Green Resolutions

5 Simple Green Resolutions for 2016

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions? We’ve come up with 5 sustainable resolutions that are simple, yet so effective, the environment will thank you.

1. Eliminate Vampire Energy

Did you know that most devices draw power from your outlets even if they’re turned off? Vampire energy can be prevented by unplugging electronic devices when you’re done is not only easy, but it could save you money on your next energy bill. Try unplugging your phone charger in the morning, or your toaster and coffeemaker. And if you use power strips, you can simply turn off the switch. Find more vampire-eliminating tips here.



2. Reduce and Reuse Plastic

Wegreen bag all know we should be using reusable coffee cups, shopping bags, and sandwich bags, but sometimes it’s hard to remember. So until we break the habit, how can we remember? Try setting an alarm on your phone. Put your reusable shopping bags in your car. Move your plastic wrap and sandwich bags to a hard-to-get place–perhaps that top cabinet? And if you do use plastic, think of other purposes it could serve before you throw it away. After a few weeks, you’ll have formed a green habit. Find more creative reusable ideas here.



3. Meat-Free Mondays

Cutting meat out of your diet for one or two days a week can drastically decrease your carbon footprint. Not sure what to make? How about pancakes and fruit for breakfast; fresh salads or roasted vegetables for lunch; and veggie pizza, bean soups, or pasta for dinner? Or Google some new vegetarian recipes to try out. Find more inspiration from celebs like Paul McCartney and Arnold Schwarzenegger here.

4. Be Water Wise

WaterWiseWater is one of our most precious resources, but needs to be conserved. Use water wisely and see how much you can save: Washing only full loads of laundry and dishes saves up to 50 gallons per week; fixing household leaks saves up to 20 gallons per day; and five-minute showers save up to eight gallons per shower. See more water saving tips here.

5. Garden Like a Pro

IMG_3618In San Diego, we’re lucky to be able to garden year-round. We’re also lucky enough to have community gardens in case you can’t garden at home. Growing your own food is rewarding and saves money. Composting reuses food and plant waste and reduces landfill waste by breaking down into nutrients for your soil. Did you know that we teach  free composting classes at the Living Coast every Sunday at 1:00 p.m.? Come down and learn a thing or two to help you get started! 


We all know it’s hard to change long-term habits. So take it slow and do as much as you can. Maybe you start one resolution in January and wait until February to add another. No matter what, don’t give up. Every action you take helps in some way!

Overnight Adventures…in a nutshell

Overnight Adventures…in a nutshell

One of the coolest things The Living Coast offers is Family Overnight Adventures. Focused on family fun, wildlife adventures, snacks and sleepovers, you get to experience the Living Coast at sunset, nighttime and morning — when the general public is not normally allowed!

You’ll arrive after hours, 5:45 pm, and carpool into the center. (Usually you have to take the complimentary shuttle into the federally protected wildlife refuge on which the Living Coast sits but we lead you down our path right after all our regular guests have gone home.)

It starts with a fun, family craft adventure that involves our friends- the slithery kind — and then you get to meet one of our best behaved snakes in person! Mr. Rosy is a family favorite even for those that aren’t fond of the reptile kind. (Not everyone has to touch the snake.)

Then you’ll meet a real night owl! There are several owls who live at the Living Coast and quite a few wild ones on the Marsh. You and your family will get to meet Tyto, the white barn owl, up close and personal. If you like night hikes and encountering owls, this might be the highlight of your adventure!

Then there’s a light snack with a movie followed by indoor camping.
Note to parents: camping indoors gives you all the excitement of the outdoors without the bugs (and with a bathroom nearby).

In the morning, we’ll feed you breakfast, take you on an easy morning hike, and you’ll have another animal encounter! Pretty easy for a night on a wildlife refuge. 

We’ve left a few things out, because we want to surprise you and fill you with wonder. 


For more information, click here!

The Garibaldi at the Living Coast

The Garibaldi at the Living Coast

by Lindsay Bradshaw, Animal Care Manager

Garibaldi SquareIf you have ever been out snorkeling or diving in southern California, you will notice a trend: brown fish, gray fish, black fish, another brown fish, spotted grey fish, more brown fish, et cetera, et cetera. It is a big contrast to the vibrant colors you see out on a tropical coral reef where it looks like an entire rainbow has come alive and is swimming all around you. But despite the dull color palate (a palate based on camouflage among the brown kelp and seaweed), there is one fish in southern California who didn’t get the memo and stands out among the rest of his grey and brown neighbors: the garibaldi, California’s state marine fish.

indexGaribaldi are bright orange. Rather than camouflage, their coloration acts to draw attention to themselves and they stand out like a traffic cone on a busy street. Their kelp forest home is one of greens and browns, so why would the garibaldi want to stand out from its surroundings? The answer lies in why all animals exhibit the colors that they do. Nature always has a reason for everything – camouflage helps animals blend in with their surroundings to avoid predation and increases their chance for survival; disruptive coloration, like the stripes on a zebra, confuse predators; advertising coloration is often a sign that the animal will do a service (so don’t eat him!), like a bright red cleaner shrimp crawling into the mouth of a predatory moray eel to feed on and clean the moray eel of parasites.


