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Sonoma County Gazette
Harbor Seals at Jenner

Seals to Coastal Heroes - Loving life on the Coast

Jun 28, 2017
by Tim McKusick


Jenner now has a Second Great Restaurant: El Tiburon! The food is bringing rave reviews from all. Owner Juan Navarro (of Sazon Restaurant fame in Santa Rosa) has brought his amazing menu to West Sonoma County, and we couldn’t be happier! When you go, do not miss the Ceviche. I am sure you will agree, there is None better! Located in the Jenner by the Sea building, the river views are almost as good as the food! Tell your friends! El Tiburon is my new Scenic Sonoma County Dinner Destination Favorite!

El Tiburon! FACEBOOK page. July 27 - Come and celebrate Peruvian Independence Day - We will offer traditional Peruvian dishes El Tiburon! 10400 CA Hwy. One, Jenner. (707) 865-9788

Recently, 28 members of Coast Walk (The California Coastal Trail Association ( (including a very capable 86 year old female hiker) while trekking from Salt Point to Bodega Bay were helped across the Russian River by local volunteers using Suki Waters Kayaks ( Suki is a local treasure with a vast knowledge of (and direct connections to) our local Native American history.

Father’s Day found my wife and I enjoying our Hobie 2-seater kayak, paddling the Russian River & Estuary. With ‘triple-digit heat’ inland, the Sonoma Coast beaches were packed. It was perfect weather at the Estuary and beach. One couple who was enjoying the pleasant cool weather commented that it took them two hours to drive from Sebastopol! They opted to stay a little later and catch the sunset, rather than join the parade heading back.Good choice.

We paddled out towards the jetty to check out the beach and ocean conditions. It was like glass, perfect conditions for the many SUP (stand up paddleboard) enthusiasts gliding by. The river was emptying on the extreme North side, running along the base of the cliff below the highway. The long sandy Goat Rock beach now extended well past the jetty, creating a great surf break that was being enjoyed by several lucky surfers.

Docents who volunteer to advise the public of the Harbor Seal population and the need for periodic restriction of certain beach areas, had a rope up on the shore just beyond iconic Haystack Rock, which was at the water’s edge. Families were happily enjoying the river and beach on the inland side of the Rock, while beachcombers and kayakers were turned back by the ropes, signs and Docents on the river-mouth side of it.

The “seal areas” that were restricted were clearly marked for the beach walkers, but signage was absent for the many boaters and kayakers. Later that day, when we paddled back to watch the sun set, we went to the exact spot – well away from the restricted Seal area. As we were heading back to our kayak as the sky glowed behind the rocky point, a loud voice from across the still waters startled us.

All the way from across the river a man was (loudly) telling us to get back in our boat and leave! (Which we were doing anyway). He went on to say that the beach was for the seals and kept telling us to get back in the boat. He then said something about tourists and wineries and that we should go back from where we came from.

At first, I thought, how rude. But then I saw his point about protecting the seals and the need to avoid certain areas at certain times of the year. Perhaps some well-placed signs at the boat launching ramp alerting the public of the restricted areas would be in order. A few signs at water’s edge would help as well.

To Learn about Pinniped Monitoring and how to protect coastal seals, please visit the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods website: You can also visit their new Nature Store in downtown Guerneville on the corner of River Road at Armstrong Woods Road.

Earlier we ventured upstream, under the bridge, and around the bend past Willow Creek. Then we paddled even farther upstream past Sheephouse Creek and by the Willow Creek Campground beach. When we got up that far there was not a whisper of wind. The reflections in the river were mirror-like. Great Blue Herons were posing on logs near shore. Mother ducks with dozens of perfect tiny ducklings following close behind her cruised by. I would swear that the proud Mom’s were showing off their pride and joy!

As we were silently gliding through the water, slipping in a little closer to get a photograph of a Great Blue Heron in the late afternoon sun, something stepped out of the reeds on the shore. A magnificent adult Bobcat! It didn’t notice us at first. We tried to get some pictures with our little camera-phone as it walked the sandy strip between the reeds and the water.

I am in awe of the coloring and markings on these beautiful creatures. Truly wonderful. There were stripes on the inner front legs but spots and checks elsewhere. It was a big cat with powerful legs, striding slowly along the water. It gave us a glance when my paddle made a small splash, but wasn’t worried too much about us. We watched it slowly, majestically walk along the shore and silently disappeared into the brush. What a day.

Heroes on the Coast

Coastal HERO Aaron PendergraftKen Sund of Jenner witnessed the dramatic rescue by Aaron Pendergraft and was inspired to promote a “thank you barbecue” for our Coastal Emergency Responders. He proposed the idea to his Board at the Jenner Community Center and went about inviting the various Local Volunteer Fire Departments and Fire Stations as well as the CHP and Sheriffs. It was a huge success as shown in these photos.

Thank you Coastal First Responder Photos

Local Fire Captain Steve Baxman did the honors and the Jenner Community fed them all! The Jenner Community continues to humble us all with their spirit of Community and Giving in all circumstances. They are the small town with the Huge Heart! Please visit their website and consider a donation.

For those of us who are lucky enough to call this coast home, we know when we hear sirens, it is a serious situation. Whether it is a fire, an automobile accident, a cliff or ocean rescue, all of these agencies respond. It is an “all-in effort”. On behalf of myself and my West County/Coastal neighbors, as well as all of the visitors who enjoy the beauty of our Coast, Thank You!

Jenner Jottings by Tim McKusick


Jul 13, 2017
When I saw that bundle of kelp on the picture with the seals it made my heart leap until I thought that must be an old picture. Tell me it isn't so. From what I've heard the bulb kelp is decimated. Let's make a market for those voracious little tiny purple urchins scouring the rocks for any bit to eat. INFORMATION on the impact of sea urchins on bulb kelp:
- Marc Hunt

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