Tomales Bay Disrespected – PROC still making a mess of Tomales Bay, FGC poised to renew leases anyhow???

Point Reyes Oyster Company (PROC) has been making a mess of Tomales Bay for decades. While long overdue, this past February the California Fish & Game Commission properly denied PROC’s 15-year lease renewal request on two leases to grow oysters & clams in Tomales Bay.

The leases were extended for up to twelve months to give PROC time to clean up the unacceptable mess of marine debris they’d made and show that they could raise oysters & clams in a responsible manner with a modicum of stewardship for our public lands.

When the agenda for the June meeting of the Fish & Game Commission arrived in my in-box last week, I was angry and disheartened because I knew that the substantial marine debris issues that I and others had raised previously have still not been addressed. This is very troubling, and that is why I plan to travel to Bakersfield next week to urge the Commission to continue to delay PROC’s 15-year lease renewal request until the company has demonstrated for a minimum of six (6) continuous months that it can be a responsible oyster operator on our public lands in Tomales Bay.

If you care about the health of our bay and the planet, please write California Fish & Game Commission at fgc@fgc.ca.gov and request that they NOT renew leases for Point Reyes Oyster Company until PROC proves it is a responsible grower and does everything possible to minimize loss of gear AND regularly patrols the bay and picks up the gear they do lose. I do not have a problem with our State leasing public water bottom lands for oyster growing so long as the oyster operators treat these leases as the privilege that they are, and exercise a stewardship ethic for Tomales Bay that is also part of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and don’t add significant amounts of marine debris to our ecosystem. Once PROC has actually demonstrated that it can be a responsible oyster operator for six months, I would be happy to support its longer lease renewal. However, I cannot support the company receiving a lucrative lease on our public lands at this time given their very poor care of Tomales Bay.

Here is text from the “outcomes” section of February’s FGC meeting during which the leases were NOT renewed:

 
11. Point Reyes Oyster Company, Inc. State water bottom leases for aquaculture

(A) Approve request to renew State Water Bottom Lease No. M-430-13
(Pursuant to Section 15406, Fish and Game Code)

(B) Approve request to renew State Water Bottom Lease No. M-430-17
(Pursuant to Section 15406, Fish and Game Code)

Received public comment.

The Commission approved a one-year extension of state water bottom lease Nos.
M-430-13 and M-430-17 under existing terms and conditions in lieu of lease
renewal, to allow the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Region to
evaluate terms of a lease renewal, use of best management practices, and any other details that would be important for this lease. The Commission will consider renewal once lease practices and terms are clarified and resolved.

Ayes: E. Sklar, J. Hostler-Carmesin, A. Williams

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Have a look at the images below and decide for yourself if PROC has made any significant progress in reducing the amount of plastic, plastic coated copper wire, rubber and other gear abandoned in Tomales Bay as they profit from the the very same waters.

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Here we see a small portion of lease 17 near the mouth of Walker Creek where PROC appears to be growing oysters with the bag & rack method.

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This image was recorded on March 14, 2015 Notice the bags strewn all over the bay floor.
©RJames.IMG_0310

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Another image from March 14, 2015
©RJames.IMG_0311

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Shortly after their lease renewals were denied, PROC workers came out to collect loose gear and straighten up the same area. The workers told me to come out in two weeks and I would not recognize the place it would be so clean.
©RJames.IMG_3298

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©RJames.IMG_3297

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Two main things were done during this cleanup. 1) PROC workers collected dozens of bags no longer securely fastened to the iron racks designed to contain them. 2) Instead of securing the bags with plastic coated copper wire (which PROC has been dropping into the bay during harvest for many. many years), they changed fasteners and used rubber straps and plastic coated metal clips.

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18 days after the cleanup, we see the bags are starting to come loose again. Close inspection reveals the straps are being stretched too tight and snapping. I shared this information with DFW staff as well as two oyster growers (I did not have PROC email info at that time)©RJames.IMG_3830

©RJames.IMG_3828

©RJames.IMG_3826
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Nearly 4 months months after their cleanup, we see the area closely resembles how it looked 18 months BEFORE the cleanup, bags loose and again at the mercy of wind and tides.
©RJames.IMG_5356

©RJames.IMG_5374

©RJames.IMG_5369

©RJames.IMG_5368

©RJames.IMG_5359
That tightly stretched rubber strap above is about to snap, letting this bag to be carried by wind and current.
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Not only is the new method to secure bags to racks by PROC NOT working, it is releasing yet another type of plastic debris into Tomales Bay. The image below shows what was collected in 1.5 hours from Lease 17 run by PROC.

plastic coated copper wire, rusty iron rods, white plastic coated metal clips, rubber straps, zip-ties and rope with stainless clips collected from lease 17 on 5 June, 2016.

plastic coated copper wire, rusty iron rods, white plastic coated metal clips, rubber straps, zip-ties and rope with stainless clips collected from lease 17 on 5 June, 2016.

