Bay Nature stories about the Pacific Ocean.

Point Reyes: Fingers of the Sea

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Dawn. Spring tide. Fog shrouds the estuary. A shore-cast tree trunk–contorted, branching skyward–rests in the shallows. On its twisted branches roost a half-dozen cormorants, some with wings outstretched or akimbo, others standing upright, necks coiled into graceful question marks. That congregation, silhouetted by the morning light, suspended on the rising tide between the pewter sky and the mercurial bay, conjures a prehistoric diorama, a world awaiting sunlight parables.

A West Marin Walkabout

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Jules Evens has lived next to the Point Reyes National Seashore for most of his four decades in the Bay Area. With the park’s 50th anniversary at hand, Jules decided to honor this milestone by trekking every one of of the Seashore’s 154 miles of trails on foot.

Killer Algae on Sonoma Coast

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In late August, environmental scientist Laura Rogers-Bennett was driving back to Bodega Bay after conducting ocean surveys in Mendocino when she saw “dark-coffee-colored water” north of Salt Point State Park. Within days, dead sea stars, abalones, urchins, and chitons were piling up on area beaches.

Humpbacks Make Rare Near-Shore Visit in Santa Cruz

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A pod of humpback whales, about two or three families, adults with a few calves, have been dazzling whale-watchers since about October 18, as they feed in Monterrey Bay about a quarter of a mile from Santa Cruz Harbor. Calm waters, warm weather and an abundance of food like sardines, anchovies and other baitfish have produced the ideal whale visit.

A Container Caper in Monterey Bay

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On a stormy winter night in 2004, as the merchant ship Med Taipei plowed southbound off the coast of Monterey in 20- to 30-foot swells, 15 shipping containers slid into the sea. Such occurrences aren’t especially newsworthy–an estimated 10,000 containers are lost every year worldwide. But these containers are now part of an important research project.

Sea Level Rise Could Wipe Out Ocean Beach

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A new study finds flooding and episodic storm events could result in an estimated $20 million in damages by 2100. And accelerated landward erosion from an estimated 1.4-meter rise in sea-level by 2100 could result in $540 million in damages. Along the way, we’d lose habitat for plovers and bank swallows and a favorite recreation spot for millions of people.

Protecting the Little Fish, Food for Many

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They’re the little guys. Small, silver, nondescript fish that are so hard to tell apart that many people simply call them “baitfish.” But though they don’t command the attention of a breaching humpback whale or trophy tuna, these humble creatures–from anchovies to squid–play a starring role in local marine ecosystems. New legislation aims to force fisheries managers to consider that role when writing plans for the state’s commercial fishing fleet.

“Washed Ashore” Exhibit Turns Ocean Plastic into Monumental Sculptures

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The 16 giant plastic sea creature sculptures on display at the Marine Mammal Center arose from artist Angela Pozzi’s desire to find solace in the ocean: “I went to the ocean to look for healing, but I found that the ocean needed healing before it could heal me.” Her new exhibit, Washed Ashore, is on display through October 15, 2011.