California beach goers encountering abnormal number of grey whales

Anthony Canova

The Southern California coastline has a two-mile stretch of beach which has been renamed to “Whale Beach” by the operator of a whale-watching business who’s reporting an unusually abundant number of amount of gray whale mothers and calves stopping to rest and play in the local area’s tranquil coves.

Donna Kalez, general manager of Dana Wharf Whale Watching, says that during the past few weeks her captains have recorded more than 40 sightings of gray whale cow-calf pairs in the shallow coves of Laguna Beach.

That is well above average according to Kalez, but what makes this even more unusual is the high encounters with swimmers. Combining the unseasonably warm temperatures with more visitors to the beach, the whales are sighting just a few yards from the sandy shore. Visitors to the beach can’t help but swim out to the whales for a personal and rare experience, however it is not in the best interest of public safety.

Many swimmers have pursued the whales dawned in snorkeling gear and GoPro cameras, however not all the encounters are positive ones. Kalez’s captains have noted that some cases in which swimmers have spooked the mothers. Scaring whales or altering their emotions or behavior in any way is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, punishable by fines and/or jail time. Its also dangerous for the swimmers to approach these powerful creatures.

Overall however, most of the encounters with the whales have been positive and popular with the swimmers.

For more information read on at http://www.petethomasoutdoors.com/2014/05/laguna-beach-becomes-whale-beach-as-swimmers-and-cow-calf-pairs-mingle-in-surf.html

Residual Wave Action in California

Anthony Canova A handful of California marinas, specifically any marinas north of Los Angeles, had the potential to see small wave action during the first week of April because of the 8.2-earthquake and following tsunami off the coast of Chile on Tuesday, April 1. In the Chilean port city of Iquique, observed tsunami heights reached approximately seven feet. People living along the country’s Pacific Coast were ordered to evacuate, but officials lifted the tsunami warning by early Wednesday, local time.

The first waves to strike California are said to have hit La Jolla around 4 a.m. From there, the residual effects from the South America earthquake were said to have travelled north and became noticeable in the Santa Barbara harbor early on Wednesday, April 2.

An Oxnard correspondent with the National Weather Service reported the activity consisted of “one-foot tide fluctuations,” which did not have the ability to damage boats in the harbor. The meteorologist also reported three-to-four knot fluctuations in water currents as well as swirling water in Ventura Harbor. Unlike the one-foot tide fluctuations, the three-to-four knot fluctuations had the potential to upset boats returning to a dock or harbor, causing sudden jolts that could damage vessels by suddenly slamming boats into the dock. However, there were no alarming reports of surging or damage at the time.

San Luis Obispo County had the potential to see the largest fluctuations in wave height, with waves reaching up to 20 centimeters above the normal wave height for the area. Wave action was predicted to continue for an extended period of time, with the possibility of a full day of “wave action” in some areas. Wave action as residual after effect of a far off earthquake is not uncommon and, therefore, because there was not any unusual damage reported, did not alarm the professionals monitoring the California coast.

For more information about the wave action from the Chilean earthquake on the California coast, please visit http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-wave-chile-earthquake-california-coast-20140402,0,2635028.story#axzz2ytejszVx.

New Fracking Projects of California Coast

According to an article, Federal regulators are giving the go ahead on three new fracking jobs off the California coast. This is more than what was previously knows, so many people are up in arms, and rightfully so.

Hydraulic fracturing is done by pumping large amounts of water, sand and chemicals into the rock bed to release oil. It is believed that the process is a huge proponent of chemical pollution, which is why there is such an outcry of people saying it should be stopped.

Many people, especially near the coasts of California, believe these rigs performing this function are only a problem that will escalate in the future. People are also uneasy after the 1969 oil platform blowout that harmed beaches, birds and other wild life. The last thing residents and beach goers want is another incident of that magnitude. They also don’t like the fact that certain chemicals are being released into the water in which they swim.

It’ll be interesting to see how this process is done in the future and if it will leave lasting effects on the areas surrounding the rigs.

 

Biggest swells in years hits north shore of Hawaii

According to a recent article, a storm off the cost of Hawaii is brewing up some of the biggest surf the island hasn’t seen in decades. The wave heights are reaching anywhere from 40 to 50 feet. Imagine dropping in on something that big? Only some of the most experienced surfers would dare to try and ride a wave of that magnitude.

