• Peter Mounteer

    Aquarium Program Aids Endangered Species

    by Peter Mounteer

    Aimee Greenbaum and Monika RohrerSince 2000, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (now called Point Blue Conservation Science) have been working together to raise and rehabilitate abandoned bird chicks found on Monterey County beaches.

    The two institutions held a release for three rehabilitated Snowy Plover chicks that occurred on August 8 at Moss Landing State Beach. The chicks were among eleven others released this Spring and Summer, with five more chicks in rehabilitation now as the plover mating season draws to a close.

    Snowy Plovers are small, sparrow-sized shorebirds. They can be identified by distinctive dark patches on the sides of their neck which are complemented by their backs, colored a pale tan or brown with a white underbelly. They are quite common on every continent except Asia, Antarctica and Australia. In North America they are commonly seen on the Gulf and Pacific Coasts. In 1993 the latter population was designated as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Reasons for that specification primarily include shrinking habitats due to climate change and human activity.

    It is the endangered status of the Pacific Coast population of Snowy Plovers, the lack of adequate population control programs on the Central Coast and severe population decreases, that lead to the partnership between what is now Point Blue and The Monterey Bay Aquarium over a decade ago.

    Snowy Plovers were once much more populous on the West Coast. According to Carlton Eyster, a biologist with Point Blue, the introduction of the non-native Red Fox in the 1950s and 1960s contributed heavily to drastic population losses among Snowy Plovers by the mid 1980s. The Snowy Plover and its nests are easy prey for terrestrial predators like foxes and raccoons, largely because they nest on the ground.

    Today, the mouths of the Pajaro and Salinas rivers host the two largest populations of plovers. There are a total of about 375 to 380 breeding adult birds of this species on the Monterey Peninsula.

    Wild plover nests are monitored by state park personnel and biologists with Point Blue. If someone finds an abandoned nest with eggs or chicks in it, they will collect the contents of the nest and bring them to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where they conduct on site, behind the scenes rehabilitation.

    According to Aimee Greenebaum, Associate Curator of Aviculture at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the eggs or chicks will be placed into an ICU that is kept at a constant temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Accompanying the chicks will be a feather duster to imitate the feeling of being incubated by its parent. Sometimes an adult Snowy Plover from one of the aquarium’s exhibits, will be introduced to aid brooding. They are fed live insects that are placed close-by, to simulate finding food in the wild. After a few days the chicks are moved to a larger space that is only heated on one side to incrementally adapt them to colder temperatures.

    Finally, they are placed in a large, unheated cage with other birds and hidden food that they must search for in sand, to give the birds a taste of what living in the wild is like. They are then released on local state beaches. The whole rehabilitation process takes roughly 35 days. Similar programs exist with the Piping Plover on the Great Lakes, conducted by the Detroit Zoo, and with Snowy Plovers at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

    The Snowy Plover’s status as endangered species on the Pacific Coast may pose challenges for development on the peninsula, particularly where California American Water and the proposed Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project are concerned. On May 22, 2013 Congressman Sam Farr (D-Carmel) sent a letter to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service asking weather or not a desalination test well could be placed at a site in Marina without disturbing the threatened birds. The site is owned by Cemex, the world’s largest sand and building materials company, and is easily spotted from Highway 1 as a tan building among sand dunes often issuing white smoke from a chimney. As of August 12th, Farr has yet to receive an official reply from USFWS.

    rw0140Another problem with plover conservation arises with the difficult issue of preditation. Plover parents, when threatened will commonly abandon their nest, even if they are incubating eggs, for long periods until they feel safe. This behavior jeopardizes the health and safety of the eggs, which are left unprotected and thus open to predators.

    Eyster stresses that these birds will do everything possible to lure the predator away from their nests, going so far as to imitate having an injury, called the “broken wing display” to distract a given predator away from the nesting site. However, sometimes the plover faces no other choice but to abandon the nest. The only way to for humans curb this behavior is to ensure that plovers do not feel threatened and avoid disturbing their nesting areas.

