Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday Night Soother: some new otters for you!

by digby

A little good news:

On a day of cozy coastal grays — soft cloud cover, a silver foil-wrap sea — a dozen gray fur balls brought visitors the most comfort.

Bobbing 20 feet from a harbor walkway, the sea otters were part of a record number in California. They once were believed to be as extinct as the dodo bird or the Tyrannosaurus rex.

But there they were, a raft of otters drifting by a line of tourists.

Several pups rested their heads on their mothers. The biggest otter cracked a clam on a flat rock balanced on her chest. They lounged belly-up and, with a thump of their paws, rotated like rolling pins.

“I feel so lucky,” said Erica Baumsteiger, a San Francisco pediatric nurse. “Seeing them is serendipity in such a lovely way.”

Martin Beijst, from the Netherlands, broke a stare-off with a bright-eyed pup. “Who is watching who?” he asked his wife, Charlotte, in Dutch.

In May, the annual otter count found more than 3,090 along the California coast. They are the only ones left. If the numbers stay above that threshold set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for three years running, the otters can make it off the endangered species list.

In Morro Bay, their survival is looking hopeful.

For years there have been a handful of otters hanging out here. But now 40 to 60 can be seen on any day, floating around the docks and along the sand strip by the landmark Morro Rock.

A record number of sea otters have flocked to Morro Bay this year. Scientists estimate 30 to 40 adults and up to 20 pups have settled around the embarcadero T-piers this season. (Joe Johnston / San Luis Obispo Tribune) (Joe Johnston / The Tribune San Luis Obispo)

They are a familiar sight to locals in one of California's last working-class beach towns, where Central Valley families go for the weekend and fishermen and restaurant workers live on boats and in trailer parks.

Rory Kremer, a deep-voiced, deadpan fisherman, doesn't sigh like a tourist over the whiskered, furry mammals.

“They’re tough critters. They’re mean. They have retractable claws like cats and a jaw like a dog. A 600-pound sea lion will go around an otter. The Salinan Indians called them the bears of the sea,” he said. “But, yeah, the babies are cute I suppose.”

Southern sea otters — unlike their Alaskan counterparts — don’t eat fish, so Kremer said he has no beef with them.

“The only thing is these do-gooders from L.A. who put their kayaks between the fishing boats and the otters. Now why would you put a kayak in front of a 25-ton boat?

“If I see a baby otter, I'm going to cut the engines. I wouldn't hit an otter. Now, I can’t say say the same thing about those otter ladies.” [lulz --- ed.]

About 2:00 every morning, one particular otter wakes up Thomas “Sarge” Pauley, a retired Army sergeant who gives harbor tours on his Tiki boat, and his girlfriend Jodi Truelson, a former intensive care nurse. The otter likes to open clams by banging them on their houseboat.

“What are you going to do?” Pauley asked with a shrug.

Southern sea otters were hunted to near extinction by the fur trade in the 1700s and 1800s. It was believed that the last colony was slaughtered near Monterey in 1831.

But in 1938, Howard Granville Sharpe, owner of a small ranch near Big Sur, looked out the telescope on his porch and noticed something odd in the kelp beds. There were creatures with fur and webbed feet that looked like land otters he had once seen on a tropical lake in the Philippines.

He reported the discovery to the Hopkins Marine Station, four Fish and Wildlife officials and three newspaper editors. None took him seriously.

Finally, a Capt. Lippincott with Fish and Wildlife and three junior officers came to have a look. Sharpe wrote an account of the scene:

“They peered through the scope, there came an odd silence. One officer wiped the lens, peered again. Lippincott backed away, hand across eyes. Looking at the object glass he adjusted the eyepiece to shorter focus. Gradually his body grew taut; his voice came in a sharp whisper: ‘Sea otters … sea OTTERS!’ ”

It was worldwide news.

Guards were assigned to protect the newfound otters. But poachers took shots, killing at least one otter and sending the others scattering. Sharks attacked.

Ever since, it has been touch-and-go for the species, which first was protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The otters are threatened by oil spills, toxins, bacteria and a range limited in part by sharks.

Researchers believe the recent boom may be the result of starfish dying from a mysterious wasting disease, leaving more sea urchins for the otters to eat.

In addition to urchins and clams, the otters feast on crabs — which eat sea slugs, which nibble algae off the leaves of sea grass, keeping it clean and healthy.

Sea grass provides habitat for fish, cleans surrounding water and takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. But these underwater meadows have been dying because of agricultural runoff.

Three years ago, researchers linked the re-population of otters to sea grass returning to Elkhorn Slough on the Central Coast — despite fertilizers flowing in from Salinas-area farms. But the larger environmental connections didn’t seem to be the foremost thing on people’s minds on a recent Morro Bay evening.

As usual, the fishermen dumped fish heads in the water as their workday ended.

“It’s my favorite time of the day,” said Richie Begin, the musical entertainment on the patio at Tognazzini’s Dockside restaurant. Earlier, a giant, bellowing sea lion had interrupted his rendition of “Tiny Bubbles.”

“Right around sunset, here comes the entire ecosystem of Morro Bay,” Begin said, pointing to the water. “The top of the pecking order is my nemesis over there, the sea lion — I call him Ralph in my head. I've seen pelicans dive-bomb him and literally take fish from his mouth. Here come the cormorants and gulls.

“And look! Here’s our nightly cavalcade of otters.”

They stretched out in a line, evenly spaced.

Tourists gawked. Fishermen cleaning off their boats paused to look too.

“They were gone,” Begin said. “You just can’t look at them without being reminded to not take any of it for granted.”

Grab a drink and watch the Morro Bay sea otters cavort for a few minutes. You'll feel better, I promise: