It's Friday, so let's cover something besides Autodesk technology.
The Alameda Recreation and Parks Department (ARPD) provides advice, coordination, and guidance on parks and recreational facilities in the city of Alameda. One of the activities they conduct is called Alameda Walks where they invite Alameda residents to lace up their walking shoes, bring family, friends, and neighbors and join them on an hour-long walk on the 1st and 2nd Saturday mornings of each month, May through October. For those who are new to Alameda or have lived there for decades, this is a great way to begin a Saturday morning exploring neighborhoods and learning about the history of Alameda. The walks begin at 9:00 a.m. and last approximately one hour.
On Saturday, July 7, I attended a walk that started at Crab Cove. The Crab Cove Visitor Center and Aquarium at Crown Memorial State Beach is a jewel of Alameda. Since the Old Wharf Classroom opened in 1968, the cove has been connecting students of all ages with marine and shoreline life, as well as Alameda history. The entertaining educational opportunities increase students' understanding of the environmental importance of San Francisco Bay. There is strong emphasis on the interdependence of marine life and shore life and on the urgency of preserving the marine and estuarine environment. Hence, it is no surprise that Crab Cove was designated as the first California estuarine marine reserve in 1982.
Although the walk is sponsored by ARPD, Crab Cove is part of the East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD). EBRPD is a system of beautiful parklands and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties to the east of San Francisco. The system comprises 121,397 acres in 73 parks, including over 1,250 miles of trails. They acquire, manage, and preserve natural and cultural resources for all to enjoy now and into the future. Our guide for the Alameda Walk was EBRPD Naturalist, Susan Ramos.
Here are some of the fun facts Susan shared with our walking group:
Before our walk started, we got to tour the visitor center.
The beaks of Brown Pelicans can hold up to 3 gallons of water. They swoop down, grab water and fish, spit out the water, and eat the fish.
The most popular fish in the waters near Alameda is the Shiner Surfperch. The shiner perch is a common surfperch found in estuaries, lagoons, and coastal streams along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja California.
As their name suggests, ground squirrels live in holes that they burrow in the ground. They never live in trees. Their tales are less bushy than tree-dwelling squirrels.
EBRPD has converted some of its areas into demonstration garden by replacing grass with native, drought-tolerant plants that are wildlife friendly, i.e., attracts non-harmful insects and birds.
By Eric Wittman from Wichita, Kansas, USA - Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=990683
Grunion, also called California grunion, is a small Pacific fish found in the Pacific Ocean along the western coast of the United States. Historically, Grunion fish have been found in southern California, but they have made their way to Alameda. They spawn with the mother laying her eggs on the sandy beach where the male then adds milt. The couple uses the high tide to swim back into the Bay. They typically spawn at night (to avoid being eaten by the Black Crown Night Heron) in times of full or new moons (highest tides). Bay Area residents can sign up for EBRPD's Grunion Search that they conduct around 12:30 am on nights with full or new moons.
African Ice Plant
The African Ice Plant is not native to California. It is often referred to as "the green alien" and was brought to Alameda by the railroads that wanted to stabilize the soil. Non-native plants can be a problem because they outcompete native plants and change the resulting habitat.
EBRPD has a mobile aquarium that they bring to schools as part of educational programs. When the fish are not in the mobile aquarium, they are kept in tanks in a room at the main entrance to Crown Beach. Student volunteers feed the fish and clean the tanks daily. EBRPD has both salt and freshwater tanks.
The room used to be a concession stand as evidenced by the roll-up window:
Thanks, Susan, EBRPD, and ARPD. Alameda Walks is a great way to learn about Alameda and get out in the fresh air, and on this particular walk, we learned a great deal. Given that we learned while we walked, I guess you could say that fish aren't the only ones who travel in schools.
Walking is alive in the lab.