DCIM133GOPROGaribaldi have what is called “warning coloration”. It is a sign to other fish to steer clear. Garibaldi are fiercely protective of their nests and very territorial. Male garibaldi start off by picking a nice flat rock and clearing out all algae other than the desired species of red algae. The females will visit numerous nest sites before picking one to deposit her eggs in. The males are responsible for tending the nest and raising the young, a task they take very seriously. Garibaldi have been known to chase after much larger fish and even scuba divers that swim too close to their nest.

When we talk about coloration, the baby garibaldi are no exception. Having a darker orange color and bright blue spots, these youngsters aren’t advertising that they are aggressive or territorial, they are advertising to the adult garibaldi that they are just babies and might not understand territory boundaries yet. A way to say ‘go easy on us… we don’t know any better’. Coloration for fish is not only a means to communicate, but a way to increase their survival. Next time you are at the Living Coast Discovery Center, see if you can find our two resident garibaldi!  

LindsayLindsay Bradshaw is the Animal Care Manager at the Living Coast Discovery Center. She has worked for several animal-focused organizations, including Birch Aquarium at Scripps, Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo, Maui Ocean Center, and the Vancouver Aquarium.

Bird Watching at the Living Coast

Go Birding with the experts at the Living Coast

DSC_0155-1024Bird Walks are included with your admission to the Living Coast and happen every Sunday at 11:45 a.m. and on the occasional Saturday. Bird Walks begin at the umbrellas at the entrance to the Living Coast Discovery Center and take place on some of the many trails managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Bird Walks last about an hour and the walking pace is nice and comfortable with many stops to view the many wild species of birds found on Sweetwater Marsh and San Diego Bay.



yellow crowned night herronWear comfortable shoes (ones that you don’t mind getting muddy), a hat, and you might want to being a light jacket just in case it gets windy. You will also want to wear sunscreen and insect repellent. And don’t forget a camera and binoculars if you have them.

We have insect repellent at the Front Desk (and ask that you do not apply it near the animals on exhibit). We also have binoculars for rent. Now you have everything you need for a Bird Walk — except our wonderful, knowledgeable birders…

For more information, visit the Living Coast Front Desk or call 619-409-590.


Living Coast Birder: Jeanne

Jeanne2One of our wonderful volunteers is Jeanne who gives birding tours to Living Coast visitors (at no extra cost). She is delightful, knowledgeable and has a very cool scope through which to see the many birds that visit or call the Living Coast and the Sweetwater Marsh home.

Thanks for sharing, Jeanne!




Living Coast Birder: Judy

Judy McIntoshThis is Judy, who has been a Living Coast Volunteer since 1998. Judy is what we call a Birder, which means she loves the feathery creatures you see here on Sweetwater Marsh — and throughout the world.  Judy gives Birding Tours here at the Living Coast (splitting duties with her sister Jeanne, profiled above) and throughout San Diego with the Audubon Society.

Judy is here on alternating weekends, but don’t worry. Even if it’s Jeanne’s weekend, Judy usually comes along for the ride! So next time you’re here, consider taking the Birding tour — and join us in thanking Judy for her years of service!




Living Coast Birder: Patricia

IMG_0531This is Patricia, another of our great volunteers who gives birding tours to Living Coast visitors (at no extra cost). Patricia is very knowledgeable about birds and also plants.  In case you were wondering: yes, Patricia will let you look through that very cool scope!




Clapper Rail imageBirding Tours are every Sunday at 11:45 a.m. and on the occasional Saturday. For more information, visit the Living Coast Front Desk or call 619-409-5900.


Spiders! EEK!!!

Spiders abound at the Living Coast

jumping spider eating flyIf you know where to look, you can find hundreds of spiders throughout the Living Coast grounds. This being the season of spooky, we wanted to let you in on a little secret: we’re surrounded by ’em!

Like this feller on your left, a jumping spider (Salticidae) that just caught a fly. Oh, and they have four pairs of eyes. Did we mention they can jump? Most jumping spiders can jump several times the length of their bodies but don’t worry, that’s only about 66 millimeters — or two-and-a-half inches.

male and female dew-drop spidersOne of our volunteers, Patricia, sent in photos of our spiders, which love to hide in cactus. One of Patricia’s favorites is the dew-drop (Theridiidae) spider. Here’s what she has to say, “Just learned this about the dew-drop spiders of the genus we saw: Spiders in this genus live in the webs of orb weaver spiders. They may be commensal (feeding on prey or prey remains that have been abandoned by the host) or kleptoparasitic (stealing prey that has been captured and/or stored by the host). They may also feed on the host spider or her eggs.” One word: CREEPY!

