— Monterey Bay dungeness crab season: “so few crabs”, “really slow”,”hardly anybody is fishing here”

From Monterey County Weekly
By Nick Rahaim
January 12, 2017

While an 11-day strike kept Dungeness crab fishermen tied up to the dock from Washington state down to Half Moon Bay during what could be a banner year, crabbers in Monterey Bay kept plugging away. It’s not that they’re strike busters (or “scabs”), it’s there are so few crabs in Monterey Bay their continued work doesn’t make that much of an impact.

“It’s been really slow, we’re only getting a couple a crabs per pot even after a long soak,” says Monterey fisherman Mike Ricketts. “The fishermen on strike didn’t seem to mind, or even pay attention. Hardly anybody is fishing down here.”

Monterey Bay fishermen have caught just 14,000 pounds of crab since the season opened Nov. 15, as opposed Half Moon Bay crabbers pulling in 350,000 pounds over the same period. The initial numbers, provided by marine biologist Pete Kalvass with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, are likely on the low side as landing receipts are not digitized and they take a week or two to process. Last year, the crab numbers were 600,000 and 1.7 million pounds, respectively.

Robbie Torrise, owner of Robbie’s Ocean Fresh Seafood in Monterey, purchases all his live Dungeness crab from local fishermen, and needs 700-1,000 pounds to fulfill an order by the end of the week. He hopes the weather breaks and his guy will come through.

“Fresh crab is a crapshoot,” Torrise says. “One day you have them, the next day you don’t. The restaurants I sell to understand that.”

http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/news/local_news/it-s-a-slow-winter-for-dungeness-crab-in-monterey/article_816c9014-d85c-11e6-ae21-0f0ea0e6c78e.html

Posted under Fair Use Rules.

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— Monterey Bay: “There’s no squid.”

In recent years scientists have gained a deeper understanding of sardines’ value as “forage fish,” small but nutrition-packed species such as herring and market squid that form the core of the ocean food web, funneling energy upward by eating tiny plankton and being preyed on by big fish, seabirds, seals and whales. — Los Angeles Times, Jan. 5, 2014 [1]

The core of the ocean’s food web is vanishing.

The Monterey Herald writer says, “Not to panic.” Translation: “Tourists, don’t worry and please keep coming; this is natural.”

“Pristine waters of Monterey Bay” is laughable; agricultural chemical runoff from the Salinas Valley is just one of the long-standing toxic inputs into Monterey Bay, in addition to Fukushima’s new and devastating impact.

But no one mentions Fukushima. El Niño is the excuse and cover story, but it just added additional stress to an already broken and dying marine environment. Below are article excerpts

From Monterey Herald

Monterey Bay squid season basically a bust

May 11, 2016
by Mike Hale

Excerpts:

Monterey >> …“Once El Niño showed up things started to look different in the bay,” said Sal Tringali, president of Monterey Fish Company, who oversees a five-boat fleet that provides local restaurants with most of their fresh seafood, including squid.

Not to panic; our shared “Serengeti of the Sea” is still a pristine habitat. But warming waters along the West Coast have changed the waterscape — at least for now. For example, local squid fishermen have turned out their bright boat lights because the season is basically a bust.

There’s no squid,” said Tringali. “No anchovies either. We’ve seen this before during El Niño.”

It’s quite typical for squid to move on during an El Niño period, according to professor William Gilly, squid expert for Pacific Grove’s Hopkins Marine Station, run by Stanford University. [“Experts” at Hopkins Marine Station, MBARI, Moss Landing Marine Lab, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, and NOAA have been silent about Fukushima impacts from the beginning as have public officials.]

“We saw a crash in landings in 1997-98 and again in 2009-10 (both El Niño years),” he said. Each time the fishery recovered with the return of the more familiar La Niña.

Gilly points to an anomalous offshore “blob” of warmer water (about 3 degrees above normal) that scientists actually began charting two years ago. This caused squid to move north (in this case), with fishermen landing schools as far away as Sitka, Alaska.

