Baykeeper's Monthly Column

Baykeeper publishes a monthly column on San Francisco Bay cultural, environmental, and maritime issues.
(July 2015)                       While out on a run the other morning, I passed by a house with lawn sprinklers going full blast. Water was running down the driveway, down the street and into the gutter. I might have knocked on the door to chat about the severe drought crises facing California, but it looked like no one was home. Because many people are having similar experiences in their...
(June 2015) What happens when we use consumer products like facial scrubs, toothpaste and medications? Some of them end up in San Francisco Bay. Wastewater that goes down your toilet, sink and shower drain is sent to a wastewater treatment plant that removes many toxic pollutants. But some contaminants are not removed and enter the Bay via treated wastewater, which harms water quality and...
(May 2015) Attention all swimmers, kayakers, rowers, stand-up paddlers, surfers, boaters, sailors and Bay enthusiasts—come join San Francisco Baykeeper’s second annual Bay Parade. It’s going to be a spectacular celebration on the Bay, for the Bay! On Sunday, May 31, starting at 11 a.m., you’re invited to parade on the water from the Ferry Building to AT&T Park. You’ll be accompanied by the...
(April 2015) A small remote-controlled boat, mounted with an innovative camera, has been cruising with Baykeeper’s pollution patrol boat recently along the San Francisco Bay shore. We’re creating a new tool to help protect the bay from sea level rise, the San Francisco Bay Shore View Project. As global climate change causes sea levels to rise, San Francisco Bay’s shorelines are at greater risk of...
(March 2015) Recently, San Francisco Baykeeper responded to four separate oil spills into San Francisco Bay. In only one did the responsible party take action to help with the cleanup. First, over the course of several days in mid-January, a sticky toxic substance coated and killed hundreds of ducks and shorebirds along the East Bay shoreline. Scientists have now identified the “mystery goo” as a...
(February 2015) Major storms that have arrived in the Bay Area during the drought carried a huge load of trash into San Francisco Bay. The trash is a visible sign of lots of additional pollution. When rain falls on roads, parking lots, roofs and other impermeable surfaces, it picks up pollutants that include trash, oil, pesticides, fertilizers and household chemicals. In most Bay Area communities...
(January 2015) In 1989, no one was out on San Francisco Bay looking for pollution, and polluters were free to dump waste into the Bay. Alarmed by the Bay’s slow poisoning from thousands of sources, research scientist Dr. Michael Herz and a visionary group of volunteer board members founded San Francisco Baykeeper. Baykeeper soon began patrolling San Francisco Bay by boat. Bay Area residents...
(December 2014) For 40 years, the 57 decaying ships of the Ghost Fleet haunted the San Francisco Bay ecosystem. But before 2015 ends, all the ships will be gone. The Ghost Fleet was a collection of long-defunct military ships from World War II and the Korean War. They were originally stored in Suisun Bay, a large northern inlet of San Francisco Bay, with the idea that they could be reactivated...
(November 2014) Soaring and gliding gracefully over the water, pelicans are a familiar sight around San Francisco Bay. Two types of pelicans, the California brown pelican and the American white pelican, live here. They arrive and depart at different times of year, but both are here now. California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) are most common around the central and northern...
(October 2014) Long freight trains, with tank cars full of crude oil, chugging daily along San Francisco Bay’s shore? That’s the oil industry’s plan—to expand the shipment of crude oil into the Bay Area by train. Shipping lots more crude oil here by rail would create a huge risk of oil being spilled into the Bay and its tributaries. Oil spills from trains are alarmingly common; last year in the...

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