Monday, February 16, 2009

Why do they call it Abalone Cove?

I've been slow at blogging this, because it was so depressing. We went tidepooling with Grandma Ann and three of Iris' playmates. Everyone was asking, "Why don't we see any octopus today?"

The answer is this man. See that metal rake in his hand?
He poked it under rocks, not caring about his trail of destruction.

He flushed out an octopus under this rock. This was the only octopus we saw that day.

The rest of the octopodes must already be in his cooler. We also saw them put a brittlestar in there.

They also brought equipment to strip mine the marine sanctuary of fish, mussels and clams.

Ann and I tried to stop them, but they wouldn't listen. The parents spoke Mandarin with an accent I couldn't place. Later, I found the boy alone and talked to him. He said that his family had moved from China recently. He wouldn't tell me where he lives now, nor where in China they came from.

I asked if if he ever went tidepooling in China.


"Why not?"

"The ocean is too polluted with oil and garbage."

"Is there any wildlife?"

"No, because everyone has already taken it all."

I couldn't get a good picture of their faces because they kept turning away. They clearly knew that they were doing something wrong. I don't think they can plead the language ignorance defense. The boy spoke excellent English and could have explained it to his parents. Several onlookers tried to explain it to them, and the boy could have translated, if he cared.

We called the park ranger (back at the gate), and he said he called California Fish & Game, but they didn't respond in time. I watched the family climb up the cliff side trail ahead of me. Then they cut off cross-country up to the road. I was not surprised that they were happy to speed up cliff erosion to dodge the park ranger at the gate ($5 per car entrance fee). I wearily trudged up the trail to the parking lot and told the park ranger they got away.

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is a marine preserve. No collecting of marine life is allowed, even if you have a fishing license. As long as I am in a scolding mood, no dogs allowed.

Is there any wonder there are no abalones left at a place called Abalone Cove?

A PVIC docent who was not there that day, sent along this information:
Existing Marine Protected Areas in California: Regulations

The areas listed below are marine protected areas that currently exist
in California State waters. This list includes the Central Coast
Marine Protected Areas, which went into effect on September 21, 2007.

Abalone Cove State Marine Park

SPECIES PROHIBITED For Recreational Take
All marine aquatic plants; All invertebrates

Invertebrate is a kind of animal that does not have a spinal column or backbone.
Includes worms, Squids, octopuses, Snails, sea shells and slugs
Most shellfish; clams, oysters, scallops, mussels,
Echinoderms — starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, crabs
Porifera — sponges
Cnidarians — jellyfish
Platyhelminthes — flatworms
Nematoda — roundworms
Annelida — segmented worms
Bryozoa — sea mats or moss animals

SPECIES ALLOWED For Recreational Take


  1. Sad. I have to tell you though (because I am a pedant) that octopi is not the plural of octopus. Octopus is of Greek origin (means eight-footed) and Greek words don't have -i plurals, only Latin words.

    Correct plural is either octopuses, or octopodes. Personally, I really like octopodes, although my Fowler's Modern English Usage says octopuses is correct, octopi incorrect and octopodes pedantic!

  2. Thanks. I fixed the mistake.

  3. Anonymous08:39

    So sad. I feel bad for the kid too, because he must know that is parents are doing something wrong, and they are putting him in a very awkward situation.

  4. This makes me angry. I hope the rangers catch them next time. Yes, the boy is unfortunate to be in this situation, it's one of the defining moments he will look back on one day.

  5. This makes me very angry as well. The parents obviously knew it was wrong even if their English is not good. The boy is in a difficult position, but will he look back with sadness or regret, or will he just become oblivious?

  6. I changed it to octopodes because it sounds nicer (purely subjectively) than octopuses.

  7. Anonymous17:27

    Thank you so much for putting this up for all to see. This has been going on for as long as I can remember, and it is happening in most all of the tide pools up and down the coast. There are so few enforcement personnel that they know they can get away with it.

  8. We've started a blog "to educate the public about our open spaces and to work together to protect the plants, animals, birds, insects, sea life and all the other life forms that share this wonderful world with us."

    You can also email us pictures of poachers and we will forward them to the authorities. The authorities (LA County Sheriff and CA Fish and Game) do read the blog. Email stoppoachers at gmail dot com (and call the authorities) if you see poaching activity.


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