Today is dive day! I’ve been camping and diving here at Schooner’s Landing for the past 10 years or so. The biggest reason I keep coming back is the amazing camp ground, and of course diving for the abs. On our road trip last year, we camped and ate feasts of freshly caught California red abalone.
I actually came back again last October, however the familiar ocean was somehow different. Instead of rocks full of abalone stacked 3 high, the ocean bottoms were full of empty abalone shells. We were still able to harvest our legal limit but felt uneasy about this strange change we witness. Just a few weeks later, California Fish and Games announced that abalone season will be closed indefinitely. The abalone were dying
Along the California Coast (and probably other places as well) the kelp Forrest died off, likely due to the higher ocean temperatures we’ve been experiencing for the past few years. Purple sea urchins are also growing out of control because their natural predators have been over fished and de-populated. The eco-systems are our of balanced and what’s been affected is the marine life, one of which is the red abalone native to these coastlines. The abalone eat kelp, and since the kelp have died off, and new kelp that tries to grow gets immediately eaten by the purple sea urchins. There’s now a massive die-off of abalones.
As I ate breakfast I kept thinking about what I would find beneath the ocean surface. They say the kelp forrest is gone, rocks barren except for barnacles, and covered in sea urchin. How can that be when just a year ago it all seemed so normal. An hour after breakfast we don our dive gear and hop in to the zodiacs. Here we go.
What I found was exactly what others described. It felt alien, like a scene out of a sci-fi movie. Not only were the kelp and abalone gone from the scene, many of the fish that lived in the kelp forrest have disappeared as well. I was heart broken.
Our friend, Gabriella, park keeper at Schooner’s Landing, is keen to let more people know of these problems, and because I also love this river, and the oceans so much, I wanted to make this a main stop for our moto trip and document that Gabriella has to say. After lunch we did a short interview with Gaby which we will share at a later time.
Tonight is our last night at Albion River. Now we sit around the camp fire, reminiscing these past couple of days. This is a truly beautiful and magical place. I hope more people will be aware of what’s happen in our oceans, especially those of us who spend so much time in the waters. Nature has given us so much. We need to give something back as well.