This is part of a series of posts about our Pacific Hotspots expedition.
California Leg, Day 2
This morning after we passed the barking sea lions on the breakwater at the end of the harbor, we traversed through fog so thick there were no signs of land anywhere to be seen. We pushed trough swells upwards of 6 feet to get to our fist dive site of the day. A mola mola (aka ocean sunfish) we passed along the way didn’t seem to mind the intense swells as it basked on the ocean surface.
After motoring out 20 miles across Monterey Bay (north of the Monterey Canyon), we deployed the ROV at the former California halibut trawl grounds. As a direct result of the work of Oceana, this area has been closed to bottom trawling since 2006.
The seafloor here is primarily soft sediment and ranges in depth from 50-250 feet. The areas were teeming with signs of life, including burrows, tracks, and holes. Some places had a lot of juvenile fish and crabs suggesting these areas may be a nursery ground for fishery species. Overall, we were surprised by the diversity of habitat formations and creatures.
Because it’s Friday, I thought I’d give you a bonus FOTD!
The pea crab is a tiny crustacean about the size of a pea. They are soft-bodied and so small that they actually spend most of their lives inside the shells of other little animals, like mussels or tubeworms.
There is some debate as to whether or not the relationship between the pea crab and its host is parasitic or not. Pea crabs rely on their host for protection and food but it is unclear if this is harmful to the host.
Female pea crabs are translucent and larger than the yellowish males. Check out this picture of a pea crab and have a great weekend!
Ghost crabs are named for their sandy coloring, which allows them to blend right into their surroundings. These crabs eat at night and burrow during the day in burrows up to three feet deep.
Ghost crabs can move quickly in any direction and their large eyes can see 360 degrees. Male ghost crabs participate in ritualistic displays to settle disputes and rarely physically combat.
Go to Oceana.org/Explore for more fun animal info and check back tomorrow for a shark-filled FOTD!
From NOLA.com yesterday:
"Right now all the sponge crabs are out there trying to make babies, and that oil is killing the babies. So even when we can go back to crabbing, how many crabs will we have? No one can tell me that. And that's what's scaring me," [said experienced crab fisherman and Louisiana resident Henry Martinez.]
We received the following dispatch from Carter Lavin, an Oceana supporter, environmental activist and energy-issue blogger, about his experience volunteering in the gulf. You can read more from him here.
Two weeks ago I had this idea that I would fly down to New Orleans and sign up to help clean up oil from the beaches of southern Louisiana. I would then catch one of the dozens of buses that were going from Jackson Square to the beaches for the clean up along with hundreds of other volunteers. We would spend the whole day there, clean up the beach, rescue a pelican or two and then head home.
I learned a few things about the clean up effort rather quickly. I learned that southern Louisiana does not really have beaches to clean; it’s nearly all marshlands. This means most clean up efforts have to be done from a boat, or the places are only boat accessible. Plus, you need to be certified to clean up hazardous materials, which requires 40 hours of training.
The federal government has closed commercial and recreational fishing in a wide swath of the Gulf as a result of the oil spill, which is a serious economic blow to the region.
The gulf oil spill is proving to be not just an ecological disaster, but an economic one, too.
On Sunday the federal government closed commercial and recreational fishing from Louisiana to parts of the Florida Panhandle, and oil continues to gush unabated from the Deepwater Horizon rig.
The fishing ban extends between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida's Pensacola Bay.
That’s a significant blow to the economy of the region. The Gulf Coast is home to the second largest seafood industry in the country after Alaska.
The annual commercial seafood harvest in the gulf adds up to $661 million, and recreational fishing contributes $757 million and nearly 8,000 jobs, according to the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. The group estimates that $1.6 billion in annual economic activity is tied to the wetlands directly exposed to the spill.
So now fishermen are doing the only thing they can -- gritting their teeth and helping to clean up the oil that is putting their livelihoods at risk.