Save our Tomales Bay – part 17, TBOC gets after it in a big way

Click on the words above “Save our Tomales Bay – part 17, TBOC gets after it in a big way” to see this entire post.

As you may have noticed if you’ve been keeping up with the Series “Save our Tomales Bay…”, I have a big problem with people that trash the planet. Same goes for companies that those people often hide behind in the courts.

Apparently Todd and his crew at Tomales Bay Oyster Company do too!

The images below, recorded on 16 May, show the latest of a few big days where the TBOC staff made time to pick up the mess left behind by a previous oyster farmer whose lease they purchased.

Todd tells me he has removed over 3000 of the PVC pipes you see in the images. He likely has several thousand more to go. He tells me he plans to remove those soon. And I believe him.

Kudos to the TBOC crew for their efforts at being a good steward of the very bay they depend upon for their livelihood. The same bay that hundreds, perhaps thousands of species called home long before humans decided to complicate matters with all our trash.

Oyster farmers in California pay into an escrow account when they lease an area. Those funds were designed to be used to pay for cleanup under certain conditions. The problem as I see it is, that fund is inaccessible due to complicated rules. So, the cleanup that should be taking place, especially when leases change hands, never happens. Witness the messes we see in Tomlaes Bay, Drakes Estero and all along the Marin coast, thanks to Johnson’s oysters [now Drakes Bay Oyster Company].

I plan to work with the Fish & Wildlife Commission to change the language in the lease agreement so that no more of these messes get left behind. More on that later.

If the people pushing the California Shellfish Initiative want to expand oyster farming up and down the coast of California, they best get on board with lease agreements that have teeth, stopping all the finger pointing between present and past lease owners over who made the mess. Better yet, define best practices for all oyster farmers such that the mess does NOT get made in the first place.

Anyone that wants a copy of the current lease agreement in use, and is willing to help modify the language to ensure a clean California coast, send me a note and I’ll send you a copy.

As always, click on an image to see a much larger version.

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

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

Save our Tomales Bay – part 13.1 Tractor tire floats!

Click the words “Save our Tomales Bay…” above to see this post in its entirety.

It worked!

The tire drifted and made landfall on the beach at Millerton Point about a third of a mile WSW.

Now to get it to the parking lot at Millerton.

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

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

Save our Tomales Bay – part 13 (Tractor tires)

Click on the words “DBOC Denied. Nature Affirmed!” to see this post in its entirety.

Seeing tires in Tomales Bay makes me sad. Seeing them in any body of water makes me sad. That humans can be so selfish to think it is ok to dispose of their trash in our collective treasures such as Tomales Bay is deeply troubling.

After posting about pulling four tires out of the muck (with some help, TYVM), I received some notes from readers. One from a person that works to eradicate non-native plants from our waterways. She told of seeing untold amounts of trash in SF Bay as she does her work. Another from someone that works in San Rafael and wanted to know of any tips I had for pulling tires from the muck. My tire knowledge is all learned on the job.

Pull up a chair and see my latest idea.

Not far from the most recent tires I recovered (read about that here), I found 8 more strewn about the landscape. Most of them in the muck of the bay, some close to shore. All huge tractor tires, bigger than those found on an 18-wheeler.

I did not want to wrestle those out of the mud, to the shore and up the hill to where park officials could take over to get them to a more suitable place.

After some thought, I was reminded of my time building foot-bridges in Ethiopia. We had to use what we found on site in the form of sand, water and rocks when we mixed concrete for foundations. The sand was usually dug out of the river we were bridging. Yet, it was very muddy, and muddy sand makes for weak concrete. So we had to wash it.


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Two women washing river sand in buckets. We mixed concrete on site with hand cracked gravel, locally hewn rocks, river water and cement that was trucked in and hand-carried to the work site. Keranyo, Addis Ababa

Two women washing river sand in buckets. We mixed concrete on site with hand cracked gravel, locally hewn rocks, river water and cement that was trucked in and hand-carried to the work site. Keranyo, Addis Ababa


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Two women washing river sand in buckets. We mixed concrete on site with hand cracked gravel, locally hewn rocks, river water and cement that was trucked in and hand-carried to the work site. Keranyo, Addis Ababa

Two women washing river sand in buckets. We mixed concrete on site with hand cracked gravel, locally hewn rocks, river water and cement that was trucked in and hand-carried to the work site. Keranyo, Addis Ababa


With two languages (English and Amharic) as a barrier, explaining the need to wash the sand was quite a task. Initially the locals were moving the sand to an area, washing it, then moving it to where we mixed it with gravel. Very inefficient.

