Natural History of San Francisco Bay (California Natural History Guides)

Natural History of San Francisco Bay (California Natural History Guides)

Ariel Rubissow Okamoto

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0520268261

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This complete primer on San Francisco Bay is a multifaceted exploration of an extraordinary, and remarkably resilient, body of water. Bustling with oil tankers, laced with pollutants, and crowded with forty-six cities, the bay is still home to healthy eelgrass beds, young Dungeness crabs and sharks, and millions of waterbirds. Written in an entertaining style for a wide audience, Natural History of San Francisco Bay delves into an array of topics including fish and wildlife, ocean and climate cycles, endangered and invasive species, and the path from industrialization to environmental restoration. More than sixty scientists, activists, and resource managers share their views and describe their work—tracing mercury through the aquatic ecosystem, finding ways to convert salt ponds back to tidal wetlands, anticipating the repercussions of climate change, and more. Fully illustrated and packed with stories, quotes, and facts, the guide also tells how San Francisco Bay sparked an environmental movement that now reaches across the country.

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Fish and Game surveys showed the abundance of bottom-dwellers suddenly leap off the charts. Huge numbers of juvenile crab and English Sole migrated into the bay, while shrimp, Plainfin Midshipmen, and Sand Dab also prospered (see Figure 5). As larvae, all of these species rely on phytoFISH, BIRDS, AND OTHER WILDLIFE 57 6 Score 4 a. PC1 2 0 –2 CPUE 3 b. Demersal Fish 2 1 0 CPUE 3 2 c. Crabs 1 0 CPUE 4 3 2 d. Shrimp 1 0 Chl-a(μg/L) 5 e. Phytoplankton 4 3 2 1980 1985 1990

California Halibut, English Sole, and Starry Flounder. The strongest, fastest fish may be salmon—one of several anadromous fish that lead a two-part life, as adults in the ocean and as spawners and juveniles in the estuary’s rivers. Salmon, Steelhead Trout, and Green and White Sturgeon are the primary native anadromous fish in the estuary system, but Striped Bass—a non-native—may be the most familiar as a favorite with anglers. 78 FISH, BIRDS, AND OTHER WILDLIFE Chinook Salmon found in Battle

individual communities or property owners building small levees or dams willy-nilly, and of floods every few years that wiped out what crops, goods, and livestock the people had managed to amass. Localism ruled, and the rights of individual property owners remained sacred. The response of most landowners threatened or engulfed by water was to redirect the water to a neighbor’s doorstep. If you built a levee on your side of the river, the owner on the opposite bank had to build a higher one.

company ground up the shells from the oyster beds to make a calcium supplement for chickens to eat on the poultry farms in the North Bay. Writes Gilliam: “Bay Area residents who find their breakfast eggs do not crack in boiling water may owe their thanks to an oyster who lived on the bay bottom five hundred centuries ago.” Local entrepreneurs tapped the bay for many other raw materials. At Marine Magnesium workers developed an early process for extracting magnesium from seawater. Three other

plague water managers and engineers to this day. At the time, federal engineers proposed building a giant dam across Suisun Bay to solve the problem. The thought was that the dam would keep the salty ocean on one side and the fresh river water on the other, and remake the lower delta into a giant reservoir to boot. Dickering over how and where such a salinity barrier could be built lasted 30 years, but resulted in nothing concrete except the creation of the extraordinary Bay Model in Sausalito.

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