The Ocean

Studying, Restoring, and Protecting the Santa Monica Bay

The Santa Monica Bay sits in-between the cool waters of northern California and the warmth of Baja. The Bay’s mix of rocky reef, sandy bottom, and submarine canyons attract a rich variety of marine species. However, these ecosystems share a coastline with Los Angeles, the nation’s 2nd largest urban area. Therefore, the marine life in the Bay face constant challenges from habitat loss, pollution, and overuse.

Our team of marine biologists study, restore, and protect the resources within our coastal ocean to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for marine life, as well as the people that depend on and enjoy what the Santa Monica Bay offers.


TBF’s Armand Barilotti monitoring restored kelp forests off Palos Verdes, CA


Underwater Exploration

The Bay Foundation will be one of the first non-profits to employ innovative technologies to explore underwater ecosystems and support conservation and restoration of our coastal resources.  Remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), once only available to agencies and universities, now allow everyone from children to scientists the opportunity to experience and understand the ocean by capturing high-resolution images and videos of the seafloor.  TBF’s project will focus on inaccessible underwater habitats in the Santa Monica Bay … READ MORE

TBF’s ROV pilot Parker House operating R2Deep2 with Heather Burdick at the Navy’s MAST Lab in Oxnard, CA.


TBF staff monitoring outplanted juvenile abalone.

Our Work


Kelp Forest Restoration Project

Kelp forest ecosystems are vital to over 700 marine species, including kelp bass, spiny lobster, and abalone. But over 75% of kelp forests in Santa Monica Bay have declined over the last 100 years, directly affected by commercial and recreational fishing, sedimentation, urban runoff, and pollution. With its many partners, TBF’s Marine Program is actively restoring kelp forests along the Palos Verdes Peninsula… READ MORE

Abalone Restoration Program

Abalone are critical components of kelp forests by eating drift kelp and competing with sea urchins for space and food. Overharvesting in the past century, loss of kelp habitat, and disease, nearly wiped out all 7 species found in southern California. We are working to restore green, red, and white abalone to kelp forests in the Santa Monica Bay… READ MORE


A green abalone (H. fulgens) off Palos Verdes, CA.

Aerial Monitoring Project

TBF has been flying with LightHawk pilots since 2008 to conduct coastal aerial surveys. This project was originally initiated to provide fishery-independent data on boating activities for the Marine Protected Area (MPA) planning process. These data are now being used to evaluate the MPAs, water quality improvement projects, kelp forest restoration, ecosystem based management, and other management actions that may impact boating activities. Flights are made possible by the generous volunteer pilots of LightHawk. Click here to read our most recent report.


Aerial view of the Palos Verdes Peninsula from our Aerial Monitoring Project.

Kelp Forest Hydrodynamics

TBF’s kelp forest restoration sites make the perfect study areas, allowing instruments to measure physical, chemical, and biological data before the presence of kelp in an urchin barren, and after the presence of kelp when restoration work is complete. This project is led by UC Davis Ph.D. student Kristen Elsmore, her advisor Dr. Brian Gaylord, and Dr. Kerry J. Nickols of CSU Northridge. Water chemistry studies are done in conjunction with UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability…  READ MORE

PhD student Kristen Elsmore leading undergraduate students from UCLA IoES in water sampling.