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    Sea lion strandings on San Diego beaches reach record numbers
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Mar 26, 2015 | 1690 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Rescued sea lions housed at SeaWorld in Mission Bay. / Photo by Dave Schwab
    Rescued sea lions housed at SeaWorld in Mission Bay. / Photo by Dave Schwab
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    A surprising influx of malnourished and dehydrated sea lions has SeaWorld San Diego and its trainers working overtime to nurse them back to health before returning them to the wild. More than 550 marine mammals have been rescued so far in 2015, which is more than double the usual number, said SeaWorld spokesman David Koontz. “We saw sea lion pups coming in in December weaned by their mothers months earlier than normal,” Koontz said. “They were coming in very emaciated, 18 to 20 pounds as opposed to (normal) 35 pounds or more, only a few pounds above their birth weight. They’ve been very malnourished and in some cases, bags of bones.” In response, SeaWorld temporarily suspended its popular sea lion and otter show for a few weeks so trainers could assist with the park’s marine mammal rescue and rehabilitative efforts. SeaWorld has resumed its regular sea lion and otter show as of today (March 26) in Sea Lion and Otter Stadium. The informational presentations lasting 15 to 20 minutes include segments helping park guests better understand how SeaWorld rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals to give them a second chance at life. The presentations also give visitors insight into how SeaWorld cares for and trains its sea lions. On March 20, Beach & Bay Press got a behind-the-scenes peek at painstaking efforts to physically stabilize the condition of marine mammals and then build them back to health. After the sea lions receive four to eight weeks of time- and worker-intensive rehabilitation, the trainers prepare the mammals for a return to the ocean. “While we continue to rescue a record number of marine mammals this year, over the past several days, we’ve seen the average number of daily rescues decrease slightly, and we’ve hired some additional rescue staff,” said Mike Scarpuzzi, SeaWorld’s vice president of zoological operations. “Although we will continue to keep some of our sea lion and otter trainers in our Animal Rescue Center, we’ve been able to bring a few back to Sea Lion and Otter Stadium,” he said. The condition of many sea lions, particularly those rescued early on, has been so poor that they’ve had to be force fed and actually retrained to eat, Koontz said. “These pups have not eaten for a while, so their systems have kind of shut down: They can’t eat whole fish,” he said. “It’s a double-whammy because they also get much of their water from fish, so they’re also coming in dehydrated.” SeaWorld San Diego has rescued a record 570 marine mammals (with 549 of those being sea lions) so far this year. The park has also donated $25,000 to other California rescue centers to assist them with the daunting task of rescuing and rehabilitating more than 1,800 stranded sea lion pups this year along the state’s coast. During the 2:45 p.m. sea lion interim show on March 20, SeaWorld trainer Kelly Punner said, “530 marine mammals, double what we usually rescue in an entire year,” have already been recovered. She noted lack of anchovies and sardines in the ocean are causing sea lion mothers to be away from their pups longer to gather food, noting that the low food supplies are also causing mothers to wean their pups “much sooner than they usually would.” A couple of sea lions in the show, in fact, were rescued and rehabbed by SeaWorld. Efforts to repatriate them back to the ocean proved unsuccessful, so they were “recruited” and trained to join one of the park’s live marine mammal shows. SeaWorld seal lion trainer George Villa pointed out there are “many theories” as to why sea lions and other marine mammals are being stranded in such large numbers. Adding scientists are researching “the conditions that led to that,” Villa said, “We do know there’s been a shortage of the (bait) fish, sardines and anchovies, that they feed on.” In the meantime, Villa noted rehabilitating sick and dying marine mammals “is our priority right now.” Recuperating in holding pens behind the park’s seal and otter stadium, sea lions, in various stages of recovery, were being ministered to. Trainers and staff were physically restraining animals, while tubes were being inserted into their stomachs, and pumps were used to interject life-giving fluids to newly rescued marine mammals. Those “patients” were also being given vitamins and medicine to improve their health and get them back to eating whole fish. As the condition of recovering sea lions improves, they are then “upgraded” to groupings of marine mammals requiring less and less intensive care, before eventually being repatriated back to the ocean. “Sea lions that are not lethargic, that are a little more vocal, a little more feisty — we really want to see that,” said Koontz, about how trainers can read the improving condition of marine mammals under their care. Scarpuzzi said the sea lion and otter show will resume once the sea lion crisis abates. “We will assess our personnel requirements weekly, and continue to augment our rescue team with sea lion trainers until we are confident they are no longer needed to assist with our rescue efforts,” he said. “Only when we have the appropriate number of trainers back at sea lion and otter stadium will we restart our 'Sea Lions Live' show.”
