Fish Friday – It’s Garibaldi time because Orange is the New Whack!

Yes. I said it. For the first time ever, someone has described the Garibaldi as whack. Totally whack in fact. Why you ask? Because I think we’ve taken this fine inhabitant of the kelp forest for granted for far too long. First of all, it is the state marine fish of California, no small feat in state where everyone wants to be a star. Suck it Pile Perch.

image of a juvenile Garibaldi

Secondly, it has a merit-based hierarchy. Males commonly build nests to impress the lady fish when it comes time to reproduce. The females then take a tour of several different nests and decide which nest she likes best and lays her eggs accordingly. Bachelor fish living in their parents spare nest need not apply.

Finally,  it is fierce. As the largest member of the damselfish family, it will protect its nest against anyone who gets too close. Size doesn’t matter. Like Hulk Hogan, it will fight anyone, anywhere, at any time during nesting season brother! Let’s go the video:

All in all, a pretty impressive resume for a fish that has enjoyed total protection from collection and fishing since 1995. So when you’re out there and see this orange burst of energy swimming by, enjoy and have more than a little mad respect.

Posted in Community service, conservation, Fish Friday, funny | Leave a comment

Happy World Oceans Day 2017! Our Oceans, Our Future.

In a time when the future of the worlds oceans is more unsure than at any point in history, we have this day to think about what it really means to have healthy oceans and what it takes to keep them that way. So while we raise a glass or munch some celebratory seaweed, remember that the only way to ensure healthy oceans for our future generations is to stay aware and in turn help raise awareness. The ocean you save may be your own.

Here are some ways you can celebrate and help protect our oceans at the same time at all these great events happening in California today.

Click on the dark brooding Garibaldi to visit the hope page of World Ocean Day

Posted in Community service, conservation, Historical Importance, sustainable, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rigs back to Reefs? Sacramento offers up a reprieve.

I’ve been writing quite a bit lately here and on other sites about the amazing marine life supported by the rapidly aging and soon-to-be-decommissioned oil rigs operating in the waters  here in the Southern California Bight. The problem facing the continued survival of these micro environments lies in the fact that there are quite a few marine conservation groups, supported by local communities, pushing for complete removal of the structures and the flourishing ecosystems they support. It’s a really odd confrontation between groups that usually find themselves on the same side of marine issues. On one side you have respected local scientists including Chris Lowe of CSULB and Dan Pondella of Occidental College conducting studies showing the productive and valuable nature of these ecosystems and presenting data that supports maintaining the rigs after their service lives have ended. Then on the other side, they are being challenged by prominent conservation groups such as the Ocean Foundation and the Sierra Club, who are  pushing for a complete restoration and removal of the rigs to an original state and holding the oil companies to the agreement they made to remove them entirely. It’s a really unique situation that has supporters of converting the rigs to reefs scrambling.

Platform Holly in the Santa Barbara Channel bait fish almost blotting out the Sun. Photo copyright by Bob Evans.

They have received some recent help. California Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, is proposing a bill that would create a process by which decommissioned rigs would be turned over to the State Lands Commission, with financial support, to maintain these rigs safely as reefs in perpetuity.

Take a few minutes to read this piece by Rachel Uranga of the Daily Breeze as she takes a in-depth look at the battle of these unique and flourishing ecosystems just off our shores and in the halls of Sacramento.

Also take a few minutes and watch this video by Emily Callahan and Amber Jackson from Rigs To Reefs and experience what these sides are fighting over.

 

Posted in Community service, conservation, Historical Importance, sustainable | Leave a comment

TBT – What to do with decommissioned Oil Rigs In California?

The future ex-oil rig Holly.

On April 17th, Venoco oil announced that they would be ceasing operations on platform Holly, which lies about 2 miles offshore of UCSB in the Santa Barbara Channel.  Because the rig is in California state waters, the California State Lands Commission has ordered a complete removal of the rig and capping of the well and restoration of the site to as natural a state as is possible. While this is seen as a big victory by many environmental groups, there are quite a few voices in the ocean community that see leaving some or all of the underwater structure as a way to preserve a unique and burgeoning ecosystem.

