Edward Flanders Robb Ricketts,

John Steinbeck,

Joel Hedgpeth,


Robert 'Roy' Jan van de Hoek

1939 to 2003
A Book 65 Years in the Making

Zoological Preface to San Francisco Bay Guidebook
by Edward F. Ricketts
1938 Photo of Ed Ricketts

Compiled by
Robert 'Roy' J. van de Hoek
Field Biologist & Geographer
Sierra Club, Wetlands Action Network, National Audubon Society

In this book, there will be frequent considerations of an ecological and sociological nature, as contrasted to the usual systematic approach. Ecology will be defined, briefly, as that science which deals with the framework of relations between an animal or a society of animals and its environment, both biological and physical.

In any investigation, either of two divergent outlooks may serve as a point of departure. Discrete entities may be grouped together analytically into things of a kind: the systematic approach; or individuals, groups or societies as they are naturally found may be considered by relation to their surroundings: the ecological approach.

Even for beginners, most zoological studies have been based on the fundamentally necessary systematic or taxonomic plan whereby forms which are structurally alike, clams, corals, starfish, etc., no matter how widely separated they may be in natural distribution, are groupoed together for unified study. This involves the enumerating, naming and classifying of discrete entities into a pattern . . .[to be compiled fully at a later time].

Concluding Remarks and Sources
Robert Roy van de Hoek

The vision of Ed Ricketts and John Steinbeck to do a guidebook for San Francisco Bay based on an ecological basis was ahead of its time. Such a guidebook has still not been done, but it is 62 years ago since they proposed it. A guidebook by Joel Hedgpeth came close to such a book, but it was taxonomically-based rather than ecological. I would like to do such an ecological guidebook to San Francisco Bay, following the guidelines outlined in the introduction-preface and foreward that Ed Ricketts and John Steinbeck prepared. It is indeed unfortunate that they did not complete the guidebook, but we are very fortunate that they took the Sea of Cortez expedition, because that resulted in an excellent book that they co-authored. I believe that I am in an imminent position to do an interesting guidebook to the marine life of San Francisco Bay, but only time and money prevent it at this time. My study would be a tale of two cities and two bays, in many different ways. For example, San Francisco Bay would be compared to Santa Monica Bay with its Ballona Creek watershed, Malibu Creek watershed, Santa Monica Canyon watershed, and Topanga Creek Watershed, which are the three large watersheds of Santa Monica Bay. By comparison, the four large watersheds of San Francisco Bay include, Sacramento River, Petaluma River, Napa River, and complex in the southern bay around San Jose.

Ed Ricketts wrote about San Francisco Bay in Between Pacific Tides in several places. A perusal of the index of the 1939 first edition shows the following references:
�197, �198, �201, �221, �285, �293, �306, �333, p.7. These seven references in the index form the core of completing Ricketts and Steinbeck's guidebook to San Francisco. Careful searching through Between Pacific Tides will reveal additional pages on which San Franciso Bay marine fauna is discussed.

�197. ... The same thing is true of the mussel, Mytilus edulis, but it is an exclusively quiet-water animal and notable for its wide distribution-literally around the world in North Temperate regions. ... A few enemic-looking specimens can be found on gravel banks and rocky points in San Francisco Bay, but most of thos that have survived the Bay's contamination occur on wharf piling.

�198. ...The little pill bug, Exosphaeroma oregonensis,flaunts its belief in large and frequent families. The average under-crust population of this squat isopod with its widely separated eyes will run many dozen to the square foot in Puget Sound, and it is the commonest pill bug in San Francisco Bay.

�201. ... hairy hermits, Pagurus hirsutiusculus, which, in quiet northern waters, attain great size. At Friday Harbor specimens have been taken with 2-inch bodies and an overall-length of more than 3 inches. The animal's extreme range is Alaska to Lower California, but south of Puget Sound the specimens are smaller and less hairy. They are plentiful at Elkhorn Slough, however, and are the common hermits of San Francisco Bay.

�221. ... Mopalia muscosa is known to occur in such sheltered localities as Elkhorn Slough and San Francisco Bay, with a total range extending from Shumagin Islands to Lower California.

�285. ... Hemigrapsus oregonensis ranges southward from Alaska, and is the common shore crab of San Francisco Bay.

�293... In San Francisco Bay, the muddy eastern shores, at Berkeley for instanc, are characterized by great beds, acres in extent, of the cosmopolitan tubed worm Capitlla capitata, several inches long, lying head up in vertical, dirt-encrusted, black membranous tubes.

An example of a narrative of San Francisco Bay that was not found in the index of Between Pacific Tides is the following passage that discusses Joel Hedgpeth, sea spiders, pollution, dirty water, and filthly water. It is part of th passage of �332: "The California mussels of the more exposed piling are replaced in these quiet waters by the smaller and cosmopolitan bya mussels, Mytilus edulis (�197). In favorable environments they often form great bunches that doubl the diameter of the piles on which they grow, and they may be found in probably every suitable port between the Bering Sea and northern Mexico. They attain thteir maximum development in the middle zone, so they are very obvious, even at half tide.... Interpsersed among the clusters are several bay and harbor hydroids. The cosmopolitan Obelia commisuralis was reported by Torrey (1902) from San Francisco Bay, where it was adapted to th estuary conditions of dirty water and lower salinity. Clusters of Obelia may still be found in these situations about the ferry wharves in Oakland, in water so filthy that all animal life would seem to be precluded, and commissuralis is presumed to be the species involved. ...A pycnogonid (sea spider) occurs in hydroid clusters of this sort: Ammothea nudiuscula. In a personal communication, J.W. Hedgpeth says of it: "abundant on Obelia on pilings and junk along the east shore of San Francisco Bay-in very filthy water." It is known only from this, the type locality.

I think about Marina del Rey and Ballona Creek in Los Angeles County, when I read that passage about dirty water and filthy water in San Francisco Bay. The reason that I see a correlation is because of the immense mussel beds of Mytilus edulis that occur on the levees and jetties of Ballona Creek and Marina del Rey. In the last year of 2002-2003, full tidal flow of saline water is now allowed to enter Del Rey Lagoon and immediately, I see mussel beds developing on the exposed pilings and small dock in Del Rey Lagoon City Park. In contrast, the Ballona Lagoon Marine Preserve, just across Ballona Creek on the north side, which was established in 1996-1997, and has "supposedly" allowed tidal flow into the supposed "Marine Preserve" there is very little mussel bed establishment. The so-called marine preserve, I have learned after several years of study, restricts tidal flow, so much so, that water is stagnant in times, as well as th mismanagement of Venice Canals, which is located up further on the tidal creek. The management of the Ballona Lagoon Marine Preserve has been to thwart mussel bed development, which is not what must occur in a "Lagoon Marine Preserve." However, back to Del Rey Lagoon, there we see mussel development beginning quite nicely because there is full tidal flow. I have asked that there be more tidal flow into Ballona Lagoon Marine Preserve. I have asked the County Beaches and Harbors and city of Los Angeles if I could take over management of the tide gates, so that the dysfunctional Ballona Marine Preserve might become a true "marine preserve" and live up to its name of "Marine Preserve." They said no, and basically told me that it will continue to be dysfunctional and have problematic and irregular release and inflow of tidal water. They have a term for this as "muted tidal flow" and I ask all of you to be on the look-out for this bastard term.