Presenting salvage vessel Deep Respect

Click on the words above “Presenting salvage vessel Deep Respect” to see this entire post.

I am proud to announce the acquisition of a new salvage vessel.

With much thanks and gratitude to those who have donated to help me with my coastal cleanup work (see link above), along with some funds earned from my work cleaning Tomales Bay, I acquired a sleek, light and fast canak from the kind folks at California Canoe & Kayak.

The owner of CCK purchased this boat with the intention of running The Green River back in 2011. Well, life happened in other ways and that trip has not yet happened, though I am sure it soon will. So he put the Canak by Wenonah Canoes up for sale. After one morning paddling her in the Oakland Estuary, I knew she’d be a great boat for recovering the never ending supply of garbage found in Tomales Bay. While testing her out I picked up a large amount trash, no surprise that, eh? I may find a lot of trash in Tomales Bay, but let me tell you, The Oakland Estuary far surpasses in breadth and nastiness.

This boat is light enough to carry on one shoulder. The open deck allows me to fill it with abandoned oyster grow out bags, bits of rope, zip-ties, copper wire, blue foam bits, gloves, water bottles etc. Last weekend I packed 23 bags in her with room to spare. I plan to make deck attachments to allow for easy stacking of oyster grow out bags, as there are hundreds, if not thousands of abandoned bags waiting to be recovered from the bottom and shores of Tomales Bay.

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

And remember, if you want to directly help keep the coast of California clean, click that “Donate” link up above. Your generous donation will be put to work undoing the damage we humans continue to inflict on our only home, earth.

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Save our Tomales Bay – part 18.2, Walker Creek mess, Deconstruction

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

Yesterday (28 Feb) I once again visited the oyster lease area at the mouth of Walker Creek in Tomales Bay.

For a number of years, one of the five growers in Tomales Bay (Tomales Bay Oyster Company), has been building unpermitted structures with the aim of deflecting the flow of Walker Creek (and the e. coli-laden mud) away from the area of public lands they lease for the purpose of growing oysters. It is my understanding the neighboring leaseholders have not been too happy about this activity. If mother-earth could speak with a human voice, I wonder what she would say?

NOAA issued a permit so that TBOC could legally deconstruct what I would call the most egregious of these structures I have seen with my very own eyes.


This is the state of the “dike” on 28 February, 2015 240 PM

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What follows are still images of the same dike area.

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

©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©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 18.1, Walker Creek mess, construction

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

Yesterday I paid a visit to the mouth of Walker Creek where it enters Tomales Bay.

There are 4 growers that extract profits in the form of oysters in this area.

Storms regularly rip their equipment out and paint it all over Tomales Bay, and the entire ocean.

These bags become lodged in the mud and pickleweed and are buried, to be ground into plastic bits forever.

The farmers must walk these areas every month, if not more often, to ensure the mess they make gets cleaned up before being buried in the mud and pickleweed.

The regulating agencies must exercise their authority and ensure that laws are being observed, fining those that continue to break the laws enacted to protect the environment.


This post will be updated, so come back to see more of the damage caused to our fragile planet by oyster farming.

Volume warning, turn your sound down

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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 15 Tomales Bay Oyster Company stuck in the mud, along with all their trash

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

Nearly two months ago I wrote about a chance meeting with the owner of Tomales Bay Oyster Company on the beach near his operation on the shore of Tomales Bay. This was not the first time I had spoken with Tod about the mess his company makes in Tomales Bay.

You can read that post here.

I thought he had finally come to see the error in his methods and was going to instruct his employees to quit throwing trash into Tomales Bay, make simple changes to some of his processes and reduce the amount of plastic his business knowingly dumped into the bay.

How wrong I was.

Since January I have walked a quarter mile section of coastline adjacent to his business each week and picked up anything that did not belong. Plastic bags, hundreds of plastic zip-ties, ropes, glass, rubber gloves etc. The vast majority from the oyster company, but not all of it.

For months, I had been gathering a large bag of this trash each week and putting the date on it. A few times I packed out numerous large grow out bags as well, full of dead oysters.

Then, after speaking with Tod, three weeks in a row I found barely more than a handful. Woo hoo I thought. They are going to stop polluting so much, maybe even pick up their own trash.

