Eagle Rescue


Photo by Richard Scott

More and more, people see Rocky Point as a place for eco-tourism. Whale watching, hiking the Piñacate Biosphere Reserve, kayaking the estuaries – all are ways to get in touch with the natural beauty found here. Lots of wildlife can be seen too. Studying and protecting this unique place where desert meets the sea is the job of CEDO.

The Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO) is in Las Conchas on a sandy hill above the beach. One day finds CEDO researchers in a remote camp working with fisherman, the next night, wading in a tide pool, leading a group of school kids as they discover life hiding under every rock. Recently they were called on to do something a little different.

“We have one nest in front of CEDO. Another one is about 500 meters to the northeast, near the coast too.” Hiram Peña Bonilla, CEDO Assistant Director, got a call from someone walking their dog. “The Osprey was caught in a fishing net, and couldn’t fly.” Ospreys are eagles that dive dramatically into the sea to catch breakfast. They can be seen flying overhead hauling huge fish in their talons, a look of open mouthed surprise on the fish.
All over town their nests are found someplace high, often a telephone poll. Ropes, sticks, and other sea debris are used by eagles to make their nests. This time, using fish net had turned the nest into a trap.

“The fire department helped us with a truck, and two of our guys went up to cut her loose” said Hiram. Ospreys are powerful birds, and they can hurt you. As they worked, the eagles mate flew above their heads, shrieking and trying to scare them off. With a lot of care the bird was secured, then the net was cut from her leg, allowing her to fly free once again. Hiram said “once they removed the net, they found it held an old foot from another Osprey, who presumably died this way.”

But today was a happy ending. The staff at CEDO did on a small scale what they do every day – protect a part of the local environment. Go to their website to find out more about CEDOs’ programs for sustainable fishing, protecting endangered species, as well as the educational tours open to the public.                       By Richard Scott

Photos by Hiram Peña

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Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
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Fresh Oyster Safari


I hate ’em. Oysters. Put ’em on a cracker, put hot sauce on ’em, it won’t help. Have you looked at them? Like something out of Steven King. Some people love them. They tell me Oysters are high in zinc, protein, omega 3 . . . oh, and they’re an aphrodisiac. To who, I wonder, other Oysters?

They also tell me that the best ones, the freshest you can get anywhere are from the oyster farm east of Rocky Point. One weekend I have friends in town who have always wanted to go. Never one to be a party pooper, I jump into the SUV along with everyone else. I’m sure I can keep a straight face and eat three or four of them. They have beer don’t they?
We pull off the highway at a hand written sign that says “ostionera”. Bouncing down the washboard road we squint into the afternoon sun. “That was quick”says my friend as the estuary suddenly spreads out before us. The shallow water spreads out to the high dunes by the sea, sparkling with light. A small flock of birds takes off as we pull into the dusty parking area. In the shallows are a dozen square boxes that house the oysters, looking like a miniature condo project.
Estero Morua is one of the unique estuaries that dot the coast along the northern Sea of Cortez. Created where the Rio Sonoyta enters the ocean, the mixing of waters creates a place full of life. Most noticable are the birds. A major stop during migration, the estuary is also the nesting site for a threatened species of Tern. Piles of discarded shells have been found that date back hundreds of years. The Hohokan were here, fishing and taking shells back to what is now Arizona to trade. These days Arizonans still fish at the mouth of the estuary, and kayak in the shallow waters taking photos.
An old man with weathered skin and a Dodgers baseball cap greets us at the palm roofed ‘restaurant’. We have the place to our selves, and take up a picnic table center-pieced with bottles of hot sauce, limes and salt. “Now you just want to kind of slide them off their shell into your mouth, and not really chew them, just sort of..” “Larry” I say, “I got it, I know how to eat them.” For me, eating them means a dash of hot sauce, a squeeze of lime, and a good amount of feigned non-chalance.
I switch to straight beer drinking sooner than the others, but it wasn’t bad. These oysters had a very mild flavor. I’m sure that’s why they have such a good reputation with seafood lovers. Still, I don’t love ’em. And three beers later, I’m still waiting for the aphrodisiac effect to kick in.
“Man, that was great, we should come again tomorrow” says my friend. The group enthusiastically agrees. And who can blame them. As the sun starts to set, the pink at the edge of the horizon mirrors in the water. You hear the faint flutter of wings as a flock of birds circle low, almost ready to settle for the night. “I want to come back too” I say. “You?” says Larry, “Oysters are good, huh?” “No. I’m going to leave you guys here while I kayak.”

Head East out of town on Freemont Blvd. Within a mile or so you will see signs on the right announcing ‘Ostionera’ (Oyster Farm).     By Richard Scott

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
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