Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Marine environment

Whale Watch and Intertidal Life Festival at Cabrillo National Monument

A statue of explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo looks out over the San Diego Bay at Cabrillo National Monument.

Cabrillo National Monument is hosting its annual Whale Watch and Intertidal Life Festival on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The 24th annual event celebrates the Pacific gray whales and their return to local waters during their southbound migration to Baja California. The weekend will feature opportunities to watch for the leviathans and the chance to take guided tide-pool walks.

There also will be films; guest speakers sharing their expertise on a variety of marine-related subjects; and exhibitor booths filled with activities and information about whales, tide pools and local oceanic organizations.

All events are included with the regular park entrance fee of $5 per vehicle and $3 for motorcyclists, bicyclists and walk-ins.

Cabrillo National Monument is at the tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, just west of the city of San Diego.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A statue of explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo looks out over the San Diego Bay at Cabrillo National Monument. Credit: New Thanyacheron / National Park Service

Decommissioned U.S. Navy ship scuttled off Cayman Islands to create artificial reef


There's a new artificial reef for divers to explore off the Cayman Islands following the scuttling this week of a decommissioned U.S. Navy vessel.

The USS Kittiwake, a 1945-vintage submarine rescue ship, now rests on the seabed 62-feet underwater off Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach. With the 47-foot-tall ship's top deck near the surface, it should be accessible to snorkelers as well as scuba divers.

"It was just perfect execution, nice and even. She landed exactly where she was supposed to," project manager Nancy Easterbrook told Associated Press during a phone interview from a nearby boat on Seven Mile Beach.

Crews strategically punched holes in the ship's hull and then carefully flooded the vessel so that the 2,200-ton ship would settle upright, which it appears to have done.


After mooring lines are attached, the scuttled Kittiwake should be open to the public Friday, according to Easterbrook.

The Kittiwake's sinking raised mixed emotions in Jon Glatstein, who was a sailor on the vessel from 1984 to 1986, and traveled from Miami to watch his old ship scuttled.

"This is the first time I've seen the ship in 25 years, and she's in pretty rough shape. But she's been serving divers all her life and now she's going to continue doing just that. That's got to be a whole lot better than getting melted down for razor blades," said Glatstein.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Divers watch the sinking of the USS Kittiwake, a 1945-vintage submarine rescue ship, off the Cayman Islands.

Credit: Associated Press /Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

Video: A view above and below water during the sinking of the USS Kittiwake.

Credit: Sean Crothers / Sunset House Cayman via YouTube


Outposts looks back at 2010: Achievements

With the the year ending, it is worth looking back at memorable posts of 2010. Each day this week through Friday, Outposts will recount some of the records broken, the achievements reached, the notable passings and the downright unusual during 2010 in the outdoors, action and adventure world.

Kelly Slater clinches historic 10th ASP World Tour title

Kelly Slater clinched his 10th ASP World Tour title on Nov. 6. Kelly Slater made sporting history on Nov. 6, claiming an unprecedented 10th Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Tour title.

Culminating a 20-year effort, Slater, 38, accomplished an incredible feat that will undoubtedly remain at the top of the ASP record book for a long time.

"I feel relieved, honestly," Slater said. "It’s been the most stressful title I’ve ever had, because it’s sort of an unknown place and you know at my age people say, 'You shouldn’t be doing this.'"

Photo credit: Kirstin Scholtz / ASP

Lance Mackey wins fourth consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

Lance Mackey holds two of his dogs, Rev and Maple,after winning his fourth consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race. With 11 dogs in harness, musher Lance Mackey rode into Nome, Alaska, at 2:59 p.m. March 16, passing under the burled arch and the Widow's Lamp hanging from it to win the 38th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The 39-year-old Mackey, from Fairbanks, Alaska, also rode into the record books, becoming the first to win the "last great race on Earth"  four times in a row.

Photo credit: Bob Hallinen / Anchorage Daily News


Irvine woman with rare disease conquers Mt. Everest

Cindy Abbott displays her National Organization for Rare Disorders banner at Camp 4 before leaving for the summit of Mt. Everest. Cindy Abbott lives with adversity. The Irvine resident started losing vision in her left eye more than 15 years ago, and began having a slew of mini-strokes and vertigo. Finally, in 2007, Abbott was diagnosed with Wegener's Granulomatosis, a rare and potentially deadly disease of uncertain cause.

Abbott, 51, has no idea how long she has left to live because of the incurable disease. But she did not let the debilitating affliction hold her back, and on May 23, became the first person with Wegener's Granulomatosis to reach the top of Mt. Everest.

Photo credit: Bill Allen

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Officials approve network of Southern California marine reserves [Updated]

An angler casts into the Pacific off Orange County.

The California Fish and Game Commission approved a plan Wednesday that will restrict or ban fishing along the Southern California coastline from Point Conception to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The 3-2 vote by the commission will limit fishing in more than 350 square miles of ocean waters -- about 15% of the Southern California coast -- and will likely take effect sometime in 2011.

