Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘Farallones Marine Sanctuary’

September 22, 2009

Clues starting to surface in Farallones bird deaths

The outbreak of seabird deaths this spring and summer in Northern California has scientists turning their attention to krill and how some animals can adapt to changing foodstocks and others don’t.

In a story in the San Francisco Chronicle today, researchers are studying how the disappearance of Anchovies – that left diving birds like Cormorants starving – has affected other animals like humpback whales.

The whales adapt better and have turned their feeding attention to more krill, a type of shrimp-like marine invertebrate animal. Cormorants haven’t or can’t adapt to feeding on other forms of ocean food.

“We’ve had an extraordinary number of dead animals,” said Jan Roletto, the research coordinator for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. “It seems to be that the animals that suffered the most were the animals that forage on anchovies.”

Here at IBRRC we saw huge numbers of dead and dying Brandt’s cormorants along beaches in Central and Northern California. The birds can dive as deep as 300 feet for prey. According to PRBO researchers the birds did not produce any chicks this year on the Farallones or on Alcatraz Islands. This is compared to a total of 15,000 chicks in 2007.

According to scientists, the Cassin’s Auklet, a small seabird that feeds on krill, has had above-average nesting success this year.

Read more: Hunt for clues to sea life deaths at Farallones

March 18, 2009

Orcas sighted off Northern California coast

The extraordinary sighting of Orcas or “Killer Whales” in Northern California offshore waters is making the news this week.

About 40 Orcas were spotted late last week in the Gulf of the Farallones around 20 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. Another group was also seen in the Half Moon Bay area feeding on a harbor seal.

The mammals usually are found in the Puget Sound area of Washington state, but it’s not unusual for some pods to venture south to feed on the abundant waters in Northern California. The Orcas are striking with their black and white colorings and can grow to at least 30 feet in length as adults. There was also a group spotted in January 2007. See SF Chronicle story

Like other pack animals, killer whales hunt in groups or pods for food. They work together and encircle and move prey into smaller areas before attacking. The animals feed on fish, squid seals, sea lions, walruses, sea turtles, otters and even birds.

Other news reports:

Killer whales spotted in Farallones waters

CBS-TV video report: Orcas Spotted Off Golden Gate Near Farallones

February 26, 2008

NOAA looking for more Beach Watch volunteers

NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is now recruiting volunteers for its Beach Watch shoreline monitoring program, which played a key role in the response to the November 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill. Orientations and training will be held beginning this spring at several San Francisco Bay Area locations.

Orientation spaces are limited, and reservations are required. Volunteers must be 18 or older and commit to monthly surveys for a one-year minimum. Approximately 80 hours of classroom and field training in marine mammal and seabird identification and data collection is provided; some wildlife identification skills are desirable. Orientation sessions will be held the following dates in March:

• Tuesday, March 4, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., sanctuary office, 991 Marine Drive, San Francisco Presidio
• Thursday, March 6, 7:00 to 8:30p.m., Point Montara Lighthouse, Montara
• Saturday, March 8, 10:30 a.m. to noon, sanctuary office, 991 Marine Drive, San Francisco Presidio
• Sunday, March 9, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Bldg. 1050, Marin Headlands, Sausalito

Mandatory training sessions will take place in April and May on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturdays at the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary offices, 991 Marine Drive, West Crissy Field in the San Francisco Presidio. Several field trips are included in the training.

Complete info on NOAA’s website