Air tankers scooping water from Tomales Bay to drop on Woodward fire

TClick the words above “Air tankers scooping water…” to see this entire post

oday Friday (21 August) and Saturday (22 August) for over an hour two planes skimmed the surface of the bay, filling their tanks. Each then wheeled east, then south to head towards the Woodward fire.
These images and video recorded from Chicken Ranch Beach.

All images and video ©Richard James








Commercial crab season (and crab gear season) in full swing

Click on the words above “Commercial crab season (and crab gear season) in full swing” to see this entire post

For several weeks in October and November I walked 10 Mile beach and Drakes Beach often to pick up all the crab gear I could find.

I wanted to clear the beaches of gear from past seasons so that I could be sure that once this season started, I’d be fairly certain that any gear washing ashore was from this season.

Crab should cost twice what it does, with half of it going to pay those that clean up after the commercial (and sport) fishing fleets.

Such stewardship. Sigh.

Everything you see below was collected from Point Reyes Beaches from 16 December, 2019 – 3 January, 2020.

More here, and here.

Click an image to see a larger version

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Protecting the planet
one beach at a time

I love our coast. The Northern California coast soothes my soul and makes me a better person. And sadly, I see the results of humans dumping eight million metric tons of plastic debris in the planet’s ocean each year. So I walk the beaches from Muir Woods to Jenner with my cameras and trash bags. I always find interesting subjects to photograph and trash to collect. Lots of trash, so far I’ve packed out nearly seven tons. Reducing all trash, especially plastics in the ocean has become my mission.

My passion for the environment draws me closer to her, nourishing my desire to protect habitat and reduce our impact on the coast, especially priceless Tomales Bay. In the past 10 years of combing this coast on foot and by boat, I’ve learned about the devastation of plastics on birds, fish, marine mammals, and of course humans. Plastic trash on the beach arrives mostly from the sea, though visitors and locals also contribute to the mess. Sun, waves and wind grind this plastic mess into tiny particles that bind with other petroleum based toxins. These particles are eaten by fish and birds, and enter the complex food web of which we are a part of.

Trash washes up 24/7/365. My volunteer efforts include collecting trash, leading beach cleanup groups, public education and weaving together businesses, government and non-profit agencies with shared information to mitigate our impact. Our annual Beach Clean-ups and local individual efforts are dwarfed by the wave of new trash arriving every day.

This website is a culmination of my effort to bring the problem to the forefront, discuss solutions and share the beautiful, surprising, often times sad and maddening discoveries. You’ll find reports of my findings going back to 2010, from Beijing 2008 Olympics water bottles that continue washing up, the America’s Cup AC-72 boat pieces, the regular arrival of dirty hypodermic needles at Point Reyes National Seashore beaches, flushed by heavy rains from the streets of Berkeley, Oakland and elsewhere into San Francisco Bay and to the sea.

Silent gratitude comes from my board of directors and occasionally a human. I don’t have sponsors apart from the individual donations to this website.

To take an active role, come walk the beach with me. Join the effort: buy less plastic, reduce your use of single-use items, pick up trash wherever you may be, help spread the word and educate others, support those who promote public policy to bring fundamental change. And, if you can help my efforts, I would be thankful for your donation.


Click on image to see it larger

Some of my tracks from hundreds of visits to this beach to remove marine trash.


Board of Directors

Crab season is approaching – would you hire a contractor that leaves a mess in your home?

Click the words above “Crab season is approaching – would you hire a contractor that leaves a mess in your home?” to see this entire post.

Commercial crab season is fast approaching. Without any issues causing a delay (domoic acid or other problems) it will open mid-November.

When you hire a contractor to work on your home, one of the criteria in making that hiring decision is how they leave your home once the work is done.

You talk to other customers, ask questions about quality of work, attention to detail, staying on budget and on schedule, right?

You also take into consideration how well they clean up after themselves each day, as well as at the end of the project, right?

If a contractor regularly left their worksite (your home) a mess, scrap wire, lumber, sheet rock laying about, food and drink containers scattered all over your yard and in the street, you’d likely talk to them about it, right?

If they did not correct the situation, you might even fire them and find another crew to finish the work.

You’d certainly be sure to tell anyone that asked about the mess this crew made and to be wary about hiring them.

OK then.

Crab fishing is hard work, no question about that.

But that is no excuse for leaving the ocean and coastline a complete mess each season.

Why do we expect contractors, gardeners, doctors and mechanics to clean up after they do a job, yet, we give a pass to the commercial (and sport) crab fishery each and every year? Even though they dump tons of plastic into the ocean, some of which is ground into fine plastic powder every year.

Recently I walked the southern portion of South Beach at Point Reyes Seashore. The first time I’d been to that area in many months.

I found the usual water bottles, food wrappers, lighters, shotgun shell shot-cups, forks, straws and lots and lots of crab fishing buoys, rope and only one Scotty’s bait jar. Six months since the last season closed and still crab fishing garbage is washing ashore, just like it does each and every day here at Point Reyes.

Crab fishermen, you either need to clean up after yourselves, or pay someone else to do it.

Along the California coast you lose thousands of buoys and traps each year, miles of rope, thousands of bait jars and other items.

