Save our Tomales Bay – Part 2

Click on the words “Save our Tomales Bay” above to see the related banner image.

Today and last week I boated across Tomales Bay with the intention of seeing what sort of plastic debris I could find and haul out.

Given my last post about the oyster farming debris I dug out of the shore of Tomales Bay and packed out, I did not think I’d find nearly so much.

How wrong I was.

Last week, a little north of the area of my last visit on the SE shoreline of Tomales Bay, I beached my boat and began to walk the wrack.

I stopped counting oyster grow-out bags after 20.

There were so many, I had to make 3 trips back across after loading my boat as tall as I dare. Digging the heavy bags out of the mud high on the beach was exhausting. Lack of energy and daylight prevented me from making another 3-4 trips that I figured were needed to remove all the bags littering the sand, plants and water.

Today I went back to the same area with photography in mind. I wanted to be sure to record the impact of mariculture on our shared bay. To be honest, I also did not want to feel like I’d been hit by a truck, as I felt the day after 8 hours of picking up trash last week.

In four trips across Tomales Bay in a small sit on top kayak, I hauled out 160 grow out bags, along with lots of other bottles, wrappers, foam etc. There is easily twice that many more in this one area. I wonder if the farm(s) that leave this mess there will begin to clean-up after themselves? If not, I am going to need lots of help.

Commerce makes a profit, consumers enjoy a meal. The earth pays a steep price never to be compensated.

When will humans learn that the unpaid compensation will be recovered one day in the form of a dead planet, no longer able to sustain humans as well as many other life forms?

What follows are images that to me, are proof positive that the decision to let the oyster lease in Drakes Estero expire was the right choice. These same scenes repeated themselves throughout The Estero, though I never personally saw this many bags washed ashore on one boating trip in The Estero. I did see dozens of them that had been pulled out by the tides into Drakes Bay and deposited on Limantour and Drakes Beaches, as well as other nearby beaches. How many escaped unnoticed?

See earlier post about the nearly 6000 PVC pipe spacers I collected from Point Reyes beaches.

All of the images can be clicked on to see a larger image.

160 polyethelene oyster grow out bags left to the elements in Tomales Bay

160 polyethelene oyster grow out bags left to the elements in Tomales Bay

Nudibranch dining on a grow out bag

Nudibranch dining on a grow out bag

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160 polyethelene oyster grow out bags left to the elements in Tomales Bay

160 polyethelene oyster grow out bags left to the elements in Tomales Bay

160 polyethelene oyster grow out bags left to the elements in Tomales Bay

160 polyethelene oyster grow out bags left to the elements in Tomales Bay

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Been there so long, pickleweed is growing through it.

Been there so long, pickleweed is growing through it.

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Nudibranch dining on a grow out bag

Nudibranch dining on a grow out bag

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been there so long it is buried

been there so long it is buried

been there so long it is buried

been there so long it is buried

been there so long it is buried

been there so long it is buried

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NOT good!

NOT good!

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In West Marin of all places!

Calling this sustainable mariculture would be as crazy as saying The Inverness Garden Club sprayed Roundup® in a public area near Tomales Bay, without permits, telling no one.

 

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Next related post may be found here.

See the first post in this series “Save our Tomales Bay” here.

Junco feeding cowbird – cool picture, sad picture

Whenever I come across a bird I am not sure of what it is, I contact one of my more learned friends and ask them to help.
Keith Hansen of Bolinas is one such person. He is an outstanding artist, click on his name to visit his website and admire his work.

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Here is what he wrote back about the above image.

Dear Richard,

Cool picture, sad picture.

Yes that is a Dark-eyed Junco feeding a juvenile Brown-headed
Cowbird. Cowbirds are a type of Blackbird that parasites other
birds nests in this case a Junco. They drop their egg into a
“hosts” nest and as the chick Cowbird grows large and fast it out
competes the hosts young thereby killing them.

Although native to N. America, Cowbirds have had a very grave effect
on MANY species of birds throughout America. There are now culling
efforts typically in the winter in Texas where tens of thousands
of Cowbirds winter. This has shown an immediate and very positive
effect on many species of our nesting songbirds.

In “the old days”, (before white man), Cowbirds were
restricted to the Great Plains where they followed Buffalo around
eating the insects that they kick up as they feed. Now that cattle
span all of North America, cowbirds have encroached into all areas
that they have no history occurring in.