    Beach goers should be mindful to stay out of fenced off areas and keep their dogs out of such areas as well, as these areas contain, among other things, vulnerable Snowy Plover nests. “Most nesting sites” Eyster says, “Have been appropriately fenced off. We try to identify higher concentration areas and fence them accordingly.” Avoiding a nest that is not within a fenced off can be difficult as nesting sites can often be hard to recognize. Many are just natural or scraped depressions in the ground with the only tell-tale signs being lines of shell fragments, fish bones or pebbles. The eggs are tiny and similar in color to sand, making them a hard find for the untrained eye.

    Mating season in the wild is March through September. These are the months the rehabilitation program is active. Plover females will often take more than one mate and produce multiple broods a year. Each nest will contain anywhere from two to six eggs. Females will leave the nest after a chick has hatched, leaving the males to look after babies, which are unable to fly for several weeks after hatching. The several weeks of incubation and several weeks of subsequent flightlessness are the most vulnerable periods in the lives of plovers on the Central Coast. Once hatched, Snowy Plover chicks can leave the nest after only three hours. They will locate food for themselves and explore the area surrounding their nests but will remain dependent on their remaining male parent for support until they learn how to fly.bird3

    In its 13 year history the Monterey Bay Aquarium has released around one hundred Snowy Plovers into the wild at various points around the Monterey Peninsula and Bay.

    Uce Juice: a Positive Boost

    by Peter Mounteer

    uce bottleUce Juice LLC is here to take the health beverage market by storm. The tropical drink is the product of some two years of hard work by seven Marina natives. Brothers James Anderson, 29, Mike Anderson, 27, and Jeremy Wright, 23, teamed up with their four cousins Mike Togafau, 31, Pae Auelua, 33, Ray Apineru, 28, and Will Lualemana, 27 and created Uce Juice in 2011.

    The story of Uce Juice is multi-faceted. The dream began with a comment by James Anderson’s workout partner. He was amazed that Anderson could just wake up and start lifting weights without an extra boost beforehand, while he had to drink a cup of coffee to get himself going. His friend joked that “Samoans come out of the womb lifting weights!” They started talking about making an energy drink to give others the same never ending boost Anderson and his brothers enjoy, and the seed for an idea was planted.

    After talking with family members, he began doing independent research on the internet about how to get started. He brought his initial findings to his brothers and they said they were in. The research continued as a group, all of them read Jorge Olson’s “Build Your Beverage Empire” a beginner’s guide with information for people, like Anderson and his family, who are looking to make strides in the beverage industry. More research begat a meeting with Power Brands in Van Nuys, California, a company specifically geared toward building beverage brands. The first thing they learned was that the energy drink market was essentially saturated in the United States. With heavyweights like Red Bull, Monster, Rock Star and the like already dominating the market, an energy drink startup in today’s post-recession economy would have a near impossible-time getting on its feet and onto shelves.

    So Anderson and his team decided to go with something more natural that would appeal to young, health conscious consumers. They experimented with recipes for over a year until finally identifying a formula and flavor profile they liked. Uce Juice in one flavor, “Taro Twist” has been in production at H.A. Ryder & Sons for two months.

    Jeremy Wright, the youngest of the Uce Juice team, insists that he and his brothers are going to strive for something great. But he maintains a humble approach. “Growing up we drank stuff like Gatorade and Minute Maid, its overwhelming just to be on the same shelf.” The young startup has two accounts in Marina, one at the Shell Station at 3030 Del Monte Boulevard and the other at Roger’s Food and Liquor on 215 Reservation Road. Managers from both stores said they’d never seen any product sell as fast as Uce Juice on those premises. “It’s humbling,” Wright says. “It shows us that hard work pays off and that we gotta keep moving.”

    The product contains juice from Pineapple, Mango, Apple, Noni-Berry and Tropical Banana. Also included is Taro, a root vegetable grown in semi tropical climates. According to statements on the company website, supplementing the synthetic caffeine used in conventional energy drinks for the naturally occurring caffeine sourced from green coffee provides a boost without the crash that occurs several hours later. “People tell me it makes them feel like they have a taste of the islands,” said Wright.