The loose bags are bad enough when they blight our beaches, or in less than a month become embedded, invisible parts of the ecosystem.
©RJames.IMG_5423

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IMG_1075

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This bag lay here for less than 3 weeks.

This bag lay here for less than 3 weeks.

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The bigger problem is when these bags are struck by boat props and cut into pieces which present a hazard to wildlife which eat this small plastic debris. One local fisherman caught a tuna 50 miles offshore with a small piece of oyster grow out bag embedded in its flesh. Plastic like that below embedded in the flesh of tuna.

Tiny shards of plastic oyster farming debris collected in Tomales Bay. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Tiny shards of plastic oyster farming debris collected in Tomales Bay.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Shards of plastic oyster farming debris collected in Tomales Bay. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Shards of plastic oyster farming debris collected in Tomales Bay.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Shards of plastic oyster farming debris collected in Tomales Bay. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Shards of plastic oyster farming debris collected in Tomales Bay.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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If you care about the health of our bay and the planet, please write California Fish & Game Commission at fgc@fgc.ca.gov and request that they NOT renew leases for Point Reyes Oyster Company until PROC proves it is a responsible grower and does everything possible to minimize loss of gear AND regularly patrols the bay and picks up the gear they do lose. I do not have a problem with our State leasing public water bottom lands for oyster growing so long as the oyster operators treat these leases as the privilege that they are, and exercise a stewardship ethic for Tomales Bay that is also part of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and don’t add significant amounts of marine debris to our ecosystem. Once PROC has actually demonstrated that it can be a responsible oyster operator for six months, I would be happy to support its longer lease renewal. However, I cannot support the company receiving a lucrative lease on our public lands at this time given their very poor care of Tomales Bay.

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Respect Tomales Bay – The glass tells a story

Click the words above “The glass tells a story” to see this entire post.

Two months ago I put my boat in at grassy point, the place windsurfers like, a little north of Cypress Point. Then I paddled south to explore Marshall and the area around Hog Island Oyster.

I’ve spent so much time cleaning up the shore around Tomales Bay Oyster Company given the proximity to me (and no end of trash), it seemed fair to spend some time near the other oyster company with a retail presence on the bay. Plus, it is always good to explore places never before seen.

Let’s have a look.

One of the first things to catch my eye was this boat laying in the mud, upside down.

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As always, click on an image to increase size

Capsized boat ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Capsized boat
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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There seemed to be items from the boat scattered nearby, so I walked closer to have a look.

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Capsized boat, seat cushion making an escape. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Capsized boat, seat cushion making an escape.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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As always, click on an image to increase size

Capsized boat ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Capsized boat
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Capsized boat ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Capsized boat
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Hmmm, what is that wedged under the boat?

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Capsized boat - 5 gallon gas tank, rusting in Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Capsized boat – 5 gallon gas tank, rusting in Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Oh my, up to 5 gallons of gasoline in a rusty tank on the floor of Tomales Bay. I wonder how long THAT has been there?

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As always, click on an image to increase size

Capsized boat - 5 gallon gas tank, rusting in Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Capsized boat – 5 gallon gas tank, rusting in Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

I carefully slid the tank out from under the boat. It was then that I discovered the tank had rusted through.

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Capsized boat - 5 gallon gas tank, rusting in Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Capsized boat – 5 gallon gas tank, rusting in Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Smelling the liquid leaking from the tank, it smelled odd, not strongly of gas, but not seawater either. An odd, stale fragrance.

I couldn’t leave it here. Nor could I put it in my boat, as it would leak that odd fluid in my boat. What to do? Hog Island Oyster was nearby so I hiked over to see what I could borrow. One of the workers, after hearing my explanation, pointed me to a stack of large garbage cans and said put it in one of those. We will make sure to dispose of it properly.

