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OUTDOOR NOTES : Many Trips Could Be Eclipsed Before Baja Sees Twilight of Day

The first weeks of this July promise to be the busiest ever on the Baja California peninsula as thousands are expected to travel south to try to witness a celestial wonder--a total eclipse that will last an unusually long seven minutes.

However, those planning a last-minute trip down the transpeninsular highway to watch the new moon pass in front of the sun, turning midday into an eerie sort of twilight, might find themselves in the dark well before nature’s action.

“I’ve been sold out for the last two years for this thing,” Bob Van Wormer, owner of Hotel Punta Colorada on Baja’s East Cape, said when asked last July if he had any rooms available.

Hotels from La Paz to Cabo San Lucas are booked solid, and most flights in the days before the July 11 eclipse are already sold out. The Mexican government expects more than 8,000 people in the vicinity of the centerline of the eclipse--extending across the peninsula from about 15 miles north of Todos Santos on the Pacific side, almost directly over the small town of Las Cuevas to an area just north of Cabo Pulmo on the gulf side.

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Demand has been such that the Mexican tourism department--though it claims it is prepared--recently warned that it may turn travelers back as far north as Loreto, letting through only those who can prove they have reservations. A special permit may also be required. Others are predicting gasoline shortages along the highway.

“I have people coming up to me and telling me, ‘We’re just driving our camper or tent and we’re just going to camp on the beach,’ ” said Ken Stewart of Sportsman’s Tours and Travel in Leucadia. “Well, they’re not going to let them do that.”

Stewart, who has been running caravans down the Baja coast since 1981, said his caravan that leaves San Diego July 6 on a 14-day journey to Cabo San Lucas has been growing fast as word of possible roadblocks spreads.

“I’m not saying they have to go with me,” Stewart said. “I’m just telling them that it might be the only way they can get there.”

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Stewart said Tuesday that he also has available 12 rooms--at Hotel SPA Buenavista (almost on the centerline of the eclipse) and at the Melia Cabo Real in San Jose del Cabo, with 24 accompanying airline tickets.

Two of the five seats on the California Fish and Game Commission will have to be filled, after the death last week of Jack Murdy of Newport Beach and the expiration of President Bob Bryant’s term at the end of this week’s meetings in Palm Springs.

Replacements will be appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson, subject to confirmation by the state senate. The terms are for six years. The job pays $100 for each monthly meeting.

Bryant is believed to be seeking reappointment, but when Al Taucher of Long Beach was reappointed a year ago, the Senate Rules Committee, chaired by David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), indicated that it wanted a shift away from the traditional interests that have been served by the commission--perhaps adding a minority woman with an environmental bent. Anyone else might have difficulty getting confirmed.

Scientists with the Sea World Research Institute-Hubbs Marine Research Center will release 10,000 juvenile white sea bass into Mission Bay today as part of a continuing program to determine the feasibility of raising and releasing marine fishes to assure their survival.

A significant addition to the program is the use of coded wire tags that enable scientists to “identify an individual fish among thousands” and will “play a key role in our evaluation of hatchery-reared and wild white sea bass populations,” according to Don Kent, principal investigator for the program.

Biologists previously marked fish with oxytetracycline (the antibiotic), which only told them that the fish recovered were hatchery fish.

Will it be feasible to raise and release fish on a level that will allow biologists to enhance populations of marine fish?

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“One way to really tell if it’s going to be feasible is to do it: Build a hatchery that produces millions of fish a year, release them and see if it works,” Kent said. “Before I’m willing to do that, I want to get an idea to see if this thing is in the ballpark or not.

Kent said he hopes to be able to recommend that the program be continued or discontinued in his final report at the end of the year.

Briefly

FLY-FISHING--Author Dick Talleur of New York is making the rounds: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at the Long Beach Casting Club in Recreation Park, to demonstrate fly tying; Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Pasadena Casting Club’s clubhouse to instruct on salmon fly tying, and from 2 to 6 p.m. at Bob Marriott’s store in Fullerton to demonstrate fly tying for Rocky Mountain streams. . . . For other tying and casting instruction at Marriott’s, phone (714) 525-1827.

CORRECTION--Marv Silverman of the South Coast (Orange County) Chapter of Trout Unlimited says the organization’s budget for conservation in California was $215,000 last year, not $100,000 as reported here. None of the 6,000 members in the state are salaried.


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