[Updated at 11 a.m.: A map of the decisions made Wednesday can be viewed at www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/pdfs/scmpas121510.pdf]

The regulations come more than a decade after the Legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act in 1999, which requires the state to reevaluate and redesign California's system of marine protected areas, or reserves.

Wednesday's vote was the final approval after two years of heated debates between conservation groups pushing for strict curbs on fishing to preserve marine habitat and recreational anglers and commercial fishing groups working to protect ocean access.

Times staff writer Tony Barboza was in Santa Barbara covering Wednesday's vote. His full article can be read here: State adopts network of protected marine areas

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: An angler casts into the Pacific off Orange County. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

Fish and Game Q&A: Why are tags and licenses needed for hunting feral pigs?

Wild pig. In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: Please explain why the Department of Fish and Game requires a hunting license and tags to hunt and kill feral pigs. Feral pigs, as the name implies, are domestic pigs that have gone wild. They are an invasive species that destroy the environment and spread disease. Proper and responsible environmental management would mandate the eradication of this invasive species; yet DFG has a policy that discourages killing feral pigs by charging fees. Why is this? (Curtis A.)

Answer: DFG requires a valid license and tag to legally take a wild pig. According to DFG Wild Pig Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon, Fish and Game Code, section 4650 says that any free-ranging, non-domesticated pig is classified as a wild pig, and therefore is considered big game. DFG instituted the tagging requirement as a means to continuously monitor California’s wild-pig population. This information is used by DFG biologists, in concert with private and public landowners, to develop pig-management plans that are intended to protect cultural and natural resources from the damage wild pigs are known to cause. Without the wild-pig harvest report information, private and public land managers would lack the information necessary to develop these plans of action. Furthermore, the revenues generated by the sale of wild-pig tags are used by DFG to monitor disease transmission, evaluate environmental impacts of wild pigs and provide the public with additional hunting opportunities. Your participation in this process is greatly appreciated.

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Volunteer beach cleanup Saturday in Playa del Rey

Beachfront location that the locals call Toes Beach.

The November Nothin' but Sand beach cleanup is set to take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at Toes Beach in Playa del Rey.

Hosted by Heal the Bay, the cleanups are held on the third Saturday of each month at different locales and are an opportunity to help keep our local shores tidy.

All cleaning supplies will be provided, so volunteers are welcome to just show up (those younger than 12 need to be accompanied by a parent).

Attendees should plan on bringing their own drinking water as well as a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. More information on what to wear and bring is available on the Heal the Bay website.

Liability waivers will be available on site and must be signed before pitching in. Participants 17 and younger must have a parent or guardian sign their form.

Volunteers should plan to meet in the parking lot at Pacific and 62nd avenues. Parking is either metered or available along Pacific Avenue, north of Culver Boulevard near Del Rey Lagoon.

Note that if it is raining steadily at the start time, the cleanup will be canceled. However, if the rain has stopped or it is just raining lightly, the cleanup will go on as scheduled.

Groups of 10 or more are asked to e-mail Eveline Bravo or call (800) 432-5229, Ext. 148, to let organizers know they plan to join in.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A beachfront location that the locals call Toes Beach. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

An additional 8,000-plus square miles of gulf waters reopened to fishing

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials announced the reopening of 8,403 square miles of Gulf of Mexico waters to recreational and commercial fishing.

The area extends from the Louisiana state water line to due south of the Alabama/Florida state line and was reopened after fin fish and shrimp caught in the area and tested by NOAA experts showed no signs of contamination.

The reopening was announced Monday after consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and under a reopening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA and the gulf states.

"This is the first reopening where we have added a supplemental test to detect dispersants in seafood, and all the samples passed," said Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator and undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. "This is yet another indication that our gulf seafood is safe for consumption."

NOAA will continue to take samples for testing from the newly reopened area and maintain dockside and market-based sampling to test fish caught throughout the gulf by commercial fishermen.

NOAA first instituted the fishing closure, which eventually encompassed more than 88,000 square miles of federal waters, on May 2 following the April 20 explosion of a British Petroleum oil rig located in the gulf. An area covering 1,041 square miles immediately surrounding the wellhead remains closed to fishing.

-- Kelly Burgess

Image: Area (in hash marks) reopened to fishing on Monday. Credit: NOAA


More than 5,000 square miles of Gulf waters reopened to fishing

NOAA closes fishing in oil-affected portions of Gulf of Mexico

Long Beach Harbor fishing closure lifted

The Department of Fish and Game lifted fishing restrictions Tuesday in areas of Long Beach Harbor closed due to an oil spill which occurred Sunday.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment recommended lifting the fishing restrictions, which included the taking of finfish and shellfish from either shorelines or boats, after ascertaining that, based on current conditions in the spill area, no likely health threat exists.

