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Marine Life Filling Del Mar Lagoon

A coastal lagoon project in Del Mar millions of people drive by every day is now filled with millions of fish. Scientists say the restoration project is so successful it could be a model for others ac

Marine Life Filling Del Mar Lagoon

A coastal lagoon project in Del Mar millions of people drive by every day is now filled with millions of fish. Scientists say the restoration project is so successful it could be a model for others across the country. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

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Southern California Edison is paying for the $86 million San Dieguito Lagoon restoration project to compensate for fish killed at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

Barely six months after being open to the ocean tides for the first time, the lagoon is now home to millions of fish and invertebrates.

Scientists expected to find some fish and other marine life after opening a channel to the ocean.

But the numbers and varieties were not expected.

Steve Schroeter is a scientist who oversees the project.

Schroeter
: I'd say that we're really, ah, somewhat surprised and pleasantly surprised to see really good colonization.  

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Species found in the new lagoon include goobies, flatfish, pipe fish, mullet and grunion.  

Invertebrates discovered include snails, clams, worms and mussels.

Pat Tennant is a marine biologist with Southern California Edison.

He says while the 150 acre wetland site is mostly barren now, the land too will come to life as vegetation takes root.

Tennant:
It's kind of brown right now, there's not a lot of vegetation. But as you look out here you can see patches where natural recruitment's coming in. What's amazing about this is how quickly things colonize. So very rapidly we're going to be seeing what, what most of us perceive and recognize as a wetland. And that's what's really exciting, seeing that come in.

One of the project's goals is to provide food for birds.

Marine ecologist Schroeter says a small species of fish dominating the lagoon now - goobies - are already feeding osprey, egrets and other birds.
 
Schroeter
: Here's an egret and it's hunting around in these little pools and stuff like that. The goobies and stuff get stranded during the low tide.

He says it's another sign the man-made lagoon is evolving with the help of Mother Nature.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.  

 

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