A high surf warning was declared until 6am Saturday on the Big Island. Some beaches were even closed all together. At Waimea Bay, Ocean Safety lifeguards closed the beach because water was overflowing into the parking lot and upending trees. The waves are generating such a strong force that they can’t be held back by the beach banks.

According to Melvin Kaku, Director of the Department of Emergency Management, “The National Weather Service has told us that this is a once in a ten-year period high surf event. What increases the hazard is the forecasted wave heights in combination with the long duration these swells will be impacting our shorelines. The long duration means that ocean waters will pile up in the surf zone allowing the larger waves to impact further into beach areas. This battering effect can cause increased shoreline erosion and damage to homes and infrastructure as well as blocking coastal highways with sand, debris and water.”

Hawaii is prone to big wave surf due to its location in the ocean. It’s amazing that they haven’t experienced something like this in a number of years. Some places on Hawaii’s Big Island regular average over 10 foot waves. Imagine those waves at 30 and 40 feet! It’s astounding! I’ll be interested to see if any surfing footage comes out of this once in a decade event. You figure there’s definitely a lot of interest among surfers. Will anyone make the plunge?

 

2011 Fukushima meltdown not a threat to Pacific region

Anthony CanovaAccording to an article, people are fearing that the 2011 tsunami disaster that caused a radiation leak to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan could be having lasting effects on the Pacific coast region including California.

Experts say there is no need to worry, especially a few years removed from the Tsunami that rocked the country of Japan. Due to a slew of reports and bloggers, people began to panic that there could be exceeding radiation levels to be concerned with. According to the California Department of Public Health, “There is no public health risk at California beaches due to radioactivity related to events at Fukushima.” So don’t worry! Get back on your surf board and enjoy what the California beaches have to offer.

What could have caused the onslaught of fear was blue fin tuna that had radioactive cesium from the nuclear power plant in their tissue. These fish migrate from the water near Japan across the Pacific to the coasts of California. The amounts of radioactivity found in the fish were very low at best and are continuing to fall since the nuclear meltdown in 2011.

The news stories and blogging on the web caused health inspectors to check out the beaches to see if their were any abnormal levels of radioactivity. According to the reports, there was radioactivity detected but at naturally occurring levels. Health inspectors expected the readings to be coming from minerals in the sand that aren’t associated with the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima.

So again, enjoy the beaches of California! There is no need to worry about any abnormal amounts of radioactivity along the coastline. Don’t always take everything you see online as the truth. Although, it definitely was a good call for health inspectors to double check just to be sure.

Paddle boarders encounter great white sharks

Two paddle boarders went out off the California coast and were greeted by juvenile great white sharks according to an article.

These paddle boarders weren’t only startled, they became obsessed with these sharks that they went back to the shore to get video cameras. They decided to paddle back out with Go Pro cameras attached to their paddles in order to document the sharks. One shark quickly showed up and soon after there were three circling the two men.

The sharks ended up hanging around the paddle boarders for 45 minutes. One of the guys said how nervous he was at the time, but after a while his fears settled. You initial reaction must be incredible. Being in the presence of one of the most feared predators of the sea, I find it remarkable these guys didn’t panic and they were able to keep their cool.

A paddle board is only so big and can be tipped very easily. If the sharks decided to bump the boards, the men could have been knocked off and dangerously exposed. Luckily, the sharks were juvenile, so they were only six feet long or so. If the great whites happened to be bigger and more curious, this story could have taken a wild turn.

Rare Oarfish Found on California Coast

Anthony CanovaA giant deep sea oarfish was found off the California coast according to an article.

Oarfish are not commonly seen and are one of the more mysterious fishes, often described in old fisherman tales. They are huge, some at over 50 feet. This oarfish that was found was 18 feet long and was in about 20 feet of water along the California coast.

“Oarfish are very much a mid-water to deep-water species,” Karla Heidelberg, an assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California’s Wrigley Marine Science Center, told National Geographic in June. “They’re almost never seen in surface waters.” These fish can be found 500 meters under the sea.

