Save our Tomales Bay – part 20, Tomales Bay Oyster Company ushers in new era in responsible oyster farming

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

Over the past two years I’ve been boating the waters and walking the shore of Tomales Bay cleaning up all the trash I find, most of it from the oyster farmers.

I’ve focused on TBOC given my proximity to their ~160 acre southern lease and their proclivity to make a mess. Soon you will be seeing reports showcasing the activities of the other growers of Tomales Bay.

In the meantime, I am very pleased to share images of a very positive change of events.

One of my big gripes of the oyster farmers is how they blame messes on the prior leaseholder.

I’ve been gently suggesting to the owner of TBOC for some time that it would be a good idea to remove the thousands of PVC tubes and hundreds of rusting re-bar racks that sit idle, an unsightly testament to the past.

Well, Saturday while out for my weekly walk of the shore near to the TBOC retail site, a longtime TBOC worker showed me how he had removed two rows of rusting racks. A very time-consuming, but welcome effort.

There are hundreds of racks left to remove on the southern TBOC lease, as well as hundreds more up at Walker Creek on other growers’, leases.

But, this is a HUGE and welcome effort by TBOC and I want to thank them and encourage them to keep at it.

Thank you TBOC. Tomales Bay thanks you, the flora and fauna of Tomales Bay thank you, and I hope the people of West Marin thank you for cleaning up what has been a blight on the bay for nearly two decades.

See this post for the area I am speaking of.

Here are some images of a portion of the TBOC southern lease area that needs to be cleaned up.

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©Richard James - coastodian.org rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

©Richard James – coastodian.org
rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

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©Richard James - coastodian.org rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

©Richard James – coastodian.org
rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

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©Richard James - coastodian.org Debris from the Drew Alden era of farming this lease. There are many scores of rigs just like this, littering the bottom of Tomales Bay.

©Richard James – coastodian.org
Debris from the Drew Alden era of farming this lease. There are many scores of rigs just like this, littering the bottom of Tomales Bay.

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©Richard James - coastodian.org rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

©Richard James – coastodian.org
rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

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©Richard James - coastodian.org rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

©Richard James – coastodian.org
rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

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Now for some of the cleanup work going on to right this wrong.

See the video and stills below of the progress being made.


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©Richard James - coastodian.org rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

©Richard James – coastodian.org
rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

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©Richard James - coastodian.org rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

©Richard James – coastodian.org
rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

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©Richard James - coastodian.org rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

©Richard James – coastodian.org
rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

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©Richard James - coastodian.org plastic wrapped high-density blue foam floats that disintegrate and foul Tomales Bay, and the oceans of the world, destined for the landfill.

©Richard James – coastodian.org
plastic wrapped high-density blue foam floats that disintegrate and foul Tomales Bay, and the oceans of the world, destined for the landfill.

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©Richard James - coastodian.org rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

©Richard James – coastodian.org
rebar racks that have blighted Tomales Bay for 25 years, on their way to the recycle center.

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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 18.5, Walker Creek mess, much progress

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

On 22 March I once again visited the oyster lease area at the mouth of Walker Creek in Tomales Bay.

I am pleased to report that much work has taken place and the amount of debris is significantly less. There are still many large diameter PVC pipes of unknown length in the channel, as well as shell-filled oyster bags to recover, though it seems these too will be removed.

This short video will show you the status of this structure as of 22 March, 2015.

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Here is a view of the structure as I am drifting down Walker Creek channel.

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What follows are some stills of the area that is being returned to a natural state.

As always, click on an image to see it larger.

Area of unpermitted structure in Tomales Bay at Walker Creek

Area of unpermitted structure in Tomales Bay at Walker Creek

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mostly submerged PVC tubes and shell-filled growout bags at area of unpermitted structure in Tomales Bay at Walker Creek

mostly submerged PVC tubes and shell-filled growout bags at area of unpermitted structure in Tomales Bay at Walker Creek

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pile of PVC tubes at area of unpermitted structure in Tomales Bay at Walker Creek

pile of PVC tubes at area of unpermitted structure in Tomales Bay at Walker Creek

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South end of unpermitted structure in Tomales Bay at Walker Creek

South end of unpermitted structure in Tomales Bay at Walker Creek

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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 18.4, Walker Creek mess, progress continues

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

Yesterday (14 March) I once again visited the oyster lease area at the mouth of Walker Creek in Tomales Bay.

This short video will show you the status of this structure as of 14 March, 2015.

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Here is another view from my boat as I drifted by it, Pierce Point Ranch is seen in the background along with Pierce Point.