Alas, my excitement was short-lived. The trash was back, same volume as before.

WTF I thought to myself. Their boss and I talked. The workers see me week after week, knowing I am telling the world of their selfish littering, and still they dump their mess in Tomales Bay.

Well, enough is enough. In the coming week, I’ll show you what I have gathered from the shore where they farm oysters at Tomales Bay Oyster Company. You decide if this is the type of operation that should be expanded up and down the coast of California. The California Department of Fish & WIldlife (DFW) is pushing the “California Shellfish Initiative”. If this is what they are selling, I want no part of it. And neither should anyone else. (Except perhaps a company more interested in short-term profits over a clean environment for those that come after us)

For now, you’ll have to enjoy what appears to me to be a failed experiment left to rot in Tomales Bay.

The images that follow show what I have seen laying in the mud for years – out of sight to all but a fool such as myself, barely 500 meters from the tables filled to capacity each weekend with oyster eaters, ignorant what is being done to the planet to put shellfish on their table and money in the pockets of a few hard-working, yet uncaring, selfish shellfish individuals.

Feast your eyes on the carnage wrought by Tomales Bay Oyster Company, then call them and ask that they stop trashing Tomales Bay. (415) 663-1243.

All of the following images were made on 19 April, 2014 between 8:24 am and 9:12 am.

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned PVC pipes  - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes  - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned rope - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned rope – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack mount covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack mount covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned oyster bags - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster bags – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster racks - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster racks – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned oyster racks - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster racks – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes  - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned PVC pipes and in use grow out bags - Tomales Bay Oyster Company Looks like a hurricane hit a hardware store. If a hardware store looked like this, it would either get cleaned up, or go out of business. Hardware stores are easy to build. There is only one Tomales Bay. So.....clean it up, or go out of business!

abandoned PVC pipes and in use grow out bags – Tomales Bay Oyster Company
Looks like a hurricane hit a hardware store. If a hardware store looked like this, it would either get cleaned up, or go out of business.
Hardware stores are easy to build. There is only one Tomales Bay.
So…..clean it up, or go out of business!

abandoned PVC pipes and in use grow out bags - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes and in use grow out bags – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned PVC pipes - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned PVC pipes – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned zip-ties - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned zip-ties – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned oyster rack gear - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack gear – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack mount covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack mount covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned oyster rack mount covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack mount covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags, rope and PVC pipes - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags, rope and PVC pipes – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned plastic trays - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned plastic trays - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned plastic trays - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned plastic trays – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned oyster rack – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

abandoned grow out bags covered with marine growth – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

retail oyster bag stuck in the mud - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

retail oyster bag stuck in the mud – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

plastic rope by the miles lost each year in the mud - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

plastic rope by the miles lost each year in the mud – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

retail oyster bag stuck in the mud - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

retail oyster bag stuck in the mud – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Click any image to see a huge version

retail oyster bag stuck in the mud - Tomales Bay Oyster Company

retail oyster bag stuck in the mud – Tomales Bay Oyster Company

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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 14 Tomales Bay Oyster Company poised to improve business practices

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

Saturday morning while walking the shore of the Bay picking up oyster farming debris just south of TBOC, as I have done for the past few months, something most interesting happened.

Two TBOC employees saw me with bag in hand heading south along the shore, stooping down to pick up the bazillionth discarded cable-tie (zip-tie, tie-wrap), they shouted at me in their accented english, “Hello mister, hey, hello, can we help you?”

Can they help me I thought to myself?

They sure can I thought to myself. I stopped and turned, waiting a few seconds as they jogged over to me.

You sure can help me.“, I offered.

You can stop leaving all the plastic garbage along this beach and all over Tomales Bay

They both looked a little confused.

Basura, mucho basura todas.” I offered in my simplistic spanish.

Porque basura siempre aqui?” [Why always trash here?]

I dug into my bag and showed them the handful of cable-ties, wire segments, oyster tags and rope I had collected.

Eric, I later learned his name, said “We do the best cleanup of the bay of all the oyster growers!