Hiking back to the upright gas can, I carefully placed the tank in the plastic can, careful not to spill anything into the bay. (Was there anything left to spill? Had the contents already tainted the bay long ago?)

I carried it back to Hog and placed it where the fellow asked me to, thanked him and went on my way.

More on this boat later….

Exploration continued.

As always, click on an image to increase size

Abandoned platform laying in the mud ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Abandoned platform laying in the mud
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Perhaps someone from one of those houses will come out and remove this mess from Tomales Bay.

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Abandoned platform laying in the mud ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Abandoned platform laying in the mud
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Hog Island Oysters in the background

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As always, click on an image to increase size

Abandoned drain pipe in the mud ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Abandoned drain pipe in the mud
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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I thought I knew where all the oyster leases were in Tomales Bay. Guess not.

small scale oyster farming ©Richard James - coastodian.org

small scale oyster farming
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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As always, click on an image to increase size

small scale oyster farming ©Richard James - coastodian.org

small scale oyster farming
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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small scale oyster farming ©Richard James - coastodian.org

small scale oyster farming
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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As always, click on an image to increase size

Sketchy foundation...

Sketchy foundation…

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Sketchy foundation...

Sketchy foundation…

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Sketchy foundation...

Sketchy foundation…

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Sketchy foundation...

Sketchy foundation…

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Sketchy plumbing...

Sketchy plumbing…

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Pisaster.o A rarity these days due to a virus laying waste to these and other species of sea stars

Pisaster.o
A rarity these days due to a virus laying waste to these and other species of sea stars

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As always, click on an image to increase size

Glass shards and other trash from below Marshall Tavern ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Glass shards and other trash from below Marshall Tavern
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Glass shards and other trash from below Marshall Tavern ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Glass shards and other trash from below Marshall Tavern
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Disposable diaper from mud below Marshall Tavern ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Disposable diaper from mud below Marshall Tavern
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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As always, click on an image to increase size

Longs Drug bank deposit bag from mud below Marshall Store. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Longs Drug bank deposit bag from mud below Marshall Store.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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This glass certainly does tell a story ©Richard James - coastodian.org

This glass certainly does tell a story
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Fast forward to after this trip in the bay, I’d packed up and drove back, stopping in Marshall to look around from on shore.

A fellow was getting out of a car, I asked him if he lived here, motioning to the house he was parked in front of. He said “yes”.

I explained the boat out in the mud with the leaking gas can. He knew who owned the boat and assured me that the last time the owner had used his boat (many months prior), he had run out of gas and had paddled back to shore. “So there was likely no gas at all in that tank.”

“Hmmm” was my response.

Next I explained how I boat around the bay and pack out all the trash I find. He expressed thanks upon learning this. “You should have seen all the broken bottle shards I found below the Tavern.” I shared.

His face became quite serious. “Please, don’t pick up those bottles.” He pronounced.

“There are no bottles, only bits and pieces.” I replied.

“Please leave those bits, they tell a story.”

They sure do tell a story, I thought to myself, thankful I had not cut my foot on any of them.

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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 “Respect our Tomales Bay” here.

Save our Tomales Bay – 39 Leasewalk M430-17, Point Reyes Oyster Company, a 2nd look

Click the words above “Save our Tomales Bay – 39 Leasewalk M430-17…” to see this entire post.

March 2015 I shared some disturbing images of an area used (misused) by Point Reyes Oyster Company to grow oysters using a method known as rack & bag culture. Click here to see that post.

August 2015 a meeting was held at Marconi Center in Marshall where most growers and most agencies with jurisdiction over Tomales Bay were present. The owner of PROC was present as I made a presentation on the state of the messes left by mariculture practices in Tomales Bay for nearly a century. See that presentation here.

At this meeting, the owner of PROC stated that he did not like losing gear and would appreciate it if I, or anyone else that found his abandoned oyster/clam bags would simply return them to him.

Another attendee of this meeting, Tom Baty mentioned that as the leader of the Tomales Bay cleanup project for 11 years, this group, at the suggestion of the growers, would leave found bags at the boat ramp at Marconi Cove for the growers to pickup. Tom stated that no bags were ever picked up by the growers.

November 2015 I recorded images of this area yet again. It appears that no effort had been made to pick up any of the bags strewn about on the bay bottom. Watch the 6 minute video below and see for yourself.

