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~  Pierheads's ~
Goleta Pier Log

PFIC Get-Together, Goleta Pier,  July 2003.  Photo credit:  Rich Reano, webmaster,
Volunteer Time:
2006 (total):  103 days, 169 hours
2007 (total):  238 days, 425.75 hours
2008 (total):   86 days, 124.00 hours

May 6th, 2008:

My attention was drawn to a loud commotion outside my RV today coming from the Slough. The first thing I noticed were seagulls actually diving, like pelicans, for fish that were swimming rather sluggishly on the surface of the water. 

The fish were smelt which were congregating near the edge of the water and were barely moving. My guess is that a combination of factors had limited the oxygen in the Slough. 

Last night's 9:54pm high tide was over six and a half feet which tends to drive baitfish like smelt further up the Slough than usual. 

The morning's outgoing tide dropped to a minus 1.61 feet by 5:13am causing some baitfish to become stranded in the shallower portions of the upper Slough. By the time the tide began returning and reached those stranded fish they had almost exhausted the oxygen in the remaining water. 

The new water level allowed them, even in their weakened condition, to begin to float back down towards the mouth of the Slough.  But, as you can see in the picture, this new water (around 11am) was highly discolored which is indicative of an algal bloom which deprived the escaping smelt of the oxygen they needed to revive and successfully avoid the seagulls waiting for them.

Interestingly only the seagulls and one lone vulture were feasting on the smelt - the diving ducks, cormorants and pelicans were all rafting offshore where the water was similarly discolored.  They did not appear to be feeding at all. 

May 9th, 2008:

Although I haven't been posting pictures of fish caught off of the Pier I wanted to share this one because it is a fairly rare catch at Goleta. What you are looking at is a California Horn Shark (Heterodontus francisci).  It was brought up from the kelp reef on the west side of the pier after taking a small piece of cut squid used as bait. 
Since the fish has little food value it was subsequently released. 

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, "These small, elusive sharks prefer shallow waters less than 40 feet deep. They spend their days hiding under ledges, in caves or among kelp and other seaweeds; they hunt at night. Horn sharks feed on seafloor invertebrates, especially sea urchins and crabs, and occasionally on small fishes."

This shark, along with the Spiny Dogfish shark (Squalus acanthias), is noted for the sharp and venomous spines in front of each dorsal fin. These spines are used defensively to discourage other fish from eating them. They are also used to help the shark wedge itself into its daytime hiding places.

Unlike the Spiny Dogfish and most other sharks this one has a short, blunt head with high ridges above the eyes typical of the bullhead sharks which also have a pig-like snout and a small puckered mouth.

May 13th, 2008:

Steve, a County carpenter, has been working on the Marine Center conversion since
mid-April as time permits. There is no estimate as to when it will be ready but I am still hoping some time this summer. 

Since this project is being sponsored by a non-profit educational organization the Center will be run like a Thrift Shop but instead of clothing it will feature donated and reconditioned fishing tackle.

This will give us an opportunity to make contact with the anglers on the Pier and help familiarize them with the ethical angling concept and environmentally sensitive fishing tackle and techniques.

May 14th, 2008:

This 3-24-08 video takes pier jumping to new heights ...
or depths depending on your point of view 

Seriously though I hope the County is paying attention to the increasing number of videos on the web about jumping from Goleta Pier.  Some day someone is going to get seriously hurt and there could be questions regarding the County's enforcement of its ordinance: 

Sec. 26-82. Pier--No diving, swimming, etc., near pier. 
No person shall dive from the Goleta Beach Pier or swim, surf or jet ski within one hundred feet of the Goleta Beach Pier. (Ord. No. 3708, § 1)
May 26th, 2008:
Found this display on the beach at dawn this morning ... similar to last year's Memorial Day tribute.

May 27th, 2008:

Unexpected acts of kindness ... watching the birdlife from the East lot today I heard a bit of a commotion behind me. 

Turning around I noticed a dump truck preparing to unload its contents onto the County's compost pile. Directly in its way was this stalwart poppy bravely facing its fate.

All of this had also been observed by one of the day campers parked nearby. 

Ecological disaster was narrowly averted when he warned the driver in no uncertain terms that he was about to " ... bury a PROTECTED CALIFORNIA WILDFLOWER!!!

May 28th, 2008:
Yesterday while a poppy was being saved in the east parking lot the infamous cormorant tree across from the restaurant was chopped down and rendered into wood chips. 

Actually it was several trees that had become entwined over the years and grown together to become one of the tallest groupings in the park. Unfortunately their proximity to the Slough attracted a colony of cormorants who roosted in its topmost branches. 

Cormorants are noted for prodigious amounts of 'whitewash' and since they were roosting over multiple parking spaces they definitely had an impact on the restaurant's visitors.  For awhile they were deterred by automated predator calls but they always reestablished themselves. Then in September 2007 the tree shed a major limb with near disastrous results.

While there was no question as to the necessity of this sacrifice on the altar of public safety  I was surprised at the depth of local reaction.

May 29th, 2008:

This is the stump of the largest of the three eucalyptus trees that were removed on Tuesday. 

I believe the trees were lemon-scented Eucalyptus (E. citriodora). Ranger Dave says the largest was planted 30 years ago when he first started working at the Park ... the Park was established after WWII. 

Pictured is a section of burl wood that is seven and half by five and a half feet in diameter. 

The tree removal service used a large crane to deposit the stump into the dumpster for later disposal.

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