I chuckled a few times, shaking my head. “I’ll have to disagree with you there. I have cleaned up nearly this entire bay shoreline a couple times, and the area around TBOC is by far the messiest, covered with oyster trash.

I explained that I had been cleaning this shore near their operation for months, bagging what I’d found, and dating each bag, as well as photographing the hundreds of grow out bags I’d found nearby. These photos are up on the internet I told them.

They asked me if I’d talked to Todd about this. Yes was my reply, with little to show for our discussion.

After a little more discussion, I thanked them for their time, we shook hands and parted ways.

I continued walking south, picking up what I’d missed on the way north.

Not five minutes after the boys had left, I turned a corner of the shore and not two-hundred feet south was Todd Friend walking towards me, with a large stick in his hand.

Hmmm, this could get interesting, I thought to myself.

He saw me and then reached down to pull a large two by four out of the driftwood pile, abandoned oyster racks likely.

As we closed on one another, it became apparent that Todd was picking up trash as well.

In another minute we were upon each other and he said “Hello Richard.

Hello Todd.

We talked a bit about what I’d been finding, I showed him the contents of my bag, explaining this was a fraction of what I had usually found. He explained the likely source of each item.

The upshot of our conversation is that he agreed that TBOC had been leaving a mess and that they could do better.

I explained that if they did good things on the bay, I’d write good things about them. He looked me in the eye and said “Deal!

But, if you continue to do what you’ve been doing, I’ll continue to document that as well.

I asked about changing methods so that less gear was lost. I also asked if TBOC talked with other growers about best practices. He said not really, but a meeting of all the growers was coming up.

I shared a different way of attaching bags to the line used by a grower further north, the clips cost more, but they lose much fewer bags, so it actually costs less.

This is great news and I hope to hear more of their plans to reduce lost gear.

I’ll continue to record debris locations and offer maps to the growers. It would be great if they could use their boats to get to remote areas, then walk the shore to recover gear, as walking is the best way I have found to find lost gear.

A great morning indeed.


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 12 (Millerton style)

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

This past weekend we experienced King Tides, exceptionally high (and low) tides that happen this time of year.

To see some even higher tides, go here.

The water was so high I was able to launch my boat from the bridge at Chicken Ranch.

My goal was to head south into some formerly diked off areas to the east that only flood deep enough to get into during high tides. With the added benefit of the high water floating all the human-made plastic for easy finding and retrieval.

Down near Bivalve I recovered a second swim area buoy that had gotten loose and drifted far from its’ usual spot. I found the first one last year, a few hundred meters south of this one.

Paddling back I ran into Dan from Sebastopol, we’d met a few weeks prior a bit north of here. We visited briefly as we recounted how we each enjoyed the high tides. I had to split off to pick up some trash I had cached. Dan was with a large group of paddlers from Petaluma. My plan was to pick up my cache, then stop by Millerton (where they had put in) and visit on my way back as they pulled their boats to the car. As we parted, Dan shouted that he found another duck decoy just then. He found one as well on our first meeting. I too have a pair of found plastic ducks, one pintail and one mallard.

Yet, there was too much trash to pick up and I missed him by moments.

I still stopped at Millerton, a place I had not visited on the water in all my travels in Tomales Bay.

As I approached the shore I began counting tires, one, two three. Large ones. Tractor tires. All within 200 feet of the where the trail hits the water. I was nonplused. All these years I had been out to remote areas of Point Reyes Seashore gathering trash likely never to be seen except by divers or other intrepid adventurers, and here these tires lay in the mud. On the shore for what appears to be decades by the looks of them, not 200 feet from the cars bringing all the dog owners to this busy beach.

I may have missed Dan, I was not going to miss the opportunity to clear the Bay of these huge tires.

Tires all over the shore, and this in the parking lot, two days running. Is this status quo for Millerton?

Tires all over the shore, and this in the parking lot, two days running.
Is this status quo for Millerton?

I had to dig them out of the mud, stand them up, scoop 20-30 pounds of mud out of them and roll them to the hill that leads to the parking lot. As I rolled the first one along the bumpy shore, A man out with his family picnicking got up and walked over to me,

“Do you need some help?” he asked.

“That would be great” was my reply.

“But you are going to get very muddy.” I offered.

“No problem.” was Armando’s response.

