Coast Guard Cutter Aspen works with the National Park Service to protect local birds

Pacific Southwest Coast Guard News
San Franciso – Coast Guard members aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Aspen, homeported in San Francisco, worked with the National Park Service to place two temporary “information” buoys approximately 500 feet from the Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to protect the local seabirds during the America’s Cup event Tuesday, July 3, 2013.

The birds are sensitive to disturbance from nearby boats, which can cause nest failure, said Bill Merkle, a wildlife ecologist for the National Park Service.

“We been thinking about placing buoys here for a long time and with the Coast Guard’s help we are finally able to; it’s fantastic,” Merkle said.

Staff from the National Park Service discussed the design process with the Coast Guard, and both worked together to come up with the idea of placing the buoys.

There are three steps to placing a buoy in the water. First a sinker — a heavy block of stone – is connected by a chain to the buoy. Then the sinker is placed into the water at the assigned position.

Merkle said there were many pitfalls with the process, but with the Coast Guard’s support and interaction they were able to come up with a plan.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Salas, chief of the waterways branch at District 11 in Alameda, Calif., said, “The equipment used for this task is different than the standard gear for the Coast Guard.”

The Coast Guard typically works with metal buoys while the National Park Service uses buoys made of foam. The chain is also of a different material then what the Coast Guard is used to.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarin Coob, a boatswain mate assigned to the Aspen, said that even though the material given was different, it was a success.

“During the evolution, everyone worked together, and we were able to complete the mission safely and smoothly,” Cobb said.

Lt. Cmdr. Salas said the Coast Guard and the National Park Service both benefited from this experience.

“The park service’s didn’t have the means or resource to complete the task, and with our help we were able to work together and get the job done to preserve the safety of boaters and natural wildlife,” Salas said.

Pictures from the operation may be viewed at the Coast Guard News Flickr page.

An information buoy sits in the water approximately 500 feet from Alcatraz in San Francisco, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Coast Guard members aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Aspen, homeported in San Francisco, worked with the National Park Service to protect the sea birds on Alcatraz during the 2013 America's Cup. (Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart)

An information buoy sits in the water approximately 500 feet from Alcatraz in San Francisco, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Coast Guard members aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Aspen, homeported in San Francisco, worked with the National Park Service to protect the sea birds on Alcatraz during the 2013 America’s Cup. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart

 

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