Friday, November 29, 2013

West Coast Sardine Numbers Way Low, Could Be Affecting California Brown Pelicans

The Associated Press  released a story yesterday that tied a decline in California Brown Pelicans to a steep decline in west coast sardines. The numbers aren't  definitive though due to the Sequester going on at the federal level. Counting birds is evidently a low priority during slashing, across the board spending cuts agreed on by congress.

California Brown Pelicans Trinidad Harbor California.
Over the past few months I have noticed a decline in sea gulls where I live along the Northern Humboldt Coast. I haven't seen anyone else document this though, possibly due to the same budget cuts. It may also be that because they are considered a garbage eater sea gulls are on an even lower priority than California Brown Pelicans. I used to see more of them at the market in town or by the gas station. There were more of them than any other bird by far but now there are mostly just crows and ravens with an occasional sea gull. To be fair, I always see the most during salmon and crab fishing season. While sport crab season is open, commercial crab season isn't set to open until December 1st. I'll have to get out and see how many sea gulls I see after the big season opens and give an update here.

Although I haven't been kayaking lately (for the past few weeks) , I did also notice a decline in the local pelican population when at the coast taking pictures and even the last couple of times I was out over the summer. In the past I would always see pelicans when kayaking Trinidad Harbor or when walking the board walk in Eureka. There are still some in Eureka but not many along the rocky coast near Trinidad lately.
Sea Gull eating a starfish on rocks near Trinidad Bay

And then there is the dead zone off the coast of Oregon that comes and goes which is low in oxygen that gets caused by ocean and wind currents. That could also be affecting the sardine populations but there doesn't seem to be enough money to study that although one Oregon biologist says this years larger dead zone could be the cause caused by of global climate change.  

There is also the starfish collapse going on right now along the Pacific Coast from Canada to Mexico. Notice the sea gull eating a starfish in the photo I took two summers ago in Trinidad Harbor. So the big question is, are these events all related? The answers may lie in unfunded studies.


  1. " Oregon biologist says this years larger dead zone could be the cause of global climate change."

    I think you must mean the other way around -- as in "global climate change could be the cause of this year's larger dead zone.

  2. Thanks Anonymous. You are correct.


US Senator Joe Liberman, WTC 7 Did Not Occur