It is amazing that one would be seen so close to the surface. I am sure many Californians must have marveled over the fact that a 20 foot worm-like fish happened to make its way towards shore. It makes you wonder what else could be down in the great depths of the ocean. Prehistoric fish of all kinds could be lurking, which is why the ocean is the great unknown, as much of it has yet to be explored.

 

Fracking Off California Coast

A recent article in Huffington Post talks about a new development off the California coast. Oil companies are beginning to frack offshore and I can’t imagine beach goers in California are any bit happy with this latest news.

Anthony CanovaFracking has been a big concern throughout the United States on dry land because of the chemicals that are involved in the process and how it can impact drinking water, the environment, etc. With the process now happening off the California coast in the shale beneath the water, you figure these chemicals will surely have an affect on marine life and people looking to catch a few razes off the golden coast.

According to the Huffington Post article, “Fracking fluid can include more than 600 different chemicals, including substances that cause cancer and other health problems in humans and wildlife. In the water, fracking fluid is just dumped into the ocean or transported back to shore and injected underground, where it can contaminate groundwater.” How fracking was allowed off the California coast in the first place is very alarming. It makes you think about the State of California and their agenda. I’m sure financially they are seeing great reward in allowing oil companies to frack along their coast. But the greater impact to the environment and directly to the people should supersede this horrible practice.

“Aging offshore wells may make fracking especially dangerous in California’s coastal waters, where there’s been a decades-old moratorium on new leasing. Shooting highly pressurized fluid down older wells could increase the risk of well failure and the release of oil and chemical-laced fracking fluid into the ocean.” Fracking along the California coast is setting up to be a recipe for disaster. I’m sure we will continue to see an outcry by the public as more time elapses. This topic is still fairly new for the State so we should see more backlash soon.

Theoretical Earthquake Could Impact Coast of California

Anthony CanovaA recent article in the Los Angeles Times talked about the impact that would be felt along the coast of California if a 9.1 earthquake in Alaska were to occur. The earthquake would generate a large tsunami that would create massive flooding and would likely force 750,000 to evacuate low lying areas like Long Beach, Orange County, Marina del Rey among other coastal areas.

California has long been prepared for earthquakes, but not until recently has the threat of a tsunami been taken more seriously. Officials have been considering evacuation routes in coastal cities as well as what areas would be impacted the most. Some areas would be very difficult to evacuate because of the narrow roadways like Balboa Island in Newport Beach. During the summer, California’s beaches are also packed with hundreds of thousands of beach goers. If a tsunami were to hit during these months, it would be increasingly difficult to evacuate people from the shoreline.

The impact of a tsunami on the California coastline could reach more than $10 billion as it would effect commercial real estate, homes, beaches and boats. “A toxic stew of ship debris and fuel and pesticide-laden runoff from flooded farms could take years to clean up.”

It is a good thing that California has began taking the necessary steps to prepare for a disaster. Many people have the mentality that it won’t happen here, but in all likely hood it is only a matter of time before it does. Natural disasters happen every hundred years. With no documented history of a tsunami impacting California, it seems like the state is long overdue.

Shark Washes Up On Shore of Florida Beach

Anthony CanovaAccording to an article on Fox 4 Now, a large five foot shark washed up on the shore of Fort Meyers beach. The site of such a shark prompted vacationers to stay out of the water due to fear. It isn’t all the time that a shark is seen washed up on the beach, so it is very understandable why people would feel nervous about entering the water. Bridget Drake, a vacationer who first spotted the shark said, “Honestly it’s kinda freaky, I’ve never seen a shark up close like that before, only on TV so I really didn’t know how to react.” For most people, sharks are a very mysterious being and many might never see one.

This shark washing up on shore is ironic because of Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” which was televised the past week. Sharks are being shown and talked about at a very high level as Discovery Channel dedicates a whole week to shows that are all about the species. This year marks the 26th season of the series and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Sharks are so fascinating because they can be so dangerous and are the most feared in the sea.

The ocean is such a vast place with a lot of unknown. From what people can tell, sharks are the most dominating species at the top of the food chain. To see one up close on the shore must be a pretty remarkable experience. I am curious what might have happened to it because you just don’t see something like this everyday.