This is a very important photo clearly showing this relationship.
Thanks for sharing!

Best wishes,
Keith Hansen

Save our Tomales Bay

Over the past few weeks signs have popped up all over West Marin stating
“Save our Drakes Bay Oyster Farm”.

I am reminded of a young child that wants a puppy. Really wants a puppy.

Begs and pleads to her/his parents to get a puppy.

Days and weeks of begging for a puppy.

The parents engage in the sort of dialog you might expect.

“Puppies are a lot of responsibility honey.”

“I’ll take care of him” is the reply.

“You have to feed the puppy and make sure it has clean water.”

“I will, I’ll feed it every day.”

“And you have to pick up the mess from the puppy too.”

“I will, I will pick up after him.”

And so a puppy is purchased and brought home.

At first, all is well and the child does indeed do as promised. After a few weeks, soccer practice gets in the way and the dog poop is not picked up regularly. Then homework is too burdensome and the morning walk is not doable anymore. Soon, even feeding the dog is forgotten by the child.

Everywhere around us we see signs asking for an oyster farm. An oyster farm that has been shitting in the estero for as long as it has been there. See a previous post for a image showing a tiny subset of what an oyster farm does to a pristine seascape.

You’d think that with all the scrutiny on the Drakes Bay Oyster Company and the environment, the other oyster farmers in Tomales Bay would be super-vigilant, keeping a close eye on their operations, making sure they clean up after their gear is ripped out and strewn about by wind and wave.

Well, think again. I boated across Tomales Bay yesterday from my place and spent a few hours walking the shore, digging oyster grow-out bags, blue foam, rope, floats, trays etc out of the wrack.

Collected from SE shore of Tomales Bay on 8 June, 2013 in a few hours by one person. Click image for a larger version

Collected from SE shore of Tomales Bay on 8 June, 2013 in a few hours by one person.
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Drakes Estero is situated in a National Seashore and has been defiled by human commerce for 70 years or more.

Tomales Bay is designated a state park if I am not mistaken. And, as you can see is clearly not very well respected by local commerce.

Both of these places are situated on earth, the only earth we have. And unless your head is in the sand, or some other place, you can see that we have been trashing it at an ever faster pace since we learned how to use our opposable thumbs.

We can feed ourselves without trashing the planet. We all have to share the burden a little bit, but we can do it.

West Marin prides itself on local, sustainable…….in light of local practices, add blah, blah, blah to the mantra.

I’m sorry, no puppy for you. And no oyster farm in Drakes Estero.

Kehoe Beach - 27 January, 2012, 3:58 pm looking south, status quo. Click image for a larger version

Kehoe Beach – 27 January, 2012, 3:58 pm looking south, status quo.
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Next installment may be found here.

Can you see the real sea, can ya? Can ya?

Click the words “Can you see the real sea…” above to see this post as it was intended to be viewed.

Instead of sitting in front of a television watching contrived drama written by humans wanting nothing more than your money, head outside, find a place away from the din of progress. Sit yourself down, watch, listen, smell, taste, feel, be.

The actual story is there before us, within us, if we pay attention, ignoring the drone of progress.

See the first video clip in full screen by clicking the rectangularish icon in the lower right corner. Crank up yer volume too!

The kelp swaying in the surf is a species of Laminaria



If you must be inside, listen to this now and then to be reminded of the raw power and beauty of the sea, with some nice embellishments. Move your volume to 11. Yours does go to 11? These go to 11.

Orca at California Academy of Science, Indra’s net at Marine Mammal Center

Click on the words “Orca at California Academy” above to read this post and see a related header image.

In Nov. of 2011 a rare offshore orca washed ashore dead on a remote beach of Point Reyes. Read about that event here.

Today I stopped by the CAS In San Francisco to see the progress on assembly of the skeleton of this extraordinary creature.

The last image shows one of the flippers. I packed both of those out in two trips. Each one weighed over 70 pounds when covered with flesh. It is incredible to see the inside.

What an amazing job these folks have done.

See for yourself. The first 4 are from a few weeks ago, the rest are from today.

 

After visiting the orca, I stopped by the Marie Mammal Center to preview a new art installation by my friends Richard and Judith.