Holly holding bait fish in abundance during the 1970’s. Photo and copyright by Bob Evans.

Established when these rigs were first constructed in the 60’s and 70’s, extensive and complex ecosystems flourish underneath the platforms that lie just off California’s coast. As evidenced in studies, it is fairly well agreed that these rig reefs produce large amount of biomass comparable to any marine fish habitats globally. 

So the question is, should we accept the trade-off of keeping some structure in place to preserve these unique ecosystems? I think there is a good argument to do just that. For Throwback Thursday, I’m presenting some pictures of rig Holly from the 1970’s when the amazing animal and plant  communities were first being discovered by local divers. Taken by Bob Evans, founder, creator, and the “force” behind the Force Fin, these great photos give an early glimpse into what many people now regard as one of the richest undersea communities you’ll likely encounter.

For more information on the process of conversion, visit the folks at Blue Latitudes and  Rigs to Reef. Also, special thanks to Bob Evans for giving us a cool glimpse into the life under the rigs.

In this day and age where science is under attack and pristine wild spaces are under threat, the chance to save something so special is something we need to consider. Take a look at these amazing photos and I think you’ll agree.

We’ll see see you out there.

 

A variety of fish sitting inside the structure of Holly at 120 feet, which is covered by metridium and scallops. Photo and copyright by Bob Evans.

This is an aquaculture experiment conducted under Holly to test the potential to grow out red abalone. Come for the shellfish and stay for the groovy retro 70’s dive gear. Photo and copyright by Bob Evans.

Posted in Aquaculture, Community service, conservation, Historical Importance, Throwback Thursday, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HAPPY WORLD TUNA DAY!

Today is the first World Tuna Day, celebrating one of our most important fish. With over 80 countries worldwide having tuna fishing fleets, these “lions of the ocean” supply food security and nutrition, economic development, employment, government revenue, livelihoods, culture and recreation to millions of people across the globe.

All is not rosy for tuna though. There are major declines in tuna stock which threaten many different stakeholders, not the least of which is the tuna themselves.

Some groups are asking that you celebrate by not eating tuna today but I think your time could be better spent reading this letter from the Pew Foundation which gives a frank assessment of the the challenges tuna face moving forward and some successes that scientist and fishery managers are having as they look to protect them.

A lot to  think about but I think Tuna are worth it. See you out there.

Posted in Community service, conservation, Fisherys, sustainable, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Fish Friday – Rock Greenling

On any given dive in the kelp forests of northern California, divers have a surprisingly slim chance to encounter this shy kelp inhabitant.  One of the prettiest fish on the rocky reefs, rock greenling are also one of the most cryptic, living in cracks and crevices waiting for their next meal to come along.  Growing to 24 inches and living for up to 11 years, this fish is seldom seen by divers south of San Francisco but those that do find it are treated to a colorful scheme of mottled bright red and brownish/red blotched sides. One of the coolest fish you’ll encounter, it has nothing to be shy about. So when you’re out there, take an extra moment to look into the dark. You might just be greeted by the blue smile of the rock greenling, our subtidal hide-and-seek champ.

See you out there.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shellfish Saturday – Sheep Crab

Photo by P. Colla

Okay divers, here comes Shellfish Saturday. Why Shellfish Saturday? Because I love alliteration and time marches on for the California diving lifestyle. Sheep crab is our first installment in what will prove to be a most likely irregular feature on CFD. These spider crabs range from Point Reyes in the north all the way down the Baja Sur peninsula. They are large and in charge for any of you that might have seen them on your undersea adventures with a carapace that can grow to 6 inches and a claw-to-claw span of over 2 feet.

There was once a multi-million dollar fishery for the sheep crab, specifically their claws, but it fell by the wayside in the early 90’s when gill and trammel nets were banned in California waters. Today it is considered by-catch for the most part and apparently spends a great deal of it’s time threatening divers who happen to swim up on them.

So much anger….

Keep your eye out for them when you’re cruising the sandy shallows around the reefs or in some of the submarine canyons that we drop down in to up and down the coast.. They are a real treat to see.

See you out there.

Posted in Community service, conservation, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment