Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sea Lions of Fisherman's Wharf Mysteriously Disappear

It's a Christmas mystery. Not quite a 'who dunnit' but more 'Where in the world are the sea lions of Fisherman's Wharf?'

From an over-populated growth of more than 1,500 animals in September, the colony has almost vanished.

Latest pictures from Pier 39 taken at midday today shows the floats empty except for one.

Below, are the crowded pontoons in October when six new floats, originally intended as replacements were instead added, raising the number of floats to approximately 40.

On Christmas Day, there was one lone sea lion in the far corner of the pontoons, and one 'family' - pictured - sitting on a jetty on the side.

Sheila Chandor, Harbormaster at Pier 39, said that while there is an element of speculation in the sudden disappearance, she thinks it is linked to the food supply.

"I think the herd had a good feeding source here throughout the summer and have left to follow a food source further south. An indicator is that we only have two herring boats in the bay currently,' she said, and those, she thought, were there to monitor spawn. Herring season had been cancelled this year due to a low herring count, she said.

However, she is confident that the sea lions have not bade permanent farewell to San Francisco.

'This is a long established haul out site so I do not doubt that they will return.This is an unusual event in that we normally have our largest numbers in the fall/winter and smallest in the summer breeding season,' she said.

The sea lions started to congregate in K-dock in January 1990, just months after the October 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. They proved such an attraction they brought prosperity to Pier 39 at a time when the rest of the city was financially depleted, and have continued to entertain millions of tourists ever since.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Union Square Christmas Ice Skating 2009

The Union Square ice skating rink was filled with skaters on the last Sunday shopping day before Christmas.

The opportunity to skate as well as Christmas shop attracted all ages and all abilities of skaters. Some glided elegantly, some wobbled and some tumbled! But everyone was enjoying it.

'It's great! Very well organized,' said dad Philip who was taking his five-year-old daughter, Maddy, around the ice. It was the first time he had taken his daughter ice skating and she was enjoying it.

The ice rink will be there until January 18.

On another side of Union Square, students Brendan and Ryan were trying to raise a few extra bucks by offering a photo opportunity with 'Santa's Sled Dog.' Handsome three-year-old Titan, an Alaskan Malamute, was decked out in a Christmassy harness.

Pics were being charged at $1, only just as Brendan and Ryan were settling down in the corner of the square, they were spotted and moved on by security.

Shining out onto the square, was the four-storey tree in Neiman Marcus, that rises into the stained-glass dome.

And facing the square was Macy's with it's customary wreaths and trees lighting up the store.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mavericks Close Call

The 24 say 'No!' to an official competition on Wednesday, but some of the finest surfers waiting to compete at Mavericks are still flying over to surf at Half Moon Bay.

'The 24 have voted and the result is no to Mavericks 2009 on Wednesday,' says the Mavericks tweet at 1.50 pm Monday, December 7.

Surfing fans around the world have been waiting eagerly for the result of the surfers' votes that would tell them whether the illustrious Mavericks Surf Competition would be called for this Wednesday. Waves in the region of 40 ft to 50 ft, if not more, are being searched for, and when The Call is made, the 24 invitees to one of the most dangerous surfing sites in the world, will have only 24 hours to get there.

Another tweet continues, 'The guys are telling us that a bunch of them including those in Hawaii will still be on the swell at Mavs. We'll be right there with them.'

The season window of November 1, 2009, to March 31, 2010, is expected to produce some gigantic swells because of El Nino.

For now, though, some great surfing is to be seen this week at Half Moon Bay.

And the waiting continues!

Further info:

pic of the Opening Ceremony by Chris Flowers

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mavericks 2009/2010 Contest Viewing Options

Breaking news....Mavericks surf contestants are 'still keeping an eye mostly on Wednesday, but need the wind to cooperate. Stay tuned.'...says their latest tweet

While some of the world's greatest big-wave surfers battle out a contest in hoped for humongous 40 ft to 50 ft waves, surfing fans will have a first-time opportunity to glimpse the action from an airship.

Seated warm and comfortably and with a bird's eye view, airborne fans will be able to float over Mavericks, at Half Moon Bay, in the Zepplin 'Eureka.'

It is the world's largest airship and the latest addition to the viewing arsenal being prepared by Mavericks Surf Ventures, organizers of the contest, who are seeking ways to enable millions of fans to watch the action live.

The contest revolves around 24 of some of the world's most elite big-wave surfers who are keeping eyes, some from long distance, on the waves at Half Moon Bay, less than an hour away from San Francisco. When the waves are deemed mighty enough and the contest is called, they will have 24 hours to get there.

Viewing options are essential for the contest as its popularity is swelling and the beach near the infamous Mavericks surf break is small and surrounded by a natural wildlife area.

The airship is a novelty for the very few, carrying 12 passengers for half an hour at a time with an extra 15 minutes at the contest finale. Mavericks organizers have keyed into the accoutrements of the digital age as never before.

Fans around the world will be able to link into live webcasts on the official Mavericks' website, and also for the first time, on Facebook and Ustream, giving an interactive opportunity.

For fans 'on the go,' FLO TV will broadcast on mobile handsets, the FLO TV™ Personal Television and on soon-to-be-launched in-car entertainment systems.

The San Francisco Giants are to host a major community viewing event at their baseball park, relaying the surfers' performances onto the jumbotron and also big screens at Club level.

A smaller, free live viewing opportunity for those in the East Bay will be at Miss Pearl’s Jam House in Oakland.

For the privileged few, there are close-to-the-action boat tours captained by experienced local pilots.

Mavericks CEO, Keir J Beadling, said, 'In an effort to limit crowd impact on the Half Moon Bay area and coastal ecosystems, we are encouraging all Mavericks fans to watch the contest via free live webcast and by attending our live viewing party at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Both options provide a much better viewing experience than the view from the beach.'

For those still wanting to stand on the beach and scan the sea for the action, he asks, 'Please be respectful and cautious of the natural environment, and leave no trace.'

This year, the decision of when to call the contest during the official window of November 1, 2009, to March 31, 2010, is in the hands of the surfers themselves. A contest pow-wow was held just days after the opening ceremony when storms were forecast, but on a close call, they voted against.

Thanksgiving also produced great surfing without a contest.

Reigning champion is Greg Long of San Clemente, who won in 2008, there being no 2009 contest earlier this year due to a particularly quiet Pacific Ocean during the limited 'window' of January 1 to March 31.

Sony Ericsson and Barracuda Networks are presenting the contest with a rollover record prize of $150,000.

For further info:
Tickets for the AT&T Park can be purchased for $20 in advance, $25 at the Giants' AT&T Park, or online at www.maverickssurf.com

pic of the Opening Ceremony by Chris Flowers