After doing it the hard way for too long, I came upon an idea to reduce movement of dirty sand and wash it in place, in the river. I later had someone make some teaching aids in Amharic, one of them read “Let the water do the work“.


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Ethiopians washing a bag of sand in the river. When heavy rains come, this trickle turns to a torrent. Many lives are lost attempting to cross to get to school, market, clinic. Marye, Ethiopia.

Ethiopians washing a bag of sand in the river. When heavy rains come, this trickle turns to a torrent. Many lives are lost attempting to cross to get to school, market, clinic. Marye, Ethiopia.


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Ethiopians (and one yank) washing a bag of sand in the river. When heavy rains come, this trickle turns to a torrent. Many lives are lost attempting to cross to get to school, market, clinic. Marye, Ethiopia.

Ethiopians (and one yank) washing a bag of sand in the river. When heavy rains come, this trickle turns to a torrent. Many lives are lost attempting to cross to get to school, market, clinic. Marye, Ethiopia.


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Ethiopians washing a bag of sand in the river. When heavy rains come, this trickle turns to a torrent. Many lives are lost attempting to cross to get to school, market, clinic. Marye, Ethiopia.

Ethiopians washing a bag of sand in the river. When heavy rains come, this trickle turns to a torrent. Many lives are lost attempting to cross to get to school, market, clinic. Marye, Ethiopia.

With these memories in mind, I had an idea to let the water do the work with these tires.

I collected 4 large plastic fishing floats I had gathered off the outside beaches of Point Reyes, crab fishing rope from the same area, and a plastic trowel, again collected from the beach.

Along with these items I packed into a dry bag a portable electric drill, 4 batteries (my drill is old and the batteries don’t hold much charge), a 1/2 inch bit, a headlamp, towels, gloves and a knife.

With all of the above stowed in or on my scow (what I call my kayak), I paddled over to Millerton Point as both sun and tide were dropping.

Two tires came into view and I picked one to test my idea on. After carrying my tools across squishy, sticky mud to the tire, I walked back 100 feet to my scow and pulled it further away into deeper water to tie to a post from an old oyster fence. Having learned the hard way doing work during a dropping tide, I knew if I left my boat near the work-site, I’d be dragging it a hundred yards or more to water deep enough to float.


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Using the drill, I bored two holes in four locations and secured the floats to the tire.

With my found trowel and bare hands, I then scooped probably 70 pounds of horribly stinky mud out of the tire to help it float. You can see some of the mud in the foreground of the last image with the floats attached.


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I’ve no idea if these four floats will float the tire and allow it to be brought to an area for extraction.

I hope the water will do the work and will go out tomorrow to see if the tides pushed this test tire away from where it has likely sat for many years.

If you want to see some bridge building, go here to visit the website of the NGO I volunteered with.

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

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

Save our Tomales Bay – part 8

Click on the words above “Save our Tomales Bay…” to see this post as it was meant to be seen.

This past weekend the weather was superb. Nearly zero wind, flat water and perfect temperatures made for a sublime day on the bay.

I’ve several posts from days gone by to publish, but time is sparse and they need more than I have just now, so this will have to do for now.

It is raining hard as I write this, the lights have flickered twice which means the salmon and steelhead are about to make their return journey to natal streams whence they emerged into being 3-4 years ago. As I paddle across the shallow Tomales Bay, with each dip of the blade into water, I look down and think of the thousands of miles these fish have traveled since they left as 100 mm smolts 1100 days ago.

Today with water so flat and tide so high, I venture to the east shore of the bay to have a look and see how the shore is being treated by local commerce. Oyster farmers in particular.

I’ve been pretty forthcoming about what I see as their shortcomings in terms of policing up the tools of the trade they have chosen. It is with pleasure I report that they seem to have gotten the message (unlike other oyster farmers in the area, see here for more on that) and are picking up after themselves.

