An Afternoon With The Sea Whisperer

My eyes momentarily gazed up at the Berkeley Hills, blazing in fiery colors.  The fleeting moment, caused by the sunset’s light reflecting off of hillside homes, brought a moment of retrospection to my afternoon experiences.  Standing on the seawall’s crown, I turned my head back down to the man trawling in the murky waters of Marina District’s Yacht Harbor.  Fitted with rubber boots and a makeshift baited pole, the man continued his hunt for his next exotic sea creature.  “Hey Kirk, we’re going to take off.”, a group member shouted down at the man and waved his hand.  “Sure, I’ll walk back with you guys.”, he responded and began collecting his gear.  Given his success rate, focus, and visible gratification from his catches, I think he would have continued hunting well into the night.  But all good things must eventually end, including a three hour sea foraging tour, and the group was itching to get their Saturday night started.  As we dispersed, I walked away pondering over the experience and my newfound intimacy for the bay that always seemed so distant and unknown.

So who is this Kirk guy anyway?  If you google his full name, Kirk Lombard, you’ll find press articles about a motley dressed man roaming the San Francisco Bay shores in search of local sea creatures such as the freaky monkeyface prickleback.  Interested in local plant foraging, I recently discovered him on ForageSF where I signed up and attended one of his sea foraging tours.  The tour group and I were instantly engaged with his relaxed witty demeanor, subtle intelligence, story telling, and deep intimate knowledge of the living bay.  Whether it was casting lines for crabs, prying limpets off seawalls, or poking at muddy burrows in the harbor, he made his catches look effortless and kept his activities varied.  His inventory of catches, which he eventually released, included a rock crab, Dungeness crab, red kelp crab, and a number of slithery monkeyface pricklebacks.  He also gave insight on how to fish for striped sea bass, throw herring nets, and spot ghost shrimp holes.  Did I mention he has a soft spot for octopuses?

In addition to tours, Kirk has a menagerie of other gigs including running a local sustainable seafood program that offers scheduled home deliveries of his local catches.

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