Kayaking Across Morro Bay, Never Out of Site of the Smokestacks
Morro Bay is a long protected body of water with a big sand bar that keeps the ferocious Pacific breakers away. It’s teeming with bird and mammal life and the waters in the bay are clean enough to raise oysters in. We got a chance to see the bay up close this morning with John Flaherty, the owner of Central Coast Outdoors.
We set out on three kayaks into what John said was an unusually high tide. The first group of seabirds we can across was a gaggle of white and brown Pelicans, joined by cormorants and wood ducks. On the shore as we kayaked past, a tiny baby seal was crying out for its lost mama, John called the marine mammal protection squad to help the little guy out.
What a glorious way to see nature, I thought, as we glided in the sun heading toward a barge where a crew of men were sorting oysters the size of a finger digit.
A radio blasted from their small barge, that and the big net all around were clearly designed to keep seagulls away, since their guano is very bad for the oysters. John has been a guide since the 1980s, he combines his love of kayaks with a love of bicycling. He said he had ridden his bike the 30 minutes from his Los Osos home to the Morro Bay State park.
We asked John about those white dead trees that lined the bank of the bay. He explained that this area is a preserve for herons, but that it’s been mostly taken over by the aggressive cormorants, who have covered the ground and the trees with their guano, killing the trees in the process.
In the distance the famous three smokestacks of the Morro Bay power plant loomed over the bay. He said that a year ago, they stopped generating power all together, and now the company that owns the plant is casting about for what to do with the monstrous stacks and the huge power plant building.
One company proposed a tidal power plant, which turned out to be up to 650 200′ tubes that would move with the waves and create energy from the motion. Good idea but no one is ready to turn over that much ocean to the eyesore that would result. Others have talked about shortening the 450 foot stacks, but the cost of demolition is daunting.
Nobody is really sure what will happen to the iconic towers.
It just shows that like the decision to build a power plant right smack on the shore of a pretty coastal town, things used to be a bit different back in the day.