Wednesday July 22, 2015 Jenner CA.
Headed to the river’s mouth
I decided to head down to the river’s open mouth this morning. I put my boat in the water and headed across the river to Penny Island and was paddling along here when this great blue heron flew on by me.
I spot the fish tracking biologists
As I paddled up the back channel I was surprised to see the tracking biologist’s boat at the top of the channel heading on up the river at a slow pace tracking fish. I thought, good, I’ll catch up with them a little ways up the river and I continued heading up the river on the south shore side.
When I was just going by some redwood logs, some river otters popped up just in front of me startling both of us. Before they could run, I turned my boat out into the river as if they had spooked me, then turned back to see what they would do. It worked, they didn’t spook. One of them was swimming over to check me out. Of course I had the camera in front of my face and wasn’t moving.
It moved off, going under the water and then there was another surprise. Apparently this harbor seal had been napping or sleeping in this spot right under where the otter was. Just after the otter submerged, the seal popped up in the same place looking like this. That’s what they look like when they come up for air when they are resting under water. It never opened it’s eyes and soon disappeared back under the water to continue it’s rest or sleep. This all happens about six feet in front of me.
There were three of them. They were hunting, diving catching things and coming to the surface to devour what they caught. Otters have to bring their foot to the surface to devour it, as compared to harbor seals that can eat under water. Therefore, It’s easier to see what the otters are consuming most of the time. Otters eat most everything they come across from what I’ve observed.
Biologists come back
When I saw the otters, I saw the tracker boat pull away and head for the highway one bridge, so thought they’d got away for the day. But as I was finishing up with the otters, I saw them come back down the river and saw that they were close enough for me to catch up to them, so I headed over that way as I wanted to add some stuff to what we talked about yesterday.
I caught up with Bill and Adel tracking fish, cruising slowly around with their electric motor. Bill usually has someone different with him each day, so I get a chance to chat with quite a few different biologists. Of course this means Bill has to listen to my stuff over and over.
The jest of it
Here’s the jest of what I wanted to talk to Bill about. Yesterday, during our chat, Bill asked me what, in my opinion was the number one thing I would do to improve the estuary for fish. I didn’t waste any time saying, put the beaver back in the river water system. Bill says, no, not the whole river, just the estuary. I said give me some time to think on that and we continued to chat until an answer finally popped into my head.
I said remove the jetty and put it back the way it was and let nature do it’s thing. I’m not sure that’s what Bill wanted to hear, but that was my answer at the time.
The right answer is beaver after all
When I left Bill yesterday, I paddled over to the edge and started thinking about what was said during our chat and continued to think about it that night when I realized I had given Bill the right answer the first time. Put the beaver back in the river water system. :O)
So, I bounced this off of him and explained why I say this, which means I need to do a bunch more typing here. :O)
While Bill and Adel listened I started my story.
I’ve always thought the biggest problem with fish hatcheries was they rise a bunch of dumb fish. The fish don’t live a life where they learn to survive. They mostly just swim around in a protected tank or pond and are fed feed throughout the day, teaching them all the wrong things to survive in the real world. They rise the fish up and release the dumb fish into the water systems by the thousands where the predators have learned through the years to gobble them up. Nothing like a bunch of well fed dumb sweet trout that are easy to catch and are real plentiful at certain times of the year.
Here’s why beaver
So, anyway here’s why I say the beaver are the most important thing I could do to the estuary to improve it.
The beaver make dams that slow water down which makes fish habitat way up in the creeks all along the river’s system. The beaver hold back enough water to give fish food and habitat so they can survive when they leave, headed for the estuary and the ocean. Because the beaver holds back water, the fish can live and survive and learn to be smart fish. In other words, because of having enough water in those areas, the fish can stay longer to get smart instead of heading down river as the water ways dry up for the summer.
Beaver give the fish time to get to be smart fish
So my conclusion was the beaver can help the fish get smart to survive in the estuary and the ocean, so yes, I was right in saying beaver would do fish in the estuary the most good.
Fish learn to be smart and survive in our streams so they can survive the perils of the estuary and the ocean. At least that’s as I see it. :O)
I’m not sure they were convinced, but at least it gives them something to think about.
They continued tracking fish and I went over and started paddling slowly back down the river. It was a rather pleasant day out as I paddled along thinking about what we discussed.
The wind came up before I got back to the boat ramp but not strong enough to slow me down much. I just took my time paddling into the wind and enjoying the day.
New fan for the van
I went on home and was thinking about strawberries which meant I needed to raid my brothers strawberry patch. But first, I opened the package I picked up at the gate on the way in. It was a new 12 volt box fan, fourteen inch, which I got for my van for real hot days. It’s a little big, but it sure blows good . While sitting in my van I turned it on low and had to grab the chair to keep from being blown away. I reached over and turned it on high and was blown right out of the van. :O) It should work good on hot days.
Back to those strawberries. I thought of taking my camera with me, but already knew I had far too many good pictures for the day so left it home. It’s about a quarter mile walk from my house to my brothers garden. He runs Armstrong Valley Farm. On the way over, I walked past some Gravenstein apple trees with apples that were just ripe. Now, if you’ve never had a gravenstein apple fresh off the tree, you just haven’t lived. They don’t ship well so you won’t get a good one at the store. I bit into the apple and it was crunchy and juice sprayed all which ways and the eating sensation was marvelous. I was still eating that big ol apple as I entered my brothers garden and headed up the road where I noticed he had melons planted. Water melons, cantaloupe and honey dew. I was chomping the apple and touched a water melon to see if it was ripe and it collapsed. Too ripe, so that meant I was in business. I was thinking I could eat a small four inch cantaloupe if I could just get this big ol apple down first.
I found a suitable melon and got out my pocket knife and cut it open and it was perfectly ripe, so I gobbled it up and was thinking I better get a couple of these, but first the strawberries.
The strawberry patch
I moseyed on over to the strawberry area and could see plenty of them to eat if I could just find some room. Well, I did find some room and filled the rest of the way up on them.
Filled my pockets with apples
I went back and got a couple melons and some nice carrots and filled my pockets with more apples. The apples are actually my neighbors, so they are stolen which makes them twice as good. Of course he knows I steal them and is ok with it. He understands how stolen apples are the best. I was once caught stealing apples from this same place with different owners when I was a kid. The lady saw me steal an apple from her window and called my Mom about it. Of course, my Mom being a country type person laughed when she told me about the phone call. I’ve been extremely fortunate to follow where the famous Luther Burbank planted apples in the old days around this area for me to eat as I was growing up.
That wraps up another fine day.