Hey there every peoples!
I failed to notice it a couple weeks ago but on February 19th my blog turned 1 year old! Woohoo! So far my cyber rag has garnered more than 6000 views. You know what’s coming next: thanks guys, I couldn’t have done it without you! So what do I do for this momentous occasion? What subject could possibly befit the birthday of a publication such as this? Hmmmm… I know! I’ll talk about the thing that got me on the road to writing this blog as well as my fool hardy quest to found my own museum.
It all began in high school. I was pretty miserable then and was always looking for things to take my mind off how much things sucked (in hind sight, it was most likely my depression). I was riding my bike along San Luis Bay drive in Avila Beach when I saw something poking out of a sandstone bluff. Back in 6th grade I had gone on a little “fossil walk” out in Avila where a paleontologist showed us some marine fossils. But all the ones he showed us were down on seaside ledges, not up on a bluff. So I climbed up to get a better look and couldn’t believe what I saw:
It was a series of large fossilized ribs poking out of 3.5 million year old sediments. My heart just about stopped. I never thought that I would find fossils at this point in my life, let alone fossils right in my own backyard. I was ecstatic! But since I wasn’t too bright back then (not like I’m much better now) I didn’t think too much of it (namely reporting it to a scientist or anything). Over the years I kept watch over the bones, still in disbelief that they were real. At first I thought they were whale ribs but a couple of marine mammal guys told me they may very well be sea cow ribs based on their shape and apparent density. This made quite a bit of sense actually because if you recall Avila Beach is the type locality for Hydrodamalis cuestae, just about the biggest sea cow ever. So that time forward I came to call it my sea cow.
But as time wore on, so did my sea cow:
Fossils are fragile. Once exposed to the elements, they have little time before they are ground to dust. Unfortunately it takes time and money to dig up fossils and no professionals I talked to seemed interested in investigating a giant sea cow. I tried in vain for 2 years to try and find who owned the bluffs so that maybe I could at least stabilize the bones so they might last until I could figure out the next step. Eventually I did find that it belonged to the harbor district but they have only given me the cold shoulder. And so it appears that my sea cow will be lost to time, the only record of its existence being a few photos and some fragments I salvaged in high school.
This is what truly started me on my quest to found a museum here on the Central Coast. There needs to be someone who will look into and deal with fossils that no one else seems interested in. Just because there are other giant sea cow specimens in museums doesn’t mean this one or any others should be left to rot. And that goes for all the other fossils out there. And with all sorts of development going on, would it not be sensible to have a local museum on hand to monitor the sites? I mean look at this new road cut in Avila, just down the road from my sea cow:
Also, Pismo Beach is looking to double in size with a gargantuan construction project. Who knows what they might uncover during development. But most importantly, we need a museum to collect the fossils that pop up here and there in our region, fossils that appear to emerge and fade away without anyone noticing. And this sea cow is part of the reason I hope to have a hall devoted to fossil marine mammals. Ultimately, if I can ever get this foolhardy idea of mine off the ground, you can bet the farm its logo will be a giant sea cow. A logo that would not just represent the museum, but will stand as a reminder that we need to do all we can to save the record of life on earth for future generations. My one regret is that one of them had to be sentenced to oblivion for this vision to be realized.
Till next time!