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Santa Monica Celebrates Clean Beaches and Whale Tails  

By Jason Islas
Lookout Staff

August 3, 2011 -- Mayor Richard Bloom and other community leaders gathered Tuesday morning at the Santa Monica Pier to unveil the redesigned “whale tail” license plate and to celebrate improvements in the water quality of Santa Monica's beaches.

The whale tail license plates help fund many education and programs specifically concerned with keeping the oceans clean.

“I want to encourage people everywhere to put a whale tail license plate on your vehicles to show your support for clean beaches,” State Assembly member Julia Brownley told the crowd Tuesday.

Assemblymember Brownley addresses the crowd

Heal the Bay Board Member, Amy Smart echoed Brownley's sentiment adding that “clean ups show people they are connected to the ocean.” Heal the Bay receives one of the largest shares of the money from “Whale Tale” license plate sales to organize more than 600 cleanups a year, according to Smart.

The efforts of Heal the Bay and other organizations have been felt.

This year, the water around Santa Monica pier has improved dramatically according to Heal the Bay's annual beach report card. The pier jumped off the organization's “Beach Bummer” list to receive an A rating.

Mayor Bloom and Amy Smart working on the ceremonial attaching of the license plate Picture

That wasn't all, either. Bloom pointed out that Santa Monica was included in a list of National Geographic's top beach cities thanks to the efforts of organizations like Heal the Bay, as well as city efforts, such as a summer trash valet and the passing of Measure V in 2006 to raise money to deal with urban run off.

City Manager Rod Gould said Tuesday that he was happy to be celebrating “the great improvements in water quality and the return of tourist to this world class city to enjoy.”

The “Whale Tale” license plate was originally designed in 1997 by the artist Wyland, according to Bloom. In late 2008, the California Coastal Commission invited artists to submit their designs for a new “Whale Tale” license plate.

Sample of the new license plate design

Bloom, who is also a member of the Coastal Commission, said that after much deliberation, two artists were chosen and asked to collaborate. The new design is the wok of graphic designer Bill Atkins and painter Elizabeth Tyndall.

He also accepted a challenge to all cities in California from the mayor of Dana Point to see which city's residents would buy the most “Whale Tail” license plates between now and the next coastal cleanup day on September 17.

The ceremony ended after Bloom attached one of the new license plates to a Ford hybrid. As he was putting the screws in, the audience spotted a school of dolphins swimming in the distance off the pier.

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