Noyo was the Pomo Indian name for a village near the present-day town of Fort Bragg, California. Though the village was located near what is now called Pudding Creek, a mile and a half north of the Noyo River, the name was adopted by European settlers for what became the only safe port of harbor, on a notoriously rough stretch of coast, between Bodega Bay and Eureka – a distance of some 300 miles. Noyo sits 170 miles north of San Francisco and 130 miles south of Eureka, home to a tiny but tough fleet of a few hundred small boats, remnants of once thriving fishing and shipping maritime industries.
The waters off this region are known as some of the richest, purest, most productive marine habitats in the world. The California Current, combined with strong, cool prevailing Northwesterly winds and summer fogs, cause the displacement of warmer water on the surface, bringing up rich, deep, nutrient filled sediments, loaded with plankton. These elements go on to support large populations of invertebrates, fish, birds, whales, marine mammals, seaweeds, and all manner of ocean life.
“Upwelling is a phenomenon that occurs in only a few places in the global ocean. The term refers to cold, nutrient rich water coming to the surface, from depths of over 50 meters. It is created by wind blowing across the ocean surface and pulling the surface water with it. As the surface water leaves an area, the ‘hole’ left behind is filled in by water ‘upwelling’ from below.” (NOAA)
In the map below, you can see the frigid water temperatures on the north coast of California. The dark-red, purple, and blue are the coolest. Notice the big difference between temperatures off the Northern and Southern parts of the state:
Evidence of the upwellings are apparent – as the deep currents of the Mendocino Trench run up against land, and are removed from the surface by NW winds. The cool, rich waters come to the surface. (map courtesy NASA)