Beaver Was the Right Answer After All and River Otters and Garden Delights

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.heron

 

I also noticed these crows feeding on something.crows

 

I continued on down to the river’s mouth area paddling along the shoreline when I ran into this egret. It jumped into the air as I approached and this is what it looked like in that instant.egret

 

I worked my way over to the open mouth area to take a look. Lots of harbor seals were resting there. This is the open river’s mouth with the rock jetty to the left, looking out into the ocean.mouth

 

Brown pelicans

There were quite a few brown pelicans here today. Here’s one of them with a harbor seal checking me out.seals

 

A bunch more of the brown pelicans were resting on the sandy beach.pelicans

 

Brown pelicans came and went as I watched.pelican

 

There was lots going on in the river’s mouth area today, so I stayed and watched for a bit before heading back up the river passing these harbor seals on the way.seal

 

Some terns were resting on the lower end of Penny Island as I passed by that area and headed up the back channel of the island.terns

 

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.

River Otters

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.

The otter swim right up to my boat, about six feet from it and looked.otter

 

What the?

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.sealface

 

The otters didn’t get spooked in all this and they hopped up on this moss covered redwood log as I watched from close by.otters

 

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.otters2

 

I watched and took pictures as they moved up the river hunting as they went.otter3

 

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.

Here they are tracking fish from their boat. They track fish they have caught and tagged.bioboat

 

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.

Thinking strawberries

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.

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2 Responses to Beaver Was the Right Answer After All and River Otters and Garden Delights

  1. Pete says:

    Bob, hey this is Pete, I think your Beaver idea would be great for the wild steelhead, but not the hatchery steelies, wild ones are hatched and raised in the creeks along the river, but the hatchery fish are hatched and raised at the hatchery tanks and released into the river directly when they are big enough (6 to 12 inches) to swim and go into the ocean, and the hatchery fish folks release the steelhead smolt when there is plenty of water in the river for them to get to the ocean. But it seems the Beavers would help the wild ones in the creeks to have more water and forage while they are growing to be big enough to make the swim to the ocean.

    I think the best answer for the biologist’s question would be to get the seals and sea lions out of the river and estuary in a reasonable manor, that would be best for the coho, salmon and steelhead and the seals would be out of so much human contact and influence as well, which would be much better for their life in the wild as well. Nobody in their right mind wants it to be a half wild, half man made zoo. And us allowing seals and sea lions to rule the roost in the river this past decade or more, is very damaging to the already low population of Chinook and steelhead and coho. Another opinion, but an educated one :)

  2. admin says:

    Hi Pete,
    I agree with the wild fish thing and that’s mainly what I was referring to as far as the beaver go. Beaver retain water in the system which both provides more water, food and habitat for fish to grow big and strong and able to survive. Hatchery fish will also mostly always be fodder for all the predators which is not really a good thing as they attract and support more predators then should be in the system, which means there are more predators to eat fish than there should be.
    I also agree with what you say about the seals and sea lions in the estuary, lump rivers otters with them too. Only problem is, with the laws protecting them and peoples attitudes about them means we likely can’t get them out of the system, so the only thing we can do is provide better habitat for fish and that’s where the beaver shines. The beaver can do stuff we humans can’t, especially with the current laws.
    I was thinking fife creek wouldn’t be good for beaver, but I think I might be wrong about that. Fife creek is what beavers fix. They might start at the top and eventually hold enough water back to make dams in the parts that now have no water through the summer. I’d like to put some in the pond just above the park at Pond farm. They could start there and spill into the creek in it’s upper reaches and young would have to move into the creek. Do you know where we could get some beaver? The beaver in fife creek could also slow the winter waters down to help prevent flooding in the lower parts which is now a big problem.
    The reason the biologists would like to close the mouth and rise the estuary level is mostly to give young fish more fresh water to help them survive the predation down there. Let’s think beaver and get the guys talking about getting it done. :O)
    Thanks for the input,
    Bob

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