  • When: Aug 22, 6-8pm
  • Where: NEC Office, 415 I St, Arcata, CA
  • What: Turn Trash into Art!

Art is activism. If you’re passionate about educating the community, influencing policy, diverting from the waste stream, or simply just feel inspired to repurpose some trash into art, join us for our monthly Trash Craft Nights. Supplies, space, and refreshments provided. Feel free to bring any cool trash you find or use some we’ve set aside from our cleanups!

Tips for Tidepooling

One of our region’s many gems are our beaches and tidepools. The ocean makes up 71 percent of our planet, and over 80 percent of it is yet to be explored. Tidepools are a great window into this mysterious part of our world. But before you dash down to the beach, let’s talk about a few things you should keep in mind and some tips for making the most of your adventure. 

What are tidepools? Tidepools form when small patches of water are trapped in depressions along rocky shorelines during low tide. They are found in the area where the ocean meets the land during low and high tides, in what is called the intertidal zone. According to the National Ocanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), lifeforms that reside in the intertidal zone have had to adapt to hours of sun exposure, reduced oxygen, increased temperatures, and an array of land and water based predators. These residents may vary depending on the time of year, so I like to check nature guides and citizen science databases such as iNaturalist to see what has been found where and when. The NEC has a collection of nature guides and environmental books available to the public through our lending library. 

When venturing out to tidepools, it’s important to keep in mind when this rocky region will be exposed and more importantly, when it will be submerged in water again. Be sure to check tide charts before heading out. NOAA provides free tide predictions online, with estimations available up to two years in the future and past. Alternative websites also exist, such as, with daily, weekly and monthly predictions available. When reading a tide chart, zero stands for the average low tide per year for a given location. So if the low tide prediction is below zero, then the tide is likely going to expose more of the tidepool for longer, making for a better tidepooling adventure. It is important to note the time of the low tide prediction, as the tide will be coming in shortly after that, and you’ll want to prepare for retreating to higher ground as it does. 

It’s generally recommended to avoid tidepooling solo, as riptides and sneaker waves are not uncommon along the coast, and having someone to help you or call for help if you get swept out is wise. “Never turn your back on the sea” has become a common safety phrase used in ocean adventures. Tidepools can be slippery. Rocks are often covered in algae, seaweed or little critters, so wear shoes with good traction and leave yourself time to slowly meander on the easiest path. Bringing a see-through container can help with identifying smaller creatures, by scooping them up and viewing them at eye level. These containers can vary from specifically designed specimen jars, to reused plastic food containers. My favorite is a Talenti gelato jar with a hole in the lid for a scrunchy to fit through, so that you can attach it to your wrist while exploring. Avoid glass containers as they are likely to break if knocked against a rock in the tidepools. Be careful not to handle any creatures that may be poisonous or susceptible to being harmed by being handled. In general it’s best to wash your hands before tidepooling and avoid applying any oils, lotions, or sunscreen on any part of your body that might be in contact with the water or any of its inhabitants. While exploring, be sure to replace any rocks you move and don’t take any critters home with you. In many places it is illegal to collect living creatures from the intertidal zone and wild species are adapted to live in the immense oceans, often finding tanks insufficient. If you do any harvesting while in the tidepools, be sure to have all the required permits and be respectful to any marine protections and Indigenous wishes for the area you are harvesting from.

Coastal Cleanup Month

The NEC is coordinating its 44th year of Coastal Cleanup events in September, with opportunities to join with the north coast community for cleanups at your favorite beaches, parks, trails, and neighborhoods. As always, the NEC will be partnering with amazing local organizations to host these cleanups. Check out our website in August and September to find a list of cleanup events and links to RSVP, information on prizes and other events, ways you can donate or sponsor, or find out how you can lead your own cleanup event. So get ready for Coastal Cleanup Month 2023!

The covid pandemic changed many things for everyone. For the NEC, it shifted a 42 year tradition from a single day event into an entire month of activity. Like many shifts we have come to embrace the change, appreciating the opportunity to have more cleanup times and locations available for everyone to participate. Coastal Cleanup Day is one of the largest cleanup events of the year, and has become a worldwide event. It began in 1979 with community members Joe Abbott and Ann Morrissey in their wildly successful Beach Beautification project, eventually becoming our Adopt-a-Block and Adopt-a-Beach programs. The California Coastal Commission took notice, and in 1985 Coastal Cleanup Day was born. Today, the event takes place all over the world with thousands of volunteers collecting millions of pieces of trash. According to the California Coastal Commission, 38,767 volunteers participated in 2022, cleaning up 308,540 pounds of trash and recyclables over nearly 1,500 miles. Data collected by volunteers during cleanups helps state and local waste reduction efforts, such as Arcata’s ban on single use plastics. If you’re interested in volunteering or learning more about how we use data to advocate for solutions, visit 

You can find more information about Coastal Cleanup Month on our website, at You’ll find a link to RSVP to a cleanup, as well as a portal where you can donate to support the event and our year-round Coastal Programs. A large part of the funding for Coastal Programs, which encompasses our trash cleanup and waste-reduction projects, is generated through this event. It’s thanks to our generous community that we can continue to host this fun and impactful event every year. We are so excited to bring Coastal Cleanup Month 2023 to the north coast, and we hope you’ll join us this year!