Malibu Creek flows through the Santa Monica Mountains, a range that divides the city of Los Angeles in two. To the north of the Santa Monicas lies the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles, and to the south, the main heart of the city. The creek starts south of Westlake Village, and flows 13.4 miles (21.6 km) to Malibu Lagoon on the coast.
A large portion of the area through which the creek flows was once owned by 20th Century Fox Studios, before being turned into a state park in 1976. The landscape of the park surrounding the creek has been the setting of many TV and film productions over the years. The area seen in today’s photo is reached through the main access point to the park and is looking upstream toward Goat Buttes and the Rock Pool of the gorge.
This area is essentially a bowl set within a ring of mountains that makes for beautiful atmospherics following rains. A clear early morning sunrise following an evening of rain often results in interesting fog and mists in the bowl.
Malibu Creek is also notable for hosting a population of steelhead trout, which are a specialized form of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) that metamorphose and migrate out to sea before returning to spawn. It is likely that these fish were the evolutionary progenitors of all salmon species. Unlike salmon that die after spawning, steelhead can spawn multiple times. They also aren’t as particular about the stream in which they spawn as are salmon. Unfortunately, the steelhead trout in Malibu Creek face many challenges. The creek is dammed in two locations, allowing them to access only the lower reaches. Over the years various fishing clubs introduced non-native fish species into the creek for sport, and these have increased in numbers to compete with the trout for resources. Various forms of human-produced pollutants are also introduced to the creek on an ongoing basis, which also has a negative impact on the fish. And as a last insult, people releasing non-native crayfish into the creek have created a population explosion of another species that competes with the trout for resources.
In spite of the problems, Malibu Creek and its surrounding watershed is still a gem in the Santa Monica Mountains. As such, it deserves better treatment than what we’ve given it over the last century or so.
This photo was taken with a Canon EF17-40 mm f/4L USM lens zoomed to 38 mm on a Canon EOS 10D. The exposure was set to 1/6 sec at f/16 and ISO 200.