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As always, click an image to see a larger version

TBOC unpermitted dike on Walker Creek - Tomales Bay

TBOC unpermitted dike on Walker Creek – Tomales Bay

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TBOC unpermitted dike on Walker Creek - Tomales Bay

TBOC unpermitted dike on Walker Creek – Tomales Bay

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TBOC unpermitted dike on Walker Creek - Tomales Bay

TBOC unpermitted dike on Walker Creek – Tomales Bay

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TBOC unpermitted dike on Walker Creek - Tomales Bay

TBOC unpermitted dike on Walker Creek – Tomales Bay

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PVC tubes from TBOC unpermitted dike on Walker Creek - Tomales Bay

PVC tubes from TBOC unpermitted dike on Walker Creek – Tomales Bay

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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 19, Abandoned oyster bags, same as it ever was

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

Last week, in addition to monitoring the progress of the removal of the illegal dike along Walker Creek as it enters Tomales Bay, I engaged in a regular activity when boating on Tomales Bay, picking up abandoned oyster grow-out bags.

This day I found nearly fifty. The map below shows where I found the bags this day, as well as where I left them piled up (see red arrows).

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coastodian cleanup map from 2015.03.06

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A map showing the location of the bags where found, as well as where I stacked them so that the growers might come out and recover them will be posted here on Friday [I neglected to upload it along with the images of the trash].

The images that follow show that many of these bags have been there for weeks, or months. One sees pickleweed or salt grass growing through the bag, holding it tightly in place, where, if it were not for me to yank it out of the vegetation, it would likely become part of the environment forever.

This speaks to the urgent need of the growers to do weekly patrols of their leases and a large area near the leases to recover the scores and scores of bags that go missing each week.

The banner image shows the many pieces of plastic coated wire carelessly dropped to the mud after serving the needs of the short-sighted oyster farmer. Note that the plastic insulation has begun disintegrating. This plastic will eventually enter the food chain of the very oysters being raised.

You can see a larger version of the wire image below. These wires were collected in less than 15 minutes as I walked along two rows of rusting iron racks that once held oysters in place to feed on the algae. These two rows were a fraction of the total rows of racks. So what you see is a tiny fraction of the plastic coated copper wire dropped as so much litter. These racks are located in the area leased by Point Reyes Oyster Company, lease M-430-17.

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

long ago abandoned grow-out bag

long ago abandoned grow-out bag

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bundle of 17 bags abandoned north of Walker Cr., east of Preston Point

bundle of 17 bags abandoned north of Walker Cr., east of Preston Point

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bundle of 17 bags abandoned north of Walker Cr., east of Preston Point

bundle of 17 bags abandoned north of Walker Cr., east of Preston Point

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Stanway rack board, I find these all over Tomales Bay, used primarily by Hog Island Oysters

Stanway rack board, I find these all over Tomales Bay, used primarily by Hog Island Oysters

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Abandoned 25" TV tube, full of lead

Abandoned 25″ TV tube, full of lead

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TV inner workings

TV inner workings

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deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

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deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

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deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

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deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

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deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

deteriorating plastic-coated copper wire recovered from Point Reyes Oyster Company lease

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This bundle of Tomales Bay Oyster Company bags was found a 1/2 mile up Walker Creek buried in the mud mid-channel, east of the Tomales Bay Oyster Company lease

This bundle of Tomales Bay Oyster Company bags was found a 1/2 mile up Walker Creek buried in the mud mid-channel, east of the Tomales Bay Oyster Company lease

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 Tomales Bay Oyster Company workers leave these hay hooks all over the place in Tomales Bay, I find them in the mud, rusted in half, or whole like this one

Tomales Bay Oyster Company workers leave these hay hooks all over the place in Tomales Bay, I find them in the mud, rusted in half, or whole like this one

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PVC pipe, grow-out bag and rope collected on or near the Tomales Bay Oyster Company lease

PVC pipe, grow-out bag and rope collected on or near the Tomales Bay Oyster Company lease

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PVC pipe, grow-out bag and rope collected on or near the Tomales Bay Oyster Company lease

PVC pipe, grow-out bag and rope collected on or near the Tomales Bay Oyster Company lease

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PVC pipes, nearly buried in the mud. The TBOC leases have these pipes in varying states of buried-ness ALL OVER their leases.

PVC pipes, nearly buried in the mud. The TBOC leases have these pipes in varying states of buried-ness ALL OVER their leases.

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Abandoned bag, buried in the mud. There are likely thousands of these buried beneath the mud surface

Abandoned bag, buried in the mud. There are likely thousands of these buried beneath the mud surface

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Abandoned bag, buried in the mud. There are likely thousands of these buried beneath the mud surface

Abandoned bag, buried in the mud. There are likely thousands of these buried beneath the mud 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 18.3, Walker Creek mess, some progress

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

Yesterday (6 March) I once again visited the oyster lease area at the mouth of Walker Creek in Tomales Bay.

Prior to reaching the site of an unpermitted structure that has been altering the natural flow of Walker Creek for years, I was blessed with the sight of hundreds of marbled godwits, seasoned with some willets and sanderlings.

There is evidence of progress in the cleanup, which is good.

