Spooky Creature Features

It’s almost Halloween! What better way to get into the holiday spirit than to discuss those critters that seek to disturb and horrify us. These are four species that can be found around San Francisco Bay that are noteworthy either due to their appalling eating habitats, by their grotesque appearance, or a combination thereof:

Red-Backed Jumping Spiders

Just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not simply talk about the creepy crawlies without mentioning spiders. When most people think of Halloween spiders, black widows and tarantulas typically come to mind. Even though both can be found in the Bay Area, we instead will be talking about the red-backed jumping spider, or Phidippus johnsoni. This is a small jumping spider that is about a centimeter long. Its most notable feature is its bright red abdomen. Though the red-backed jumping spider may look terrifying, it is harmless to humans. The coloration acts as a disguise. The spiders mimic wasps called velvet ants in order to deter potential predators.

Saltmarsh Dodder

Saltmarsh dodders (Cuscuta  spp.) are a genus of native herbaceous plants. However, unlike most other plants, they aren’t green, don’t have leaves and don’t photosynthesize. Instead, dodder is a holometabolous parasite, meaning that it must rely on a host plant from which to obtain all of its nutrients. Dodders are easily identifiable by their orange coloration and threadlike stems that cover the surfaces of host species. They produce white flowers in the summer months.

Oyster Drill

The Atlantic Oyster Drill (Urosalpinx  cinerea) is a small predatory marine snail measuring only 20-35 mm long. A snail you say? How bad can that be? However, these little guys make up for their small stature with a voracious appetite. As the name suggests, they primarily prey on other mollusks and do so in a gruesome fashion. They use a specialized appendage called a radula to bore a hole in the shell of an unsuspecting mussel or clam. Once they finish, they then proceed to slurp the soft insides out through the hole, leaving only the shell behind!

Turkey Vulture 

Image: Arthur Morris/VIREO

Vultures are another Halloween staple.  A common species found throughout much the United States is the ever-present turkey vulture (Cathartes aura).  Chances are good you’ve seen a few circling overhead while driving on the freeway. Turkey vultures are scavengers and feed on carrion, or decaying flesh. Adult turkey vultures have an excellent sense of smell, allowing them to hone in on fresh roadkill, which they then regurgitate for their hungry brood. Still want that Halloween candy? I didn’t think so.

Save The Bay & Facebook: Bringing the Bay Area Closer Together

Facebook Interns Restoring Wetlands
Facebook Interns Service Day at Bair Island

San Francisco Bay is home to more than 7 million people and is the largest, most valuable estuary on the West Coast. Facebook’s headquarters is located right on the Bay’s beautiful shoreline, and the company has shown its commitment to protecting local habitat and ecosystems —from the innovative 9-acre green roof at its Menlo Park campus to its broader efforts in the Bay Area.

By sponsoring Bay Day 2017, Facebook is helping people all around the Bay celebrate its iconic role in our community, and inspiring us all to better protect this shared natural wonder. Bay Day is San Francisco Bay’s new regional Earth Day. This Bay Day – Saturday, October 7th – is an opportunity to inspire positive environmental actions by connecting communities with immersive, Bay-themed educational and recreational activities.

This is not the first time Facebook and Save The Bay have partnered to protect the Bay. This June, 350 enthusiastic Facebook volunteers came out for a massive Intern Service Day at Bair Island, bringing their incredible work ethic to our three-acre Inner Bair Island restoration site. Facebook’s volunteers completed 100 days of restoration work in just one day.

At Save The Bay, Facebook’s platforms are vital to everything we do, from spreading the word about the Bay-spanning events this Bay Day to engaging citizens with our vision of a clean and healthy Bay.

This Saturday, October 7th, Facebook’s sponsorship is supporting volunteer restoration events in Redwood City and Palo Alto, and a total of 70 community events around the Bay. And for people and families who can’t make it to one of these public celebrations – Facebook helped us launch My Bay Day Adventure Guide, an interactive, online guide to experience Bay Day from your mobile device. I love how the My Bay Day experience helps people to discover the Bay in a new way, through each of our senses, and hope you and your family enjoy it too.

Save The Bay is proud of our partnership with Facebook, and we are grateful for all the company does to protect San Francisco Bay and the communities that call the area home.  Together, we can ensure a healthy and resilient Bay for generations to come.

