deadwhale.jpgWith stories on whales led into death by their own prey, seagulls dropping from the skies, and, oh yeah, we’re all going to die in an earthquake, It is like the internet is telling me to get off it and go outside WHILE I STILL CAN. OK, internet, I will, but not until I depress you all readers, too. Here goes!

According to the Chron, the recent glut of whale deaths we’ve seen in the Bay Area is due to whales “following abundant swarms of krill – the tiny, shrimp-like creatures that make up whales’ favorite food group – right into the path of ship traffic.” Apparently, when you are a tiny shrimp-like creature preyed upon by the earth’s biggest mammal (barring Nessie, who might be a mammal! You don’t know!), your best defense is drawing your predator into traffic.

There’s also been a “sharp increase” in dead seagulls found land around Pier 94. says the Ex. The exact number of dead birds found on the Hunters Point-area Audubon-monitored wetland was not specified in the Ex article (and calls to SF Animal Care and Control were not returned when I published this story), but they quote Golden Gate Audubon Society Executive Director Mark Welther as saying “There has always been some gull die-offs on the property, but it just seems to have been increasing for the last year.”

Six of the dead birds have been necropsied, with different causes of death discovered, including “respiratory problems, infectious diseases and ingested rat poison.” One super gross possibility — officials think the birds might be finding a way into a nearby animal rendering plant owned by Darling International, which “processes hundreds of millions of tons of animal fat, bones and other products each year into tallow, which is then sold to soap and cosmetics manufacturers or turned into animal food.” The birds get in, get greasy from the fat, and we all know from those Dawn commercials that oil soaks into bird’s feathers and makes them way more susceptible to death from hypothermia.

But soon you won’t have to work about boats killing whales or fat-covered birds keeling over, because, according to Tom Tobin, a consultant with SF’s Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety project, 1,000 people are going to die, 85,000 housing units will be lost, and $5 billion to $15 billion will be lost by businesses if SF’s soft-story buildings aren’t retrofitted before the next big earthquake.

According to an Examiner report, at a recent Building Inspection Commission meeting, Tobin said that “(w)e know from experience from other programs statewide that not everybody will retrofit if it’s voluntarily.” “Not everybody” like most of our landlords, am I right?

Given the city controller’s estimate that seismic retrofitting of soft-story buildings costs about $16,000 per unit, and how my building’s owner says she can’t even afford to fix my bathtub, I can’t help but assume I’ll be joining some greasy seagulls and dented whales when the big one comes. Farewell!

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!