Surging demand in China, Japan, Mexico and Europe has boosted prices and launched a fishing frenzy worth more than $70 million a year. The vanishing act is a concern to fishermen, to wholesalers such as Tringali and to restaurant owners such as Kevin Phillips, who serves more than 1,000 pounds of fresh squid each week out of Abalonetti Bar and Grill on Fisherman’s Wharf…

Phillips tries hard to maintain the quality of the squid served at Abalonetti, and isn’t shy about revealing the industry’s dirty little secret: “Many local restaurants, along with most of the country, are using Monterey Bay squid processed in Asia ,” he said. “It comes ready to use.”

Much of the local catch — 90 percent of the 230 million pounds landed each season along the California coast — is frozen, shipped to China, unfrozen, processed, refrozen, packaged and sent back to the United States as part of a 12,000-mile journey that leaves one giant carbon footprint. It is genuine California squid, and cheaper and convenient, but the process doesn’t score high in the categories of freshness and sustainability

…“My first choice is local squid caught and cleaned here,” said Sam Mercurio of Domenico’s on the Wharf. “When squid are running strong Monterey Fish will put aside some tonnage and freeze it for slower years. We also look to the East Coast, but the squid there is bigger, tougher and not as sweet…

A fisherman himself, [Sam] Mercurio [of Domenico’s on the Wharf] relies on his relationship with his comrades to supply his restaurant with seafood.

“We know exactly where to source everything,” he said.

But these days that’s a challenge. It hasn’t been a good run for the entire Monterey Bay fishing industry. Once known as the Sardine Capital of the World, that fishery is currently closed due to low numbers (sardines are known for their wide-ranging “boom-and-bust” population cycles). Warm waters and a resulting neurotoxin undermined most of the Dungeness crab season. And the commercial California king salmon season started slowly May 1, with Monterey Bay boats reporting meager results.

But it’s the elusive squid that has everyone the most concerned.

“We’ve seen this before and have come close to running out,” Phillips said. “Sometimes it’s better to specialize in chicken wings.”

Mike Hale writes about the food and wine scene in Monterey County. Listen to his weekly radio show “Food Fodder” at noon Wednesdays on KRML, 102.1 FM. Reach the author at thegrubhunter@att.net

http://www.montereyherald.com/business/20160511/monterey-bay-squid-season-basically-a-bust

[1] http://articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/05/local/la-me-sardine-crash-20140106

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— Third year of unusual mortality event for sea lions declared in California “Dead animals litter California beaches… Alarming phenomenon” — “Graveyard of washed-up sea life” — “Influx of malnourished sea creatures” — Experts: We’re really starting to worry… The animals are starving to death… Covered in sores… Stunted growth… Weak immune systems (VIDEOS)

From ENE News

April 25, 2016

NBC L.A., Apr 19, 2016 (emphasis added): Officials are investigating why sick sea lions are washing up onshore… The Laguna Beach Pacific Marine Mammal Center has an overflow of sea lions… The reason for the influx of sea lions remains a disappearing cold water food source… Another unusual phenomenon they are seeing: Elephant and harbor seals are coming into the centers in addition to California sea lions, and that is not typical.

NBC L.A. transcript, Apr 19, 2016: “Now, an alarming number of sea lions are washing upalong our local beaches… it is taking longer to rehabilitate these sick sea lions… Experts say [they are] taking longer to become healthier.”

Laguna Beach Independent, Apr 23, 2016: Most are malnourished and many are infected with parasites, [said Keith Matassa, Pacific Marine Mammal Center]… “The rehabbing process is slower this year becausethe sea lions are coming in older and sicker.”

