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Sunday, December 9 , 2018, 2:03 pm | Fair 67º


Captain’s Log: Food Chain Massed at West End of Santa Cruz Island

My charter boat, WaveWalker, ran easily across the Santa Barbara Channel on flat, glassy seas, enjoying sightings of whales and common dolphins along our course.

We approached the tall bluff west end of Santa Cruz Island and began rounding Frazer Point, where the water seems nervous because currents and seas run in opposite directions and the reef zones channel flows and create eddies that can force a huge wave to climb unexpectedly out of the water. We call them “rogue waves,” and this area is where they are spawned with some frequency.

This wary skipper is at my most vigilant when traversing this area we call the “Potato Patch.”

On this day we rounded Frazer Point without incident and came into view of the wide expanse of Christy’s Cove. The wild scene caused me to whistle softly in pleasant surprise. It seemed the entire food chain was crammed into Christy’s Cove. Several species of porpoise, including Risso, foraged throughout the area alongside small whales, sea lions, seals and enough seabirds to make one think Alfred Hitchcock might have been right about the birds.

As I cruised in among the melee, my sonar screen showed the reason. It lit up with thick squid signals. It was a major squid spawn. I saw six light boats lined up at anchor, and the last of the squid seiners was just leaving. It had been a busy night for the squid fleet. Interestingly, not a single fishing boat was in sight and we had the place to ourselves to target white seabass and halibut. Later, we moved in tight to the boiler rocks to catch and release big fiesty calico bass.

Such scenes are not all that rare. We have managed our resources to healthy stocks, and we are enjoying the thriving ocean full of life. Do not be influenced by people who seek grant money or donations and need to claim that the sky is falling and the seas are dead and we need to create no-take zones. Those are business people with their own interests in mind.

Our professional fisheries managers have carefully and painstakingly managed our fisheries back to health with good tried-and-true management practices, not by creating Marine Protected Areas, which cause socioeconomic damage and skew public perception about the abundance of life in the sea.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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