Check out this week’s Weekly Roundup for breaking news affecting San Francisco Bay.
San Jose Mercury News 7/20/13 Bay Area sea gull population explodes, bringing flocks of problems
In an alarming trend that has scientists scrambling for answers, the bay’s population of California Gulls has exploded from 24 birds in 1980 to more than 53,000 today. Scientists say the gulls have become a serious threat to the largest wetlands restoration on the West Coast, the effort to restore 15,100 acres of former Cargill industrial salt ponds in the South Bay back totidal marshes. A central goal of that project, which already has cost taxpayers more than $300 million, is to bring back endangered species. Read more>>
Inside Bay Area 7/22/13 Leopard sharks flourishing in south San Francisco Bay as wetlands are restored
A different type of shark is flourishing south of the San Mateo Bridge, one whose presence is powerful testament to the improving health of the bay: leopard sharks. UC Davis researchers are finding large numbers of leopard sharks — some as big as 6 feet long — benefiting from five years of work to restore thousands of acres of industrial salt ponds ringing the bay’s shoreline from Hayward to San Jose to Redwood City. Ducks, herons and fish are thriving in the former ponds, which are being restored to tidal marshes. But the fact that sharks are also booming is a particularly encouraging sign, scientists say. Read more>>
Care2 Make a Difference 7/23/13 Another Reason to Hate Plastic Bags: Sea Turtles Eat Them
A team of scientists from the University of Tokyo, led by Dr. Tomoko Narazaki, set out to try to understand the foraging behavior of loggerhead turtles. One of the videos captured by the critter cam shows a loggerhead swimming under the surface of the water. He sees a billowy floating mass and heads for it. It looks like a jellyfish, but by the time the turtle comes right up beside it, it becomes clear that it’s a plastic bag. Read more>>
New York Times 7/25/13 Louisiana Agency Sues Energy Companies for Wetland Damage
Louisiana officials filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against dozens of energy companies, hoping that the courts will force them to pay for decades of damage to fragile coastal wetlands that help buffer the effects of hurricanes on the region. “This protective buffer took 6,000 years to form,” the state board that oversees flood-protection efforts for much of the New Orleans area argued in court filings, adding that “it has been brought to the brink of destruction over the course of a single human lifetime.” Read more>>
When we picture the Bay, we usually think about the gorgeous sunset over the waters and the breathtaking views of San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. But there is a lot out there in the Bay that many of us are not aware of. Did you know that there is a large leatherback turtle population that hangs out around the Golden Gate Bridge? There is also an abundant amount of brown sea nettle jellyfish swimming around the shipping lanes near the Golden Gate, so the turtles like to munch on those jellyfish as a viable food source.
But these turtles do not live along the California coast their entire lives, so how did they get here? They grow up along the Indonesian coast and then embark on a 6,000 mile journey to the California and Oregon coasts. The leatherback turtles typically migrate from June to November, which is the best time to see them. Once they cross the ocean, they land along the coasts of California and Oregon and take up residence there, from Mendocino to the top of the Oregon shoreline.
The tragedy is that the leather back sea turtles are at risk for going extinct, possibly in two decades or less. According to SF Gate, “a recent study found plastic in the intestinal tracts of 37% of 370 leatherbacks that had been found dead.” The problem is that the turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, so they eat them as a food source. Those plastic bags ended up in the Bay through accumulation of plastic bag litter or blow out of trash cans and garbage trucks. Then they flow directly into waterways or flow into them through storm drains that connect to the Bay. Since turtles are accustomed to eating jellyfish on a daily basis in the San Francisco Bay, they assume that the plastic bags are edible just like jellyfish. Leatherback turtles are not alone in feeling the effects of plastic pollution in the Bay; in the 2012 report from the United Nations Environmental Programme and the Convention on Biological Diversity, more than half of 663 marine species were documented to have eaten or been entangled in marine debris, representing a 40% increase since 1997.
The good thing is that 65% of the Bay Area lives in a jurisdiction that has banned plastic bags, which is a large, positive step towards preventing the extinction of the leatherback turtles that are living in the Bay. San Jose’s plastic bag ban has directly lead to the decline of plastic bags in local waterways; one year after the ban went into effect, plastic bag trash decreased by 69% in San Jose creeks and 89% in storm drains. To find out whether your city has adopted or is considering a bag ban, check out the latest bag ban map.
As more and more cities ban plastic bags, the likelihood that plastic bags will end up in the Bay significantly decreases, which is good news for the leatherback turtle population that lives near the Golden Gate Bridge. In reality, the Bay is not just an open area. It is fragile and supports a wide range of wildlife, which means that anthropogenic sources of plastic pollution can greatly alter the marine habitat. If we want to keep the leatherback sea turtles in the San Francisco Bay for future generations, we need to kick the plastic bag habit and remember to always use a reusable bag instead. The leatherback turtles will thank us as a result.
Those who came to the festival got to enjoy a gorgeous day in the iconic square—sipping wine, attending chef demos, and munching on bites from local food trucks while taking in views of our glittering San Francisco Bay.
Nearly 40 wineries participated, among them Save The Bay friends Mutt Lynch Winery and Rock Wall Wine Company. The VIP terrace offered sweeping views of the Bay, perks like Dofino cheese and Ghirardelli chocolate pairings and respite from the bustling festival below. In the square guests learned and experienced how to make dishes like bruschetta and Buffalo macaroni and cheese from top Bay Area chefs and enjoyed live musical entertainment and beer and wine tastings.
Guests stopped by the Save The Bay booth to pose with our Bay Creatures in our photo booth and to enter to win drawing prizes, including a dinner boat cruise aboard the Hornblower and a signed Giant’s baseball.
Over 40 Save The Bay event volunteers helped make the festival happen. The volunteers looked great wearing Oaklandish designed and printed Save The Bay T-shirts. Spindrift soda donated refreshing beverages for our volunteers to enjoy. Guests at the event carried away Chico swag bags. The wine, music, and beautiful backdrop made it an incredible day to get people to appreciate the Bay. Thank you Ghirardelli Square for your generous partnership and another wonderful Uncorked Wine Festival, it was a blast!