Salon, Apr 21, 2016: Dead animals litter California beaches — California is in its third straight year of “unusual mortality” rates for sea lions. The dismal state was first declared in January of 2013 and death rates have increased each year since… It looks like 2016 will be worse… They are starving to death. The same goes for birds… California beaches are littered with dead sea lions and birds. Watch our video for more on this alarming phenomenon. [Video transcript: (Stephen Scheiblauer, Monterey Harbormaster:) “We’re seeing a greater mortality of sea lions… also some kinds of birds… We bury [sea lions]… dig a big trench and bury it.”]

Pepperdine University’s student newspaper (‘The Graphic‘), Mar 28, 2016: A walk on Point Dume’s beach [Malibu, California] recently resembles a graveyard of washed-up sea life. On the stretch of the Pacific Coast… dead sea lions, tuna crabs and crows littered on the sand, a defunctive and rotten smell permeating the sea air… [S]tranded sea lions have become a regular sight for those who frequent Point Dume, as beach-goers stretch their towels yards away from the rotting corpses. “This has been a coast-wide problem for the past four years,” Seasonal Assistant Marine Coordinator Colleen Weiler said.

KRON, Apr 11, 2016: Marine Mammal Center dealing with influx of malnourished sea creatures… Hundreds of elephant seals, harbor seals, and sea lions are [at the center]… Rescue crews are bringing them in daily because they simply don’t have enough to eat… Dr. Shawn Johnson is the lead veterinarian at the center and said the animals are starving

The Channels Newspaper, Apr 22, 2016: Rescued seals are brought [in] with seabornediseases… causing bumps and blisters on the face, neck and flippers

Marin Independent Journal, Apr 10, 2016: Marine Mammal Center coping with relentness influx of ailing sea lions… “They are skin and bones, they are malnourished, they have secondary infections like pneumonia because their immune systems are suppressed,” said [Dr. Shawn Johnson]… the sea lions appear to be experiencing stunted growth… “These are the smallest pups we have seen in 41 years of study,” [NOAA’s Sharon Melin] said.

The Marine Mammal Center, Mar 29, 2016: This is the fourth year in a row that we’ve seen California sea lions in crisis… [This year] these animals are also unusually small… essentiallyfur-covered skeletons—they seem to be experiencing stunted growth… pup weights are thelowest ever documented… [T]he spike in sea lion strandings began before the current El Niño pattern took hold and even before the warm water “blob” began to form… “After four years of sea lions in crisis, the initial shock of seeing so many starving sea lions is over andnow we’re really starting to worry about long-term impacts on the population as a whole,” says Dr. Shawn Johnson, Director of Veterinary Science at the Center.

Watch videos here: NBC LA | Salon | KRON

http://enenews.com/alarming-phenomenon-dead-animals-litter-california-beaches-graveyard-washed-sea-life-influx-malnourished-sea-creatures-experts-really-starting-worry-theyre-skin-bones-immune-systems-weak-cove/comment-page-1#comment-766209

Monterey Bay: Seals starving, dying; 100% death rate of baby seals at pupping beach in Pacific Grove

This beach is located in Pacific Grove near Lovers’ Point, at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. It is next to the route of the Big Sur Half Marathon.

There is no mention by local marine biologists of Fukushima radiation.

From ENE News
3 -22-16

100% death rate of baby seals on California coast — “None have survived” — “Many are starving, suffering from shortage of food in Pacific Ocean” — “Extremely thin… all sorts of illnesses, infections” — “Milkless moms immediately abandoning pups” — TV: “The problem is getting worse” (VIDEOS)

KION, Mar 17, 2016 (emphasis added): Sea lion moms and pups struggling to survive…  Bay Net, a volunteer group of naturalists, are keeping a watchful eye on them at the Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove. They say the start of the season has been rough. “Some of them have been way too thin to have a healthy birth and have enough milk to feed it,” said Bay Net volunteer Thom Akeman. So far this season 13 pups have been born but none of them have survived. Many seals are underweight and starving, suffering from a shortage of food in the Pacific Ocean… “When they get extremely thin they’re open to all sorts of illnesses and infections,” said [volunteer Marg] Brigadier … The group Harbor Seals of Pacific Grove has been documenting the unusually high rate of dying pups on Facebook.

