Relationships Between Tidal Changes and Ocean Temperatures in Palos Verdes Reef

Using the Aqualink buoy, the Southern California Marine Institute, and Vantuna Research Group, Occidental College has found some interesting relationships between tidal changes and temperatures in their restoration reef. 

Restoration reef project in Palos Verdes Reef

Due to many major historical landslides, Palos Verdes Reef in Southern California was affected by sedimentation, burial, and scour. The effects of these landslides make it impossible for anything to settle and grow. The restoration reef in the Palos Verdes Shelf is an effort to restore rocky-reef habitats that landslides can’t bury with the same materials from which the reef was made. This will support a healthy marine ecosystem over time. The 18 modules were placed in the reef in September 2020 with over 52 tons of rock and over a decade of work. Since then, both biotic benthic cover and fish biomass have increased. 

Relationship between tidal changes and temperatures 

The Aqualink buoy was deployed on June 2nd, 2021. Some interesting findings on the relationship between tidal changes and temperatures in their restoration reef were made using the buoy and the nearest NOAA tide gauge. Seafloor temperatures tend to spike during low tides and decrease drastically during high tides. Seasurface temperatures show the opposite behavior, with a slight temperature decrease during low tides and a slight temperature increase during high tides. This proves that there is a greater temperature difference during high tides. This relationship is interesting because each tide cycle washes the reef with cool, nutrient-rich water. 

Figure (a) displays Surface and seafloor temperature. Figure (b) displays the difference between the two temperatures. Color represents tide height above mean low-low water (MLLW). (Williams et al. 2022)

Read the full report from the Southern California Marine Institute and Vantuna Research Group, Occidental College

Project Year 1 Report.pdf

Watch the video of the project


Williams, Jonathan P., Chelsea M. Williams, Zoe Scholz, and Daniel J. Pondella II. 2022. Palos

Verdes Reef Restoration Project Annual Report: Project Year 1 (2021–2022). A report to

the California Coastal Commission, California State Lands Commission, and Department

of the Army. Vantuna Research Group, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA. 47p + iii.

Wolfe, S. (2021). Rebirth of a Reef: Palos Verdes Reef Restoration Project. YouTube. Vantuna Research Group.

Retrieved June 18, 2022, from