• Resurrected Pinniped Gone for Good!

    Update on the “Pinniped Returns from the Grave” story in last week’s Cedar Street Times.

    By Gary Baley

    On Friday, December 8, this reporter reported a dead sea lion on the beach at Lovers Point to the Pacific Grove city offices in person. They suggested calling city animal control who denied responsibility and referred me to the SPCA who referred me to the Moss Landing Marine Lab. Voicemail. I left a message. An 8-year-old boy reported seeing some people cover it with seaweed to conceal it from the runners at the annual arthritis charity Jingle Bell Run Saturday morning. But by Saturday afternoon the pinniped had truly vanished from the beach. I assumed it was hauled out to sea. However on Sunday, that critter had reappeared—the mystery deepened—this time it had a green cord tied around its rear flippers. Did they tow it out to sea, cut it loose, and the tide brought it back? It didn’t seem likely because the cord was green twine, not strong enough for towing. I called the Lab again, reached a person who did some research and solved the mystery, but raised some troubling questions.

    The Marine Lab had called the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network who sent a team to examine the carcass and bury it. The cord was an inspection marker. Where did they bury it? “On the beach.” The same beach? “Its standard procedure.” The PG police doubted the burial story and posited that it had been towed to sea and washed ashore again. However, lab director Gitte McDonald confirmed that on Saturday two volunteers came to Lovers Point beach shovels in hand, dug a deep hole in the sand and buried the carcass. She stated there was a strong storm surge that weekend that may have uncovered the carcass. She also made it clear that their agency is not responsible for retrieval or disposal of dead marine mammals. “Sometimes we may retrieve one for necropsy; but not usually, and not in this case.” she said. Now, with that news, every time families go to the beach they might ponder what’s underfoot.

    Today, the poor creature has finally found its final resting place—in the Marina dump—after rotting on one of Pacific Grove’s finest beaches for 10 days. Daniel Gho, Pacific Grove’s Public Works Director, read the CST article on this unfortunate pinniped on Friday, and perhaps not coincidentally, on Monday December 18, had it removed by renting a bobcat loader small enough to maneuver onto the beach, lift it, and place it into a truck which hauled it to Marina. Total cost $500. Tourists, not to mention, local beachgoers and businesses, are surely grateful to Gho and this newspaper.

    Joe Cavallaro, manager of The Grill at Lovers Point is relieved. He said “Ever since the first day I reported it to every agency I could find, but nobody would do anything. It stank. It was killing business—parents didn’t want their kids near it.” The Beach House Chef, Matthew Farmer, felt sorry for it and had been frustrated at the lack of action from his many calls. He cringed when I described the sea   lion’s flayed skin. Tourists and locals alike had expressed disgust at the smell.

    All this raises two questions: Pacific Grove is a coastal town with four miles of shoreline, so why doesn’t it have the responsibility of disposing of dead and possibly diseased marine mammals? Why is there no city-owned boat capable and city department willing to tow carcasses out to sea? Until the City of Pacific Grove assumes responsibility for keeping its beaches safe and free of dead and possibly diseased marine animals, here are some phone numbers which may—or may not—prove useful:

    To report a dead, injured or stranded marine mammal, call: 1  866  767  6114. For law enforcement, harassments, or other violations, call: 1  800  853  1964. For entangled marine mammals, call: 1-877-SOS-WHALe or 1-877-767-9425. Or hail the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Ch. 16. To report derelict gear, call: 1  855  542  3935.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on December 19, 2017

    Topics: Front PG News

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