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Click on this image, then click again to see it in great detail.

Overhead view of rack & bag culture area on lease M-430-17.

Overhead view of rack & bag culture area on lease M-430-17.

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Harsh winds and waves disperses these bags all over the bay. In the wetlands at the mouth of Walker Creek, in less than three weeks, salt grass and pickleweed grow through the mesh and almost completely cover a grow out bag, making it a permanent and invisible part of the precious ecosystem that is Tomales Bay.

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This bag lay here for less than 3 weeks.

This bag lay here for less than 3 weeks.

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If growers what to continue to use public waters to make a profit, they need to show greater respect for the planet. Improving their methods so they lose less gear, and recovering any lost gear themselves.

Likewise, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife needs to take a more active role in enforcing litter laws and actually monitoring the leases they administer on a regular basis.

In the future, additional coastodians near Morro Bay and Humboldt Bay will help ensure growers adhere to Best Management Practices [soon to be included in all mariculture leases]. These new coastodians will also monitor the job being done by agencies whose mission is oversight of growers profiting from public lands and waters

Each year, 8 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the seas of our tiny planet. Each of us needs to redouble our efforts in making sure we are not adding to that number, and, that we do all we can to help others meet the same goal.

According to a recent report by The World Economic Forum, by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish.

CSIRO researchers predict that plastic ingestion will affect 99 per cent of the world’s seabird species by 2050, based on current trends. Study abstract here.

Be sure to click to watch on a large screen and click the small rectangular icon in the lower right of the video window to view in full-screen mode.

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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 – 38 Hog Island Oyster, TBOC efforts pay off

Click on the words above “Save our Tomales Bay – 38 Hog Island…” to see this entire post

It had been a few months since I had walked the shore from Preston Point to the Audubon land near Tom’s Point.

25 December was a perfect day to go boating on the bay to enjoy the enormous bird population and scenic landscapes & waterscapes. It would also be a good day to clean up the mess made by oyster farming. In past years I have found 40, 50, 70, once I found over 150 abandoned oyster grow out bags on shore, buried in mud in a channel and in the pickleweed at the mouth of Walker Creek.

I am pleased to report on the 25th I found only 11 bags!
NOTE: Due to time constraints, this was not as thorough a job as I usually do, so this number is likely low.

But this is an enormous improvement from the past two years and I commend the growers, especially Hog Island and TBOC for their improved practices in reducing lost equipment.

Equally good is that I found zero large black zip ties in an area I usually find from 15-30 each visit. Zero!

Below are maps showing some, not all, of my cleanup efforts in this area of Tomales Bay.
The first map is from 25 December, 2015, subsequent maps go back in time to 12 October, 2013.

The yellow push-pin denotes where I found one or more oyster or clam grow-out bags.

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

Soon I hope to be able to share good news (for the environment) regarding how leases to grow shellfish in California waters are structured. In the meantime, enjoy the progress being made by local growers towards actually growing food in a sustainable manner!

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G 11 Oyster Bags found 2015.12.25

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F 46 Oyster Bags found 2015.03.06

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E 75 Oyster Bags found 2015.02.15

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D 68 Oyster Bags found 2015.01.17

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C 40 Oyster Bags found 2014.03.15

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B 33 Oyster Bags found 2014.01.26

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A 67 Oyster Bags found 2013.10.12

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The images below show three of the hundreds of tiny pools found all around Walker Creek.
Last year, these same pools would be full of abandoned grow out bags.
These plastic free pools are a sight for sore eyes.

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Nature with no plastic. Yes please!

Nature with no plastic. Yes please!

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Nature with no plastic. Yes please!

Nature with no plastic. Yes please!

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Nature with no plastic. Yes please!

Nature with no plastic. Yes please!

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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 – 37 Tomales Bay Oyster Company pitches in to clean up the bay

Click on the words above “Save our Tomales Bay – 37 Tomales Bay Oyster Company pitches in…” to see this entire post.

Last month the crew over at TBOC took their skiffs around the bay more than once and recovered a large amount of garbage from the shore. Some of these items like the refrigerator and street signs caught my eye long ago. But with my small kayak, there is no way for me to haul them out.

Much thanks to TBOC for patrolling the shore of this precious bay and making a big difference.

