Tomales Bay Triptych – Preston Point Sheep Grazing

Click an image for a larger version.

Do sheep belong in a wetlands area?

Sheep grazng on wetlands at Preston Point. ~ 400 meters away are millions of oysters growing in the mudflats.

Sheep grazng on wetlands at Preston Point. ~ 400 meters away are millions of oysters growing in the mudflats.

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Sheep grazng on wetlands at Preston Point. ~ 400 meters away are millions of oysters growing in the mudflats.

Sheep grazng on wetlands at Preston Point. ~ 400 meters away are millions of oysters growing in the mudflats.

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Sheep grazng on wetlands at Preston Point. ~ 400 meters away are millions of oysters growing in the mudflats.

Sheep grazng on wetlands at Preston Point. ~ 400 meters away are millions of oysters growing in the mudflats.

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Birds of Tomales Bay – White Pelican Style

Click on the words above “Birds of Tomales Bay – White Pelican Style” to see this entire post

Brown Pelicans generally dive from above to find their meal.

The larger White Pelicans generally work as a team, herding their supper.

I could watch either species all day.

Enjoy.

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

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Respect Tomales Bay – Stewardiness defined

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Last week The Tomales Bay Watershed Council hosted another fine “State of the Bay Conference at The Inverness Yacht Club.

I was kindly given a few minutes to present some of my findings from the past 3 years of paddling and cleaning Tomales Bay.

See the slides from my presentation, annotated after the fact at the below link:

Download (PDF, 14.13MB)

The main points of my presentation may be distilled to the following:

the coastodian board of directors are very cool

Steven Colbert knows what truthiness is all about

Download (PDF, 63KB)

Aldo Leopold knew what it means to be an environmental steward

the coastodian has witnessed firsthand in Tomales Bay the epitome of stewardiness

Tomales Bay oyster growers, some of them anyhow, over the past 3 years have moved the needle on the stewardometer.

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The California Fish & Game Commission continues to fail miserably in meeting their responsibility to protect and safeguard the public water bottoms they lease to private entities for private profit. One only need travel the length of Tomales Bay by small boat, from north to south to witness a sad century of dereliction of duty in the form of abandoned oyster farming infrastructure. Infrastructure that continues to pose a serious threat to the health of this jewel we call Tomales Bay.

Invasive plants such as jubata, pampas and ice plant pose a troubling threat to the biodiversity of West Marin. Without a strong, collaborative effort to safely eradicate these unwanted, unwelcome, invasive pests, West Marin will soon look more like Bodega Bay, Stinson Beach, Argentina, South Africa. We love West Marin because of the beautiful and diverse ecosystem. These  invasive plants threaten this beauty and we must act NOW!

Not long ago, one learned of a special beach, fantastic fishing lake/river or magical mushrooming spot from an elder who trusted us with this special knowledge only after we earned their trust.

With the advent of social media and frankly too damn many people, beautiful places like Tomales Bay are being overrun by people who see no difference between the shore of Tomales Bay and the trash-filled Oakland Estuary. These careless visitors venture west, have their fun, then leave a mess in the very place whose beauty brought them on a long journey to visit.

Today myself and a friend participated in an annual litter pickup known as “Litter bugs me”, started by Rigdon Currie 18 years ago. This year the cleanup extended beyond the side of the road into Tomales Bay. Two of us paddled from Chicken Ranch Beach to White House Pool, collecting all manner of trash, including 5 tires, several beach balls, a 5-gallon bucket of broken glass.

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

Century old bat-ray fence abandoned long ago, now causing sedimentation in the southern bay as well as providing hard substrate for the invasive oyster drill to colonize upon as well as lay many, many thousands of eggs. These oyster drills prey upon the threatened native Olympia Oyster

Century old bat-ray fence abandoned long ago, now causing sedimentation in the southern bay as well as providing hard substrate for the invasive oyster drill to colonize upon as well as lay many, many thousands of eggs. These oyster drills prey upon the threatened native Olympia Oyster

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Chris plucks one of five tires collected from the cherished waters of Tomales Bay

Chris plucks one of five tires collected from the cherished waters of Tomales Bay

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Salvage kayak "Deep Respect" drifts on a flood tide in southern Tomales Bay

Salvage kayak “Deep Respect” drifts on a flood tide in southern Tomales Bay

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Respect Tomales Bay – TBWC State of the Bay Conference 22-24 Sept.

