Ballona Institute Publications in Ecology


Robert Jan "Roy" van de Hoek, President
Ballona Institute
Los Angeles, California 90293

          My studies of the marine biology at Marina Del Rey with my professor Earl Segal began as a student at CSUN 40 years ago in 1976. Discovering that approximately 10 years earlier from 1967 to 1969, another student of Earl Segal named William Brewer completed a Master Thesis on the marine biology of Marina Del Rey was very curious to me. As I read the Master Thesis by William Brewer, I realized that their research needed to be brought to light for the public for educational and recreational purposes, but also as solid scientific natural history. The Master of Science Thesis by William Brewer was the 13th thesis of the Biology Department at CSUN, which was known as San Fernando Valley State College when the thesis was completed in 1970. I was also pleased to discover as I perused the 66 page thesis that Ross Pohlo was chosen by William Brewer to be on his committee. I note here that William Brewer was the first graduate student to study with Earl Segal and Ross Pohlo, as both professors had only been at CSUN (SFVSC) for a few years. However, a few years earlier, when Earl Segal was at a Kansas university on faculty, Earl chaired a committee of his very first graduate student.

          In 1970, William Brewer completed his Master Thesis, and he worked for a few years at California Institute of Technology (JPL) in Pasadena, before he joined the Peace Corps in 1973-1974) and arrived at his assignment in Micronesia in the Tropical Pacific for his volunteer marine ecologist position. He became a conservationist and environmentalist as he learned the reefs, lagoons and forests were all interrelated. Bill Brewer was a scuba diver, as we learn from an article that he wrote about Micronesia marine ecology entitled: THE ASSAULT OF OUR REEFS AND LAGOONS.

          Here is a brief autobiography statement that William Brewer wrote that was printed in the MICRONESIAN REPORTER alongside the issue with his article:

"WILLIAM A. BREWER, a former Peace Corps/Micronesia environmentalist (1973-1974), now works as Environmental Health Specialist for the Trust Territory Department of Health Services and the Environmental Protection Board. After receiving an MS degree in Marine Biology from California State University, Brewer worked as Senior Microbiologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of California Institute of Technology for three years before coming to Saipan in 1973."

          After his time at Saipan in Micronesia, William Brewer formed a business to protect the marine environment of the Tropical Pacific by doing Environmental Impact Reports for places in the Marshall Islands, Guam, and Hawaii. Understanding this portion of the professional life of William Brewer adds relevance to two of his professors, both Earl Segal and Ross Pohlo as his mentors. I was also influenced by Earl Segal and Ross Pohlo at CSUN as a student and why I am a marine biologist and marine ecologist interested in conservation and the environment of coastal California especially in our urbanized City and County of Los Angeles at Marina Del Rey and Ballona Valley.

          On page ii of the Master of Science Thesis by William A. Brewer we find the signatures of Earl Segal and Ross Pohlo. And on page iii, we find the acknowledgement of Earl Segal and Ross Pohlo that is excerpted here as follows:

"I especially want to thank my research advisor, Dr. Earl Segal, who spent countless hours with me both in the field and the laboratory, and whose interest and enthusiasm was a constant stimulus. .... I also want to express my gratitude to, .... Dr. Ross Pohlo, .... for valuable criticism of this manuscript."

          The research of William A. Brewer was virtually forgotten, but I show the relevance of that research here to show the importance of the abundant marine life growing on the seawalls, piling, rocks, buoys, docks and boats of a new harbor and an accidental urban estuary at Marina Del Rey that had only been created 7 years prior this studied. The Marina is an important part of healing the ecological nature at the Ballona Wetlands State Ecological Reserve and along Ballona Creek in the greater Ballona Valley, California.

          On page 4 of the Master Thesis by William Brewer is an excerpt of a chapter of his thesis entitled "AREA OF STUDY" that explains Marina Del Rey as an accidental urban estuary:

"Marina del Rey is a recreational and smallcraft harbor located approximately ten miles west of Los Angeles, California. Prior to dredging and construction in 1957, the area consisted of a flood plain and salt marsh. The main channel is comprised of two rock jetties, each approximately 1600 meters in length. Approximately 100 meters from the terminus of the jetties is situated a rock breakwater approximately 800 meters in length and an angle of 90 [degrees] to the jetties. The harbor consists of a main channel and eight small yacht basins comprising 405 acres of water."

          This chapter by William Brewer goes on to describe Marina Del Rey in further detail, including Ballona Creek in the next paragraph as follows:

"Parallel to the southernmost jetty is the Ballona Creek flood control channel which drains a portion of the southwestern Los Angeles basin. The contribution of freshwater runoff to the harbor water is unknown; however, it is seasonal occurrence primarily, with heaviest runoff during the winter and early spring. The recent deposition of suspended silt and sand has resulted in the formation of a shoal immediately adjacent to the harbor entrance."

Brewer, William A. 1975. The Assault Of Our Reefs and Lagoons. Micronesian Reporter 23(3): 17-21.

Brewer, William A. 1975. Autobiography Statement. Micronesian Reporter 23(3): 2.

Brewer, William A. 1970. The Establishment of a Marine Fouling Community at at Marina Del Rey, California. San Fernando Valley State College. Master of Science Thesis. 66 pages.