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Golden Gate Park
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Live Penguin Cams 

November 13, 2011

Collecting Trip to Pillar Point Harbor

A few weeks ago team members Tessa and Brooke went on a tide-pooling trip to Pillar Point Harbor with the goal of increasing the invertebrate population of the Academy’s penguin pool. Pillar Point Harbor is a protected harbor along the San Mateo County California Coast at the very northern edge of Half Moon Bay. It was a beautiful day and we had a great time!

We were also very successful and brought back 31 purple urchins Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and 50 ochre stars Pisaster ochraceus for the exhibit. Below is a picture of Tessa using a spoon to gently remove urchins:

pillarpoint102511-002

Tide-pools are areas of the coastline that are covered and then uncovered with seawater each day by the high and low tides. Exploring tide-pools is a great way to see an incredible variety of organisms but it’s important to remember that these are very delicate ecosystems which can be easily damaged by human activity. When tide-pooling it’s imperative to look but not touch in order to avoid disturbing marine life. Please note that the Academy collects only under a Department of Fish and Game permit; we also have the expertise to safely remove, transport, house and care for any animals we gather.

Below is a picture of Tessa and Brooke with some of the ochre stars they collected:

pillarpoint102511-031

Note the sea palms Postelsia palmaeformis growing on the rocks in the background. This is a type of kelp and is one of only a few types of algae that’s able to survive and remain erect out of water. We were thrilled to see this protected species thriving in its native habitat.

It was a long, exciting day that was well worth the effort. Aside from adding a dynamic visual element to the penguin display the invertebrates we gathered have a functional role. The sea stars will consume fish that are dropped by penguins during feeding time and the urchins are great algae eaters. In addition to what we collected, that same week we added 15 farm-raised red abalone Haliotis rufescens. The abalone need larger types of algae than what grows naturally in the exhibit so during weekly maintenance dives (usually performed on Thursday afternoons) check out the under-water camera and you may see each one of them being offered a piece of macroalgae by hand.

All in all, quite an exciting time on the invertebrate front!


Filed under: CAS Penguin Colony — Penguins @ 5:39 pm

14 Comments

  1. Those sea stars, abalone and sea urchins are going to look great in the penguin exhibit!

    Visitors can observe and touch these creatures in the Tide Pool exhibit of the aquarium.

    Comment by Mark Wilden — November 13, 2011 @ 10:32 pm

  2. KERRIE SAID TO SCHOOL GROUP YESTERDAY “14 PENGUINS” I THOUGHT THERE WERE 17? DID SOME LEAVE? WHY? TODAY THERE DOES SEEM LIKE FEWER PENGUINS. I HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THESE GUYS FOR ABOUT A MONTH I KNOW KNOW 16 OUT OF 17 NAMES THANK YOU BROOKE AND ERIN I ENJOY YOUR INTERACTION WITH THE PENGUINS KERRIE AND TUCKER HAVE FUN WITH THIER TALKS TO THE PUBLIC THANKS ALL CANDACE

    Comment by candace nordee — November 19, 2011 @ 9:53 am

  3. Hi again Brooke! Love the pictures and information from your trip to Pillar Point Harbor!!!

    I heard you mention on your way out of the water today that 2 of the birds were in quarantine. Which birds are in quarantine and why?

    I’ve also heard you say several times how important it is for the birds to pair up and how they don’t stay single for long if they lose a mate. Does it cause problems having an odd number of birds in the exhibit? Doesn’t that “condemn” one of the birds to “singledom”?

    As always, I really appreciate you and your cohorts (Homo sapiens and Spheniscus demersus alike) and the ability to watch the goings on in the exhibit from far away. Thanks for everything you do!

