Below an underused underpass that crosses beneath the Pacific Coast Highway snakes a quiet creek that once was teeming with life. It also used to be a lot bigger. John Ota, an environmental scientist with California State Parks Angeles District, says the decades-old concrete structure restricted the width of Topanga Creek from what was once a quarter of a mile to now just 79 feet. Over time, that lack of space has taken a huge toll on the species that call the creek home.
“This particular creek is a little bit unique in Southern California in that it never completely dries up, which is why the tidewater gobies really like it here because they always have some water they can hang out in,” said Ota.
Those fish, once plentiful, are now endangered and facing possible extinction. There used to be several hundred to several thousand at the site depending on the time of year, Ota noted, but no longer.
“We haven’t seen any this year,” he said.