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The Call of the Ocean

The first time I saw the aquamarine waters of the Florida Keys at the age of 15, I felt I’d come home to a place I’d never been before. For a time, I wanted to be an oceanographer, but the social moments and movements of my youth would take me in other directions. Still, I could never fully escape the pull of the planetary tides ― nor did I want to. For years, I lived in a cliff house overlooking the Pacific, and I’ve never slept better. The pounding of the waves soothed me like a mother’s heartbeat. Bodysurfing, diving, paddling, or just wading along the shore renewed me in ways nothing else ever could. After too long away from the sea, I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area five years ago. The second-largest estuary on the West Coast, the bay is a shallow brackish nursery for crabs, fish, shorebirds, and generations of people who love the water.Unfortunately, a few months after I moved into my marina townhouse, the containership Cosco Busan hit the Bay Bridge, spilling 53,570 gallons of toxic bunker fuel into the water. Soon, oiled and dying birds ― surf scoters, grebes, gulls, and cormorants ― we …

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