Mission Bay back in the day
  • Mission Bay back in the day
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Long known as False Bay, the former marshlands were dredged between the 1940s and 1960s to create Mission Bay, the nation’s largest man-made aquatic park, much of it islands and peninsulas.

While not scarred by industry to the point of San Diego Bay, Mission Bay faces challenges. “We don’t really have the toxic waste or hazardous waste issues, but more biological pollution,” says John Anderson, who works with the local water control board. “Fecal coliform bacteria levels are quite high.”

According to Travis Pritchard, a program director with San Diego Coastkeeper, poor design choices when dredging the old False Bay and constructing the Mission Bay park have led to most of the site’s water-quality problems.

“It was a natural wetland, and in the ’40s we said, ‘You know what would be fun? Let’s dig up this wetland and have a recreational bay!’” Pritchard says, noting that between the bay’s narrow inlet, water circulation is blocked by SeaWorld’s marina, Paradise Point, Crown Point, and Fiesta Island before reaching the two fresh water sources that feed the bay from its eastern and northeastern edges. The route that water has to take to the ocean means much less of it is being exchanged through tidal flow than in a natural bay or lagoon.

“Mission Bay’s pressures mainly stem from inland waters being discharged at Tecolote Creek and Rose Creek,” Pritchard explains. “One of the problems with Mission Bay is that [the creeks] come in at the eastern edge of the bay, and because it’s a constructed wetland, that part of the bay doesn’t have great circulation.”

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dwbat April 26, 2015 @ 7:03 p.m.

So "fecal coliform bacteria levels are quite high" in Mission Bay, and nothing is being done about it?

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Daniel Powell May 9, 2015 @ 6:45 a.m.

The old bridge over the inlet between Ocean Beach and Mission Beach. People would fish from the bridge, especially in spawning season for white seabass and halibut, among other species. Some would use long trident-type spears and have success on the larger fish. My grandfather and father used a shorter version of the trident in a john boat at night to hunt halibut. They attached car head lights to the rail of the boat pointing down so as to see the halibut laying on the bottom in the shallow water.

They were stuck on the east side of the lagoon once in the truck trying to get in to their launch point. It took 2 days for them to get help out. Not that folks were unhelpful, just not many friends around with a vehicle that could during the work week.

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Daniel Powell May 9, 2015 @ 6:46 a.m.

"False Bay" before dredging from the southwest. The dredging was completed in 1956.

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