They made an amazing piece from a large trawler net I packed off the beach near Slide Ranch last year. It was wet when I packed it out and weighed over 100 pounds.

They have outdone themselves, it is gorgeous.

 

 

Why care about wild salmon? Copper, we need more copper and molybdenum!

Click on the words “Why care about wild salmon” above to see this post with a related header image.

Humans are really good at destroying natural processes that work just fine left unmolested, for example, a wild salmon run.

Then, someone with dollar signs in their eyes and an MBA from some well-respected business school comes along and figures out how to capitalize on the situation, and screw things up even more.

Several weeks ago I was diving for abalone along the northern coast of California, an enjoyable, exhausting activity, even when the ocean is calm and visibility is good. I was knackered after two hours exploring and retrieving a few abs and had hauled myself out on the rocky shore to rest a bit before heading back to the car.

 

As I drug myself from the surf on hands and knees, I looked to my left, just above the lapping waves and saw something strange, something out of place. It looked like a salmon head, resting on a large rock. Pffft, no way could a salmon head be sitting on a rock here I thought. Removing my mask I looked again. Sure enough, there was a salmon head, perched on a rock with something bright and flat under it. This was not a coho or chinook salmon either. As I crawled closer I could see it was an Atlantic salmon, like one sees in the market these days, perched on the shore of the Pacific Ocean.

I picked it up and found that it had what appeared to be a price tag hanging by a thin plastic thread off the opercle (cheek). What the hell? I thought to myself.

Then I read the tag and was even more dumb-founded. It had a QR code on one side and what appeared to be a brand on the other. Holy Jesus I thought, Monsanto is raising fish that are already priced.

I packed this oddity into my gear, crawled back into the sea after a rest and swam back to my things, then drove home.

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Once home, I looked up the brand on the internet and found that this fish had been raised in a pen off the shore of Patagonia, over 5000 miles south of where I found it.

Furthermore, I found that it was raised at a place touting itself to be “Raising salmon in harmony with nature”. A little more sleuthing on this website and I found that this fish was likley sold at a market not too many miles from where I found it. A gull probably plucked this morsel from a dumpster, flew off to enjoy some easy grub, then got distracted or some such thing.

These people at Verlasso are working with the likes of AquaChile and Dupont to turn out food for people to eat. I don’t know about you, but when I think of food, DuPont is probably the last name that comes to mind. Think dynamite, teflon, tyvek – NOT food.

So yes, we humans have screwed up hundreds, if not thousands of perfectly healthy salmon runs the world over. So much so that enterprising folks like Verlasso are going to save us from ourselves by farming fish that are in harmony with nature. Mind you, these fish have done pretty damn well on their own until we got all clever and greedy on this dang planet. But these are smart people, with degrees and training and know-how.

Have a look at their website, it has lots of nice cartoons showing how to grow fish in harmony with nature.

If you want another view of salmon farming, go here, or here, or here.

How many of you thousands of readers (snicker) know about the unfolding disaster called The Pebble Mine up in Alaska?

The proposed mine will be 3 times the size of the Kennecott mine shown here. Image borrowed from http://fishermenforbristolbay.org/pebble-mine/

The proposed mine will be 3 times the size of the Kennecott mine shown here. Image borrowed from http://fishermenforbristolbay.org/pebble-mine/

A perfectly good sockeye salmon run is at risk of being destroyed by a bunch of greedy business people interested in mining copper, gold and molybdenum and other things MUCH more important than some stupid fish.

Read about the Pebble Mine here.

What if we left that copper in the ground?

A healthy sockeye salmon run would create salmon in harmony with nature, all on it’s own.

Greedy business people the world over would not further threaten wild salmon runs by playing god as they attempt to grow salmon in harmony with nature. We don’t need more food on this planet, we need less humans screwing things up.

America’s Cup continues to runeth over with marine debris

Click on the words “America’s Cup continues” above to see this post with a related header image.

This stuff keeps washing ashore at Point Reyes beaches.

Parts of Larry Ellison’s $9 million hobby that is. See here for the other pile of his boat bits I have packed off local beaches.

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I am not out there as often as I was in the past, so I am surely missing much more than this piece I found on Limantour Beach last week.

Larry’s boat is built for speed

But do we really, really need

Broken symbols of his greed

Washing ashore

Where shorebirds breed?