Baykeeper's Monthly Column

Baykeeper publishes a monthly column on San Francisco Bay cultural, environmental, and maritime issues.
(December 2015) This winter is forecast to bring heavy rains to the Bay Area. But no matter how much rain falls, it’s unlikely to end the current drought. So here are some things we can all do to help protect San Francisco Bay from the surge of pollution that comes during the winter rainy season, including some tips that also help fight drought.  One serious winter pollution problem for San...
(November 2015) This year, record numbers of starving seals and sea lions have washed up on California beaches, including those in the Bay Area. In recent months, hundreds of young common murres—sea birds that look like small penguins—have been discovered dead or dying on beaches in more than a dozen Bay Area locations. Scientists believe global climate change is negatively altering the supplies...
(October 2015) Tiny plastic balls too small to see, fragments of plastic bottles, plastic pellets used in manufacturing—they’re all in San Francisco Bay. It’s an invisible problem that harms swimmers and sea life, but help is on the way. In a victory for a cleaner Bay, a new law passed by the California Legislature bans one major source of this pollution—plastic microbeads in personal care...
(September 2015) What would the San Francisco Bay be like if toxic coal dust blew into its waters every day? Would fish grow abnormally? Would shellfish be laced with arsenic? Would toxic pollutants in fish harm people who rely on the Bay as a food source?  We could soon find out, if the export of coal from a planned Oakland shipping terminal is approved. And that’s why Baykeeper is working to...
(August 2015) What if the Bay Area had no beaches where our kids could play, no wetlands protecting our shorelines and no more smelt swimming in our waters?  Every year, millions of cubic feet of sand and mud—enough to fill the Transamerica Building ten times—are dredged up from the floor of San Francisco Bay. But dredging methods that are currently used contribute to erosion of the Bay’s shores...
(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...

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