Together we rolled it, wobbly, up the hill. He took it the rest of the way to the parking lot. I was off to get another.

“If you get more, my sons and I can help.”

Armando from Berkeley told me he loves to come to this beach with his family. When he saw me struggling with the huge tire, he became inspired.

He and I rolled a second tire, as big as the first up to the lot. I was not sure I was up to a third so I suggested he enjoy the new year day with his family and thanked him for his help.

As I neared my boat, I was drawn to a third tire, laying in the shallow water, filled with mud. This one required a lever and fulcrum to pull it out of the mud. Fiddling with sticks and logs to make my mechanical advantage, Kevin “KC” form Inverness Park saw me and he too asked if he could help. He was dressed even nicer than Armando was. I explained the mud and he would not be deterred. He stripped off his jacket and came right over to help. Together we got another large tire up the hill and out of the Bay.

His wife snapped these photos of us.

KC and I roll a tractor tire out of Tomales Bay to the parking lot for removal.

KC and I roll a tractor tire out of Tomales Bay to the parking lot for removal.


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Afterwards he then offered me a cold beer (which I gladly accepted) and he opened it for me, as my hands were still coated with thick black mud, bleeding profusely from where the barnacles had sliced them.

Thank you KC.

I plucked a fourth tire, this one a tiny 18-wheeler that was on dry ground and rolled it up the hill solo.

This makes fifteen tires pulled from the bay so far.

There are still at least 2-3 more here, as well as a large rear axle from some ancient vehicle of some sort laying in the tiny creek nearby.

I placed the swim buoy in with them. Later I called the state dispatcher for parks and the folks from Samuel Taylor had them taken care of by that evening.

This six cylinder GM engine in the water earlier sure looked out of place. Clearly left by some lazy SOB that had backed his truck up to the cliff next to route 1 and pushed it over, saving a trip over the hill to the recycler. His problem was now everyone’s problem. This is the third block I have found in Tomales Bay. The other two are likely remnants of boat wrecks, both on the west shore.

Just what every body of water needs - NOT.

Just what every body of water needs – NOT.


Oyster grow-out bag filled with bottles and cans. My first toaster and fourth TV.

Oyster grow-out bag filled with bottles and cans. My first toaster and fourth TV.


Four tires, a buoy and two oyster grow-out bags.

Four tires, a buoy and two oyster grow-out bags.

A few days later I paid a visit to Hog Island Oysters, having been invited to come talk about my clean-up efforts and the goals of Hog Island in terms of reducing the amount of plastic the oyster farms inject into the environment.

John Finger explained that in the past, a yearly cleanup had taken place to pick up oyster gear from around the bay.

Hog Island is committed to running a clean operation, reducing plastic loss and recovering as much as possible that is lost.

After seeing what I was digging out of the wrack on a regular basis, he decided that once a year was not enough. So he plans to work with the other growers to make a concerted effort four times per year. If I can, I’ll go out before the planned cleanup to see what is there to get, as well as to visit after the cleanup to see if the participants are actually recovering their gear.

I am going to reduce the number of “Save our Tomales Bay” reports for a while. A wait and see approach, if you will.

Let us hope that all the Tomales Bay Oyster growers step up and help manage the mess that their operations are creating, hopefully figuring out how to prevent the mess in the first place.

I’ll still be out there picking up stuff and photographing it.

In the meantime, enjoy this green heron I drifted by on christmas day.

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Now this is what I expect to see in a Bay as gorgeous as Tomales!

Coming soon, we’ll pay a visit to Drakes Estero to see what a “sustainable oyster operation” looks like under the surface.

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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 11

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

It appears I was premature in doling out kudos to the folks at Tomales Bay Oyster Company (TBOC) for picking up after themselves.

The garbage continues to show up on the stretch of shore just south of their retail operation.

I continue to be flummoxed at how a business dependent on nature for profits can be so cavalier in the care of that same environment from whence the bivalve bucks become.

Good news to report though. The Department of Fish & Wildlife has furnished me with maps showing who has a state water bottom lease for aquaculture in Tomales Bay. Equally interesting is who does not have a lease (or sub-lease) to grow shellfish in the saltwater of Tomales Bay

With these maps I hope to be better able to figure out the source of the garbage in Tomales Bay.