Wetland Restoration is working. Here’s how.

From our friends at San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, these videos show how wetland restoration is working throughout the Bay Area. 

Check out the videos and take action to support wetland restoration projects near you.

Wetland Restoration is Working, Video Short # 1 – Heron’s Head Park

Wetland Restoration is Working, Video Short # 2 – San Pablo Bay

Monitoring Marshes to Managing their Restoration: Welcome Katy Zaremba

Katy Zaremba has joined Save The Bay as our new Habitat Restoration Program Manager. She is pictured here at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve Whales Tail South Marsh in Winter 2012.
Katy Zaremba has joined Save The Bay as the new Habitat Restoration Program Manager. She is pictured here at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve Whales Tail South Marsh in Winter 2012.

My introduction to estuarine and wetland conservation began in high school while slithering on my belly through cordgrass marshes on the mudflats, counting fiddler crabs while participating in an environmental education program on the Chesapeake Bay.

It was there that I gained an appreciation for estuarine environments, and learned the ecological value of estuarine and wetland habitats, and the need for conservation and stewardship of these unique habitats.

I am so pleased to have the opportunity to join Save The Bay as their new Restoration Program Manager. It is an honor to follow in the footsteps of environmental conservation heroines Esther Gulick, Sylvia McLaughlin, and Kay Kerr who created a lasting legacy for San Francisco Bay. I believe that my new position with Save The Bay perfectly marries my early career experience in environmental education and environmental advocacy, with my years of professional work as an estuarine ecologist, conservation biologist and wetland restoration practitioner on the San Francisco Bay.

Katy is pictured here during an outreach program on extent of Bay Invasion in 2004
Katy is pictured here during an outreach program on the extent of Bay Invasion in 2004.

The focus of my early career was in coastal and marine ecology, environmental education and volunteer coordination. After some years working on the coast and in the Bay as an educator, I decided to further my own education and pursue my interests in wetland and estuarine ecology and habitat conservation in graduate school.

When deciding on the focus of my graduate school studies, the San Francisco Estuary had been declared as one of the most invaded estuaries in the nation. Invasive non-native species in the Bay were a growing threat to the health of the Bay ecosystem. Given my passion for protecting the coastal and estuarine ecosystems that I cherished, my keen interest to expand on my knowledge and my life goal to actively contribute to the cause of conserving and restoring the San Francisco Bay, I developed a graduate school research project that involved monitoring the spread and control of invasive non-native cordgrass (Spartina spp.) into a newly-opened restoration site.

My graduate research project evolved into a career as the Monitoring Program Manager and eventually the Restoration Program Manager with the Invasive Spartina Project.  I started a field-based monitoring program, surveying the extent of San Francisco Bay and the outer coast marshes for five species of non-native cordgrass. The monitoring program introduced me to an incredible network of marshes around the Bay.  I surveyed by foot, by bike, by kayak and boat. I learned how to access shoreline and coordinated with land owners and introduced them to the threat of invasive cordgrass.

Katy enjoys contributing and volunteering right here in her own backyard, or watershed, and working with local conservationists.

My years surveying the Bay provided me with many unique experiences and adventures. I surveyed the expansive strip marshes and mudflats of San Pablo Bay National Wildlife. I got to know how to best access the marshes around the Bay, making the most of the miles of shoreline trails provided by numerous landowners including East Bay Regional Parks where I surveyed miles of shoreline from Pt. Pinole to Hayward. It was always a highlight when I surveyed by kayak. I was fully cognizant of the special opportunity I had to kayak the sloughs in and around Bair and Greco Islands. Even driving access was an adventure as I learned to navigate driving the levees in and around the evolving Eden Landing Ecological Reserve and South Bay Salt Pond Complex.

In the process of surveying the Bay, developing the ISP Monitoring and Restoration Programs, I worked and collaborated with remarkable community of land owners, managers, stakeholders, researchers, environmental advocates and regulators. I built an incredible network of colleagues and friends, all of whom were committed to the cause of protecting and restoring the health of the San Francisco Bay Estuary. I take great pride in having the opportunity to work with such an incredibly committed community of conservationists here in the Bay Area.

