The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: pinnipeds

PBS’ “Big Blue Live” Tonight: A Multi-day and Live Affair in Celebration of the Monterey Bay

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Humpback whale in the Monterey Bay, California. Photo courtesy of Cathy Munsch.

Editor’s Note: A few years ago, Scuttlefish writer Carolyn Sotka and Dr. Stephen R. Palumbi authored a terrific book, The Death and Life of the Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival. The book was inspired by the deep human and natural history of the Monterey Bay and its rich, ecological tapestry. But it wasn’t always like it is today. Over hundreds of years, there was serial exploitation of marine animals that weakened and disrupted the health and resilience of the Bay – beginning with whaling and otter hunts and through the intense boom and bust of the sardine fishery. Tonight PBS will launch Big Blue Live, a unique 3-day TV event. Watch the broadcast and read the book about one of the most amazing places on earth, the Monterey Bay. 

PBS and BBC joined forces to bring you an event inspired by the ocean and unlike anything you have seen before. Big Blue Live debuts tonight, August 31 – September 2, 2015 on PBS. This live television and online broadcast program will celebrate one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Monterey Bay, California.

While Monterey Bay is full of life year-round, this program focuses on a once-a-year phenomenon where humpback whales, blue whales, sea lions, dolphins, elephant seals, sea otters, great white sharks, and shearwaters all converge in the Bay during August and September.

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Sea otter wrapped in kelp in the Monterey Bay. Photo by Jim Capwell.

Watch the Big Blue Live trailer below:

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Stop. Watch This Now. This is What Happened in Santa Barbara and Will Happen to Your Coast if Proposed Offshore Oil and Gas Proceeds


Reeve Woolpert carries an oil-covered Brown Pelican from Refugio State Beach. Photo from Ventura County Star via Audubon.

On May 19, 2015, more than 100,000 gallons of thick, crude oil poured out of a ruptured pipeline in Santa Barbara County. The pipeline is owned by Plains All American, one of the worst violators of safety and maintenance regulations in the industry, according to a list by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration.

The local community, some arguably still scarred from the 1969 Santa Barbara spill, watched in despair as a pool of oil spread and began to wash up onshore over a 10-mile stretch of coast and continues to wash up today.


A day after the pipeline rupture, the oil sheen—and oil-soaked kelp—makes its way toward the shore. Photo by Brian van der Brug/LA Times/Getty via Audubon.

Ironically, members of the UC Davis Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) were in Alaska, attending a conference about the effects of oil on wildlife, when the real thing happened. OWCN Director Mike Ziccardi, who has experienced more than 50 spills in California and abroad, booked a red-eye flight from Anchorage to Santa Barbara.

“California is the best region in the world for oiled wildlife response,” Ziccardi said in the UC Davis Today article. “Through the UC Davis Oiled Wildlife Care Network, we have over 35 organizations we work with regularly. We train, do drills and exercises; we’ve built 12 facilities throughout the state for oiled wildlife.”

Regardless of the group’s preparedness, no community is truly prepared to witness the devastation a spill can wreak on their beaches and wildlife. The following video shows the impact of the spill’s aftermath to wildlife.

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‘Typically, the number of birds far outweighs the number of marine mammals brought into the wildlife care facilities. With the Santa Barbara spill, the ratio is much less distinct.’ said marine biologist Kyra Mills-Parker with OWCN.

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On Being Saved by a Sea Lion After Leaping From the Golden Gate Bridge


Since the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937, at least 1600 human beings (perhaps far more) have ended their lives by leaping from its 220 foot heights into the freezing waters of San Francisco Bay. Kevin Hines would not be one of them. In 2000, hearing voices in his head, suffering from bi-polar disorder and beyond despondent, the 21-year-old Hines hurled himself from the span. As he fell, he recalls clearly realizing he’d just made a fatal mistake. With four seconds to adjust his trajectory, he angled himself for a feet-first entry and endured a bone-shattering 75-mph impact. He would become one of only four to survive such a leap. Battered and broken, he struggled to the surface where, at first, he thought he felt a shark bumping into him. Years later he would learn, it wasn’t a shark at all.

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Battle between a Harbor Seal and a Giant Pacific Octopus: Who is the Victor?

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Photo by Bob Lanson via CBC News.

While octopus is a fairly common food for harbor seals, actually capturing the act of predation on film is quite rare. In addition to harbor seals, sea otters and sperm whales also depend on the Pacific octopus – the largest of the octopus species which can reach up to 160 lbs. These photos were shot off of Ogden Point in Victoria, British Columbia. Check out the CBC News story for more pictures and video.

Wanted Alive: $25,000 Bounty for the Person or Those Responsible in the Death of Hawaiian Monk Seal RF58


Photo by Jamie Norton/NOAA from The Garden Island story.

Back in early October, I posted a story on The Scuttlefish about the recovery of the monk seal in the Hawaiian Islands.  As the most endangered seal in the world and only one of two endemic mammals in the island chain, intensive efforts have been directed at saving the population through rescue and rehabilitation programs.

I included in the title, ‘saving…one monk seal at a time’ because they are so vulnerable that each and every seal is a step closer to sustaining a healthy population. Today, there is one less. The young seal known as RF58, born in June earlier this year, was found dead at a beach in Anahola at the end of November. RF58 didn’t die from disease, or fishing gear entanglement or ocean trash. RF58 died of blunt force trauma – to the head.

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In Russia, Sea World Visits You. The Blubbery Memes that Keep on Giving.


Yesterday, a buddy of Scuttlefish commodore Brian Lam Tweeted a remarkable photo of a 3,000 pound walrus napping on the deck of a Russian submarine. Behind him, blithely ignoring the oddly cute, dagger tusked behemoth, stands a Russian sailor, flashing a pair of “V for Victories.” My initial response was, whoa, what the hell? 

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