I’ve been justly heaping the shame on Tomales Bay Oyster Company for producing the mess I find in the southern end of Tomales Bay. I say justly because the state of the shore I walk reflects the state of the production area and the mudflats directly in front of the operation in The Bay.

In a word, deplorable, describes how it looks.

Armed with these new maps, I see that there are three other Oyster farmers with leases in the southern bay region, Hog Island Oyster Company, Point Reyes Oyster Company and Marin Oyster Company.

In light of this, I’ll be sure to share the responsibility of the continuous mess I find equitably.

The folks at Hog Island contacted me recently. They care deeply about the bay and want to work with me to see how to have regular, thorough clean-ups of the feral plastic their operations introduce into the global ecosystem. They continue to reach out to fellow oysterers for help in recovering the rubbish that regularly is loosed on the water and land by wind and wave. Let’s hope with increased public scrutiny, all growers participate in protecting the Bay from human activity from now on.

More on that later.

Below are images from efforts on 14 and 15 December.


Click image for a larger version

RJames.map.2013.11.17 Litter
Five weeks ago I recovered 24 bags along with the usual plastic bits, bottles and foam.


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RJames.map.2013.12.15 Litter
Last week in the same area I collected 29 bags.
Does anyone see a trend here? I’m told these bags cost 2 bucks a piece. Must be good money in oysters to be throwing away so much cash.


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One of a few "work-sites" on The Bay where materials and rubbish are regularly left to the winds and waves.

One of a few “work-sites” on The Bay where materials and rubbish are regularly left to the winds and waves.


A favorite libation of the oyster worker. I find them all over Tomales Bay.

A favorite libation of the oyster worker. I find them all over Tomales Bay.


Click image for a larger version

Suppliers to the oyster trade of West Marin.  Admiralty Seafood, Drakes Bay Oyster Company, Montana Reach dba Cold Creek Oysters, Northwest Shellfish Company, Schreiber Shellfish Company, Tom Farmer Oyster Company, Tomales Bay Oyster Company -- Are these companies aware that their name is attached to oyster farm debris littering Tomales Bay? -- You betcha!

Suppliers to the oyster trade of West Marin. Admiralty Seafood, Drakes Bay Oyster Company, Montana Reach dba Cold Creek Oysters, Northwest Shellfish Company, Schreiber Shellfish Company, Tom Farmer Oyster Company, Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Are these companies aware that their name is attached to oyster farm debris littering Tomales Bay?

You betcha!


More tags from those Washington oysters - Nisqually Tribe Shellfish Farm, Tom Farmer Oyster Company, Taylor Shellfish Farms, Gold Coast Oyster LLC, Northwest Shellfish Company, Schreiber Shellfish Inc.

More tags from those Washington oysters – Nisqually Tribe Shellfish Farm, Tom Farmer Oyster Company, Taylor Shellfish Farms, Gold Coast Oyster LLC, Northwest Shellfish Company, Schreiber Shellfish Inc.


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Boat loaded down with several hours work cleaning up after local oyster farmers.


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Feral plastic unloaded and turned into a monument to oyster profits over a clean environment.


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Now that the hard work of finding, pulling out of the mud and returning to the source has been done for them, I hope they at least had the decency to come out and get their trash. The low tide prevented me from getting in closer to shore.


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Dozens of bags buried in the mud, abandoned for so long they have become substrate for the ecosystem. Polyethylene is not a sustainable substrate.

Dozens of bags buried in the mud, abandoned for so long they have become substrate for the ecosystem.
Polyethylene is not a sustainable substrate.


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oyster bags, plastic ropes - tools of the oyster trade I find all over the beaches of West Marin. The same material found in the guts of dead whales, dead turtles and dead birds.

oyster bags, plastic ropes – tools of the oyster trade I find all over the beaches of West Marin.
The same material found in the guts of dead whales, dead turtles and dead birds.


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Click image for a larger version

This foam provides buoyancy for the work platforms used by oyster farmers. - I find this stuff all over the place. Some pieces too large to fit in my car, so they are strapped on top. - I've been picking this up from the shores of Drakes Estero for years. - Thankfully that operation will soon close and the source of this toxic blight in those waters will go away. - Ironic that I regularly find dust pans on the beach. Brooms and brushes too.

