Baykeeper's Monthly Column

Baykeeper publishes a monthly column on San Francisco Bay cultural, environmental, and maritime issues.
(November 2012) Five years ago, on the morning of November 7, the 900-foot container ship Cosco Busan left Oakland in heavy fog with low visibility. It side-swiped a Bay Bridge tower, ripping open two fuel tanks and pouring more than 53,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel into San Francisco Bay. Initially, the ship reported 400 gallons of oil had spilled. But a long plume of thick, floating bunker...
(October 2012) Every drop of rain in the Bay Area eventually flows to San Francisco Bay. Throughout history, that hasn’t been a problem. Most rain soaked into the ground and made its way gradually into creeks that emptied into the Bay. But with so many roads, driveways, sidewalks and roofs in our urban area, rain rushes across hard surfaces, picking up trash, oil, pesticides and other pollutants...
(September 2012) One fish has lights on its stomach and wakes up houseboaters. Another gets a crab to give it dinner and a worm to build its house. They’re among the more than 35 species of native fish that depend on San Francisco Bay. During early summer, the sleep of Sausalito houseboaters can be disturbed by the rumbling midnight mating hums of the plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus)....
(August 2012) The America’s Cup races give us thrilling views of the world’s fastest sailboats—and a great opportunity to put into practice our commitment to a healthy, thriving San Francisco Bay. One legacy of the America’s Cup will be less polluted storm water in the Bay. As San Francisco piers are retrofitted to accommodate visitors and racing teams, new pollution controls are being added....
(July 2012) With San Francisco Bay’s summer recreation season in full swing, let’s hear from those who love to play on and in the Bay. Ben Patton, kiteboarder: "Kiteboarding has a kind of freedom to it. It’s like sailing, but even closer to the water. When I’m out on the Bay, I enjoy seeing the mix of people, economic activity and nature, all at the same time. Mostly I kiteboard at Crissy Field....
(June 2012) In the 1960s and early 70s, San Francisco Bay just plain stank. Raw or partly treated sewage entered the Bay in 83 places. Refineries, smelters, pesticide manufacturers and other industrial facilities pumped their waste directly into the Bay. The Bay Area wasn’t alone. Across the nation, water quality was at an all-time low. A symbol was the Cuyahoga River in Ohio, so choked with...
(May 2012) Are gray whales coming into San Francisco Bay more often? Baykeeper is helping to find out, and you can help, too. We’re assisting the Oceanic Society with a new study to find out how many gray whales are coming to the Bay and what dangers they face. The public is encouraged to help by reporting all whale sightings. Gray whales can enter San Francisco Bay any time of year, but they...
(April 2012) With Opening Day on the way, and the America’s Cup around the corner, lots of folks—including Baykeeper—are busy with spring boat maintenance, all in preparation for a special boating season. After a (second) four-year stint with silicone-based epoxy hull paint, our 19’ C-Dory catamaran (with twin Hondas), The Baykeeper, is due for repainting. We’ve had her cleaned diligently every...
(March 2012) Can one boater make a difference? Consider this: A weekend boater flushing untreated sewage into San Francisco Bay produces the same bacterial pollution as 10,000 people whose sewage passes through a treatment plant. One marina operator can make a big difference, too. At Sausalito’s Galilee Harbor, a co-op affordable-housing marina owned by its tenants, every boat is connected into...
(February 2012) In the not-too-distant future, Sausalito and Marin City streets could be underwater twice a day. High tides could regularly overflow onto San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Around San Francisco Bay, storm drains will run in reverse, with salt water backing up in low-lying communities. Frequent flooding in winter will be the new normal. The more the world’s nations fail to agree...

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