I’ve always enjoyed contributing and volunteering in my own backyard, or watershed, working with local conservationists. With the intention of working locally to acquire, protect and restore local ecologically significant wetland habitat, I joined the Board of the Bowen Island Conservancy while living in British Columbia, and then Marin Audubon Society when I returned to the Bay Area.

As the Save The Bay Restoration Program Manager I am so pleased to be able to continue to collaborate and work with existing partners, wetland restoration practitioners, and to join the committed team of Bay and wetland stewards, environmental educators, advocates and policy makers at Save The Bay.

Historic Measure AA for a Clean and Healthy Bay Approved by Bay Area Voters

SFBay_VivianReed
With nearly all of the votes counted, it appears that voters throughout the Bay Area last night approved Measure AA, a first of its kind regional ballot initiative that will generate $500 million for restoration of San Francisco Bay wetlands. With 965,543 votes counted so far, the measure is passing with 69.08% of the vote and the campaign is confident in its projected victory.

“All indications show that the voters overwhelmingly agreed that restoring the Bay Area’s most precious natural resource is a top priority,” said Save the Bay’s Executive Director David Lewis. “Tonight’s vote is a resounding victory for wildlife and people who want a healthy, beautiful Bay for future generations.

At current counts, it appears that residents in all nine Bay Area counties have approved the measure to restore of San Francisco Bay wetlands through a small parcel tax of $12 per year. Over the next 20 years, the measure will raise $500 million for critically important Bay restoration projects.

“The Bay is our region’s most important natural resource, and also its most threatened. It makes great sense that we all share in its restoration and preservation,” said Bay Area Council President Jim Wunderman. “Voters from all walks of life recognize the importance of bringing the Bay back to good health by voting Yes on Measure AA.”

The San Francisco Bay is challenged by trash, toxins and sea-level rise among other threats. For the Bay to be healthy and sustainable, it ultimately needs 100,000 acres of wetlands to filter pollution from its waters and increase habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife that make up its rich and diverse ecosystem. These wetlands will also allow for further expansion of public access to the shoreline, and protect low-lying communities and critical infrastructure from the increased risk of flooding due to extreme weather and rising seas brought about by climate change.

Each year, rising seas swamp more and more of the shoreline, leaving less wetlands to restore and making restoration of those that remain more expensive to complete. The recently completed Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update, a report that represents the consensus of scientists who study the San Francisco Bay, concluded that only 20 to 30 years remain for restoration that had previously been planned to take place over a period of 50 years.

“We would like to thank the many business, environment, labor and community leaders across the region who strongly supported the measure, as well as our elected leaders at all levels of government,” said Silicon Valley Leadership Group president Carl Guardino. “It is because of your efforts and support for this initiative that we will now be able to address one of our most pressing regional issues – protecting San Francisco Bay from the threat of rising seas and a changing world climate.”

Right now, the Bay has only 44,000 acres of tidal wetlands, and while more than 30,000 shoreline acres have been preserved from development and are awaiting restoration, lack of funding has slowed progress. Measure AA will generate sorely needed funding for the restoration of San Francisco Bay wetlands, benefiting the people, wildlife, and economy of Bay Area communities. This local funding will also help the region leverage the additional state and federal funding necessary to finish the job.

“Bay Area voters made a terrific investment to restore San Francisco Bay and leave a legacy that will be cherished for generations,” said Michael Mantell, President of Resources Legacy Fund. “It’s a great testament to collaboration, and this investment can leverage additional state and federal support the Bay needs to be healthy.”

More than 2,000 individuals and organizations endorsed Measure AA, and an unprecedented, broad coalition campaigned for the parcel tax from Vallejo to Alviso, and Livermore to San Mateo.

The measure was place on the ballot by the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, a regional government agency charged with raising and allocating resources for the restoration, enhancement, protection, and enjoyment of wetlands and wildlife habitat in the San Francisco Bay and along its shoreline.

“The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Board is thrilled by tonight’s result and the public’s support for our mission to restore the Bay,” said Dave Pine, San Mateo County Supervisor and Chair of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. “We look forward to utilizing these funds in a fiscally responsible way to do the important work of preserving a healthy San Francisco Bay.”