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Park Wavelengths - Thursday, February 4, 2016
New northern elephant seal protection measures go into place today, February 4. The temporary closure begins ¼-mile [west] from the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center (as one faces the beach/bay, to the right). The closure will last through March 31. The closure provides respite to nursing mothers and males resting up for future struggles. Beachcombers head towards Limantour Estero on the left side of the beach. [Please be aware that the collection of seashells, rocks, and other items (aside from garbage) is prohibited. - Ed.]
Park Wavelengths - Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Tides again move through seasonal highs of 6 feet and over as the moon wanes through the first week of February with highs before noon. Watch for high surf advisories as Chinese New Year approaches on February 8—the Year of the Monkey!
As the entries from the Lighthouse 1885 Log book report, "Fog, fog, and nothing but fog." Viewing whales has been challenging this year. A tanker [milk truck] off the road last week curtailed most of the travel on a clear day, followed by windy, whitecapped days. Hopefully weather will cooperate as whales finish their southern migration at the end of January. Perhaps more will be seen in the return migration.
Reminders of how the seasons move at their own pace—wildflowers! Four-petaled white with rose-tinged milkmaids are blooming, as well as pink-flowering currant shrubs!
From the park's Fisheries Biologist: "The Rain Arrived and So Did the Salmon - After several years in a row with below average rainfall during the typical coho spawning period, this year has finally delivered some much needed rain. Monitoring crews have observed an increase in coho activity in Olema and Cheda Creeks compared to the last time this cohort returned to spawn in 2012–2013. Cheda Creek, a small tributary of Lagunitas Creek, has 5 coho redds, 8 live coho, 5 coho carcasses. Olema Creek has 50 coho redds, 85 live coho, 28 coho carcasses, which is the largest coho spawning run observed in Olema Creek for over a decade."
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
A sequence of morning six-foot-plus high tides accompanies the full moon of Saturday, January 23. On Thursday, the high tide peaks at 6.7 feet at 8:08 am in the morning—beach walking is best in the afternoons. Check with park visitor centers for high surf advisories.
The high tides may affect the bustling northern elephant seal colonies. The past week's storms appear to be encouraging more seals to haul out at the north [sic] Drakes colony (seen from Chimney Rock) which allows for more protection from storm surges. This colony began in 1995, a year of heavy storms. Researchers are marking some of the larger males with dyes near their flippers to track their activity. The overall numbers of seals on the beaches during the last count was 577.
Whale watching at the Lighthouse has been hampered by rough weather and heavy fog; just a few spotted mid-week.
Annual winter reminder: please report downed trees. The trail crew needs to know not only the location but also a) the kind of tree; b) the diameter/width of the truck; and c) whether is blocking access for horses or whether a hiker can walk over it. This information will help them get the right equipment to the area.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Last of the winter sparklers is the Quadrantid meteor shower (the next shower will be the Lyrids in April). They radiate from [near] the constellation Bootes (the herdsman) [located] in the eastern sky [after midnight]. Approximately 40 per hour were visible on the morning of January 4.
Tolay, the wayward northern elephant seal gave birth to a pup over the holiday weekend. She sports a snappy pink and orange tag on her back flipper which can be spotted with binoculars. Tolay takes her name from the tidal channel where she attempted to come ashore which in turn takes its name from Tolay Lake. Spanish priests recorded the name Tolay [as that of] a local "chief of the Indians."
Tolay's new companions, the "North Drakes" colony, may be viewed from Chimney Rock. [The colony’s size] is growing each day. The road down to the Fish Docks and the docks are temporarily closed during the pupping season to protect nursing mothers.
Whale watching is also in full swing, with sightings of seven to eight per hour on clear days over last weekend.
Local children from San Geronimo and Dance Palace summer camp, as well as Bolinas School students, collected plastic debris on Drakes Beach and their artwork is on display inside the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center, which is open on weekends during the shuttle season [on days on which the park operates the Winter Shuttle Bus System]. The project was sponsored by the Marin MPA Watch.
Friday, December 18, 2015
Subject: Chimney Rock Trail
Fissures have been observed along the Chimney Rock Trail near the junction with the path to the Boathouse. Trail crew members have posted warning signs. Use the main trail beginning at the parking lot which travels south/southeast to the viewing point.
Friday, December 18, 2015
Forwarded to Park Wavelengths Subscribers
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
The winter solstice—the shortest day of the year—arrives on Monday, December 21, followed by the full moon on Friday, December 25. As the moon waxes toward full, there are extreme morning high tides ranging from 6.9 feet at 7:35 am on Tuesday, December 22 to 7.1 feet at 9:06 am on December 24. High tides such as these—combined with potential heavy rainfall—may create flooding in low lying areas. Check the park website and local radio stations for updates.
Holiday sparklers are the Ursid meteor shower between December 17 and December 24, peaking on December 22 with a waxing moon. Five to fifteen meteors per hour may be seen.
Wet weather and warm temperatures have fungi appearing! Spreads of candy cap (the caps are quarter-sized and rusty-brown in color) and brilliant yellow slimy blobs of witches' butter have created wondering questions!
Park visitor centers are closed Friday December 25, but roads and trails are open, and patrol rangers are on duty.
The 18th annual winter shuttle bus season is due to begin on Saturday, December 26 and continues on weekends and federal holidays through late March. On days with clear weather predicted, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard will be closed at South Beach and travelers to the Lighthouse and Chimney Rock will be directed to catch the shuttle at Drakes Beach. Tickets are $7.00 per adult; children 16 and under free. Federal Interagency Senior and Access pass holders receive a discount.
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Forwarded to Park Wavelengths Subscribers
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Researchers from Tottori University in Japan are tracking tsunami debris by releasing brightly colored drift bottles (see photo to the right). If you come across one on local beaches, please follow instructions on how to contact the researchers.