This foam provides buoyancy for the work platforms used by oyster farmers.

I find this stuff all over the place. Some pieces too large to fit in my car, so they are strapped on top.

I’ve been picking this up from the shores of Drakes Estero for years.

Thankfully that operation will soon close and the source of this toxic blight in those waters will go away.

Ironic that I regularly find dust pans on the beach. Brooms and brushes too.


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Grow-out bag covered with California horn snails CORRECTION: Japanese Mud Snails, brought in with non-native oysters long ago. Yet more damage done to California environmnet by shellfish growers. They eat detritus and benthic diatoms. Their preferred diet is benthic diatoms, not the detritus you see here.


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Grow-out bag covered with California horn snails CORRECTION: Japanese Mud Snails, brought in with non-native oysters long ago. Yet more damage done to California environmnet by shellfish growers. They eat detritus and benthic diatoms. Their preferred diet is benthic diatoms, not the detritus you see here.


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No oysters in this long abandoned grow-out bag. Just sand and mud.


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No oysters in this long abandoned grow-out bag. Just sand and mud.


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No oysters in this long abandoned grow-out bag. Just sand and mud.


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No oysters in this long abandoned grow-out bag. Just sand and mud.


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No oysters in this long abandoned grow-out bag. Just sand and mud.


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No oysters in this long abandoned grow-out bag. Just sand and mud.

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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 10

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

I decided one day while out picking up after the local oy$ter farmers that I had had enough. Instead of doing their job scouring the bay and beaches, finding, packing out, loading on my kayak, boating out, hauling up to my car, loading in my car and driving to the nearest dumpster the collateral damage created by their profit making enterprise, I was going to make a public monument.

A monument using their trash.

In a very public place so the people that drive out to West Marin to enjoy fresh oy$ters might get a better sense of the true price of their gourmet, locavore, feel-good, low-impact, sustainable, taste-good weekend experience. As i wrote previously (read here), I began to collect the plastic oy$ter farm debris on a small island at the mouth of Walker Creek. Yet, the site was too far from the highway for visitors to see. So I collected more of their trash and built the structure taller.

Monument to oyster profits for a few over a clean environment for all. -- The eight white plastic jugs in the foreground were part of that raft of pallets mentioned below.

Monument to oyster profits for a few over a clean environment for all.

The eight white plastic jugs in the foreground were part of that raft of pallets mentioned below.

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Monument to oyster profits for a few over a clean environment for all.

Monument to oyster profits for a few over a clean environment for all.

I intended to continue this effort with all the plastic I’d found in the area, publish pictures here and invite the oy$ter farmers to come and get it themselves. Well, one weekend I paid a visit to the bakery in Tomales to get some treats on the same weekend of the yearly flea market. I bumped into a friend from Petaluma and explained my plan to her as we visited in the middle of the flea market in Tomales. She looked at me and said “They’re going to kill you!” I shrugged it off and said if they don’t like what I write or my art effort using their trash, they can go pick it up themselves.

Later that morning I again bumped into my friend, we sat on the edge of the market and shot the breeze a while longer. As we talked, I noticed a fellow from Tomales doing his best to hear what we were saying without being noticed. He moved beside us and behind us, always craning his neck to place his ear as close as possible. As I lowered my voice, I watched him move closer. Not long after, my friend and I said goodbye and parted ways.

A week after creating what you see in the two images above, I drove up to make some images from the roadside to see what sort of impact the oy$ter trash might have. Pulling over in the pullout, I grabbed my binoculars and got out to have a look. Scanning left, then right, I could find no monument to oy$ter profits for a few over a clean environment for all. Someone had taken their boat in at high tide, just as I envisioned, hopped ashore and hauled the pile of rubbish forty feet to their boat.

Success!!!

My car did not stink of anaerobic mud for a week. My seats were not freshly streaked with bay mud, eel grass and sand. Now that they know where their trash ends up, and they know how to come and pick it up themselves. It is my hope that they will start to patrol and protect the environment that grows these oy$ter$ and keep it pristine all on their own.