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    Back in time: Airport exhibit fetes Balboa Park centennial
    Mar 25, 2015 | 4235 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    The so-called 'electriquettes' shuttled people around Balboa Park's 1915 exposition. PHOTO FROM SAN DIEGO METRO
    The so-called 'electriquettes' shuttled people around Balboa Park's 1915 exposition. PHOTO FROM SAN DIEGO METRO
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    Officials at San Diego International Airport on March 24 unveiled a yearlong exhibition of public art that celebrates the centennial of Balboa Park. “Balboa Park & the City: Celebrating San Diego’s Panama-California Exposition” is the largest temporary art exhibit ever at Lindbergh Field, according to airport officials. “With 30 installations spread among all three terminals, the exhibition offers a truly immersive experience that takes you back in time,” said Thella Bowens, president and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. The exhibition includes original artwork and historic images, collectibles and artifacts from the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, which gave San Diego its first major international exposure. The display, which went up on March 23, includes historic photographs and large-format postcards that document the history, landscape and architecture of the park. Ten local artists donated original work that is representative of or inspired by Balboa Park and the city of San Diego. The exhibition’s images include historic photographs and postcards presented in large format documenting the unique history, landscape and architecture of the Park. The Art Program solicited original artwork that is representative of or inspired by Balboa Park and the city of San Diego from local artists. Ten participants were selected to exhibit their work based on their aesthetic and creative representation of the Park and unique use of media. Exhibition highlights include: • A replica of the famous wicker “Electriquette,” which transported fairgoers at the 1915 Exposition; • Lighting designs by Jim Gibson, inspired by the ornate fixtures at the 1935 Exposition; and • Original works by Guillermo Acevedo, a celebrated illustrator and documentarian of San Diego’s landmarks and historic sites. — City News Service, San Diego Metro
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    Hillside Improvement Project to improve trails at Sunset Cliffs
    by ROSAMARIA ACUNA
    Mar 21, 2015 | 2242 views | 1 1 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Sunset Cliffs Natural Park in Point Loma. / Photo by Jim Grant
    Sunset Cliffs Natural Park in Point Loma. / Photo by Jim Grant
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    Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, a 68-acre resource-based park stretching one and a half miles along the Pacific Ocean shoreline on the western edge of Point Loma, is one of San Diego County’s wondrous sites and perhaps San Diego’s best-kept secret. On the ocean side of Point Loma, the 18-acre linear park follows Sunset Cliffs Boulevard from Adair Street along the coastal bluffs past such landmarks as Cormorant Rock to Ladera Street. Along the way, there are several parking areas that allow for breathtaking ocean views, carved coastal bluffs, arches and sea caves. Flocks of pelicans soar along the bluffs and California gray whales can often be seen during their annual migration to Baja California. The spectacular sunset views give the area its name. But, the park is more than just grand vistas. Enter the main hillside park at the Ladera Street parking lot. This 50-acre section is a designated multiple-species conservation area. Just south of the lot, there is a two-acre native plant garden with more than 50 native plant species of cacti, succulents, shrubs and a number of Torrey pine trees that have been added since the restoration effort started in 2005. Sunset Cliffs resident David Kimball, a member of the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Council, leads the native plant garden project. Kimball organizes and supervises volunteers, including students from Point Loma Nazarene University, who assist in the planting and maintenance of the native garden. Native habitat restoration is about to get a major boost as contracted work will soon begin on the Hillside Improvement Project, a California Conservancy grant project with matching funds from the city and a private donor. The project involves work on pedestrian trails, removal of incompatible elements and revegetating the site with selected plants. The two-acre native plant garden illustrates what the 50-acre Hillside Project expects to achieve. At its peak in April, many of the early flowering plants are in bloom with others that will progressively bloom into the fall. Take a stroll to see their beauty as well as observe the many birds and other small animals that flourish in the natural habitat. To learn more, visit www.sunsetcliffs.info.
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    LongboardDan
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    March 21, 2015
    I wish I could agree with Ms. Acuna here. This project has gone on so long and really has not been productive. I appreciate the fact that they enjoy the work there but a natural habitat evolves over time. Going out an manually watering the environment makes this a mere glorified garden for a select group of residents. Also if Ms. Swanson and her elitist friends cared they would not have pushed out PLNU from the softball park. They were taking care of it and it was a great place to go. Now it is just a dust field with people running there dogs. They could have at least made it legal to run your dog there off leash. So they are really using this for their own pleasure....very sad.
