Over one third of the world’s Western Gulls (Larus occidentalis) breed on the Farallon Islands. It is incredible to see some many birds in one place! (but notihing compared to when all of the breeding birds are here during the summer). These are the same gulls that star in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds! They are here now, working out their territories, pooping everywhere and making lots of noise. It looks like they are eating market squids (Loligo opalescens) because some of their dropping are really black from the ink and you can sometimes find tiny squid beaks in their regurgitated food…..
Yesterday we braved the rain and win gusts up tp 30 knots to count the invertebrates and algae out at Dead Sea Lion Cove. We couldn’t work in this area when we were out in November because there were Steller Sea Lions hauled out on shore. Stellars are a threatened species, so we always defer to them and let them rest where ever they choose.
One of the PRBO interns, Stephen, gave us a much needed hand…he is really a herpetologist and marine mammalogist, but we may convert him to an invertebrate zoologist yet!
In this picture Steven (black coat) and the intertidal crew, Jan-blue coat, Scott Kimura (red coat) and Gery (orange coat) are counting inverts and algae in two of our quadrats.
Gery found some pulmonate (air-breathing) limpets, Trimusculus reticulatus, on the top of an overhang while he was searching for endangered black abalones (Haliotis cracherodii). The National Marine Fisheries Service NOAA restoration is working on a restoration plan for this snail, one of only two endangered marine invertebrates in California. We are looking to see if there are any in the intertidal on teh island…they were seem here in the 1997, but not since….we will do thorough searches at all of our sites this week. He didn’t find and abalones, but we got his nice picture of the Trimusculus (They are the white ‘button-like snails on the top left of the overhang above the mussels). THe weather is much nicer today…so we are of to Blowhole peninsula and hopefully Jewel Cave! More soon…..
A new training course for Rocky Shore Naturalists will begin on March 1st 2010. We are looking for volunteers interested in the intertidal natural history and sharing the diversity of local intertidal life with visitors to the California Academy of Sciences and Duxbury Reef in Bolinas. Once training is completed, volunteers will work in the discovery tide pool at the Academy as well as work as roving docents and conduct scientific monitoring at Duxbury Reef. Meetings will take place at the Academy and at the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Offices at Crissy Field. Previous knowledge of intertidal zoology and ecology is not required, but may be helpful. The only requirement is a passion for learning about California natural history, ecology and sharing that passion and knowledge with visitors.
If you are interested contact Rebecca Johnson at rjohnson ‘at’ calacademy.org
Today was our last day of monitoring. We have to leave the island two days early due to the predicted huge swells that will make it almost impossible to leave from north landing after tomorrow. (Remember how we got on the island? Here is a photo of us how they ‘get groceries’ on the island to remind you how hard it is!)
We encountered lots of birds and mammals in our research sites today…we had Oystercatchers (look for the black bird with bright red beak right next to the white pvc pipe quadrat), endangered Stellar Sea Lion pups on one of our sites (we didn’t even get close!) and Elephant Seals really close to us while we were taking data (It is really thrilling to count anemones with an elephant seal four feet from your head!).
The low tides are in the afternoon this week, so we spent our morning on a steep granite hillside helping the refuge management get rid of the invasive New Zealand Spinach. The spinach is a non-native plant that competes with the native Farallon weed (with yellow blooms above). The hundreds of thousands of seabirds that breed on the Farallones use the endemic (found only here) Farallon weed as nesting material. The roots of the spinach hold on to more soil than the native plants and compact the soil, making it harder for seabirds, that lay their eggs in burrows. We climbed as high as we could and enjoyed the spectacular views.
Hello and welcome to the Rocky Shore Partnership Blog!
This space will normally be used to track the adventures in education and scientific monitoring by volunteer Rocky Shore Naturalists. We work out in the intertidal at Duxbury Reef in Bolinas, CA. Our efforts are a partnership between the California Academy of Sciences (Academy) and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (Sanctuary). This exciting collaboration teams Academy educators, scientists with their colleagues at the Sanctuary to train, educate and work with volunteers (Academy docents, Sanctuary and community volunteers). Our goal is to better understand and protect the intertidal life at Duxbury Reef through education and scientific monitoring.
This week part of our team is working together on a the Sanctuary’s long-term (16 years) intertidal monitoring program at the Farallon Islands. We left San Francisco yesterday (November 11th) and will start our work this afternoon. Our team is made up of Jan Roletto, (Sanctuary Research Coordinator ), Carol Preston (Sanctuary Education Coordinator), Rebecca Johnson (I work at the Academy and coordinate our partnership…and I keep this blog) and Scott Kimura (Tenera Environmental).
Thanks for visiting our site….stay tuned for more….