With the winter storms (hopefully) on the way, the real work is yet to be done. Storms knock the bags and other oy$ter items loose. They either get pushed onto local beaches and sensitive wetlands, or worse, pulled out to sea where they are broken down by sunlight and friction, eventually eaten by wildlife. You can be sure I will be out during/after the storms to see what impact there is from oy$ter farming.

Let’s hope that oy$ter farmers will incur the cost of trash removal themselves and not further burden society by filling the public dumpster at Nick’s Cove (Miller Park) with their trash.

That’s right, while unloading the trash from my kayak at Nick’s one day, a Marin County Parks ranger asked me what this trash was about. After explaining my efforts, he shared with me that he regularly sees the oyster crews completely filling the public dumpster. He has asked them again and again not to do it, yet they continue.

Below you can see more images from the Walker Creek area of Tomales Bay.

Thanks Russ.

Great and snowy egrets in flight. Tomales Bay, mouth of Walker Creek.

Great and snowy egrets in flight. Tomales Bay, mouth of Walker Creek.

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Pallets that had been fashioned into a work platform by strapping 8 large plastic jugs underneath them. The elements pushed them ashore and broke up the contraption. Did the people that made this thing come and pick it up? -- No, I spent a couple hours pulling the jugs off it, ferrying them back to a pick-up point. -- As far as I know, this blight still litters the shore of Tomales Bay, two months after I came upon it.

Pallets that had been fashioned into a work platform by strapping 8 large plastic jugs underneath them. The elements pushed them ashore and broke up the contraption. Did the people that made this thing come and pick it up?

No, I spent a couple hours pulling the jugs off it, ferrying them back to a pick-up point.

As far as I know, this blight still litters the shore of Tomales Bay, two months after I came upon it.

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Pallets that had been fashioned into a work platform by strapping 8 large plastic jugs underneath them. The elements pushed them ashore and broke up the contraption. Did the people that made this thing come and pick it up? -- No, I spent a couple hours pulling the jugs off it, ferrying them back to a pick-up point. -- As far as I know, this blight still litters the shore of Tomales Bay, two months after I came upon it.

Pallets that had been fashioned into a work platform by strapping 8 large plastic jugs underneath them. The elements pushed them ashore and broke up the contraption. Did the people that made this thing come and pick it up?

No, I spent a couple hours pulling the jugs off it, ferrying them back to a pick-up point.

As far as I know, this blight still litters the shore of Tomales Bay, two months after I came upon it.

— click image for larger version —

Human-built structure trying to tell the tide where to go with polyethylene bags fastened to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes with nylon cable-ties. Tomales Bay

Human-built structure trying to tell the tide where to go with polyethylene bags fastened to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes with nylon cable-ties. Tomales Bay

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Human-built structure trying to tell the tide where to go with polyethylene bags fastened to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes with nylon cable-ties. Tomales Bay - The white objects in the background are American white pelicans made of feathers, flesh and bone.

Human-built structure trying to tell the tide where to go with polyethylene bags fastened to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes with nylon cable-ties. Tomales Bay

The white objects in the background are American white pelicans made of feathers, flesh and bone.

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Human-built structure trying to tell the tide where to go with polyethylene bags fastened to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes with nylon cable-ties. Tomales Bay. The white objects in the background are American white pelicans made of feathers, flesh and bone.

Human-built structure trying to tell the tide where to go with polyethylene bags fastened to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes with nylon cable-ties. Tomales Bay. The white objects in the background are American white pelicans made of feathers, flesh and bone.

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Railroad bridge remains in Walker Creek

Railroad bridge remains in Walker Creek

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Cormorants and a great blue heron resting on oyster work barge, Tomales Bay

Cormorants and a great blue heron resting on oyster work barge, Tomales Bay

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Eel grass trapped by cow fence, Tomales Bay

Eel grass trapped by cow fence, Tomales Bay

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Nature held hostage, Tomales Bay

Nature held hostage, Tomales Bay

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Black turnstones foraging atop oyster grow-out bags, Tomales Bay

Black turnstones foraging atop oyster grow-out bags, Tomales Bay

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Great and snowy egrets in flight. Tomales Bay, mouth of Walker Creek.

Great and snowy egrets in flight. Tomales Bay, mouth of Walker Creek.

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Marbled godwits, willets, short-billed dowitchers and a lone great blue heron.