In the past I’ve found dozens, hundreds of grow out bags littering the shore and inter-tidal region. Along with dozens of the tags from the bags they buy from Washington State and have shipped down to resell.

Hey California, call your oyster farmer. The numbers are right there on the tags. As always, click on the image to see a larger version.

Hey California, call your oyster farmer. The numbers are right there on the tags.
As always, click on the image to see a larger version.

That trip I only found a few bags and 8 tags. And I had to look hard for them too. Seems someone (TBOC?) is out picking up their trash. Thank you to whoever is getting it. If you do this regularly, I won’t be finding stuff washed way up high in the bushes and buried by plants for years. Or worse, it won’t be washing out to sea where it harms animals, and eventually is ingested by animals, including humans that eat said animals.

So here I am on this gorgeous day, thinking I am not going to find much mariculture debris littering the shore. I take advantage of the high tide and ride the incoming tide into an area I later learn is known by some as Tomasini Lagoon. It is a triangular shaped region just below route 1, separated from Tomales Bay by a dike.

Once inside I begin to paddle close to shore in a counter-clockwise fashion, letting the tide push me along. Suddenly the silence is broken by a shriek I know. I look overhead and a peregrine is soaring above me, letting me know whose lagoon this is. As I make my way along one side of this watery triangle, the first grow-out bag comes into view and I must beach the boat and go get it. This is repeated over and over again as I pass one vertice and begin to traverse the second side.

Soon I am greeted by a couple in a canoe. I’ve not seen them before and their first words to me as they look at my garbage covered kayak are “Thank you for doing this. We were out last friday doing the same thing up north of here.” I learn they are Bridger and Katherine and they have boated the area for years. After a brief visit, they head on their way and I continue on mine. Later, I see them outside the triangle on-shore with something. When I get close I see they’ve discovered and propped up 2 grow out bags I had missed so that I can get them on my way out, which I do.

Here you can see my path inside the lagoon and the locations of the 22 bags I found and two bags found by B&K.


24 oyster grow out bags left abandoned on Tomales Bay. Click image to see a larger version.

24 oyster grow out bags left abandoned on Tomales Bay.
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Here is a device I have never before seen. It looks expensive. Who can tell me what it is? Or whose it is and why they left it here?

Tell me whose it is and I'll tell you where you can go get it. Click image for a larger version

Tell me whose it is and I’ll tell you where you can go get it.
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Tell me whose it is and I'll tell you where you can go get it. Click image for a larger version

Tell me whose it is and I’ll tell you where you can go get it.
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The rest of the images show some of the garbage I picked up on my paddle through nature.

On my way back, I met another fellow, Dan, also out for a paddle on this perfect day. He too thanked me for my efforts and then paid a visit to this blog. You can read about his day on the water here. He teaches kindergarten in Sonoma and loves to get out on the water whenever he can.

The last image below, as well as the header image show the beach where I placed all the oyster gear I found. It is at Tomales Bay Oyster Company. There is little doubt where this trash came from. Have a look at the google earth image above and you can see how close to the retail operation the triangle lagoon is.

It was a busy day there, yet only a couple people came down to ask me what this stuff was and why I was dumping it on the beach. You can be sure that I explained in detail what it was and where I had found it.

Both people asked me if I worked for the oyster place. No, was my reply. Do they pay you? Again, no was my reply. One asked me why the oyster place did not pick up the trash. I don’t know was my reply, raising one hand and rubbing two fingers and my thumb together as I said so.

They took a sip of their beer and returned to the festivities.


Dead loon in the wrack

Dead loon in the wrack


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I found a kayak! OK, not the whole thing, only the label.

I found a kayak! OK, not the whole thing, only the label.


Tags from bags of shellfish, shipped from Washington State to Marin.  All found on 17 November, 2013 along the shore near Tomales Bay Oyster Company. Check out the dates on those tags... Click image for a larger version. Know your farmer, call them up!

Tags from bags of shellfish, shipped from Washington State to Marin.
All found on 17 November, 2013 along the shore near Tomales Bay Oyster Company. Check out the dates on those tags…
Click image for a larger version. Know your farmer, call them up!