Click on the words above “Respect Tomales Bay – TBWC State of the Bay Conference 22-24 Sept.” to see this entire post.

The following is an announcement for the Tomales Bay Watershed Council State of the Bay Conference.

The Tomales Bay Watershed Council Foundation is proud to present the seventh State of Tomales Bay Conference on Friday, September 23rd, 2016 at the Inverness Yacht Club.

Join us for this wonderful event gathering local scientists, policy makers, and stewards of this watershed to learn about the state of Tomales Bay and its watershed. This year’s conference is focused on the themes of Science, Policy and Practice in the watershed.

I’ll do a short presentation on my efforts to protect and cleanup the bay over the past few years. Please come if you can, the talks will be at the Inverness Yacht Club.

Registration Required.

Come learn what is happening to protect the bay we all love.

Download (PDF, 930KB)

Tomales Bay Triptych – Human Style

This pile of BBQ briquettes, napkins, toilet paper, beer bottles, gloves and other trash was pulled out of Tomales Bay at Grassy Point on the eastern shore on 13 August, 2016

This pile of BBQ briquettes, napkins, toilet paper, beer bottles, gloves and other trash was pulled out of Tomales Bay at Grassy Point on the eastern shore on 13 August, 2016


What are charcoal briquettes made of?

Kingsford Charcoal, for example, by far the most popular brand in the US, is made up of bits of charcoal, coal, starch (as a binder), sawdust, and sodium nitrate (to make it burn better). For the same reason that SPAM is cheaper than a whole ham, briquettes are cheaper to make than all-wood charcoal

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This mess was left near the camping area known as Jack's Beach on the western shore of Tomales Bay. I picked up all the paper and liners. The poo is left for yoo.

This mess was left near the camping area known as Jack’s Beach on the western shore of Tomales Bay. I picked up all the paper and liners. The poo is left for yoo.

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This 5-galloon bucket with seat and sack full of poo inside was found on the northeast shore of Tomales Bay, not far from oyster beds on August, 2016

This 5-galloon bucket with seat and sack full of poo inside was found on the northeast shore of Tomales Bay, not far from oyster beds on August, 2016

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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.
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Another image from March 14, 2015
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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.
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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

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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.
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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.
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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 – East shore roadside update

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The last update of this sort from 13 March may be found here.

Almost 3 months has passed with lots of interesting itmes to share.

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

The capsized boat first reported here is still laying upside-down, leaking who knows what else into the bay.

As of 25 March, still laying there in the bay. Behind the first house south of Hog Island Oysters. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

As of 25 March, still laying there in the bay. Behind the first house south of Hog Island Oysters.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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On the weekend of 9-10 April, Grassy Point pullout was filled to capacity with these cars. When I stopped to clean up the area, I sadly discovered someone had tossed two live ochre starfish into the road. Both were now quite dead. Starfish have been hammered by a virus the past few years all up and down the Pacific Coast and are only recently starting to rebound.

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Grassy Point filled to capacity all weekend. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Grassy Point filled to capacity all weekend.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Dead Pisaster starfish tossed into the road. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Dead Pisaster starfish tossed into the road.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Another dead Pisaster starfish tossed into the road. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Another dead Pisaster starfish tossed into the road.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Yes, that is a "disposable diaper" in the foreground. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Yes, that is a “disposable diaper” in the foreground.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Local opinion ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Local opinion
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Between the almost always open and overflowing dumpsters at Tony’s Seafood

11 April, 2016 Tony's Seafood Garbage bins ©Richard James - coastodian.org

11 April, 2016 Tony’s Seafood Garbage bins
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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11 April, 2016 Tony's Seafood Garbage bins ©Richard James - coastodian.org

11 April, 2016 Tony’s Seafood Garbage bins
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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And the dumpster at Nick’s Cove (AKA Miller Boat Launch) seen here on 31 May , also almost always open and overflowing, there is no end of food to attract ravens and gulls to scatter trash everywhere. I am told by County Parks that residents of Tomales and Marshall have been caught dumping household trash in these bins more than once. Full bins mean fishermen make an even bigger mess on the weekend, some of which is blown back into the bay. Please Respect This Place.

Dumspter at Nick's was so full, after it was emptied, this remained. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Dumspter at Nick’s was so full, after it was emptied, this remained.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Dumspter at Nick's was so full, after it was emptied, this remained. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Dumspter at Nick’s was so full, after it was emptied, this remained.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Sloppy filleting  of a halibut, left to attract coons and ravens.