All images © TBOC. As always, click on an image to see a larger version.

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water heater, car hood duck hunter boat, plastic of all sorts, street signs - all picked up by TBOC workers Dec. 2015.

water heater, car hood duck hunter boat, plastic of all sorts, street signs – all picked up by TBOC workers Dec. 2015.

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water heater, car hood duck hunter boat, plastic of all sorts, street signs - all picked up by TBOC workers Dec. 2015.

water heater, car hood duck hunter boat, plastic of all sorts, street signs – all picked up by TBOC workers Dec. 2015.

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tires, foam football, plastic of all sorts - all picked up by TBOC workers Dec. 2015.

tires, foam football, plastic of all sorts – all picked up by TBOC workers Dec. 2015.

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Tractor tire, lost oyster gear - all picked up by TBOC workers Dec. 2015.

Tractor tire, lost oyster gear – all picked up by TBOC workers Dec. 2015.

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Abandoned refrigerator picked up by TBOC workers Dec. 2015

Abandoned refrigerator picked up by TBOC workers Dec. 2015

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Tod and a sign of the times - picked up by TBOC workers Dec. 2015

Tod and a sign of the times – picked up by TBOC workers Dec. 2015

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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.

Jenner by the sea – Same as it ever was

Click the words above “Jenner by the sea – Same as it ever was” to see this entire post.

Once in a lifetime may we all see such beauty as Drakes Estero at dusk, surrounded by hundreds of godwits. Serenaded by a single loon. In this respect my life is complete.

On the first day of 2015 I was blessed with the beauty of Drakes Estero sans mariculture.

1 January, 2015 - Black Turnstones over Drakes Estero. ©Richard James

1 January, 2015 – Black Turnstones over Drakes Estero. ©Richard James

On the last day of 2015, I had the company of Dan Gurney, fellow boater and nature aficionado as we toured the estuary at the mouth of the Russian River.

This is a common venue for Dan and my first trip to these calm waters.

We put in at the boat ramp near the visitor center and made our way towards the mouth, careful not to venture out to the sea. Our boats and skills not suited for the crashing waves.

Besides enjoying the birds, seals and sounds, our destination was the beach north of the mouth, covered with driftwood and countless pieces of plastic, bottles and other mindless items. Inquisitive harbor seals swam close to us, noses in the air, inspecting us for food or threat, then silently sliding back beneath the cloak of the sea-surface.

We beach our boats, bags in hand we set off to the north, ready to return the scene to a more fitting state, free from out trash. Though we would later learn we had not pulled our boats far enough out of the rising waters.

Dan and I had previously met 2-3 times on Tomales Bay, he with a larger group of boaters, and I out walking the shores, filling my boat with trash, oyster farming debris and derelict drifting duck decoys. This was the first time he and I had boated and walked the shore, intent on cleaning up the place.

Instead of 10-15 minutes and back in the boat to paddle up to Penny Island for a bite to eat, we spent the next 90 minutes gathering foam bits, tennis balls, plastic and glass beverage containers and this lone steelhead.

A large meal, unnoticed by gulls, vultures and eagles. The all white gums of this fish told me it is a steelhead, chinook are all black, coho are black & white.

A large meal, unnoticed by gulls, vultures and eagles. The all white gums of this fish told me it is a steelhead, chinook gums are all black, coho gums black & white.

Perhaps the sand coating had sealed in the scent sufficiently to hide this meal from being discovered. I carried it out to the surf and the gulls and vultures quickly took notice.

Dan was a bit worried, as we had left our boats unattended for quite a while (and had not secured them very well either)

After piling up trash into caches for retrieval later, we hustled back to find our boats swirling in an eddy, off-shore, being herded by Dan’s good friend Bob. Bob boats here nearly every day and knows the land, as well as the boats. He was kind enough to push them to shore where we secured them and spent a while talking about all manner of seaside topics.

After returning to our caches to recover them, lashing everything (except one large truck tire we left up high for another caring individual to pack out), we carefully made our way to Penny Island for a late lunch.

Dan was nice enough to share his sandwich, for I had only arrived with drinks and pastries from Tomales Bakery. We devoured our meal as buffleheads and mergansers floated by.