There is also evidence that the scope of this egregious misuse of the public commons is greater than even I imagined.

The number of plastic grow-out bags used to form a channel moving dike is uncountable. The bags and PVC pipe used to anchor them go on forever into the channel they have harassed for years.

Let’s hope that Tomales Bay Oyster Company keeps at it and quickly removes this pox on an industry whose welcome is teetering on the edge of worn out in some quarters.

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

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

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

Save our Tomales Bay – part 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 5

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

The past several weeks I’ve been picking up the trash left behind by local oyster farming operations on Tomales Bay.

In this post from 29 June, I wondered aloud if those responsible for the mess would pick up after themselves, or would I need to find more help to rid the environment of the trash of private enterprise.

A week later and a few of the larger bales of plastic oyster grow-out bags had been recovered.

This past weekend I went back to have a look at some of the submerged bags, those filled with gravel and embedded in the sand, mud and gravel.

Unfortunately they were still there. as were the many bags I had tossed up high on the shore to keep the tide from carrying them away.

I found that by slicing along one edge of the buried bags, the sand and gravel can be more easily emptied out. But, the freshly sliced plastic is also very sharp. My punctured thumb bled profusely after learning this the hard way.

What follows are images showing the consequences of sustainable, low-impact, no inputs required mariculture of West Marin.

Have a look and ask yourself if this truly is as earth-friendly as it is being portrayed. I imagine with some thought, as well as more labor, oysters could be grown and harvested without leaving such a mess behind.

In a future post, you’ll see evidence of the origin of many of the oysters sold in West Marin to a public that thinks they are buying “local”, as well as sustainable.

All images can be seen larger simply by clicking on them.

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

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

Save our Tomales Bay – Part 2

Click on the words “Save our Tomales Bay” above to see the related banner image.

Today and last week I boated across Tomales Bay with the intention of seeing what sort of plastic debris I could find and haul out.

Given my last post about the oyster farming debris I dug out of the shore of Tomales Bay and packed out, I did not think I’d find nearly so much.

How wrong I was.

Last week, a little north of the area of my last visit on the SE shoreline of Tomales Bay, I beached my boat and began to walk the wrack.

I stopped counting oyster grow-out bags after 20.

There were so many, I had to make 3 trips back across after loading my boat as tall as I dare. Digging the heavy bags out of the mud high on the beach was exhausting. Lack of energy and daylight prevented me from making another 3-4 trips that I figured were needed to remove all the bags littering the sand, plants and water.

Today I went back to the same area with photography in mind. I wanted to be sure to record the impact of mariculture on our shared bay. To be honest, I also did not want to feel like I’d been hit by a truck, as I felt the day after 8 hours of picking up trash last week.

In four trips across Tomales Bay in a small sit on top kayak, I hauled out 160 grow out bags, along with lots of other bottles, wrappers, foam etc. There is easily twice that many more in this one area. I wonder if the farm(s) that leave this mess there will begin to clean-up after themselves? If not, I am going to need lots of help.

Commerce makes a profit, consumers enjoy a meal. The earth pays a steep price never to be compensated.

When will humans learn that the unpaid compensation will be recovered one day in the form of a dead planet, no longer able to sustain humans as well as many other life forms?

What follows are images that to me, are proof positive that the decision to let the oyster lease in Drakes Estero expire was the right choice. These same scenes repeated themselves throughout The Estero, though I never personally saw this many bags washed ashore on one boating trip in The Estero. I did see dozens of them that had been pulled out by the tides into Drakes Bay and deposited on Limantour and Drakes Beaches, as well as other nearby beaches. How many escaped unnoticed?

See earlier post about the nearly 6000 PVC pipe spacers I collected from Point Reyes beaches.

All of the images can be clicked on to see a larger image.

160 polyethelene oyster grow out bags left to the elements in Tomales Bay

160 polyethelene oyster grow out bags left to the elements in Tomales Bay

Nudibranch dining on a grow out bag

Nudibranch dining on a grow out bag

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160 polyethelene oyster grow out bags left to the elements in Tomales Bay

160 polyethelene oyster grow out bags left to the elements in Tomales Bay

160 polyethelene oyster grow out bags left to the elements in Tomales Bay

160 polyethelene oyster grow out bags left to the elements in Tomales Bay

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Been there so long, pickleweed is growing through it.

Been there so long, pickleweed is growing through it.

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Nudibranch dining on a grow out bag

Nudibranch dining on a grow out bag

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been there so long it is buried

been there so long it is buried

been there so long it is buried

been there so long it is buried

been there so long it is buried

been there so long it is buried

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NOT good!

NOT good!

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In West Marin of all places!

Calling this sustainable mariculture would be as crazy as saying The Inverness Garden Club sprayed Roundup® in a public area near Tomales Bay, without permits, telling no one.

 

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Next related post may be found here.

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