Sloppy filleting of a halibut, left to attract coons and ravens.

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Here is Nick’s launch dumpster the following weekend

Dumpster at Nick's on Saturday morning 4 June. County man called in to get it picked up to make room, no truck came, more trash dumped on the ground. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Dumpster at Nick’s on Saturday morning 4 June. County man called in to get it picked up to make room, no truck came, more trash dumped on the ground.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Each weekend I pick up the area around the boat launch, sometimes twice. Often I see fishermen unloading all they brought with them which they no longer want, carrying it to the small dumpster. The dumpster that is almost always overflowing, often with countless aluminum beer and soda cans. Last weekend I saw one such man carry at least 25 beer cans over to throw away. “Hi, you know you could take those home and recycle them” I offered. His gait steady, his tired voice replied “I know all about aluminum cans, I work in a can factory”. “Then you know how much electricity is required to make a new can?” Puzzled look. “The more electricity we use, the more CO2 we dump into the atmosphere, the more acidic the ocean becomes, the less fish you have to catch”. Blank stare as he dumps the entire bag of cans onto the over-filled bin, some of them spilling onto the ground as he turns and walks back to his boat. And so it goes…

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Roadside fishermen still have no respect for the Bay they love to visit.

9 June, Roadside fishermen still leaving lots of trash, bait boxes and now boxes of kindling. They are burning treated wood, no wonder their judgement is impaired. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

9 June, Roadside fishermen still leaving lots of trash, bait boxes and now boxes of kindling. They are burning treated wood, no wonder their judgement is impaired.
©Richard James – coastodian.org


How about we ban fires along this stretch? Bob, is that something you could get rolling? From what I have seen, there is a high correlation between those that build fires and those that leave a mess.

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Grassy Point visitors seem determined to out-disgust the roadside fishermen at Tony’s.

31 May, Some visitors burned pallets full of nails on the bank above the bay, leaving hundreds of nails and the remains of their bottles they seem to have tried to BBQ. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

31 May, Some visitors burned pallets full of nails on the bank above the bay, leaving hundreds of nails and the remains of their bottles they seem to have tried to BBQ.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Today (10 June) I stopped by to pick up Grassy Point and found a very large, fresh pile of human excrement deposited on the beach below the wide spot. When I say on the beach, I should say in the bay, as it was well below the high water mark covered with strips of brown cardboard stained a different shade of brown. Whoever left the portable BBQ box along with the rest of their picnic items scattered about seems to have disassembled the box to use as TP.

Worry not, no photos were recorded, but I did scrape it up best I could and pack it out.

Please Respect This Place.

Three images of beauty to remind us why we all need to be mindful of how we treat our planet, as well as sometimes gently remind those around us to do the same.

Dunlin ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Dunlin
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Marbled Godwit ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Marbled Godwit
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Brown Pelican in ground effect. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Brown Pelican in ground effect.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Previous related post may be found here.

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

See other posts featuring The Birds of Tomales Bay here.

Avian Triptych + 2

So many gorgeous birds to be seen along the coast.

Most in breeding plumage for a more colorful presence.

As always, click an image to see a larger version.
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Ruddy Turnstone in Bodega Bay feasting on a crab leg - first one I have seen. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Ruddy Turnstone in Bodega Bay feasting on a crab leg – first one I have seen.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Compare the above ruddy with this group of black turnstones (two surfbirds at no additional charge)

Ten black turnstones and two surfbirds ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Ten black turnstones and two surfbirds
©Richard James – coastodian.org


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Two Western Sandpipers, Two Dunlin  [black bellies] feasting atop plastic oyster bags in Tomales Bay. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Two Western Sandpipers, Two Dunlin [black bellies] feasting atop plastic oyster bags in Tomales Bay.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Pigeon Guillemot in Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Pigeon Guillemot in Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Late breaking news…..Rare sighting of the Heisenberg’s Hammerkopf near San Francisco Bay. To learn more of this fine looking bird, click here.

What is this? A rare sighting of the Heisenberg’s Hammerkopf near The Golden Gate Bridge! Will we see more of this rare vagrant? ©Richard James - coastodian.org

What is this? A rare sighting of the Heisenberg’s Hammerkopf near The Golden Gate Bridge! Will we see more of this rare vagrant?
©Richard James – coastodian.org