    Anderson, his brothers and his cousins grew up in a three bedroom house in Marina. His grandparents were immigrants from Samoa and arrived on the shores of America with little money. The residence they presided over was home to three generations of the family, with twenty people and times were tough. “We grew up around a lot of confusion and anger,” said Wright. The dark side of drug use and life in the streets were subtle yet constant elements in the upbringing of Wright and his six brothers. Under that roof, promise after promise was made and broken. Wright recalls a plan his grandfather had to put a pool into the family’s backyard. The family patriarch had saved and saved and it looked like the pool was actually going to be installed. Then one of his kids stole the money and that promise had to be abandoned.

    Despite such hardships, Wright and his brothers look at their childhood household as a place of hope. He describes his grandparents as very loving. “We were headed toward destruction and they saved us, they told us we were going somewhere. They had love and that’s the message we wanna spread everyday.”

    Hot Dogs! — Weiner Dogs and a Weenie Roast

    photos by Peter Mounteer

    Getting It Into Print

    by Peter Mounteer

    Tom North (formerly Tom Beardsley) has a story to tell, and it is not the one you may think of when hearing his famous last name. Yes, Tom North was once a member of the 22 person Beardsley family who lived in Carmel. His sizable household was the real-life basis for the Beardsley family of the wildly successful 1968 film Yours, Mine and Ours starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. Fans will recall amusing scenes between the characters Helen and Frank, the two single parent characters encountering each other on blind dates, Helen’s drink getting spiked by three of the Beardsley boys, and the birth of Joseph Beardsley uniting the family at the film’s conclusion. Read more…»

    Vinyl Revolution Spreads to Pacific Grove

    by Peter Mounteer

    Owner Bob Gamber-0724After 20 years and hundreds of thousands of records, Bob Gamber at Vinyl Revolution in Monterey is packing up shop. He’s moving his business from its 230 Lighthouse Avenue location to a new location at 309B Forest Avenue in Pacific Grove. The building he’s operating out of now has been condemned by the City of Monterey for being structurally unsafe. Gamber speculates the building may have been damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that rocked California’s Central Coast. Read more…»

    Does Your Home Need Physical Therapy, too?

    by Peter Mounteer

    tim doyle-0594-rgbTim Doyle, PT, is out to change the way people live in their homes. He is a tall, personable, and friendly man who graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. He has been practicing physical therapy on the Monterey Peninsula for some 27 years. However, as of several weeks ago, Doyle is looking to help people live safely in their homes as they age, so that the kind of incidents that injure people who become physical therapy patients do not occur as often, or hopefully ever. Read more…»

    Bridge Ministry’s Bridge to Bridge Fun Ride

    by Peter Mounteer

    Duke & Sign-0570

    Ten thousand dollars makes a priceless difference to the men of The Bridge Ministry, who seek to reform themselves and change their lives by accepting the teachings of Jesus as a way out of crippling drug addiction.

    One such man is Duke Kelso, a graduate of the Bridge Restoration Ministry’s 2012 program. Read more…»

    Kernes Memorial Pool Provides Water Therapy

    by Peter Mounteer

    On Tuesday, April 23rd, members of the public and the staff of the Josephine Kernes Memorial Pool held an open house event to celebrate the completion of much needed renovations to the facility. The pool is located at 15 Portola Avenue in Monterey, nearby the Naval Post Graduate School, and has been serving the unique excursive needs of disabled individuals on the Monterey Peninsula since 1972.

    The renovations were extensive, and included replastering the pool, refinishing the pool deck and replacing shower heads and fixtures. Read more…»

    Love at First Sight for Two Rescued Doves

    by Peter Mounteer

    On Saturday, April 27 around six o’clock in Pacific Grove it was dark and cold and the downtown buzz had settled into a quiet hum as America’s Last Home Town shut down for the day. Sherry Litchfield was closing Blessings Boutique with colleague Barbara Moore when a white dove wandered by. Realizing that the bird would likely die that evening from cold and exposure, Sherry took initiative. She and Moore cornered the dove and took it inside, placing it in a small bird cage the shop had on hand. Litchfield and Moore named the bird Angel and placed him in a bigger bird cage Litchfield had purchased shortly thereafter, and kept him in the store. Several days later, another Blessings employee, Litta Sughair of Monterey, noticed a quarrel between two similar white doves and a crow in her backyard. The crow had killed one of the doves and wounded the other before Sughair was able to reach it.

