Tassels of brackish, dark seaweed stretch ahead of me, baking in the summer sun. I’m tempted to look up across Goleta Bay’s dark waters to the dusty blue of the Santa Barbara Channel. But I keep my eyes down to pick my way through the detritus of shells, stones, and insects, as my city feet are tend er. It’s a lovely afternoon. The temperature is 68° F (20° C). The breeze wafts coolly from the sea. I think: Life’s a beach.
This beach is alive, actually. The dark mounds are mainly heaps of giant kelp. Explaining kelp’s importance as she leads me among the piles is Jenifer E. Dugan, a sandy beach scientist who is an Associate Research Biologist at the Marine Science Institute of the University of California at Santa Barbara. The roofs of the university buildings peek at us over the 40-foot high bluff.