Down in Monterey

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1995:

MONTEREY, California––Alarmed by
the decline of sea life within the Monterey Bay
National Marine Sanctuary, stretching from the
Golden Gate area off San Francisco to the vicinity of
Hearst’s Castle at San Simeon, diver Ed Cooper of
Pacific Grove and underwater photographer Kevin
McDonnell of Seaside have proposed strengthening
the existing federal protections by creating an undersea
park straddling the Hopkins Marine Refuge at
Point Cabrillo, just west of the Monterey Bay
Aquarium. The park would ban all fishing and marine
life collection within an area extending 200 to 300
yards offshore, to a depth of 60 feet.

The plan has the tentative approval of local
governments and planning bodies. “We’ve been surprised
how little opposition there is,” McDonnell told
ANIMAL PEOPLE. The final okay must come from
the California Fish and Game Commission.
The park would be named for marine biologist
Edward F. Ricketts, remembered by former
employee John Steinbeck as “Doc” in the 1940 novel
Cannery Row. Ironically, as operator of a laboratory
supply house, Ricketts was perhaps the most prolific
sea life collector in the region ever.
“He did a lot of collecting,” McDonnell
acknowledged, “but so did John J. Audubon. It was a
different world, and if Ricketts was around today, he
probably wouldn’t be collecting.”
Cooper and McDonnell broached the park
idea in July, just days before Representative Sam Farr
(D-Calif.) led a successful floor fight to convince the
House to restore $2 million of a $3 million cut in the
National Marine Sanctuaries budget.
Amid the debate over both the
Cooper/McDonnell proposal and the budget cut, 17
sea otters were found dead or dying in Monterey Bay
and nearby Morro Bay, including 11 females––10
adults and a pup––who apparently succumbed to
dehydration and starvation, as did several hundred
common mures and other seabirds who turned up
dead along the coast from Monterey Bay to Bodega
Bay. What brought the conditions on remains
“We tested for natural causes and manmade
causes,” said veterinarian Tom Williams of the
Marine Mammal Center in Tiburon. “Everything
came up negative. It was not infectious, not poisonous,
not toxic. The diagnosis is open.”

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