Once the sun had dipped behind the ridge, the temp dropped and my wet wetsuit became downright chilly. (the day started out quite chilly, the drive up from Inverness was on ice-coated roads. My usual put-in along Walker Creek was occupied by Cheda’s tow truck hoisting the Hog Island Oyster delivery van from the creek, a sheepish driver pacing the shoulder)

Dan and I quickly paddled to the boat ramp to disgorge our discoveries and load boats back on to cars for the drive back.

 

See below what washes down the Russian River on a daily basis.

 

Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…
Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…
Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…

Water dissolving…and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Carry the water at the bottom of the ocean
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones/there is water underground.

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

 

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IMG_0981

56 tennis balls on second ever ikea bag. This one in great shape, sure to help haul hundreds of pounds of trash off many beaches.

IMG_0987

56 shoes, soles or footbeds

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Second syringe of the litter season.

IMG_0984

First ever unicorn.

IMG_0982 IMG_0983 IMG_0986 IMG_0988 IMG_0989 IMG_0990 IMG_0991

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Save our Tomales Bay – 35 Legacy oyster farming trash we want removed NOW.

Highline pilings awaiting removal

Highline pilings awaiting removal

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Highline pilings and rusty iron racks awaiting removal

Highline pilings and rusty iron racks awaiting removal

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Partially removed, still more awaiting removal TBOC

Partially removed, still more awaiting removal TBOC

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Partially removed, still more awaiting removal TBOC

Partially removed, still more awaiting removal TBOC

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Winches from highline awaiting removal

Winches from highline awaiting removal

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Winches from highline awaiting removal

Winches from highline awaiting removal

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Pilings from many decades ago near Tom's Point awaiting removal

Pilings from many decades ago near Tom’s Point awaiting removal

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Abandoned anchors blighting Tomales Bay

Abandoned anchors blighting Tomales Bay

Removed! - Thank you Hog Island Oyster Company

Removed! – Thank you Hog Island Oyster Company

Removed! - Thank you TBOC

Removed! – Thank you TBOC

Removed! - Thank you TBOC

Removed! – Thank you TBOC

Removed! - Thank you TBOC

Removed! – Thank you TBOC

Removed! - Thank you TBOC

Removed! – Thank you TBOC

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Removed! - Thank you TBOC

Removed! – Thank you TBOC

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Rusty iron racks litter many parts of Tomales Bay

Rusty iron racks litter many parts of Tomales Bay

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Removed! - Thank you Hog Island Oyster Company

Removed! – Thank you Hog Island Oyster Company

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Failed artificial reefs near Tomassini Point awaiting removal

Failed artificial reefs near Tomassini Point awaiting removal. Removed – Thank you Sea Grant!

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Failed artificial reefs near Tom's Point awaiting removal

Failed artificial reefs near Tom’s Point awaiting removal. Removed – Thank you Sea Grant!

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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 – 34 King sized tides, king sized mess

Please click on the above text “Save our Tomales Bay – 34 King sized tides, king sized mess” to see this entire post

Wednesday was the King Tide of the year. A full moon, aligned with sun and earth create conditions that produce the highest and lowest tides of the year. With a near non-existent swell, a perfect day to be on Tomales Bay.

Looking west across Tomales Bay at Inverness Ridge during the King Tide of 25 Nov 2015.

Looking west across Tomales Bay at Inverness Ridge during the King Tide of 25 Nov 2015.

These high tides allow me and my boat to easily access areas with high concentrations of plastic trash.

On my way south while in the Tomales Bay Ecological Preserve [where ducks must be careful], I spotted what I thought was a white plastic bag. Grounding my boat on the mud near one of the “blinds” used by duck hunters, I waded across knee deep water in my wetsuit towards the item of interest, taking care to lift my large padded camera bag strapped to my chest away from the splashing saltwater.

Alas, as I neared the bright white item, it became clear it was only a raft of pure white foam, drifting south with the flood tide. Laughing at myself, I turned back towards the boat to continue my venture to the south. As I got to my boat and maneuvered myself to drop my butt into the seat, I stepped off the submerged mudflat, into the channel. I bobbed up and down, a champagne cork, my feet gaining no purchase on the bottom. I cried out in alarm as the water reached halfway up the black appendage strapped to my front, cradling my baby, the camera. Up and down I bobbed, more and more alarmed I became that my camera would be reduced to junk. Pushing upward on the black blob to keep at bay the watery tentacles splashing all around, I had to let go of the boat, toss the paddle to higher ground and pull myself ashore. Which I did without problem. The immediate danger of a swamped camera handled, I grabbed the paddle and started sloshing south to track my now drifting boat as it carried on towards Bolinas without me.

