Port Hueneme near Oxnard and Ventura is the only deep water port between LA Harbor and San Francisco. Cargo ships carrying fruits and vegetables and cars are the most common. Dole has a big presence along with BMW, Mini Cooper, Kia, and Range Rover.
I started tracking the cargo ships in and out of our local port using a website called Vesseltracker.com. The purpose of the site is for businesses to be able to track these ships and inventory. There is a free subscription that gives plenty of data. Using cargo ships is one of the worlds cheapest ways to move inventory. Watching these ships come and go, I cannot help but think there are may lesson plans for math, science, economics, and social studies that can be developed using this information.
If you are interested in working this type of information into your curriculum let me know. I would be happy to assist in lesson plan design and implementation.