Magazine Features

Scarce Shark Tough to Tag

Basking sharks were once so abundant along the California coast that a thrill-seeking trophy hunter reportedly harpooned a half-dozen in under three hours in Monterey Bay. That was in 1947. Today, the big fish are so rare that it’s taken a team of scientists between San Diego and Santa Cruz eight years to put tracking tags into just six animals. Their numbers are so low, in fact, that researchers, working with tiny sample sizes, can scarcely study them at all or draw firm conclusions about population trends, threats to their survival, typical behavior, or how global warming may affect them. There is even concern that the sharks—filter feeders that may grow to 40 feet, the size of a small whale—are so widely scattered through the ocean that they may not be able to locate one another to mate and reproduce....

True to the Trail

On a clear San Francisco morning, I met Barb Christianson and Sally Jo Dinwoodie, both 64, at a Hunter’s Point neighborhood with new, multi-storied townhouses that can go for a million dollars. Seven of us headed down the hill towards the Bay with the San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge sparkling. Christianson, Dinwoodie, and a small group of friends are walking the entire San Francisco Bay Trail by tackling one segment at a time, in order, once a month. After two years, they have covered more than half the trail, both the finished, and as best they can, the unfinished portions. At the Hunter’s Point Shipyard, we walked past a guard who was fast asleep in the guardhouse. Our plan was to drop down to Crisp Street, the closest street to the water. As we discussed the route, a woman...

Tire Melt in Salmon Stream?

On the morning of November 8, 2018, Allen Harthorn, a farmer who lives about two miles from the town of Paradise, watched a dark cloud of smoke forming in the east and began to worry about the safety of his and his neighbors’ homes. He also began to worry about some other residents of the Butte Creek watershed—the largest run of naturally spawned spring Chinook in California. The fire missed Harthorn’s home, but grew into the deadliest wildfire in California history, blazing through 153,000 acres, killing at least 86 people, wiping out over 18,000 structures, and devastating the foothill town of Paradise. Because this fire was such a new breed—one that burned forests and wildlands as well as cars, appliances, homes, and even septic tanks—scientists, fish advocates, and resource managers are unsure of exactly what the impacts on the salmon...
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California Sun Podcast Interview with ESTUARY’s Editor Dives into All Things Bay & Delta on the Front Burner Today

This August the California Sun’s Jeff Schechtman interviewed ESTUARY magazine’s editor in chief Ariel Rubissow Okamoto, also a long-time Bay Area science writer, about her personal opinions on the resiliency of the largest estuary on the West Coast, the challenges facing the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, and the potential impacts of climate change and sea level...

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ESTUARY News is the 25-year-old regional magazine of the San Francisco Estuary Partnership and its myriad partners around the Bay and Delta. Written by professional, independent journalists, it provides in-depth, silo-crossing coverage of the environmental, restoration, and climate adaptation issues of our time, and tells the stories behind the 2016 Estuary Blueprint.

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