The accident occurred late Sunday when the vessel Da Tang 18 spilled an unknown amount of fuel into the harbor while refueling.

-- Kelly Burgess


Oil spill prompts fishing closure in Long Beach Harbor


Oil spill prompts fishing closure in Long Beach Harbor


An oil spill in Long Beach Harbor on Sunday has prompted the Department of Fish and Game to close portions of the harbor to fishing.

The closure area extends from 300 feet south of the south bend of the Middle Breakwater north to Pier J, east along the shoreline of Pier J to the east end of the Long Beach Breakwater (about 2.75 miles into the bay). A map of the affected area is available on the Department of Fish and Game's website.

The closure, effective immediately, includes take of finfish and shellfish from either shorelines or boats.

The accident occurred late Sunday night when the vessel Da Tang 18 spilled an unknown amount of fuel into the harbor while refueling.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment recommended the fishing closure until an investigation determines the extent of the public health threat posed by the spill, which exceeded one barrel of oil. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Fish and Game are overseeing the cleanup operations.

The Department of Fish and Game has also activated the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to manage wildlife rescue operations if needed. Anyone who sees oiled wildlife should not attempt to catch them and instead should call the network at (877) 823-6926.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Fuel slicks the water in Long Beach Harbor after a spill Sunday. Credit: Department of Fish and Game

EPA denies petition seeking ban on lead in fishing gear

A fisherman casts his line.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday denied a petition calling for a ban on the manufacture, use and processing of lead in fishing gear.

The denial is in response to a petition filed Aug. 3 by several environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy and the Assn. of Avian Veterinarians, seeking to ban the use of lead in ammunition and fishing tackle.

In a letter to the petitioners, EPA assistant administrator Steve Owens states that the petitioners have not demonstrated that the requested rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, as required by the Toxic Substance Control Act.

The letter goes on to state that the petition also does not provide sufficient justification for why a national ban of lead fishing sinkers and other lead fishing tackle is necessary given the actions being taken to address the concerns in the petition, noting that the prevalence of non-lead alternatives in the marketplace continues to increase.

Gordon Robertson, American Sportfishing Assn. vice president, said that the sportfishing community lauds the EPA’s decision. "It represents a solid review of the biological facts, as well as the economic and social impacts that would have resulted from such a sweeping federal action. It is a common-sense decision."

"The sportfishing industry is very proud of the fact that America’s anglers were united on this important issue and played a pivotal role in EPA’s decision to reject this unwarranted petition," Robertson continued.  "Aside from the many anglers that spoke up, many organizations and members of Congress deserve thanks for decisively voicing their opinion to EPA."

On Aug. 27, the EPA denied the portion of the petition relating to lead in ammunition because the agency does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under the Toxic Substance Control Act.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A fisherman casts his line. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Artist completes artificial reef, 'The Silent Evolution,' installing 400 sculptures underwater


Artist Jason deCaires Taylor recently completed work on one of the most surreal and awe-inspiring artificial reefs I've seen.

"The Silent Evolution" is the final and most ambitious of four stages of an underwater museum and consists of 400 permanent life-size sculptures forming a monumental artificial reef in Cancun/Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

DeCaires Taylor said in an e-mail release that "the road has been long -- taken 18 months, required 120 tons of cement, sand and gravel, 3,800m of fiberglass, 400kg of silicone, 8,000 miles of red tape, 120 hours working underwater and $250,000," adding that "sculpting close to the mangroves Evo2 in Puerto Morelos the team received over 2,500 mosquito bites, tabano bites, fire ant stings and more than 20 nips from Damsel fish during installations in the sea."

Located in the National Marine Park of Isla Mujeres, Cancun and Punta Nizuc, the environmentally friendly reef -- each of the sculptures is made from specialized materials used to promote coral life -- was constructed with the cooperation of marine park officials and the Cancun Nautical Assn. in an effort to promote the recovery of nearby natural reefs. The hope is to give visitors an alternative to the Cancun Marine Park, one of the most visited stretches of water in the world, with more than 750,000 visitors each year.

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Fish and Game issues advisory against eating parts of Southern California lobster, rock crab


The California Department of Fish and Game is warning all consumers of California spiny lobster to eat only the tail meat until further notice. Elevated levels of domoic acid toxin have been found in the internal organs of lobster sampled from waters adjacent to the northern Channel Islands, as well as in recent samples of rock crab. This warning applies to all lobster and rock crab harvested in Southern California.

The meat of the lobster and crab is not affected by the toxin, but all internal organs, including the roe, should be discarded.

Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. In mild cases, symptoms may include nausea or diarrhea, cramps, headache and dizziness. These symptoms typically disappear within several days, but in severe cases the victim may experience life-threatening symptoms.

"DFG biologists are working with the Department of Public Health to increase the level of sampling for domoic acid along the coast," said DFG Senior Invertebrate Specialist Kristine Barsky.

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About the Bloggers
Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.