Laguna Beach Area (Recreation, Aliso, and Dana Points) - Collecting Journal and Maps, 1965
The area referred to here as the Dana Point Area was the approximately 7-miles of coastline extending from Abalone Point north of Laguna Beach to Doheny State Beach south of Dana Point. Within this stretch of coastline, there were three main areas of collection: Recreation Point at Laguna Beach, Aliso Point and the rocky area immediately surrounding Dana Point.
All of the rest of these 7-miles of coastline was strictly posted and fenced private property with locked gates and even guards at some points.
Recreation Point at Laguna Beach was an approximately ¼ mile long stretch of rocky shelf with pools and semi-protected coves exposed at low tide. At first glance it looked a good deal like the Pacific Grove area, but further investigation showed that it tended to be - even on a windless day - much less protected from surf action to the extent that little access was possible to the lowest edges of the low water line.
Hence, collecting was seriously limited at least on the day I tried to collect here. Another big difference when compared to Pacific Grove was the large amount of soft rock in this area much of which showed considerable boring activity.
Although there were many rocks of turning size, 90 percent of those turned were nearly clean of any attached life. Whether this was due to the poor attaching quality of the soft rock or to the fact that most of the would-be under-rock life was hidden away in the many bore holes is debatable, but the same lack of abundance of under-rock life had been observed before in such soft rock areas.
All of the rocky point area, which as the enclosed map shows was surrounded on both sides by stretches of sandy beach, was thoroughly covered. Contrary to much I had read and heard about the richness of the Laguna Beach area, this was not a really good collecting spot. I can only assume that this area was typical of the general rocky area around Laguna Beach as this was the only area accessible for collecting.
The only really exceptional point of interest concerning this area was the comparative abundance of Cycloxanthops novemdentatus. In over 2 years of collecting on the rich Monterey Peninsula I had found 5 specimens of this crab, while in one period of collecting here I found at least 6 specimens and they were considerably larger.
In approximately 4 hours of collecting at Recreation Point, some 72 different species of the more conspicuous tidal invertebrates were observed. This is not really rich in comparison to other rocky outer coastline points covered.
Aliso Point, located approximately halfway between Laguna Beach and Dana Point, was from a collecting standpoint, even less desirable than the above area. It consisted of a ½ mile stretch of steep sloping sandy beach with a few projecting flat hard rock reefs fully exposed to heavy surf action even at the slack of the tide. There were no rocks to turn and all of the animal life was either openly exposed on the flat face of the reef or wedged into the crevices that cut across its surface.
The most obviously dominant form was the thick beds of Mytilus californianus and also very abundant were the numerous specimens of Anthopleura elegantissima that were scattered across the reefs. Close examination of these reefs (as close as the surf would allow) showed that there were only a few different species represented. A total of less than 12 species were found in the entire area.
Two special points of interest were that to date the only live specimens of Thais emarginata to be found in Southern California were found here and at least 1/3 of all the Anthopleura elegantissima specimens seen showed some evidence of the process of fission. This was observed only once before in 4 years of collecting.
Dana Point, was not only the richest of these three areas but with the exception of La Jolla, it was the richest stretch of rocky outer coastline south of Pt. Conception. The total area of coverage here extended along a ½ mile stretch of shoreline northward from Dana Point to another mile long stretch which extended southeastward from the same point. Fortunately, this entire shoreline was fully accessible and thoroughly covered. Generally speaking, the local rock throughout this area varied from medium hard to soft and there was considerable evidence of rock-boring species in some areas.
Once again, I'm not sure whether it was the protective effects of the off-shore islands or just a very calm sea but at the slack of the low tide, I walked down to the very edge of the lowest low-water line and even waded out below this with practically no surf action to contend with; this on a stretch of exposed rocky outer coastline.
Of the 198 different species found in the Dana Point Area, all were personally collected between the limits of the highest high tide zone and the lowest low tide zone in the areas indicated and only live specimens found were included here.
Map Showing Collecting Areas along the 7-mile stretch of coast from Abalone Point north of Laguna Beach to Doheny State Beach south of Dana Point
The overall Dana Point area was broken into 6 different sections (a – f) and each of these is described below.
Area “a” consisted of two fair sized rocky outcroppings north of Dana Point in the Salt Creek area. This was the same spot I hiked into four years ago on a cold foggy morning just after I finished school. These outcroppings were not as rich as the areas southward from Dana Point.
Areas “b” and “c” covered the very rocky area that extended from the Point to the park pier. This was a very rich area and varied from exposed rocky flats, to pools and semi-protected channels, to rocky coves. A few finds of particular interest here were the 6" long specimen of Haliotis corrugata on the underside of a rock in a quiet pool and the (13) specimens of Ophiopteris papillosa that in every other area was relatively scarce.
Area “d” was another rich rocky area which extended approximately ¼ mile southward from the pier. This was an area of sand and rocks and tended to be more semi-protected open pools and flat rocky shelf. The two most interesting finds here were the only specimen of the unidentified black and red striped flatworm and the fairly abundant specimens of the Dendrostomum dyscritum-like sipunk.
Area “e”, a medium sized scattered rocky point, was one of the richest spots in the entire Dana Point Area. It was a dangerous spot that could fill-up behind and trap someone out on the point as the tide came in. There were many rocks of turning size here and in addition to this a few good overhanging ledges for inspecting. Some of the finds of particular interest here were the first Sacculina parasitic specimen, the large 8" diameter Ophioderma panamensis, the one and only Thysanozoon sp. papillated flatworm specimen, Trivia solandtri and the near common living specimens of Murex gemma. The latter was not found as abundantly in any other area.
Area “f”, a much larger rocky point, was very near as rich and one of the most 'virgin' points seen. It was an area of large rocks and deep pools and at least one deep-water semi-protected cove. Seen here and nowhere else to date were at least 4 specimens of Panulirus interruptus one of which was a good 24" long and a 3' long 'character' that looked an awful lot like the moray eel specimens at Scripps.
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Recreation, Aliso, and Dana Points
Some of the Crabs Found Here
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