Splashing as I ran in calf deep water, occasionally jumping over deep sub-channels, I put 30 meters between myself and the approaching boat. This gave me time to remove most of my wet upper garments and the camera bag. I was preparing to go for a swim and haul the boat ashore. As I disassembled the camera bag and all the hydrophobic items therein, it became clear that the boat would soon come to me, within reach of the shore. So I continued to get all parts precious laid out in the sun on the bird-pellet, fox dung festooned log that would be my rest stop for the next hour. As the sun dried my camera, jacket and bag, the boat came right to me and was soon tied to my drying log, where it bobbed and tried to get away more than once as the wind buffeted it, me and my drying items.

Lessons learned from this: have more dry towels in dry bags, watch were I walk, bring a wind-shell always.

Have a look below at what I plucked from the southern corners of Tomales Bay.

Four more tires!

One, only one oyster grow out bag [me thinks the growers are paying more attention and losing less gear!]

Plus the usual assortment of plastic wrappers, cans, bottles, tennis balls, shotgun paraphernalia.

These images are presented not for self-promotion. Rather, they are to show people who think of Tomales Bay as this untarnished jewel [jewel yes, untarnished, hardly], that our planet is being trashed by us, some of us much more than others. If we are to slow down the yearly flow of 8 million metric tons of plastic that enters the oceans each year, we need to radically change how we live our lives. So Mr. Green Airstream, please continue to pocket your butts, I’ll continue sharing what I find in Tomales Bay, whether that is abandoned oyster gear, cigarette butts, or Common Snipe and Leopard Sharks. See this comment for background on why I felt compelled to write this last paragraph.

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

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Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Three tires is a full load it seems.  ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Three tires is a full load it seems. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Four tires is indeed a full load. All on the rim, meaning very heavy.  ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Four tires is indeed a full load. All on the rim, meaning very heavy. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Placed within easy reach, awaiting pickup, hopfully by the owner of that grow-out bag....Tod.  ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Placed within easy reach, awaiting pickup, hopfully by the owner of that grow-out bag….Tod. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

Speaking of tires, still waiting to hear from someone on who to contact to remove the hundreds of tires blighting Marconi Cove. A big shout out to Hog Island Oyster Company for pulling out dozens from the boat ramp area!

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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How about biodegradable corn starch shotgun shells and shot cups (AKA wads).   ©Richard James - coastodian.org

How about biodegradable corn starch shotgun shells and shot cups (AKA wads). ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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How about recycling containers, or, using a reusable water container?   ©Richard James - coastodian.org

How about recycling containers, or, using a reusable water container? ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Hope the party was happy. Wildlife has another thought on this senseless tradition of releasing balloons. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Hope the party was happy. Wildlife has another thought on this senseless tradition of releasing balloons. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Lots of unhappy (or lazy) dogs that failed to retrieve these balls. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Lots of unhappy (or lazy) dogs that failed to retrieve these balls. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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No shots were fired in the taking of this Pintail. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

No shots were fired in the taking of this Pintail. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Next relate 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 33 Litter, litter everywhere, not a bite to eat

Please click on the above text “Litter, litter everywhere, not a bite to eat” to see this entire post

Gorgeous day to be out on Tomales Bay.

Tomales Bay - looking south. Please pardon iphone image on rocking boat. ©Richard James coastodian.org

Tomales Bay – looking south. Please pardon iphone image on rocking boat. ©Richard James coastodian.org

Flat water and light wind made for delicious paddling. The water was pretty turbid from the recent winds, so visibility down below was poor, even with polarized glasses. So I only saw clouds of mud kicked up by rays and sharks, instead of seeing actual rays and sharks.

Did see eight common snipe (or at least that is what they looked like to me). Have not seen many of this bird, they like to keep a low profile. I’ll bring a long lens next time I head over to this area of the bay and try to record some images to share.

Found three tires, two of them on the rim, one of which was pretty well ensconced in poison oak (so I left it for later). Speaking of tires, a big shout out to Hogi Island Oyster Company for collecting dozens of abandoned tires from the boat launch at Marconi Cove. It looks a lot better there. Thank you. Don’t de-spare, there are still plenty of tires despoiling the shore at the south end of Marconi Cove. Perhaps 150 or more.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

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tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

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Two oyster bags, full of medium oysters, all dead. As well as a shellfish purse full of mussels. I think somebody must have “borrowed” this from up by Walker Creek and moved it south for a personal mussel farm, as it had a custom float attached.