Chronological updates from Facebook page ‘Harbor Seals of Pacific Grove

  • Jan 25: The first live birth hit Hopkins beach… [The mom] was not nursing it… The pup is very premature and does not appear fully developed…
  • Jan 26: The premature pup from last night was gone. It had been washed away but there was a second premature birth… [The mom] clearly did not have any milk… what concerns us is the overall look of the seals. So many of the seals appear thin
  • Jan 30: I am sorry to report that our 3rd premature pup was born… This was by far the smallest pup I have ever observed. It did not last longer then [sic] about 5 minutes.
  • Jan 31: [W]e had our 4th premature pup born at Hopkins Beach… [it] died very quickly…
  • Feb 3: We continue to see very thin adult seals
  • Feb 19: Our 5th premature pup was on the Hopkins beach tonight [and] will not survive…
  • Feb 23: Two more premature pups were born… I will spare you the photos… no moms were able to care for them… Saturday, a very young emaciated sea lion pup was discovered at Lovers Point. Washed ashore on the beach were a lot of red crab… if this trend continues in our oceans, many, many more animals will perish
  • Mar 4: [P]remature pup #8 was born… and yesterday morning premature pup #9 was born… Neither of these pups survived and in both cases the moms abandoned them right away… Many of the harbor seals continue to look thin and it becoming painfully clear that we may have lost a portion of our adult seals as they have not returned to the rookery for the past 1 to 2 years… and have been constant fixtures on Hopkins beach… the warming of the oceans and lack of food are taking their toll on the harbor seals as well as, the seal lions and the waterfowl.
  • Mar 8: #10 was born… Once again, this pup was abandoned and is very premature. It will go the way of the 9 pups preceding it… It has already been abandoned…
  • Mar 10: After 10 live births this year where milkless moms immediately abandoned the pups, this mom stayed on Hopkins beach with the 11th live birth of the season… We watched the pup until after 6pm with no successful nursing…
  • Mar 15: I do not think our two pups (#11 with the mom and #12 the abandoned pup) will be with us… I did not see them… Yesterday, pup #12 was in the center of the beach looking very lethargic and pup #11 just never seemed to thrive or put any weight on…

KION transcript, Mar 16, 2016: The problem is getting worse. “Last year was unprecedented for us, we had 359. This year we’re already at 160, and it’s only the middle of March.”

Watch KION’s broadcasts: One | Two

http://enenews.com/100-mortality-baby-seals-california-coast-survived-underweight-starving-suffering-shortage-food-extremely-thin-all-sorts-illnesses-infections-milkless-moms-immediately-abandoning-pups-vide

Monterey Peninsula tourists: Stay out of the rain!

It rained on the Monterey Peninsula in central California on Monday, November 2. This is on the West Coast, bordering the Pacific Ocean.

Measurements were taken in the morning in Monterey with an Inspector Alert radiation monitor.

The background air radiation level was approximately 31 CPM.(alpha, beta and gamma radiation)

The radiation monitor was then enclosed in a bag and placed in the rain. Measurements of beta and gamma radiation generally ranged from 70s to 113 CPM (alpha radiation was blocked by the bag). Readings in the 90s were common. Measurements might have been higher if alpha was included.

On Tuesday morning, the day after, a 10-minute timed measurement of air radiation levels. The reading average over 10 minutes was 44 CPM (alpha, beta, gamma) — a 42% increase in air radiation levels from Monday.

This was “hot” rain.

Rainfall and snowfall should be regularly tested for radiation levels. If you get higher than normal readings, alert your family, friends and schools. Children should not be playing in the rain unless low radiation levels are verified. They should also not be playing outdoors when airborne radiation spikes occur. School districts should have good quality radiation monitors, and post the numbers for students and staff to refer to.