Marbled godwits, willets, short-billed dowitchers and a lone great blue heron.

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Marbled godwits and short-billed dowitchers.

Marbled godwits and short-billed dowitchers.

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Marbled godwits, willets, short-billed dowitchers.

Marbled godwits, willets, short-billed dowitchers.

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Next related post may be found here.

Next related post may be found here.

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

Save our Tomales Bay – part 9

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

The boat you see in the banner above had been blown off its mooring (for a second time) and drifted south nearly two miles to the spot you see.

Moorings in Tomales Bay, as I understand it consist of very heavy things, dropped into the bay, to which one ties their boat.

Speaking one day with a gentleman who works at Hog Island Oyster Company, I mentioned the garbage you see in the two images seen below during a discussion we were having about all the oyster farming trash I find washed ashore.

Location -  38.128490° N   -122.864172° W   Datum WGS84

Location – 38.128490° N -122.864172° W Datum WGS84


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Location -   38.125753° N   -122.862869° W   Datum WGS84

Location – 38.125753° N -122.862869° W Datum WGS84

He mentioned all the moorings in the bay, implying that if you think oyster farming debris is trash, what about all the engine blocks littering the bottom of the bay?

He also mentioned a specific tire, stuck in the mud for many, many years just off Bivalve that can be seen from the road.

I replied that I had seen that tire several times, even photographed it. He asked me if I had packed it out. I replied no, I had been out that day to take photos, not pack out trash as I often do. He quickly shot back “Everyone has an excuse.” A few days later, I emailed him a picture of a tire, asking if this indeed was the tire in question. I also sent a picture of nine tires I had pulled out of the mud, drug ashore and packed to the trailhead.

I’ve not heard back from George.

RJames.IMG_0483


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Even though you are about to see many pictures of trash I have picked up in the vicinity of the Tomales Bay Oyster Company, I want to say that I think they are making an effort to pick up after themselves.

Thank you Tomales Bay Oyster Company. Or whoever it is that is picking up the beaches near your business that are usually covered in plastic from your operation.

What you see below I had to really go trekking to find. Whoever is picking it up is getting the low hanging fruit, the stuff in the wrack. Which is great.

I am having to go further away from the wrack, up into the pickleweed to get the plastic that was washed up during very high tides in the past.

If these oyster farm operations sent people out more often, I suggest once a week, or at least every other week. There would be less chance of high tides pushing it further inland, or worse, pulling it out to sea, where it becomes deadly for birds, mammals and other sea life.

In an upcoming post, I’ll share more findings along the Tomales Bay shore in the vicinity of Hog Island Oysters, as well as other growers that have thousands upon thousands of bags of oysters laying in the mud or on racks.

Find out the unvarnished truth about sustainable oyster farming, West Marin Style™.


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this blue foam is wrapped in plastic and tied to the oyster bags for flotation. - I find chunks of this stuff EVERYWHERE. - If the growers regularly policed their growing areas [as I do], the sun would not degrade the plastic and this stuff would not be strewn about.

this blue foam is wrapped in plastic and tied to the oyster bags for flotation.

I find chunks of this stuff EVERYWHERE.

If the growers regularly policed their growing areas [as I do], the sun would not degrade the plastic and this stuff would not be strewn about.


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Tags from oyster bags shipped from Washing State to Marin. Do you know your farmer? Call them at the number you see on the tags above.

Tags from oyster bags shipped from Washing State to Marin.
Do you know your farmer? Call them at the number you see on the tags above.


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The purplish lines show locations where I gathered litter from that you see in  this post. - The yellow lines show where I walked inland to find "older" trash left by the business owner. - The business site is the bright white area.

The purplish lines show locations where I gathered litter from that you see in this post.

The yellow lines show where I walked inland to find “older” trash left by the business owner.

The business site is the bright white area.


A work area used by the busniess, one of two that I know of where tools and trash are left at all times.

A work area used by the busniess, one of two that I know of where tools and trash are left at all times.


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A clean wrack. What it should always look like!

A clean wrack. What it should always look like!


Plastic free eel grass! - Yes please

Plastic free eel grass!

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 – 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.
Click image to see a larger version.


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.


RJames.IMG_6369.cc

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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.