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Update: Sea Otter Census Numbers Rise

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Since our story went to press, there’s been some good news for the Southern Sea Otter: census numbers for the California population soared by 17 percent since last year. More than 2,500 otters were counted off our coast this spring, … Read more

Hidden Treasures of the Harbor

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Below the opaque surface of the calm waters of Richmond and Sausalito Harbors lies an unexpected world of curious forms, brilliant colors, and furious competition for a place to hold on.

On Sacred Places

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Tom Smith. A simple name. Not so the man. My great-great-grand-father. Father and grandfather and great-grandfather to many Coast Miwok and Pomo people. I’ve told stories about him, stories I have heard, stories others tell: how he performed miracles healing … Read more

Penetrating the Chaparral

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Though it’s the most extensive natural habitat in California, chaparral’s brambly ways discourage human visitors. Still, plenty of wildlife finds sanctuary in its tangled, brushy universe, as do the dormant seeds of wildflowers as they await the inevitable next fire, forceful sculptor of this complex landscape.

The Fire Down Below

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A shower of magma-heated liquid and steam makes for more than just a pretty Calistoga postcard. It’s a 30-million-year-old lesson in California’s dynamic underground history of sliding plates, volcanic eruptions, and molten rock.

Why is manzanita bark so smooth and red?

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What a seemingly simple, but deceptively complex question! Ultimately, perhaps, the least speculative—but not completely satisfactory—answer is that manzanitas inherited this trait from their ancestors. There is compelling evidence that manzanitas (genus Arctostaphylos) are derived from a group of trees, … Read more

Between River and Bay

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At the intersection of coastal tides and inland rivers there’s a place that’s rich in history and full of life. The Delta has been greatly altered by human hands, but at Big Break Regional Shoreline, its watery charms are accessible to those willing to venture off the beaten path.

Do Any Bay Area Animals Hibernate in Winter?

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Our temperate climate here in the Bay Area means that most inhabitants don’t have to hibernate. Hibernation is a form of adaptive hypothermia, a continuum of responses to climatic variations that allow an animal to save energy by temporarily abandoning … Read more

Fluke or Fixture

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An increasing number of gray whales have been spotted in San Francisco Bay in recent years. Why are these aquatic giants venturing here now in greater numbers? Are they temporary refugees? Or are they adding a regular stop on their 10,000-mile-long migration route?

Creating a Creekside Haven

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When she gets out of the shower in the morning, Sue LaTourrette might find herself standing 10 feet from a great egret. “We live on a creek,” she says, “so we were used to wildlife. But we never had herons … Read more