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02.13.08

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Pollution & Pupping

By Gretchen Giles


Two disparate but reliable harbingers of spring are the birth of new marine mammals on North Coast beaches and the slowly rising yellow haze of agricultural industry. Prompted by dry days and warming temperatures, unnecessary emissions are an issue even in the many rural enclaves of the North Bay. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has one solution: throw money at it. Which is where the Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program comes in. With a $12 million endowment, the more familiarly known Carl Moyer Program gives money to those with diesel-driven trucks, marine vessels, construction vehicles, ag irrigation pumps and other outdoor engine owners to help them upgrade their equipment to cleaner 21st-century standards. Deadline to apply is April 4, and both public and private entities are encouraged to do so. For more details and to see if your filthy, diesel smog-machine fits the guidelines, go to the Air Resources Board website and search for Carl Moyer. [ http://www.arb.ca.gov ]www.arb.ca.gov.

Regarding those harbor seal pups —well, don't. Unless you're far enough away, that is, that you can't make even eye contact with the animals and their moms. In the North Bay, harbor seal pupping is in progress primarily in the Bolinas Lagoon and Tomales Bay, and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration warns that if a seal reacts to your presence in any way, you're already too close.

Many humans mistakenly assume that an unattended harbor seal pup is an abandoned harbor seal pup. Most often, the reality is that Mom is in the water getting her lunch. The presence of even the most concerned human hovering around the pup can prevent Mom from returning and nursing the baby, inadvertently causing pup deaths.

The best thing to do if you are concerned about a seemingly orphaned pup is to contact an onsite ranger or these authorities: the Marine Mammal Center (415.289.7325), Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (415.561.6622) or the Pt. Reyes National Seashore (415.464.5170).

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