San Elijo Lagoon Inlet Opens



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Collaborative Actions, Well Into Last Night, Restored Oxygen Levels for Aquatic Species. Inlet Excavation Continues Today.

Just east of the Coast Highway 101 bridge underpass, crews continue sand excavation to improve water oxygen levels due to normal sand accumulation at the mouth of the lagoon (See post Inlet Excavation Underway).

Saltwater flow was restored on April 18 before the nighttime high tide at San Elijo Lagoon’s ocean connection. This photo of the open inlet this morning shows a rainbow over the ocean.

Yesterday the excavation began. Our goal was to re-open the tidal channel before high tide at around 11:00 pm. We achieved this with an entire team in place. Salt water flowed back into the channel. Crews continued to excavate sand to deepen the passage. A temporary sand berm was placed to pond the infusion of ocean water last night until crews returned this early morning to breach it, and resume excavation.

Conservancy restoration teams focused on moving larger fishes back into the ocean until the inlet could be breached. The tidal channels leading into, and nearer the nature center, are deeper, so actions were concentrated in this nearshore part of the lagoon.

The restoration team worked into the late evening to bring fishes from the lagoon opening back into the ocean, including halibut and stingrays. 

Tidal flow is critical in our estuary. Reviving Your Wetlands restoration will improve tidal circulation in the lagoon by removing accumulated sediment and making the channels deeper and wider. Water will flow and mix more easily into and out of the lagoon, and farther into the East basin.

Did you know? One of the primary reasons that San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy formed in 1987 was because of inlet closures. Securing endowments and annual funding for necessary excavations was a big priority. The Conservancy’s sustaining membership also provides emergency funds for our response when nature needs it most.

We will continue monitoring water quality and guiding the actions underway to restore optimal oxygen levels for aquatic species. We know that some fishes could not survive, but that many more have been saved, both by ocean replacement, and restored tidal flow.

We thank Build NCC teams, and our Conservancy teams, for moving quickly to help improve tidal flow. We could not have responded more efficiently were it not for the availability and all-in approach of crews with equipment for the benefit of aquatic species.

These collaborations are an example of our community-inspired mission to protect and restore the resources of San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, its watershed, and related ecosystems for the benefit of current and future generations.

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