House SpiderWe also have very large house spiders. Is this because they are found in houses or as big as houses!? One other word: YIKES!!!

You might be wondering where you can find spiders at the Living Coast and, if you’re so inclined (or just want to give them a wide berth) here’s where they abound. Or in the case of the jumping spider, bound:

  • Most any cactus on the grounds or the many trails (spiders like cactus because it keeps predators away and prey close to the blooms)
  • A lot of the plants along Raptor Row on the way to Eagle Mesa
  • In the plants on Sweetwater Marsh, which you can see from our lunch decks.

Once you start looking for them, it’s almost impossible to stop seeing spiders at the Living Coast… Below, you can see more photos of our eight-legged friends, if you dare! MUUUAHAHAHAHA.

Cool evil laugh, eh?

Agave In Bloom

Shaw’s Agave at the Living Coast about to burst into color

Agave blooming4You will not want to miss the color show that is about to happen at the Living Coast. One of our Shaw’s agave plants is about to burst into color. Why is this so exciting?

Besides the spectacular color, these plants only bloom once in their lifetime after about 30 years. Additionally, Shaw’s agave is an extremely rare, endangered California plant. Watching this plant bloom is a special treat that may not always be available.

Coastal plants that take a long time to mature have difficulty keeping up with development. By some estimates, there might only be a single Shaw’s agave growing in the wild. The plants we have at the Living Coast are clones of that wild specimen, located near Border Field State Park and the Tijuana Estuary. Plants like Shaw’s agave send out identical plant shoots (or clones), known as pups, that can be removed from the host plant and replanted elsewhere.

Before (August 3).
After (August 16).

One of the most spectacular things about this soon-to-bloom agave is how much it has grown in such a short time. We took our first in a series of pictures (to document this momentous blooming event) on August 3rd and, by August 16th, it had grown nearly 20 feet! But there’s more to come!

After reaching this height, the cactus began flowering. It will continue for a number of days and we’re sure the result will be even more spectacular than its twenty-foot growth spurt. If you want to see a once-in-a-lifetime blooming event, we recommend coming to the Living Coast — and soon!

We have taken photos of this blooming cactus every day and put them together in a time-lapse sequence so you can see just how much this plant has grown from August 3-September 9, 2015. The video, which you can see below, offers a preview of the blooms to come. We hope you come to enjoy the finale at the Living Coast very soon!

Mark2Mark Valen, our Facilities and Horticulture Manager, contributed to this blog post. He says if the blooms get pollinated, then fruit will appear, containing seeds. Mark plans to sow the seeds around grounds, to sprout some of them in our greenhouse, and leave many of them to fall naturally and propagate themselves. 

This spectacular blooming event represents the end of this particular agave’s life cycle, but with a little luck and hard work we may be able to help the species’ continued survival. There are many other Shaw’s agave plants at the Living Coast — one of which is also going to bloom soon — so if you ever needed a reason to see some very rare coastal plants doing some very beautiful things, the time is now!

Living Coast Takes Part in Coastweeks


Weekends at the Living Coast  

September 19th – October 11th, 2015 11:00am – 2:00pm

Binoculars on the beachJoin the Living Coast as we celebrate wildlife found along San Diego’s beautiful coast. Each weekend we will host fun, educational and interactive activities that show new and exciting ways to appreciate and protect the wildlife found in our own backyard! Activities are free with admission and are between 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. each weekend of Coastweeks!

See the schedule below for more details:

Living Coast Members receive complimentary admission to our COASTWEEKS celebration.

  • watershed modelSaturday, Sept. 19 & Sunday, Sept. 20: Wild about Water!
    • I Love a Clean San Diego® Coastal Cleanup (9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Saturday)
    • Get Wet with Watersheds
    • Splash a Ray – special feed
  • Saturday, Sept. 26 & Sunday, Boystouchpool2Sept. 27: Seashore Splash!
    • Invert the Inverts– Touch Table
    • Tide-pool Touch
    • Octo and the Potato – special feed
  • Saturday, Oct. 3 & Sunday, Oct. 4: Gone Birding!
    • Explore Bird Biofacts
    • Bird Watching Stroll
    • Run with the Roadrunner – special first time opportunity to see a feeding
  • Boy Orange Shirt CrabsSaturday, Oct. 10 & Sunday, Oct.11: Crawling Crabs! 
    • Meet our Local Crustaceans
    • Shore Crab Hike (boots recommended)
    • Feast for a Lobster – special feeding

