Conservancy habitat and water quality monitoring expands past the surf, where the lagoon connects to the ocean.

If you surf Cardiff Reef and see someone on an 11-foot paddleboard with scientific equipment on it, you might be wondering what this guy is doing. And what is that equipment, this DataSonde?


Bradley Nussbaum, Conservancy Habitat Management Director, gets ready to measure water quality just beyond the lagoon’s connection to the ocean.

Once a week, Bradley Nussbuam unloads the paddleboard for an oceanic adventure, science-style. Our role in guiding Reviving Your Wetlands lagoon restoration expands, from monitoring waters in the tidal channels, to slightly out to sea. We are focused on the nearshore waters where San Elijo Lagoon’s only connection to the ocean (its mouth, or inlet) is located at Cardiff State Beach.

The paddleboard is the vessel. The biologist is the paddling propeller. And the DataSonde takes real-time measurements of water quality just beyond the lagoon’s inlet: pH*, salinity, temperature, depth, dissolved oxygen*, chlorophyll and turbidity*.

* Our restoration permits require we test for this once a week in reports to the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board


It’s no easy feat to push an 11-foot paddleboard through the breaking waves.

Bradley measures in three spots: north, south, and several hundred feet beyond the breaking surf. The data collected inform lagoon restoration managers of any changes, or trends in readings, that are analyzed in the bigger picture of lagoon restoration.

Basically, we ensure compliance of the project and our permit conditions. If there were high pH or turbidity readings, immediate steps would be taken to identify and remedy the problem, and if it’s part of restoration or another issue.

The County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health’s Beach and Bay Water Quality Monitoring Program measures bacteria levels and provides beach advisories. 

Combined water quality readings, both ours, and the County’s, have all been in compliance to-date. 


Bradley paddled past the breaking surf and will measure water quality. Or shall we call this a “board meeting” at the office?

Name the PaddleBoard!

Can you help us brainstorm a name for this outfitted paddleboard-now-water quality floating station? We have a fun contest and hope you’ll join in:

  • SUBMIT your suggestions now through July 9
  • Our staff will choose 10 name suggestions for public vote
  • You can vote for your favorite July 16-20
  • When we announce the winning name July 30, the winner can join Bradley on a paddle out and be a part of water quality science.

See you in the surf! And on the trails at San Elijo Lagoon.


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