pal inlets of Santa Monica Bay are Marina del Rey, the largest marina in the nation, and the adjoining wetlands of Ballona Creek and King Harbor in Redondo Beach. The shoreline is entirely within the county of Los Angeles.
The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project defines "the Bay" to include part of the San Pedro Bay shelf, namely the western end along the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Unlike the bay itself, the shelf along the Palos Verdes Peninsula is steep and narrow; within 5 kilometers of shore it plunges into the 850-meter-deep San Pedro Basin.
The present land drainage area of the bay is extremely narrow, extending no more than 24 kilometers inland. The actual drainage area is 850 square kilometers (328 square miles) and includes communities such as Malibu, Santa Monica, west Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and part of Hollywood in the northeast corner of the drainage triangle; to Westchester, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, and part of Torrance along the central shoreline; and Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, and San Pedro on the southern shoreline.
Santa Monica Bay encompasses all the major habitats and ecosystems of the midlatitude Pacific coastline of the United States. The pelagic ecosystem is the largest and supports epipelagic and mesopelagic populations of fish, invertebrates, and algae. Inshore waters of the bay support one of the major areas for eggs and juveniles of keystone species such as northern anchovy and Pacific sardine. Inshore, shallow-water rocky outcrops support related species that compete for space with a large variety of green, red, and brown algae; seaweeds; and kelp. Sandy beaches support dense colonies of mole crabs and other small crustaceans, polychaetes, and clams while rocky intertidal areas are rich in additional seaweeds and attached and free-living invertebrates. Kelp forests are critical habitat for many species of fish, invertebrates, birds, and mammals and have been an economic (harvested) resource as well. The Ballona wetlands have been reduced by the construction of Marina del Rey from 8.5 square kilometers to 0.65 square kilometers. A smaller wetland occurs at the mouth of Malibu creek.
The principal uses of Santa Monica Bay include recreation (swimming, boating, diving, fishing), sport and commercial fishing, aesthetic enjoyment, coastal developments, shipping, industrial cooling water, and waste disposal (domestic and industrial). The full market value of residential, commercial, and industrial development along the bay exceeds $30 billion.
The 22 beaches of Santa Monica Bay attract 44 million person days of