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June 30, 2008

Catch and release - Malibu shark set free

Mr_white_does_laps Remember the young great white shark caught by local fishermen and put into the floating pen last week outside Paradise Cove in Malibu? Biologists released him Sunday after deciding he wouldn't be a good candidate to live for a few months in the Outer Bay exhibit of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Meanwhile, a number of readers asked for stats about the sharks that have been captured for study. Here's the info from Ken Peterson, who works with the aquarium:

Since 2002, we and our university research colleagues have handled 30 young white sharks in Southern California waters. Of those, 29 were caught accidentally in gear used by commercial fishermen as they were fishing for sea bass or halibut. The 30th was caught hook-and-line by our staff, and was one of three young sharks brought to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Of the 29 caught in commercial gear, five died. Some of those deaths undoubtedly were the result of injuries the sharks sustained in fishing nets before we received them. (There's no definitive way to say in how many cases that was a factor.)

We do know that, because fishermen are willing to alert us when they accidentally catch a young white shark, we've been able to tag and track more than a dozen animals and learn more than has ever been known about their movements in waters off Southern California and Baja. You can find the published data from the initial tagging work here.

As for the shark released Sunday, Peterson says it promptly swam away -- far away, as the sharks collected by the aquarium are too young to show territorial behavior. Biologists say the juveniles, which are fish-eaters, swim throughout SoCal waters, as well as south to Baja, Mexico.

All three sharks that did a stint in the aquarium exhibit were released in the Monterey Bay. The first went to Santa Barbara within the month. The second wound up in Cabo San Lucas in 90 days, and last year's shark -- that's the one in the photo -- took 44 days to get to Cabo and, five months later, was in the Sea of Cortez.

They're still looking for a shark for the exhibit and I'll do what I can to keep up with developments.

June 27, 2008

Another shark in the tank in Malibu

Sharky_waters A great white shark has been swimming in the floating pen outside Paradise Cove in Malibu since Tuesday, caught accidentally by a commercial fisherman and turned over to marine biologists with the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It's a young male, 4 feet 9 inches long, no estimates on weight yet.

The shark stays under observation in the 4 million-gallon mesh offshore holding pen until the biologists decide whether to tag and release the him, or send him to Monterey for a star turn in the wildly popular Outer Bay exhibit, the aquarium's largest. If the new great white makes the cut, he'll travel to Monterey via the "Finnebago," a 3,000-gallon oblong holding tank filled with water kept at 68 degrees.

The aquarium typically looks for "young of the year", or sharks under a year old, who eat bait fish but won't hunt larger prey, like seals and sea lions. Opinions about keeping a shark in captivity are - surprise! - sharply divided. Some object on moral grounds, others say learning as much as possible about the predators will help protect them. (For an update on the aquarium's previous tenant, check our recreation blog, Outposts.)

Meanwhile, the newest candidate is swimming in circles in Malibu. We'll let you know what happens next.

June 26, 2008

Surprise - another duck family!

I went for a walk last night. Left the dogs behind, just because I could. Took my camera, because I always do. Went to look at the duck family to see if I could photograph them one more time (silly how I can't bring myself to use the verb "shoot" when living things are involved) and lo and behold, there's a new duck family.

Mama and six ducklings. Here they are, in a bend of the creek where they can hide beneath some low-hanging greenery. I'm not sure which of us was more surprised.

new duck family

June 25, 2008

Face plant

I know it looks like maybe Maisie was digging up the yard but I swear, this is how she looks after playing ball for just a few minutes. No half-measures for the teacup lab.


June 24, 2008

Paradise Cove - the way it used to be

Old CoveWhen we bought the trailer here in Paradise Cove 14 years ago, a series of bruising law suits between residents and the park's owners had turned it into a risky investment and home values had tanked. We had a tiny down payment and this was the only place we could afford. Anywhere.

It was quiet here, a mix of families and retirees. There were no car alarms. There were very few golf carts. You knew everyone you saw on the beach.

In the parking lot below the bluff, The Sand Castle, a full-service restaurant, puttered along. It was a throw-back, Cape Cod decor on the outside, red leather booths and a slightly stodgy menu on the inside. A loyal clientele of regulars kept it going, though weekends and summers saw in increase in tourists and savvy beach goers. The only time The Sand Castle was ever truly jammed was during the fall fires, when it became a de facto evacuation center.

And then, Hollywood-style, Paradise Cove was discovered. The Travel Channel aired a breathless piece about "Millionaire Mobile Home Parks". A story about upscale mobile home remodels made the Home section of the LA Times (and yes, you might recognize the byline). That story got picked up the following week by Good Morning America, then the New York Times, and on and on and that was that. Within months, the Cove had its first million-dollar mobile home sale. Sure, it was for a place right on the bluff with an amazing view, but still, a million dollars for a trailer? (And no, ours isn't worth anywhere near that. Still, if we were to sell now, there's no way we could ever afford to get back in.)

Since then, two-thirds of the houses on my street have sold at least once, most as second homes used only on weekends. The Sand Castle was also sold and the owners of the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe came in. They've added outdoor seating, outdoor bedding and advertised everywhere. The place is always booming. And now the Cove is brawling, a collision between the brash and fast-paced outside world and what was once a quiet, sleepy, little beach.