This stuff is ground into powder by the waves and rocks and then it enters the food chain of which humans are a part.

Please clean up after yourselves. I’ve asked the Bodega fishermen to clean up the mess they and others leave at Point Reyes.

Their reply was NO, we will not help clean up the mess we make.

My efforts to rectify this situation will increase until marked progress is made.

Images below are from a week ago on South Beach. Links to previous posts on this topic are also below.

Dungeness Crab Season is here – How do I know?

Commercial fishermen are extremely conscious of their impact

NPS battles global warming by installing refrigerator on North Beach

Please click on the above words “NPS battles global warming by installing refrigerator on North Beach” to see this entire press release.


News Release Date: April 1, 2017
Contact: Amanda Sidebyside, 415-464-5678

Park Service scientists have determined that the ocean is just too darn warm.

To cool things off a bit, they have begun installing refrigeration units along Point Reyes Beaches with doors removed, set to cold.

The first device was installed at North Beach this past week.

As soon as all necessary extension cords have been installed, additional units will be deployed at 50 foot intervals from The Golden Gate north to the southern tower of the Pierce Point – Bodega Bridge and set on cold with the doors removed.

Please do not remove any of the shellfish from the refrigeration units, they are used for calibration purposes.


Vacation, to leave one’s brain at home

Click the words above “Vacation, to leave one’s brain at home” to see this entire post.

After a summer working in Yosemite Valley many years ago, the word vacation took on new meaning for me.

Watching tourons, as we called them, hacking down living trees to burn, stopping bus-sized RV’s in the middle of the road to get out and gape at a deer, hiking in 4-inch heels to vernal falls – all activities I witnessed again and again.

Imagine dealing with people like this on a daily basis and you can understand how an NPS employee might take on a misanthropic pallor.

Labor day is upon us. And so are the throngs of city dwellers eager for one last glimpse of nature. What a shame it is so many of them are unable to give nature even a sliver of respect.

While standing in line at The Bovine after plucking dozens of bottles and cans out of the dumpsters and cleaning both beaches at Drakes and Limantour, a lycra-clad fellow walked up and dumped a large paper bag FULL of bottles and cans into the trash bin by the door.

Kindly, I said “You know, there is a recycle bin right over there by your bike.”

He stopped, turned, glared and spat at me with a thick German/Austrian accent “Vye dont you mind your own fucking business!”

“Seeing as how I live out here, the state of our planet IS my fucking business. So won’t you put those recyclables in that bin over by your bike.”

He begrudgingly did, telling me “You could have said please.”

Seeing what has been left at the Limantour main trail-head, along with the above exchange, makes me think that humans have no business on this planet.

Happy holidays. Think kind thoughts for the 4 young men caught in the water at the mouth of The Estero, rescue/recovery underway as I write.

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

Items left at Drakes and Limantour beach over Labor Day Weekend

Items left at Drakes and Limantour beach over Labor Day Weekend

Dog shit, bagged by dog owner, left on beach for the rest of us to enjoy.

Dog shit, bagged by dog owner, left on beach for the rest of us to enjoy.

Dog shit, bagged by dog owner, left on beach for the rest of us to enjoy.

Dog shit, bagged by dog owner, left on beach for the rest of us to enjoy.

Items left at Drakes and Limantour beach over Labor Day Weekend

Items left at Drakes and Limantour beach over Labor Day Weekend

Trash and recycle bins at Limantour. A large dumpster is 80 feet away.

Trash and recycle bins at Limantour. A large dumpster is 80 feet away.

Trash and recycle bins at Limantour. A large dumpster is 80 feet away.

Trash and recycle bins at Limantour. A large dumpster is 80 feet away.

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

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

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

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

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

What an amazing job these folks have done.

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

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

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

They have outdone themselves, it is gorgeous.

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America’s Cup continues to runeth over with marine debris

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

This stuff keeps washing ashore at Point Reyes beaches.

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

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

Larry’s boat is built for speed

But do we really, really need

Broken symbols of his greed

Washing ashore

Where shorebirds breed?

Snowy Plover nesting time, please keep fido on a leash

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

Here in West Marin we are so very fortunate to be a part of a delicate and diverse ecosystem.

Western Snowy Plovers, a small shore bird, attempt to nest here each spring, as they have for thousands of years.

With a total population of approximately 2000 birds along the entire Pacific coast (~5000 birds world-wide), giving them the room and time they need to court, build a nest, mate and raise their young is critical to the survival of the species. Each year at Point Reyes, no more than a dozen chicks survive longer than 28 days after hatching.

Please set a good example for the rest of the state that comes to visit and keep your dog on leash at all times in the National Seashore.

As I have learned the past few years, all local dogs are well behaved and do not chase birds.

So whether you are/were on the board of a prominent local environmental action group, a famous photographer, wrangler of all things radio, emporium owner, Tenured professor or anyone else that lives in West Marin, please set a great example and keep your dog on leash when visiting the seashore.

Not only is it the law, the survival of an entire species of birds depends you!

Three Western Snowy Plover eggs in a scrape (nest)

Three Western Snowy Plover eggs in a scrape (nest)