    Crows are common predatory birds that live almost everywhere on the North American continent. Though not known for their overall aggressiveness as a species, like most animals crows will become aggressive when they feel as though their young are being threatened by the presence of another creature in their territory, according the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Spring is also mating and nesting season which puts the dove found by Sughair right in the middle of reproductive season when these birds are most territorial.

    According to Litchfield, the dove Sughair recovered had been wounded on its head, but the pair felt as though the laceration would heal on its own, and simply placed the second bird (which they named Grace, after the street Sughair lives on) into the same cage as Angel. There was no tension between the two birds at all, according to Litchfield, Angel took care of Grace and made sure she was well cared for.

    Well that old phrase about birds and bees when Spring comes around certainly applies to these two lovebirds, who took the Blessings Boutique staff by surprise when Grace laid two eggs, and it became apparent that Grace and Angel were female and male, respectively. Read more…»

    Boyhood Shadows: “I Swore I’d Never Tell”

    by Peter Mounteer

    “I swore I’d never tell” is a phrase that often comes up when victims of sexual assault or abuse voice perspectives on their childhood sexual trauma. The vicious mantra is the subtitle of a documentary film called “Boyhood Shadows” by Steve Rosen and Terri DeBono, longtime residents on the Monterey Peninsula and collaborators on numerous projects under the production company they both run, Mac + Ava Motion Pictures. With “Boyhood Shadows” Rosen and DeBono tackle head on a topic that makes most people cringe and turn off the TV or make up some excuse about how they need to get going to a place where they won’t have to even think about an issue that affects one in every six boys before the age of 16.

    One in six is a staggering statistic. But it’s more than just a statistic — it’s some 16 percent of the population. By numbers alone that is, in theory, almost 50 million young men. Something anyone would call an epidemic. Considering the amount of men’s sexual abuse support groups in this country — only about 40 — one thing becomes glaringly clear: Most of these victims aren’t getting the help that they need.

    Read more…»

    Candia Concert

    Fuddy Meers: A don’t-miss performance at PGHS

    by Peter Mounteer

    Fuddy Meers is a two act comedy featuring a cast of seven Pacific Grove High School students. It will have its final weekend May 9-11 in C-Wing Theatre at Pacific Grove High School. The production is by the PGHS Drama Department, and is directed by longtime English and Drama instructor, Tom Bussio.

    The play traces the story of Claire (Sarah Gordon), an amnesiac with a naturally sunny outlook who awakens each morning with no memory of who she is or the life she has lived. She lives with her husband, Richard Fiffle (Matthew Mounteer), a nervous but compassionate and dedicated man who loves Claire dearly; and their son Kenny (Alex Thibeau) a troubled and angst-filled teenager with a fondness for marijuana.

    The plot follows Claire’s departure from her home one day facilitated by a limping man with a lisp, claiming to be her brother Zachary (Brian Long). They leave while Richard is in the shower, headed to Claire’s mother’s house.
    Supporting cast includes Zachary’s right-hand man, Millet (Anthony Berteaux) who talks to a puppet; Claire’s aging mother Gertie (Elaina Pennisi) who is very lucid but can’t speak properly due to a recent stroke; and Heidi, a police officer (Hannah Azerang) who gets involved after Richard and Kenny set out to find the missing Claire.

    What ensues is a wildly entertaining escapade into a world where nothing truly is as it appears. The production is sometimes tragic and often funny rendition. It’s the kind of work playwright David Lindsay-Arbaire is perhaps best known for, as brought to life by the talented cast and crew of the PGHS Drama Department.

    Show time is 7p.m. at C-Wing Theater on the Pacific Grove High School campus. Tickets are $7 at the door.