    Mission Beach requests that cyclists slow down
    by JOHN VALLAS
    Mar 20, 2015 | 11741 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Bicycles lined up next to the beach and boardwalk. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Bicycles lined up next to the beach and boardwalk. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    With spring break in full force and summer right around the corner, the community of Mission Beach is requesting that bicyclists slow down while riding on the boardwalk and bayside paths. This request doesn’t come from just simple concern. Dr. Edmund Thile, a 47-year resident of Mission Beach, conducted a study recently and found that 33 percent of the bike traffic exceeded the 8 mph speed limit, and 22 percent were traveling at speeds that posed a danger to pedestrians. Thile’s study included a specially modified radar speed feedback and recording device on loan from the Tucson, Ariz., company RU2 Systems. The mobile speed radar, while originally designed for vehicular traffic, was able to accurately measure and record the speed of moving cyclists. This equipment was observed by city officials and the Mission Beach Town Council, and even featured on local news stations. The radar systems are a proven method for curbing vehicular motorists’ speed, though this is a first for passively monitoring and working to slow cyclists. The study was not without risk, however. “When I would call attention to how fast people are going, those who were going 10 mph would look up and say 'Oh, I didn’t know that! Thanks for telling me!' They were fine,” Thile said. “You reach somewhere around 11 mph, [cyclists] don’t want you to tell them they are going fast, they are angry that you’re telling them they are going too fast, and it creates animosity and a fairly retaliatory reaction,” Thile said. While rallying funds from the city and the community for installing the radar systems permanently has been met with some skepticism, Thile, the Mission Beach Town Council, and residents are pressing on. Calling all bicycle clubs Local officials have also suggested that awareness within the cycling community would be a powerful tool for slowing the speeding bikes, and perhaps redirecting speed bikes to other areas. Speaking with some local cycling enthusiasts, most of them mentioned that the Mission Beach boardwalk and even Mission Boulevard is not an ideal area for race training. “The boardwalk is made for everyone to enjoy a slow, relaxed pace, whether it be walking, running, or biking. Cycling for commuting should divert to the street, as required by law. There is a reason sidewalks and fast moving vehicles shouldn’t mix,” said Dennis Caco, a local triathlete and the founder of the annual Hammer Festival, an annual awards ceremony for San Diego’s athletes. Urging enforcement Thile and other regular boardwalk users discussed the issue at a recent Mission Beach Town Council meeting, and agreed that while the radar systems will be a key component in slowing down speeding cyclists, but it’s not enough. “I think, without enforcement, whatever we do will not be significantly effective to reduce the likely harm that will occur from excessive bike speed,” Thile said, as he spoke about the ongoing conversation with local police and lifeguard officials. Regardless of whether you are a cyclist, a skateboarder, runner, or just like to enjoy the boardwalk with your family, speed detection equipment and enforcement are only part of the solution. The community can make a significant difference by speaking and sharing with each other, residents and visitors alike, and holding each other accountable. It could be as simple as a bell ring or a hand motion. This gives everyone a chance to breathe in the salty air, listen to the sound of breaking waves, and enjoy one of the most beautiful places on earth without having to be worried about speeding bikes colliding with people along the ocean and bay.
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    City Council approves $750,000 for Crystal Pier repairs
    Mar 17, 2015 | 8051 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    A plane flies over the Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    A plane flies over the Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    San Diego City Council unanimously voted March 17 to finish a $1.2 million restoration project of the City-owned portion of Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. The pier, constructed in the 1920s, is in need of immediate structural repair prior to the beginning of summer. “Pacific Beach’s Crystal Pier is an iconic landmark and popular vacation destination,” said Councilmember Lorie Zapf, whose District 2 covers Pacific Beach. “With today’s action, the City is investing in structural improvements to not only enhance the safety of the pier but to allow the pier to be enjoyed by millions of visitors and locals for years to come.” Crystal Pier is owned by the City of San Diego and the Crystal Pier Hotel. The councilmanic action authorized the final $750,000 to repair or replace damaged or deteriorating portions of the pier, including timber piles, pile caps, joists and bracing on the City-owned sections of the pier. The hotel will be funding repairs and construction for its portion of the pier. The restoration project will use “in-kind” replacement materials to preserve the aesthetics of the pier. The project is expected to be completed before Memorial Day and may include the temporary removal and off-site storage of cottages as well as underwater work to replace existing deteriorated piles to the point they are structurally sound for repair.
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    News
    Residents say short-term rentals ruining Pacific Beach neighborhoods
    Residents are weighing in on recently passed restrictions advocated by the Pacific Beach Planning Group (PBPG), and the general consensus is that problems with short-term vacation rentals (STVRs) a...
    Mar 26, 2015 | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend
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    Sports
    As Chargers stadium plans heat up, so does the rhetoric
    The war of words between the Chargers and Mayor Kevin Faulconer's stadium task force has no signs of ending anytime soon. It began when the Chargers teamed up with the Oakland Raiders to opt for a ...
    Mar 24, 2015 | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend
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    Arts & Entertainment
    Catch cocktail jazz singer Wilson at Kona Kai
    The Kona Kai Resort’s Acoustic Music Series presents what may be its strongest lineup yet on Sunday, March 29. Highlights for the free, all ages, event, include crooner David Patrone, Todo Mundo fr...
    Mar 25, 2015 | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend
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    Business
    Cannonball rooftop restaurant to reopen above Belmont Park
    Cannonball, the rooftop restaurant at Belmont Park, is scheduled to reopen on April 1 after a $3.5 million building renovation. Created by Eat.Drink.Sleep., Cannonball will be the largest oceanfron...
    Mar 23, 2015 | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend
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