    Comment by Karen — November 21, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

  4. Hi Candace! We do currently have 14 birds on exhibit here although we still have 16 in our colony. We did have 17 but last week made the first of our transfers based on the recommendations made by this year’s Species Survival Plan. Last Thursday we sent two birds to NY Aquarium (Jahleel = white-banded female and Jahzara = green-banded female). We were happy to hear that both girls arrived in great shape and are settling into their new home without any problems :) We also received a new female named Sinclair from Tulsa Zoo in Oklahoma. She is currently down in the love-shack with her new mate Agulhas (green-banded male) for a 30-day quarantine period and to hopefully establish a solid pair bond.

    It also may seem like we have fewer penguins because we currently have 3 pairs incubating eggs in their nests so one partner from each is out of view of the cams at all times.

    Hope this helped and keep your eyes out for a future post giving more information on the Species Survival Plan and what it means. We’ll also have a post introducing Sinclair once we put her on exhibit.

    Comment by Penguins — November 23, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

  5. Hi Karen!! Please see the response to Candace below which I think answers half your question.

    As to the sex ratios in the coming months we will be bringing in another two females, again as part of the Species Survival Plan. This will be a mate for Robben and one for Pete and will equalize our sex ratio to 9 females and 9 males. Previously having an odd number of birds hasn’t really been problematic because many of our birds are still “young adults” and are in the middle of the age range for reaching sexual maturity in the wild which is 2-8 years old.

    Hope this addressed your concerns and, as always, thanks for following and for the support :)

    Comment by Penguins — November 23, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

  6. Just a bit of a nosy question. Who did the 6pm feeding this evening (12/15/11)? The announcer referred to her as “Pam” but it didn’t sound like Pam Shaller.

    Comment by Karen — December 15, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  7. oops! Schaller.

    Comment by Karen — December 15, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

  8. BROOK WOW WHAT MORNING SINCLAIR IS NOT DEMURE, SHE DOES NOT HOLD BACK. I THINK YOU HAVE EARNED YOUR PAY TODAY DID A PENGUIN GET CHEWED UP A BIT THINK I SAW THE VET SHOW UP MY FAVORITE PENGUIN OCIO SEEMED TO STAY OUT OF THE DRAMA THANK YOU BROOKE FOR USING THEIR NAMES, WHENEVER POSSIBLE. IT HELPS US ON YOUSTREAM CANDACE MISSING A FOR WHAT A MORNING

    Comment by candace nordee — December 19, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

  9. It was indeed not Pam Schaller but rather a different “Pam” from the penguin team :)

    Comment by Penguins — December 19, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

  10. Hi Candace, you are right that it was quite a morning! Things went well with Sinclair but everyone’s tempers were up and Dunker and Pete were really fighting over a nest-box/territory. I did call our veterinarian to look at Dunker who sustained some nice wounds to the base of his beak. The nest-box was closed off to prevent further escalation and everyone seems to have quieted down.

    Comment by Penguins — December 19, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

  11. Hi

    I love watching the penguins each day from my home in the UK but it’s so much better when I can visit them when I visit San Francisco twice each year.

    Don’t know if I have missed a post somewhere but I have missed seeing and hearing Pam Schaller via the webcam. I do hope that she is still at the Academy as she is the person responsible for getting me hooked on South African Penguins. Hope to see her again soon!

    Comment by Hazel — December 28, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  12. Hi Hazel, I’m sorry to say that Pam Schaller is no longer at the Academy and has moved on to other opportunities. Please do continue to follow the Academy’s colony though as we’ll have many exciting things in the year to come including adding sharks to the exhibit and, hopefully, the first breeding in the new building!

    Comment by Penguins — December 29, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  13. Hi: Why does the penguin pool need invertebrates in it?
    Thank you,
    Soleil

    Comment by Soleil — January 25, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  14. Hi Soleil, the penguin pool doesn’t need invertebrates per se. However, their presence makes the exhibit more dynamic and, therefore, more visually appealing for guests and enriching for the penguins. Also, the sea stars consume fish that have been discarded by the penguins while the urchins consume pesky algae helping the pool to stay cleaner with less time from staff. Thanks for writing in :)

    Comment by Penguins — February 7, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

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