Surfrider partners with Girl Scouts to protect Malibu’s tidepools

Photo by Hayley B. O'Connell / TMT Girl Scout Troops 654 and 653 traveled from Whittier to participate in the Surfrider Foundation, Malibu Chapter Tidepool Protection Program and sign unveiling on Saturday at Malibu Lagoon State Beach. Lia Shipman (in white) led the girls around the tidepools, teaching them the proper ways of interacting with marine life.

Malibu residents, the Grazers, donate initial funds for tidepool signage, which educates the public about how to protect the fragile marine resource.

By Vicki Godal/Special to The Malibu Times

The Malibu chapter of the Surfrider Foundation unveiled its new tidepool sign Saturday morning and, in partnership with the Girl Scouts, launched its educational Tidepool Protection Program at Malibu Lagoon State Beach.

World renowned for its outstanding beaches, the public’s love of Malibu’s tidepools has become their downfall. Human activities, including trampling by visitors, agricultural and urban runoff, coastal development and over-fishing are some of the problems affecting tidepool health.

“Millions of visitors come to Malibu beaches every year. They love walking on the rocks and looking at the animals in the tidepools but, unfortunately, they’re loving our tidepools to death,” Surfrider’s Southern California Field Coordinator Nancy Hastings said.

In early 2004, The Malibu Times ran a story about the damage being done to Malibu’s tidepools and Surfrider’s response. At that time, Malibu resident Gigi Grazer had contacted the Malibu Surfrider Foundation regarding the misuse and abuse of the tidepools near her home. The Grazer family donated money to develop educational signage to teach visitors how to protect tidepools. The Grazers also provided for two more signs at Leo Carrillo State Beach and Point Dume State Beach to be installed later this year.

Surfrider soon determined the need for an educational program to complement the tidepool signage.

“We didn’t want to just stick a sign out on the beach and leave it at that. A sign is great, but would the educational value of it really stick if we didn’t have some sort of program to accompany it?” Hastings said. “We were concerned that the sign wouldn’t do enough to instill long-term thinking in protecting the tidepools’ health.”

Working with marine biologists Dr. Karen Martin of Pepperdine University and Rafe Sagarin of UCLA, Hastings began developing a program to educate the public on how to protect and preserve the tidepools. Martin, who has studied Malibu’s tidepools since the early ’80s, believes the program could be integral to the tidepools’ survival.

“Tidepools are home to beautiful, fascinating creatures living in a lovely little microcosm,” Martin said. “These tidepools need to cherished and protected through education.”

One of the main goals of the newly developed protection program is to educate the public on the important ecological functions that tidepools provide, the link in marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Once the program was conceptualized, Surfrider members had to figure out how to get people to participate in the program.

Hastings contacted the Angeles Girl Scouts and proposed the tidepool protection program as a part of its educational programs. Angeles Girl Scout Program Coordinator Harmony Frederick immediately saw the symmetry between the Girl Scouts marine education and the Surfrider’s tidepool protection program.

“We already had marine programs in place and tidepool protection education was a natural inclusion,” Frederick said.

Forming a joint partnership with the Angeles Girl Scouts, the Malibu Surfrider’s protection program will apply toward earning three different Girl Scout badges, “Shore to Sea,” “Water Wonders” and “Makin’ Waves.”

The Malibu Surfrider Foundation chapter plans to conduct six Tidepool Protection workshops throughout 2005. Martin and Sagarin will teach the workshops, which will cover animals common to Malibu’s tidepools and how they fit into the ecological chain. The workshops will also teach Girl Scouts how to be naturalists, including documenting the tidepools and how to read tide charts. Ultimately, the Girl Scouts will learn how to be responsible stewards of their local tidepools.

Martin, a former Girl Scout, is pleased with the direction of the Surfrider’s program. “It’s important to appreciate the tidepools, to walk among them but not to touch or disturb them in any way. But how do you teach appreciation? Hopefully, like we’re getting ready to do with the Girl Scouts,” Martin said.

With 141,679 Girl Scouts in Southern California and 400,000 in all of California, incorporating tidepool protection education into its programs could have major positive effects for local tidepools.

“We have anticipated the launch of our tidepool program for almost a year now,” Malibu Chapter Surfrider Chair Alan Reed said. “This program exemplifies all aspects of Surfrider’s mission to help protect our beaches and waves through conservation, activism, research and education. I hope that the Grazer Family donation will serve as motivation for other concerned citizens to join forces with the Malibu Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation to help us with all of our grassroots initiatives.”

For more information on the Tidepool Protection Program, the Malibu Surfrider Chapter can be contacted at 310.451.1010 or visit For more information on the Girl Scouts, visit