June 23, 2008

Very smart (car)

The parking lot at PC Greens, our local non-chain organic market, is usually filled with behemoth SUVs stuffed into tiny spaces. Last week, the owner of this Smart Car, which looks like it could easily fit into the bed of that pickup, made even the compact parking spaces look large.

tiny car

June 20, 2008

Another hot start

I don't mean to post two morning beach pix in a row, but the ease with which today's June Gloom was vanquished deserves to be shared. Let this retreating layer of fog lay to rest any doubts that we're in for a scorcher.

friday sunrise

June 19, 2008


After a week of soft and misty mornings, a clear, hard blue. The mountains are etched and bright and the sky opens wide.

Sun doesn't rise so much as pops. Suddenly, it's hot. No gold tones on the beach, just white shattered light.

hot start

June 18, 2008

The kids are allright

Good news - some high tides refreshed the shrinking pond over the last few days and today, the duck family returned. I say returned because the trio of ducklings have lost their down, grown feathers and can fly well enough to leave the pond.

Today I tried to sneak up on them for a photo of their fave hangout, these rusty boxes in the creek bed. But mama duck was too quick, gave a quack and all I got was the photo of a sliding duck butt.

Here they are in full paddle mode, and here's a shot that shows they still listen to their mama.

duck butt

June 17, 2008

(South) swell times in the Cove

This was actually Sunday, a small, pretty wave suddenly kicking up, becoming a pretty big wave, surprising the surfer and giving him a quick peek into the green room.
surf today

June 16, 2008

June gloom - it doesn't even really rhyme

Lately it seems as though the weather gods have decided on a very literal reading of June Gloom, the annual bout of ongoing overcast (let's just pretend that's a noun) that hits Malibu each spring. Low clouds? Check. Leaden sky? Check. Slate-gray sea? Check.

And, as today, a brief and tantalizing view of the sun, just to let us know what we're missing. monday june gloom

June 12, 2008

Everybody's got an opinion

So I'm walking down the street in Chicago last weekend (where I got to interview the amazing authors Marianne Wiggins, Marisa Silver, Diana Abu-Jaber, and Arthur Phillips at the annual book fair) when I heard this frenzied barking, high-pitched and edged with rage. There was an insistence to it, a sense of immediate threat that had everyone within earshot acting uneasy.

And there it was, this Benjie-like dog, all fluff and and froth and venom, reaching through the open window and eyeing, I swear, the soft flesh of that biker's throat.

cranky dog takes on biker in Chicago

June 11, 2008

They called it puppy love

Yes, Jake loves me, but he adores Karen. Worships the ground she walks on. Has the sound of her silvery Volvo memorized. Would download it into his iPod if only he could save his allowance.

Here he is, googoo-eyed - and out of focus, sorry but I was laughing too hard as I took the photo. At what? This kiss Karen wasn't quite quick enough to avoid.

How much does Jake love Karen?

June 9, 2008

The down-side of egrets

Warning - cell phone shot.

Still, even a paucity of megapixels can't quite hide just how much...ummm...waste a nest of ergets emits in a single afternoon.

beneath the egrets

June 5, 2008

Bob Dylan's caretaker's cat + lyrics!

bob dylan's caretaker's catAfter I posted that photo of Bob Dylan's caretaker's cat, a few of you sent me Dylan lyrics. (Thank you!) So here's the cat again, fat and fluffy, a constant visitor to my friend Hope's house.

And here are the lyrics:

From Chris McKay, No Time to Think:

I've seen all these decoys through a set of deep turquoise eyes
And I feel so depressed...

And from David Lassen (who notes this cat is actually a Himalayan but what the heck) Positively 4th Street:

You used to ride on the chrome horse
with the diplomat
who carried on his shoulder
a Siamese cat ...

And I just noticed - this is the 500th entry on this little blog. In the spirit of things, from (appropriately) My Back Pages...

I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.

bob dylan's caretaker's cat

Snail in the grass

One of my favorite spots to walk the dogs is a fire road that winds way high up in the hills, a quiet place where hawks hunt and coyotes poop. (Something for everyone.)

Right now there's a vast field of dying, drying grasses, taller than usual thanks to this weird and wet spring. At first all I saw was the expanse of crispy gold, rattling a bit in the breeze. And then, snails, who climbed the stalks for who-knows-what reason, hundreds of them as far as the eye could see.

snail in the grasses

June 3, 2008

Good duck news X 2!

First of all, the little duck family is still here, still OK, and the ducklings are still growing. And tonight, we're expecting a seven-foot high tide. That means there's an excellent chance the shrinking pond will fill with enough fresh water to carry the family through the next few weeks of growth. Phew.

Thank you to everyone who emailed their thoughts, suggestions and good wishes. And there are more duck pix here.

duck family

Bride of Disney

I saw no signs of an actual wedding so it may be that this bride and groom stopped by Disney Hall on Friday night just for photographs. Here she is, checking her hair and veil in the car's tinted window.

She was young and quite beautiful and her new husband took great care as he helped her up the steep and winding stairs.

bride at Disney Hall

June 2, 2008

There's gold in them thar hills

Today, anyway, when the rising sun spilled out from behind the Santa Monica mountains and glazed everything and anything in its path with a glimmer of gold.

monday sunrise

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