May 11, 2014

What A Bay For A Daydream

Good morning and greetings, warm-blooded mammal fans. A few months back, I wrote that more whales had been spotted people watching in the bay than had ever been recorded. Last Tuesday, I spotted four whales on my morning walk, as I saw a calf, her mother, a close friend, and perhaps the father or a body guard heading up the coast.

Well, our favorite bay is once again teeming with exotic marine life. In a recent article posted on, outdoor writer Tom Stienstra wrote, “In the past year, Monterey Bay has become the richest marine region on the Pacific Coast. In the past three weeks, it has reached a new peak with unbelievable hordes of anchovies, along with other baitfish, and with it, the highest numbers of salmon, marine birds, sea lions, gray whales, humpback whales and orcas anywhere.”

So with billions of tons of baitfish roaming the bay, the action has once again been spectacular in our front yard. I only wish I could make these whale watching trips a regular event, but I get sea sick watching Jacques Cousteau specials.

Which reminds me of a joke. A doctor, a dentist and an attorney were in a boat together when a wave came along and washed them all overboard. Unable to get back into the boat, they decided two would hold on to the boat and the third would swim to shore for help.

They noticed that there were hundreds of sharks between them and land. Without a word the lawyer took off! As he swam the sharks move aside. The dentist yelled, “it’s a miracle!”

“No”, said the doctor, “That’s professional courtesy!”

So what do we know about Monterey Bay? Back in 1602, or around the last time the Cubs won the World Series, Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizciano discovered Monterey Bay while searching for a good location for the Capitola Mall. He was seeking a port along the California coast that would be a safe harbor for Spanish ships. He named the bay in honor of the Viceroy, the Conde de Monterey, which is I believe is the sandwich I ordered for lunch last week at Chili’s.

Vizciano reported that the bay was a safe harbor and sheltered from all winds, which didn’t turn out to be true. He also said that he didn’t think an aquarium would be succcesful in Monterey or the Warriors would make it into the playoffs two years in a row. But he did think Mark Jackson would be fired.

Actually, Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo was the first European explorer to navigate the coast of California back in 1542, but he sailed right by the entrance of Monterey Bay, as he was concerned with the high cost of living in the area. And that is why they only named a junior college after him, instead of a four year university.

But it was not until 1769, around the golden age of television, that an outpost was established on Monterey Bay. It was called Del Taco and was open 24 hours a day with a drive thru for horses and covererd wagons.

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary was established in 1992, in an effort to preserve the ocean environment that’s currently being enjoyed and polluted by the population surrounding it. It includes the Pacific waters along the central California coast from Cambria to north of San Francisco, and extends out to sea an average of 30 miles, or the same distance I walk every two weeks to stay slim and trim as I ease into my summer wardrobe.

Monterey Bay actually comprises less than 1/15th of the entire sanctuary, which is all open water, as no land is included. It is the largest marine sanctuary in the U.S. and the second largest in the world after the Hawaiian Islands. Monterey Bay’s underwater canyon is larger than the Grand Canyon, and considered to be the Yankee Stadium of the Pacific.

The bay is a Camp Pendleton of marine life, with approximately 345 species of fish, 450 plus species of plants, 94 species of seabirds, 30 species of marine mammals, 4 species of turtles, two turtle doves and the Patridge family in a pear tree. It’s Atlantis gone wild.

From 1854 to the early 1900s, the Monterey Bay harbor was a major cargo and whaling port. Its sandy beaches were white with whalebone, which was also the name of my band in high school.

Grey whales make their biannual visits during migrations between Alaska and their breeding grounds in Baja California. Blue whales appear from late spring to late autumn, along with Minke whales, Fin whales, Humpback whales, the Prince of Wales, Pacific Right whales, Sperm whales, Howard Wales along with pods of Orcas, whose favorite item on their spring menu is young gray whales.

So a man in a movie theatre notices what looks like a whale sitting next to him. “Are you a whale?” asked the man, surprised. “Yes.” “What are you doing at the movies?” The whale replied, “Well, I liked the book.”

So throw in the frequent sightings of dolphins, porpoises and sea lions and there’s always action on the bay. There have also been 1,276 reported shipwrecks, which does not include the last twenty years of Oakland Raider football.

Giant kelp forests are underwater inhabitants of the bay. With the exception of the marijuana industry, it is the fastest growing plant on earth, growing up to 14 inches a day. Which does not explain why 90% of the brussel sprouts grown in the United States are from Santa Cruz County.

So what else to say about this playground of natural wonders? I believe former Beatle Ringo Starr summed it up best when he said, “I’d like to be, under the sea, in an octopus’s garden in the shade.” Life is good when you can sit by the dock of the bay watching time roll away.

Moving along to the photo department, back in January and February, the sunrises and sunsets were coming fast and furious. Today’s spread is from the evening of January 9. It wasn’t anything to tweet home about as the sky turned different shades of tangerine, but when I loaded up the zoom lens, I came up with a pretty good shot of some gulls amidst an orange sherbert sundae. Not a bad dessert.

On to a little late night humor. “Richard Branson has announced plans to develop a new type of plane that could fly from New York to Tokyo in one hour. Apparently the engines are powered by human screams.” – Seth Meyers “A new study found that a growing number of dog owners are giving their pets anti-anxiety medication as a way to calm them down and reduce unwanted stress in their lives. Then dogs said, “Or, you could just sell the vacuum cleaner.” – Jimmy Fallon

“For the second time in three days, the White House has gone into lockdown after someone threw an object over the fence. Finally today, President Obama took away Joe Biden’s Frisbee. Sony has invented a new kind of cassette tape that could store 47 million songs. They estimate that they’ll be ready to demonstrate the new cassette for the public sometime in the year 2267 when it finishes rewinding.” – Seth Meyers

So we’ll catch you being one of the top point guards in the league while leading your team to an amazing come-from-behind win on Mother’s Day. Aloha, mahalo and later, Chris Paul fans.


  1. loved the one with the bird crossing the sun

    Comment by Allison — May 12, 2014 @ 10:30 am

  2. “orange sherbet sundae’s and tangerine skies” gets me every time!

    Comment by Wendi — May 12, 2014 @ 12:56 pm

  3. Correction- I believe it was Juan and Don Ceasar who first navigated the anchovy rich waters of the Bay. Hence the popular salad seafood combo was born.

    Comment by Doc (of the Bay) Rivers — May 12, 2014 @ 1:11 pm

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