Pixel Tracker

Monday, February 18 , 2019, 8:37 am | Fair 48º

 
 
 
 

Captain’s Log: Landlord of the Sea Collects Rent

Great white sharks patrol our waters and feed off the growing pinniped population

The landlord of the sea doesn’t ask for rent. He takes it. He has the size, strength and teeth to back up his claim to property. “Landlord” is one of our nicknames for the great white shark, a number of which patrol our waters because of a copious food supply and good water conditions.

Capt. David Bacon
Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

His rent is a portion of the growing population of pinnipeds. As their numbers increase, other populations decline because of the healthy appetites of furry seals and sea lions. The landlord is one of the few local predators that help balance things out against the exploding pinniped populations.

After seeing so many thousands of young pinnipeds around the Channel Islands and along the coast this year, I’m thinking we need more landlords, because we need more balance to prevent starvation and crashes in the forage-food population.

People are curious about sharks — especially very large sharks with big sharp teeth. My charter passengers are always asking me if we have great whites here, listening with interest when I tell them shark stories and that the landlord patrols these waters regularly. Some ask if we can fish for them, but I tell them no, that great white sharks are protected. When asked what that means, I reply, “That a shark can eat you, but you can’t eat the shark.”

Many of our hardworking urchin divers have worked underwater around the Channel Islands for decades and have never seen the landlord. Most recognize that should they come across one, they won’t have to worry because they probably won’t see it coming. The landlord attacks from below, as a rule, and is a master of stealth.

I don’t mean to make light of shark attacks. Divers take this seriously and so do I, having lost two friends over the years to shark attacks. But usually, we are not on their favored menu.

The great hunters have even been known to snack on sea lions from our buoys just outside the Santa Barbara Harbor. That’s pretty close to home! They are much more common at the islands. I’ve seen the landlord a few times, and I’ve seen its calling card — blood in the water (lots of blood) from a recent kill.

I’ve seen the sharks when they have nosed around the boat because of the smell of fish blood in the water from our charter fishing. The funniest time was when one stuck his snout up to the outflow from my bait tank. I’m sure the critter was enjoying the smell of the bait in much the same way I take a deep whiff when I walk into a candy store. I’m just glad the landlord didn’t decide to chew his way into the bait tank to collect rent!

— 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.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.