What do snakes, needles and Styrofoam have in common? Long Beach’s coastline

Plastic, Styrofoam and even needles are the usual suspects during Long Beach resident Karim Vazquez’s periodic beach cleanups, but a large dead snake isn’t what he expected Monday afternoon in Alamitos Beach.

Vazquez and a friend found a snake that was about 4 feet long near the waterline around 4 p.m., after rain sprinkled the city earlier that day. He said he’s found dead animals on the beach before, but he’s never found anything like this.

“Snakes? No, but usually once a day I find something odd,” Vazquez said. He said he had been cleaning the beach in his spare time every day for about a week when he found the snake.

Long Beach Marine Bureau Chief Gonzolo Medina said it’s rare to see something like a snake wash up, but it’s not unusual to hear about weird things ending up on our beaches because the LA River dumps right into our portion of the ocean, bringing with it 48 miles of debris and trash. Most of the river is concrete, but parts of it have natural bottoms, and with natural bottoms comes natural fauna, according to Medina.

“There’s a lot of life between here and there,” he said.

He said crews regularly rake the beach and, with help from resident clean-up crews, they’re able to keep the beaches as clean as possible. However, his teams usually finds plastic and styrofoam during their cleanups.

“It’s not unusual to find shopping carts or telephone poles washing down the river during heavy rainstorms, especially after the first of the year,” he said.

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Valerie Osier is the Social Media & Newsletter Manager for the Long Beach Post. She started at the Post in 2018 as a breaking news reporter. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from the Cal State Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband and two cats.