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The earth is not so very different from the gallon wine jug with grass growing inside it.
A limited amount of space in which to grow.

When will humans figure out that we have to take good care of this vessel on which we live?

Damn it, shut the gadgets off and get outside with someone you love, look at this place we call home.

Before it is gone.


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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

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

America’s Cup continues to deliver – Marine Debris

As the spectacle that are AC72 boat races continue inside SF Bay, the pieces of Larry Ellison’s big-boy toy that pitch-poled last October keep washing ashore on the beaches of Point Reyes.

This piece had been laying out on the sand so long, spiders have been using it for nest building.

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Go Larry!

Go out and pick up after yourself that is.

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.

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.

 

 

What price convenience? Plastic, the gift that keeps on giving.

Click on the title of this post to read it and see a related header image.

After Thanksgiving 2012 I made six visits in quick succession to the beaches of Limantour, Drakes, and South within Point Reyes National Seashore as well as one visit to Slide Ranch.

What you see in the images below was what I collected. It is by no means all that had washed up. I packed out what I could carry. And I do mean everything, all the items the smaller pieces are displayed upon were packed out as well.

All of these images can be seen larger if you click on them.

Human trash collected from Point Reyes beaches during six visits

Human trash collected from Point Reyes beaches during six visits

Tampon applicators - known as beach whistles in the beach-walking community. I am told by a female friend that if women were not taught to be afraid of their own bodies, these would not exist. They wash up by the hundreds when conditions are right, err wrong.

Tampon applicators – known as beach whistles in the beach-walking community. I am told by a female friend that if women were not taught to be afraid of their own bodies, these would not exist. They wash up by the hundreds when conditions are right, err wrong.

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Toys, pill containers, cheese-like-substance spreaders, deodorant applicators. All part of the fast-paced human life of convenience.

Toys, pill containers, cheese-like-substance spreaders, deodorant applicators. All part of the fast-paced human life of convenience.

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I recently purchased a toothbrush where I can replace the brush part when needed, keeping the handle which may never wear out. See below this image on where you can buy one and reduce the amount of plastic crap we humans inject into our ecosystem.

I recently purchased a toothbrush where I can replace the brush part when needed, keeping the handle which may never wear out. See below this image on where you can buy one and reduce the amount of plastic crap we humans inject into our ecosystem.

One company that makes a sensible tooth brush is Ecodent

Toxic beverage containers, also known as disposable cups. See below this image for where to purchase a reusable coffee mug.

Toxic beverage containers, also known as disposable cups. See below this image for where to purchase a reusable coffee mug.

One company that sells a nice spill-proof coffee-cup is contigo

There is nothing smart about Smartwater. See below this image for where to purchase a metal water bottle you can use forever. Imagine not wasting oil to make a bottle that most people toss aside. Imagine.....

There is nothing smart about Smartwater. See below this image for where to purchase a metal water bottle you can use forever. Imagine not wasting oil to make a bottle that most people toss aside. Imagine…..

One company that makes a reusable water bottle is Klean Kanteen.

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Learn something you likely did not know about Fiji Water.

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Oyster grow-out bags, crab trap bait bags and many, many tennis balls. The bag on the bottom is definitely from Drakes Bay Oyster Company. The upper bag is used by all the local oyster farmers. I find them all the time.

Oyster grow-out bags, crab trap bait bags and many, many tennis balls. The bag on the bottom is definitely from Drakes Bay Oyster Company. The upper bag is used by all the local oyster farmers. I find them all the time.

Crab fishing residue. What if the price of crab in the market reflected the true cost to the planet of growing and harvesting it?

Crab fishing residue. What if the price of crab in the market reflected the true cost to the planet of growing and harvesting it?

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Could that bottle of mouthwash have belonged to D. Lee?

Could that bottle of mouthwash have belonged to D. Lee?

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Oyster spacer tubes made from PVC pipe used by Johnson's Oysters which was purchased by Drakes Bay Oyster Company. I found 490 of them in less than a week. My one day record is 722. Many are clearly very old. Though many are like new, not a bit of ocean growth on them.

Oyster spacer tubes made from PVC pipe used by Johnson’s Oysters which was purchased by Drakes Bay Oyster Company. I found 490 of them in less than a week. My one day record is 722. Many are clearly very old. Though many are like new, not a bit of ocean growth on them.

