Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Next Time, Sunscreen 

Holy crap. A week since I posted? Oops. Oh well, blame work, a busy weekend and a cause of moderate sunburn. More on that in a minute.

This past weekend I did two major activities on the same day, Saturday. I'm not the highest energy person in the world, so I was expecting to be pretty well wiped out by Sunday. No surprises there.

College buddy Bill has been looking to head out to the (sort of) nearby Farallon Islands for some time. He read a book where the Islands were featured prominently, and wanted to see them for himself. If you ask him nicely, he should tell the name of the book, and I will post it (I'm curious myself). Plus, the Farallones gets a lot of great white sharks. Peak season is a few weeks off, but it couldn't hurt to try to see if we could spot any.

So, against the objections of my body, I set myself to wake up at 5am on Saturday, just like it was a day at work. After a breakfast of doughnuts, we were all set to take the boat out into the San Francisco morning gloom:


It's Saturday at 7am. Shouldn't I be in bed right now?Posted by Picasa

Oh well, at least San Francisco looks great even in a cold, nasty fog.


From the boat, looking back at the Marina District.Posted by Picasa

How many opportunities will I have to go under the Golden Gate Bridge? Even shrouded in fog, I thought it was worth it to snap plenty of pictures:


North tower of the Golden Gate Bridge.Posted by Picasa


A shot Alfred Hitchcock would love. Creepy.Posted by Picasa

The whale watching trip was a fundraiser for the American Cetacean Society, and as a bonus, extra passengers from the nearby Marine Mammal Center came along for the ride. These seals were well enough to be released from the hospital, and the Farallones were their destination.


Along for the ride.Posted by Picasa

After two hours and twentysome miles, we finally reached the first of the Carillons Islands. Not the most attractive place if you're a human. But everything else seems to like it here.


Southeast Farallone Island, the largest of the group.Posted by Picasa

This particular island is the one that was inhabited in the past, and it is the island where researchers do things like count the number of great white shark attacks on the seal population. At least the morning commute to work isn't heavy.


Houses on the island where research scientists live. A house like that would go for at least a million or two back on the mainland.Posted by Picasa

Here are some of the islands main residents:


Lots of seals and birds.Posted by Picasa

This was an unexpected sight: we noticed dozens and dozens of dead rockfish floating by the side of the boat. The captain of our boat reasoned that a mid-line trawler had dumped the fish. What happens is that a trawler drags a net through the water. The net gets just about everything, not only what the fisherman are after, but all other fishes ect. in the net's path.

In this case, the net likely scooped up the rockfish we saw. Since the fishing boat would have been in trouble if he came in with this incidental catch, called bycatch, it likely dumped the fish back into the water. Many fisheries have their nets regulated to cut down on bycatch, but apparently these mid-line trawlers have not been made subject to such regulations. And the only ones who benefits are the gulls who get an easy meal.



Dead rockfish.Posted by Picasa

After several hours, we finally saw what most of us on the boat came to see. Whales! We had the good fortune to be surrounded by a curious group of humpbacks.


A humpback whale briefly surfacing.Posted by Picasa

Somehow a migrating songbird ended up on the boat. A couple of passengers on the boat decided to hold on to the bird in order to release it back on dry land. There were a couple of near escapes, including one time where the bird got out to the stern of the boat. Bill wasn't expecting to turn around and see a bird perched on his foot!


Bill's shoe makes a convenient perch.Posted by Picasa


Off we went to the Northern Farallon Islands. On the way, we passed a huge pod (more like a crowd) of dolphins.


Dolphins.Posted by Picasa

Finally, we reached the Northern islands. Not too much to them.


One of the Northern Farallon Islands.Posted by Picasa

It had been a long day. We were over an hour late in getting back, so we high-tailed it back to land. All of a sudden, someone calls out "Orcas!" You wouldn't think a boat could do a 180 degree turn so fast.


Orcas!Posted by Picasa

Finally, we headed back to land. By this time I was pretty pooped, but it was good to see that the fog had lifted from the coast.


A now fog-free Golden Gate.Posted by Picasa

It was a long morning and afternoon. Later on, Bill and I headed to San Jose to meet up with fellow college friend Sandro, where we watched the LA Galaxy lose to the hometown San Jose Earthquakes. I took away a few lessons from the trip:

1.) Yes, you can get sunburn from a cold, foggy day.

2.) On long days, take a couple extra memory sticks and a backup battery for the camera. Bill was better prepared, and some of his photos are here. That's the main reason there are no pictures from the Galaxy game. I'll make it up when I travel down to LA to see a game in September.

3.) Highway 280 is the best way to get from SF to San Jose as quickly as possible. However, it takes at least as long just to get out of San Francisco.


This was a long post, but it was also a long day. Now if it weren't for the extra color in the face it would be ideal.

UPDATE: In the comments section, Bill says the title of the book is The Devil's Teeth by Susan Casey, which deals with the great white sharks that come to the Farallones. I wouldn't have minded seeing a few great white feed.

Comments:
THe Devil's Teeth by Susan Casey.

I should note, that many other people on the boat had read her book, and most of the locals, or at least those who had something to do with boating in the waters off of San Francisco, thought her book was more of a "hey, I'm in trouble for the illegal stuff I did, so I'm going to take down those who helped me"

It's a better read somewhere far from the ocean, by a fireplace. Near the water, or out on the water, it can seem a little less realistic, and it probably a few liberties were taken with a truthful telling.
 
Thanks Bill.
 
I would have loved to seen the whales and the seals. Totally awesome pictures!
 
Thank you :) Almost worth the sunburn...almost.
 
Hello fellow fisherman,

Did you know that 16% of the U.S. population goes fishing at least 16 days a year?

Did you also know that over 75% of the nations fishermen do not fish during "prime time"; fish feeding hours?

Those precious few moments before twilight can be absolutely magical. Even up until 11pm at night, the largest predators of any species feed ravenously.

Don't believe me? Check out Daniel Eggertsen's story, and a picture of a couple of his catches here : "Evening Secrets plus more"

I want you to do me a favor and try it out so I can see what you think of it, and if it works for you as well as it did for me.

You will be one of the first to try it out.

Gone Fishin',

Neil
 
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