Also found my second paddle which I plan to give to a friend.

Find of the day was an intact vintage Pepsi Cola bottle.

See below for the sadly large haul for a short day on the water.

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

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Litter from southern Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Litter from southern Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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oyster farmers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

oyster farmers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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car owners litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

car owners litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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car owners litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

car owners litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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oyster farmers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

oyster farmers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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dog owners and bottle smashers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

dog owners and bottle smashers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Drugstore shoppers and skin protectors litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Drugstore shoppers and skin protectors litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Duck hunters litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Duck hunters litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Rope owners and junkfood eaters littter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Rope owners and junkfood eaters littter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Shoeless people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Shoeless people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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plastic lovers and frisbee throwers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

plastic lovers and frisbee throwers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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oyster farmers and foam lovers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

oyster farmers and foam lovers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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New signage in Tomales Bay ©RIchard James coastodian.org

New signage in Tomales Bay ©RIchard James coastodian.org

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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 27 Good news continues

Click the above words “Save our Tomales Bay – Part 26 Good news and great news” to see this entire post.

As I slipped on my mud boots yesterday in preparation for my seventy-seventh week of walking the shore near the TBOC retail site to pick up their trash, an odd sound filled the air.

Power tools, like none I’d heard before at the farm. Hmmmm?

Found zip-tie number one as soon as I set foot on the beach. No zero-day day today Tod. Soon, the second and third were in the bag. Along with some “tourist trash”, or likely oyster customer trash given the location. Still that sound…..

Then I turned the corner to see Tod and nine of his guys fanned out in the mud, picking up trash. Was I hallucinating?

No, there they were.

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Tomales Bay Oyster Company owner and staff picking up their trash. What a great idea!

Tomales Bay Oyster Company owner and staff picking up their trash. What a great idea!

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The truck was on the beach too, but no oysters in it.

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Truck full of Tomales Bay Oyster Company trash no longer creating an eyesore in the bay, nor a risk to wildlife.

Truck full of Tomales Bay Oyster Company trash no longer creating an eyesore in the bay, nor a risk to wildlife.

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Next to the truck was the source of the noise. Tod had hired 1-800-got-junk to cut up the large mountain of rusting oyster racks that had been in the bay for 25 years, and on this beach for a few months at least.

This is a great sight to see. I thanked Tod and his workers and even tried to help them, but was shooed away by Tod.

Let’s hope that this trend continues. That is, any mess made by the oyster companies gets picked up by the oyster companies. Tod and his workers told me there are at least as many old, rusting racks spoiling the bay still to be removed.
Not to mention the thousands of PVC tubes and other plastic trash left over from Drew Alden, the previous leaseholder that left this in the bay for somebody else to deal with.

Preferably, we’ll see oyster companies that make very little mess.

Redesigning their gear to reduce loss, regular patrols of the beaches and bay to pickup their lost gear in a timely fashion and workers that do not take shortcuts or purposely drop garbage in the bay will all contribute to a healthier ecosystem.

Panorama of the area blighted by Tomales Bay Oyster Company, in the process of being de-blighted.

Panorama of the area blighted by Tomales Bay Oyster Company, in the process of being de-blighted.

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1-800-got-junk guys removing oyster farming junk from Tomales Bay.

1-800-got-junk guys removing oyster farming junk from Tomales Bay.

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Gordon Bennett did a very good job of addressing the deficiencies in the leases signed by the growers and the California Fish & Game Commission.

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Click the “pop-out” icon in the upperight corner of the image below to view this important document

Download (PDF, 349KB)

Please take a moment to read this brief document, then write Sonke Mastrup, the Executive Director of the Fish & Game Commission, as well as Randy Lovell, the State Aquaculture Coordinator at the CA Dept Fish & Wildlife and tell them you want stronger language in the leases they provide to growers using your waters to make a profit.

Sonke can be reached at: fgc@fgc.ca.gov – 916-653-4899

Randy can be reached at: randy.lovell@wildlife.ca.gov – 916-445-2008

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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.