From the mountains to the coast, we are all connected! Come check out the celebration that is happening this fall at the Living Coast Discovery Center! In partnership with the California Coastal Commission, Coastweeks is a month-long celebration of our coastal habitats and water resources. For more information on Coastweeks, please visit:

Farm to Bay 2015 Wrap-Up

Living Coast Discovery Center Raised a Record-Breaking
$96,000 at our Annual Farm to Bay Event

Farm to Bay Shark & RayThe Living Coast Discovery Center raised $96,000 in net proceeds at its annual Farm to Bay event on Aug. 8, making it the most successful fundraiser in the center’s history. The funds were generated through a combination of sponsorships, ticket sales, auction proceeds and Raise the Paddle donations and will be used to support coastal wildlife, education and sustainability programs at the Living Coast throughout the year.

Sponsors included Beth Sabiston with ChameleonSDG&E, UTC Aerospace Systems–Aerostructures, Unified Port of San Diego, Sprouts Farmers Market–Chula Vista and Eastlake, Mission Federal Credit Union, BAE Systems, Baldwin & Sons, Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Republic Services, AT&T, General Dynamics NASSCO, Hoffman Hanono Insurance, Kathleen and Ben Vallejos, Miller Hull, Pacifica Companies, Seven Mile Casino, The Securities Center Inc., Waitt Foundation and Wells Fargo.

Farm to Bay is the only San Diego tasting event set within a protected national wildlife refuge, where guests can enjoy a unique, intimate nature and wildlife experience alongside dozens of native species.

Volunteers as Farm to BayIn keeping with the Living Coast’s commitment to the environment, the Farm to Bay Event Committee, led by the City of Chula Vista Sustainability Task Force, has taken the necessary steps towards producing a zero-waste event. This year, as a result of their efforts, 86 percent of event waste was recycled or composted and diverted from landfills. The team continues to build upon its successes each year by utilizing more earth-friendly materials and processes. Since 2013, overall waste has been reduced by 57 percent (819 pounds).

Check out all the photos on our Facebook page.

Thanks to our great partners!

 Food and Beverage Partners:

  • 1500 Ocean at Hotel Del Coronado
  • Agave Coffee and Café
  • Bread & Cie Bakery
  • Cool Down Coffee
  • Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro
  • Kitchen 4140
  • Mistral at Loews Coronado Bay Resort
  • Rubio’s Coastal Grill
  • Seasons Restaurant at Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara
  • Sprouts Farmers Market, Chula Vista and Eastlake
  • Sushi on a Roll
  • Suzie’s Farm
  • Tabletop Commons
  • The Fishery
  • Tidal at Paradise Point Resort
  • Trader Joe’s Eastlake
  • Truffle Gateau
  • Viva Pops
  • Waypoint Public
  • ZICO Premium Coconut Water


  • Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
  • Bay Bridge Brewing
  • Duck Foot Brewing Company
  • Karl Strauss Brewing Company
  • Mike Hess Brewing
  • Rough Draft Brewing Company
  • The Lost Abbey


  • California Fruit Wine
  • Quigley Fine Wines
  • Wiens Family Cellars


  • Azunia Tequila
  • Greenbar Craft Distillery
  • Kill Devil Spirit Co.
  • Kindred Distilled Spirits
  • Old Harbor Distilling Co.

Owl-O-Ween 2015

Owl-O-Ween at the Living Coast 5-8 PM October 24th, 2015

OwlOWeen LogoNothing’s as spooky as Owl-O-Ween at the Living Coast Discovery Center. And by spooky, we mean fun, hands-on, and sometimes gross, science! Help us celebrate everything October and learn about cool critters found right here on the Sweetwater Marsh. This fun Family Science Night is after hours — when some animals prefer to come out — on Saturday, October 24th from 5:00-8:00 p.m.

Join us — in the dark! — for fun, exciting, and educational adventures for the whole family. Wear a costume, or just comfortable clothes, and join us for…

owl-o-weenCool Halloween-Themed Mayhem:

  • Gross science experiments with “Dr. Eww!”
  • Tricks and treats
  • Dance party with Halloween music
  • Spooky story times
  • After dark trail walks
  • Animal meet-and-greets

Owl o weenEnter the costume contest, with awards for:

  • Best animal costume
  • Best homemade costume
  • Best family/group costumes
  • Most ‘hawk-ward’ costume (hawkward= awkward)


General Admission October 18th-October 24th:
Children (4-17) – $15.00
Adults (18+) – $10.00
Members (4+) – $10.00

Tickets sold at the door? Only if we don’t sell out…. No guarantees!

Event Brite Logo For tickets, visit our EventBrite link:


Join us for Owl-O-Ween festivities and to meet our resident Living Coast Owls (and kids dressed like owls), like these: