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Posted by seahunt on March 16, 2005 at 19:30:43:

In Reply to: Back to you posted by Walt on March 16, 2005 at 17:35:09:

>>The last time I looked at the California coast, there was a lot of kelp.
>In many places, but I've seen the decimation of kelp forests her in SoCal where urchins have taken over (then moved on, leavnig a blighted wasteland)...urchins eat away the holdfasts!
Yes it did, due to the pollution from sewage treatment, but that was mostly one place 30 years ago. I cannot figure out why Palos Verdes kelp has not come back. It is recovering everywhere else. From what I know, Palos Verdes was probably once the best diving in California. If there is any place that could use a few (neutered) otters it is Palos Verdes. I've seen areas of urchin barrens at a few of the islands, but none bigger than a few hundred feet. I think they are transient.

>Apparently you haven't spent time in otter areas
Yes I have, though probably not as much as you. Along Big Sur (Limekiln SP area, Paddington Cove, Point Lobos) - otters, kelp, and good life. I know you dive a lot along the Cen/NorCoast; I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you've seen decimation - what sites? I'll dive them.
I can't say why, but the areas I dove in Carmel and Monterey still had some appearence of reef animal life. Maybe it is that nutrient rich current in the bay. South though, from Piedras Blancas to Alviso (and south) I did a lot of diving and the reef animal life is really missing. All along Point Buchon, Montagne De Oro, Cayucus, South Big Sur, but not North of Piedras Blancas. The kelp there at South Big Sur is the thickest and widest I have ever seen. Deeper down it does get more interesting, because the kelp cannot grow as thick and there are more of the animals that otters don't eat. Hydrocoral cathedral off Point Buchon.... The Sea Cucumber cliff... The red Cory couch...
Along a lot of that area though, so much of the year the visibility is so bad that not much life can grow below say 60, 70 feet.

>There are no abalone, urchins, clams or other mullosks
Don't blame this on the otters; there can be other causes...disease, sea lions, pollution, plus humans decimated the abalone fisheries long before the otters returned. Plus how do you account for abalones in NorCal (where there are also otters?)
Uh, there are no otters North of San Francisco or at least not more than a few strays. Fish and Game told me that they saw at most 2 last year.
No, I'm afraid not. Sea lions don't eat shell fish and only recently has disease become a factor.

Pollution is not an issue in Big Sur. I've talked to people from San Luis Obisbo about just before the otters, Big reds in all the sand channels. A thriving abalone industry and sport divers often picked the shores. No doubt humans have done their damage, but actual history says that the abs were doing OK until the otters. ... Oh, the Clams at Pismo too. They made their periodic comeback... and the otters ate them all while they were less than 2 inches.

>Few and I have never in my life seen a human take a scallop near as small as an otter will
Seahunt, I have and it makes me mad evertime I see someone take a scallop where there are few to be for otters catch size - sure they'll take small ones..for heaven's sake they don't carry guages! Even known a lobster gatherer cheat on a measure? You know some do...probably far more than the few otter we have along the coast
Well, I see scallops all the time at the islands. Nice sized ones. I usually take 2 or 3. I only like them fresh. I have never taken a scallop in otter area. Otters don't cheat or take shorts. They take everything.

>which ecology do you want?
I want the one where the coast looked like it might have before the white man came and messed it up by killing the ooters for their fur, for overharvesting abalone, sardines, you name it. Where we had free beach access and didn't have a row of condos keeping us off teh beaches that are rightfully the public's. Where we see the creatures there as they had lived for millennia before us (and hopefully someday for millennia after us). There is plenty to eat without having to feel you're in competition with an otter. Go get a cheeseburger.
I'd like to see the coast about 1910. Hey, what can I say?. I just like the invertebrates. Everything would have been covered with scallop, abalone and urchins. Lobster hunting was harder and more dangerous with all the urchins. Life would have been layered on the rocks. What else is cool is that as far as I can guess is that if you went to PV or Laguna back then, each reef would have had its dominant bull male lobster standing in the open guarding their turf. They likely would have commonly ranged from 15 to 25 pounds or more. I call them the reef masters.

Enjoy the diving (with the otters!)
Actually I got lucky at Cannery Row and got to. I hear that I was incredibly lucky to dive with them while they were hunting. .. Furry, cute, great divers. I dunno, Just there are drawbacks.
Enjoy the diving (whenever you can), seahunt

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