Sausalito Bay facing Tiburons shore with an "anchor out" boat in the water.

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Illegal Boats Jeopardize Ecosystem Near Sausalito, Study Says

KCBS Radio Midday News
May 20, 2019 - 12:45 pm

Private boats anchoring illegally near Sausalito in Richardson Bay are causing significant damage to a sensitive part of the ecosystem, according to a new study.

Eelgrass beds, which serve as habitat for Pacific herring, nursery for several fish species, and food source for water birds in the bay, are under attack, said Dan Orr, an ecologist who authored the Audubon California study.

He found that 41% of eelgrass beds at Richardson Bay are damaged. Evidence points to boats' anchors, which can tear up the eelgrass as the vessels move with the tide, as a source of the damage, he said. The stripped beds looks like crop circles from the circular movement of the anchors.


The San Francisco Bay has already lost roughly 25% of eelgrass beds over a five-year period, according to Audubon California.

"We need to have a productive dialogue with conservation organizations, the community and agencies to find a solution," said Orr. 

There's been a spike in the number of boats illegally anchoring in the bay. The Audubon Society is looking into potential solutions, like moving the boats and adopting stricter regulations about boat mooring.