March 20, 2011

After the Storm . . .

 3 month old (approx.) elephant seal

Phil Warren (aka, 'the seal guy') was on the beach today placing stakes in the sand cautioning beach goers to give a wide berth to the stranded elephant seal pup. He said this guy looked to be in good condition so far but he'd keep an eye on him. 

Elephant seal pups weigh about 60 to 80 pounds when they're born. They nurse for 24 to 28 days quadrupling their birth weight. The pups, called 'weaners' are weaned when their mothers abruptly head back out to sea. For about 8 to 10 weeks the 'weaners' stay behind at the rookery teaching themselves to swim. During this time of 'fasting' they will loose about a third of their body weight. It's their hunger that drives them to set out to sea and hunt for food.

Phil and his wife, Jean, are key volunteers for the Marine Mammal Center. The couple moved to Bodega Bay after retiring from Silicon Valley five years ago. After meeting a Marine Mammal Center docent on a boat trip, Phil and Jean took a drive down to Sausalito to check out the MMC facility. They both wanted to volunteer but driving down to Marin every week didn't work well with 'retirement' life. Becoming 'stranded seal' volunteers seemed to be a good fit. It's certainly a perfect fit for all of the seals they've assisted these past five years. 

During 2009 there was a surge of seal births from the estimated 20,000, to 60,000 seals born that year. There was not enough food to sustain them all and many starved to death. My husband and I made several calls about dead, starving, emaciated seals that year, mostly along Salmon Creek South. Phil said there were days when he and Jean were bringing in stranded seals several times in one day. Doesn't sound like retirement to me . . . 

taking a breather . . .

The warm calmness of the beach was a nice break from the gale force winds and stormy seas last night. We were surprised how many people ventured out to the coast given the gloomy weather reports.

My husband met Susannah and Ben while picking up trash. We're often thanked by beach goers who appreciate our efforts at keeping the beach clean. My husband (he's a sweetie!) offered a bag  and gloves to Susannah and Ben which they eagerly accepted and headed down the beach to collect trash. My guess is we'll be seeing more of them out at the beach with bag in hand . . .

nice haul!

Susannah was concerned about all of the glass on the beach

many thanks you two, it was very fun (and inspiring) meeting you!

our morning haul

lots of water bottles and Styrofoam

tangled piles washed up along the beach
my hero . . .

the white plastic piece is about 2' by 3' and is trash I found on the beach ~
 my genius husband rigged up a 'leash' for me to pull this puppy along  . . .

afternoon haul . . .

a closer look . . . lots of bottle tops

several plastic tips from cigars . . . lots of empty shotgun cartridges too

I've read that most of the beach trash comes from storm drains that eventually empty into streams then oceans . . .  and then as we all know, end up in the stomachs of wild life . . . 

migrating white pelican ~ Thomas Reynolds, photographer

dead pelican ~ Doran Beach, Sonoma Coast

baby albatross, Midway Atoll Island ~ Chris Jordan, photographer

baby albatross, Midway Island ~ Chris Jordan, photographer

Please watch this video . . . Captain Charles Moore tells us that we're in a crisis . . . we must act NOW . . .

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