When it rains or snows, use umbrellas, and use precautions in storing rain- and snow-contaminated items, such as shoes, inside your home. Dump bird baths and outside pet water after rain, wash out, and fill with fresh water. Frequently dump and refill due to fallout, and if getting high rad readings, do this daily. It won’t eliminate the exposure, but it will reduce their internal intake.

Monterey Bay: “anchovies…some of the last along California’s coast”, plankton levels low, whales searching for food, squid disappearing, starving marine life — ecosystem in collapse

Posted on ENE News:

Monterey Herald, Nov 3, 2015 (emphasis added): Local whale watching tour companies and conservationists claim the anchovy population has “collapsed” due to environmental reasons… Fishing groups disagree, though they note the bay has seen some dramatic environmental changes.

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Oct 30, 2015: Monterey Bay anchovy numbers in decline, groups say… “Since late September, the whale numbers have decreased, their behavior has changed and their food, anchovies, are less abundant,” said Nancy Black, marine biologist… Whale watching tour companies and conservationists claim the anchovy population has “collapsed” due to environmental reasons… The fishing industry says that’s not the case though ocean conditions have been unusual. Some scientists, however, are finding a drastic decline in the forage fish… [Pacific Fishery Management Council staff officer Mike Burner said,] “The council’s definitely concerned with some of the things they’ve heard.”… “The population has truly collapsed,” [said] William Sydeman, president and senior scientist at the Farallon Institute. “There’s no way fishing could have that kind of impact, so it had to be environmental.”… plankton populations are low, affecting their predators up the marine food chain… “When anchovy numbers are low, they crowd at the coast and appear to be abundant,” Sydeman said… At the same time, the lack of anchovies offshore are maybe in part why scores of sea lions and sea birdsare starving up and down the coast. “Right now we’re seeing that the whales are more scattered and seem to be looking harder for food,” said Dorris Welch, marine biologist…

Monterey Herald, Oct 19, 2015: Plenty of anchovies in Monterey Bay, but maybe not elsewhereMarket squid are disappearing, and in their place, fishing boats are reeling in piles of anchovies. But while they appear abundant, conservation groups warn that the forage fish may be at their lowest levels since the 1950s. “It’s an anomalous year,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. [Oceana’s Geoff Shester said,] “new information shows that the stock is at such a low level right now, it’s literally in a state of collapse.” Survey cruises conducted by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center detected little to no anchovy eggs from 2010 to 2013… Sit on the docks where anchovies are sorted and you’ll likely see lots of the silvery fish piling up. But it’s a mirage, warns William Sydeman, ecologist of the Farallon Institute, who coauthored the paper that estimated anchovies at low levels. “People think that if they’re in Monterey Bay, they must be everywhere,” Sydeman said. “They’re not. They’re only in Monterey Bay.” Sydeman said anchovies tend to aggregate near shore when their numbers are low…

KION, Oct 21, 2015: California’s last anchovies crowd in the Monterey Bay; Researchers say a massive decline of the fish is throwing off the ecosystem — Several conservation groups and whale watching operators are very concerned about the anchovies in the Monterey Bay… Recently, fishermen have been hauling out 120 tons of anchovies every night, but those anchovies are some of the last along California’s coast… “The anchovy abundance out here, and off the entire state, has gotten to some of the lowest we’ve seen since the 1950s,” [Oceana’s Geoff Shester] said. “Scientists are calling it an actual collapse.”… Anchovies are an important part of the ecosystem. That’s why these groups say if nothing is done, there could be long-term impacts. “We’re really worried that right now we are seeing major die-offs of sea lion pups and pelicans because they’re starving and not able to reproduce,” Shester said. “And that’s because there’s not enough sardines and anchovies out there.” “We’ve noticed the numbers of whales have dropped significantly,” [marine biologist Nancy Black] said.

Watch KION’s broadcast here

http://enenews.com/tv-massive-decline-fish-throwing-ecosystem-along-california-coast-expert-population-collapsed-theyre-gone-virtually-everywhere-whale-numbers-dropped-significantly-squid-disappearing-video