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Disposable lighters, also known as fake-albatross food. See the link below this image for images made by Chris Jordan showing dead albatross on Midway Atoll whose bellies are full of plastic bits and lighters.

Disposable lighters, also known as fake-albatross food. See the link below this image for images made by Chris Jordan showing dead albatross on Midway Atoll whose bellies are full of plastic bits and lighters.

See a previous post showing the harm done to wild birds by our selfishness, here.

Packaging for non-food that is killing the human race. This stuff washes up by the truckload. That is, if it is not devoured by turtles first.

Packaging for non-food that is killing the human race. This stuff washes up by the truckload. That is, if it is not devoured by turtles first.

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Oyster spacer tubes from Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Oyster spacer tubes from Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Packing straps fill the oceans, strangling turtles and seals. NOTE: Marine Mammal Center, contact me before using my images.

Packing straps fill the oceans, strangling turtles and seals. NOTE: Marine Mammal Center, contact me before using my images.

Oil, cottage cheese, yogurt, tapioca, yogurt, oysters, jumbo red worms and more oysters. All framed by an oyster grow-out bag from Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Oil, cottage cheese, yogurt, tapioca, yogurt, oysters, jumbo red worms and more oysters. All framed by an oyster grow-out bag from Drakes Bay Oyster Company

©RJames.IMG_2006.cc

Foster Farms Value Pack Combo, no added hormones or steroids. Wash some down with Capri Sun high fructose corn-syrup. Unsustainable petroleum-based packaging? Ahhhh, who gives a damn? Please pass the pastrami!

Foster Farms Value Pack Combo, no added hormones or steroids. Wash some down with Capri Sun high fructose corn-syrup. Unsustainable petroleum-based packaging? Ahhhh, who gives a damn? Please pass the pastrami!

Am I shoveling shit against the tide by picking up all this human trash from our beaches? Like Sisyphus, I've cheated death more than once. Like Sisyphus and his boulder, I've been walking the earth picking up after my species.

Am I shoveling shit against the tide by picking up all this human trash from our beaches? Like Sisyphus, I’ve cheated death more than once. Like Sisyphus and his boulder, I’ve been walking the earth picking up after my species.

Shoes and hat brims by the hundreds

Shoes and hat brims by the hundreds

Tyvek suit, made in China. Most everything pictured in these images was fashioned there and shipped to the US. What a waste of energy. We can do better. We must.

Tyvek suit, made in China. Most everything pictured in these images was fashioned there and shipped to the US. What a waste of energy. We can do better. We must.

Commercial crab trap tags. Recognize anyone you know? I do.

Commercial crab trap tags. Recognize anyone you know? I do.

shuttle-cock, binkies, fish, flowers, lip-balm, and what day would be complete without a syringe or two? Oh yes and a toy star trek phaser cartridge bottom center. Brad Campbell taught me at a very young age that I could use those as a coin in a gumball machine. Thankfully the statute of limitation has likely expired on that crime.

shuttle-cock, binkies, fish, flowers, lip-balm, and what day would be complete without a syringe or two? Oh yes and a toy star trek phaser cartridge bottom center. Brad Campbell taught me at a very young age that I could use those as a coin in a gumball machine. Thankfully the statute of limitation has likely expired on that crime.

Organic energy shots are the best for washing down Easy Cheese. A pouch of emergency water is nice to have on hand too, as a chaser.

Organic energy shots are the best for washing down Easy Cheese. A pouch of emergency water is nice to have on hand too, as a chaser.

©RJames.IMG_2026.cc

Larry Ellison had a little trouble with his 9 million dollar America's Cup boat (AC72). I have been finding pieces of it washing up all over the place. That is aluminum or paper honeycomb sandwiched by carbon fiber you see.

Larry Ellison had a little trouble with his 9 million dollar America’s Cup boat (AC72). I have been finding pieces of it washing up all over the place. That is aluminum or paper honeycomb sandwiched by carbon fiber you see.

©RJames.IMG_2030.crop.cc

©RJames.IMG_2032.crop.cc

Human trash collected from Point Reyes beaches during six visits

Human trash collected from Point Reyes beaches during six visits